The DJI Mini 3 drone is preparing for lift-off, according to some new leaked images – and it could replace the DJI Mini 2 as our top flying camera for beginners.
The Mini 3 images have arrived courtesy of the Twitter account @DealsDrone (opens in new tab), which has become a reliable source of DJI leaks in recent years. And in the Tweet (below), the photos are accompanied by the words "DJI Mini 3 coming soon".
So, what does the leak tell us? If they're accurate, the images suggest that the Mini 3 will be based on the same chassis as the DJI Mini 3 Pro, a premium compact drone that arrived in May.
The main physical difference between the two is the shape of the two sensors above the drone's gimbal-stabilized camera. This suggests that the Mini 3 could dispense with the obstacle-avoidance sensors seen on the Mini 3 Pro in order to bring its price down.
Like the DJI Mini 2, the Mini 3's front vents could instead be used to cool down the drone during flight. And this theory is supported by the absence of an additional vent behind the Mini 3's camera in the leaked images.
DJI Mini 3 coming soon pic.twitter.com/M5Q3OBrAmFDecember 1, 2022
Aside from the apparent lack of front-facing obstacle sensors, the leaked Mini 3 images suggest its design will be nigh-on identical to the Mini 3 Pro. And that means it'll likely be a sub-250g drone that's designed for beginners who are looking for their first flying camera.
Given its expected lower price point, the Mini 3 will probably miss out on a few of the other features seen on its pricier sibling. For example, the Mini 3 Pro delivered higher bit-rate video (150Mbps, compared to 100Mbps on the Mini 2) and pro-friendly video formats like D-Cinelike, which is a 'flat' preset designed for anyone who likes to color grade their videos.
Still, while it's possible that some of this performance will be missing on the Mini 3, the leaked images do suggest it'll share the same camera module as the Mini 3 Pro. If so, this would be a key upgrade on the Mini 2, given that camera has a relatively large 1/1.3-inch sensor with a bright f/1.7 aperture.
Analysis: An expected but welcome arrival
Ever since the DJI Mini 3 Pro arrived in May to sit alongside the DJI Mini 2, there have been rumors that a standard Mini 3 must be en route. After all, there's currently a big price gap between the two drones and the Mini 2 did arrive over two years ago.
The big question is how much the Mini 3 might cost. The Mini 3 Pro starts at $669 / £639 / AU$989 (with no controller), rising to $759 / £709 / AU$1,119 with a standard controller. When it landed in October 2019, the Mini 2 cost $449 / £419 / AU$749 (with a controller), but was recently available for less than that in the Black Friday sales.
One possibility is that the DJI Mini 2 could effectively become the new DJI Mini SE (which is currently DJI's cheapest compact drone), leaving room for the Mini 3 to sit below the Mini 3 Pro. But whatever happens, it seems likely that the Mini 3's price will be higher than the Mini 2's original asking price, given the amount of new tech on board.
If it isn't too hobbled compared to the Mini 3 Pro, and is effectively that drone without obstacle avoidance sensors, then the Mini 3 stands a good chance of topping our guide to the best drone for beginners.
While obstacle avoidance is undoubtedly useful for learner pilots, the Mini 3 Pro's price tag is a little prohibitive for those who are new to drones, and the Mini 3's automated flight modes would still give it a degree of usability that's rare on other compact drones. Given these new leaks, it looks like we won't have to wait long to find out for sure.