It looks like DJI is set to release another consumer drone. Recent FCC filings indicate that the announcement is coming soon. So what is the Mavic Mini, and will it be this year’s holiday breakout drone success? That all depends on really one thing. Price.
What is the Mavic Mini?
Probably the best information we have is actually from the leaked images. Size information from the FCC filing is clearly an exaggeration, and likely includes the unfolded props. To put the size in perspective, it is important to compare the Mavic Mini to its closest siblings – the DJI Spark and the Mavic Air.
|Unfolded Size (millimeters)|
|*Mavic Mini based on leaked images with scale|
Mavic Mini Size
The Mavic Mini will not be smaller or lighter than the Spark. So get any notion out of your head right now that the Mavic Mini will be under the 250 gram FAA weight limit that requires registration. The leaked image shows a drone that is about 160 x 200 mm, which is larger than the 300 gram Spark. If these are, in fact, images of the Mavic Mini, then the Mavic Mini will be more than 250 grams. It will probably be closer to 380 grams. The height stated in the FCC filings of 55 mm matches the Spark and is likely correct.
Mavic Mini Gimbal
We think DJI is trying to make as low-cost of a drone as they can swallow and still give a good feature set. For that reason, I am expecting a 2-axis gimbal on the Mavic Mini. The leaked images are a bit difficult to decipher in this regard, but I would expect the Mini to be like the Spark and Parrot Anafi with a high-performing 2-axis gimbal.
Mavic Mini Camera
We don’t have any evidence, but we would expect a 1/2.3 inch 12 MP sensor on the Mavic Mini. There is no reason not to put a good camera on the Mini, as DJI has plenty of experience and has likely squeezed cost out of their supply chain. We expect the Mavic Mini to record nice 4K video with extra pixels used for electronic stabilization in the gimbal’s non-existent yaw axis.
Mavic Mini Obstacle Avoidance
For obstacle avoidance, the Mavic Mini will match the system of the original Mavic Pro. Leaked images show forward-facing stereo cameras, but that’s it. This is a step up from the IR-based avoidance of the Spark but a step back from the front and rear cameras of the Mavic Air. The bottom of the Mini looks to have a single camera plus IR distance measurement, similar to the Spark and even the $100 Tello.
Why the Mini needs to be cheap
If you want a nice-performing compact drone then chances are you already have one. We have seen the sale of consumer drones plummet in 2019 as the feature set of newer models hasn’t been enough to entice repeat customers. So the Mavic Mini needs to draw in customers that don’t already have a Spark or a Mavic Air. It can only do that if the price is lower than those to drones. Some rumors indicate a starting price of $300 for the Mavic Mini. I think the Mini needs to be at that price to really sell well, and it needs to include a remote.
Why the Mavic Mini won’t fly off shelves
The problem is that DJI has consistently priced drones at a premium. Even now, with the Spark out of stock, you can’t buy them for under about $350. The infamous tariffs and trade war haven’t helped, with DJI bumping prices up by about 15% on all of their drones (in the USA at least).
I don’t expect the Mini to be priced at $300, it will be more. I expect the price to be at least $399 and probably over $499 with a remote and fly more package. These prices won’t be low enough for the Mavic Mini to sell extremely well, but they may pull in a few new customers who have been sitting on the sideline.
FYI, I don’t recommend you fly a DJI drone without a remote. DON’T DO IT! Always buy and use the remote.
The drone DJI should make
The Tello and the Spark need to have a baby, and it needs to cost $200. Forget obstacle avoidance. Forget 3-axis gimbals. Take the Spark, remove the useless obstacle avoidance, give it quality 1080p recording capability, and sell it for $200. Maybe $250 or even $299 max. If DJI wanted to destroy all other consumer brands, that is all they need to do. Until DJI does that, high-quality drones will stay in the hands only of those with some serious cash to burn.
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