'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
If you're looking for a starter drone, I highly recommend checking out the all-new DJI Mini 3, the successor to the highly popular Mini 2, and an entry-level version of the very capable Mini 3 Pro.
Also: The 2022 M2 Apple iPad Pro is my (drone) copilot
I make no secret of the fact that out of all my drones, the Mini 3 Pro is my favorite (yes, even beating the Mavic 3). I like the portability and freedom that the compact sub-249g drone offers.
The Mini 3 takes many of the good bits of the Mini 3 Pro, adds more battery life, and drops the starting price by $200.
So what you get when you buy a Mini 3 is a flying, stabilized 4K/12-megapixel camera with a theoretical range of 10km (way beyond what you should ever take it), and a rated flight time of 38 minutes with the included battery and 51 minutes with the optional Intelligent Flight Battery Plus packs.
Also: The best drone accessories
DJI's quoted flight times are, in my experience, very optimistic, and I'd say you're going to get real-world flight times closer to 28/40 minutes.
Those are still very good flight times.
The standard kit comes with the DJI RC-N1 controller with no screen (you use your smartphone), but there's an option to upgrade to the DJI RC controller that has a built-in display that adds $140 to the price.
There's also a "Fly More Combo" option that adds two additional 38-min Intelligent Flight Batteries, a two-way charging hub, a shoulder bag, spare propellers, and a few other bits.
So, where does the Mini 3 differ from the Mini 3 Pro?
Well, in exchange for a few minutes more flight time, you lose two main things: 4K recording at 60 frames per second and the forward/read-facing sensors.
Also: The best drones: Which flying camera is right for you?
Yes, just like the Mini 2, the Mini 3 doesn't have obstacle avoidance sensors and only has a downward-facing sensor for landing. While I never trust sensors, they're nice to have, especially when flying close to the tree line or around buildings.
Are those sensors worth the extra $200? That's something for you to decide. Or do you want to save even more money and pick up the Mini 2, starting at $449?