A year ago the compact DJI Mavic Mini arrived. It weighed in at 1g under the newly imposed 250g weight limit, which meant that there was no need to register the drone. Now, almost exactly a year on, the DJI Mini 2 is here, just as small, just as light, but with new technology that pushes the resolution to 4K and adds a few very subtle new features. It's a neat package for beginners, and the video quality will equally satisfy many enthusiasts who want a cheap imaging drone.
What is the DJI Mini 2?
On the 30th of November 2019, everything changed in the drone world. New laws meant that anyone wanting to fly a drone had to register and pass an online test, then all of the CAA approved course and qualification were overhauled to regulate drones and their use.
However, if that drone weighed in at less than 250g, no licence to fly was required.
The original DJI Mavic Mini launched a year ago, just as those new laws were being rolled out. As a small compact drone, there was very little to fault. It’s fun for those just getting into flying, and it’s still one of the easiest to fly drones out there.
Although it was great fun, the 2.7k camera held back the Mavic Mini’s imaging potential.
With the DJI Mini 2 DJI has given the small drone a turbo boost. It can capture higher resolution video and has some beefed up electronics.
Our initial impressions of the new DJI Mini 2 are excellent, it’s one small and surprisingly solid feeling beast, despite being so compact and lightweight.
In this DJI Mini 2 review, I’ll be looking at the Combo kit, which includes the drone, controller, charger and three batteries.
Once again, as with the Mavic Mini, weight is a big feature and the Mini 2 has a take-off weight of under 249g. The smallest of size reductions is also apparent in the new drone which measures 138×81×58 mm when folded, and with props fully unfolded 245×289×56mm. The size difference is quite literally 1mm.
The previous Mavic Mini had an impressive flight time of around 30 minutes, and now the quoted flight time from DJI is 31 minutes.
The original Mini suffered from the effects of wind, but the new Mini 2 has a set of more powerful motors and boasts level 5 wind resistance. This means the drone will still operate normally in more windy conditions and will still be easy to control.
Image and control transmission is something the DJI has excelled at, and like DJI’s other drones the operating distance of the Mini 2 goes well beyond what we’re legally allowed to fly in the UK.
The max distance is 10k using the OcuSync 2.0 Video transmission, but I’m not going to test this for obvious reasons.
Intelligent Flight Modes and Easy Control
As with the Mavic Mini, the fun features are the intelligent modes and Quick Shots. With a tap of a button in the DJI app, you can send the drone off to do some impressive aerial work, capturing intricate flight paths that would test even an experienced pilot.
These modes have been seen on DJI drones before, but I’m always surprised with how well they work, these include Dronie, Helix, Rocket, Circle and the latest addition Boomerang.
Boomerang, as the name suggests, gives you a Boomerang flight pattern.
Unlike the controller that arrives with the Mavic Mini, the Mini 2 controller is almost identical to the Mavic Air 2. It’s a decent piece of kit and like the drone feels exceptionally well made and solid.
As before the camera is set on a 3-axis mechanical gimbal stabiliser, this looks much the same as the predecessor.
The camera this time around features a 4K camera capable of 30fps and retains the ability to capture 12mp stills. A nice feature is a digital zoom that enables up to 4x of magnification.
When I tested the DJI Mavic Pro a couple of years ago, I was impressed by the quality of the stills, especially panoramic. Herewith the DJI Mini 2, DJI has added this feature, and again it works with spectacular effect with a choice of wide-angle, 180º and Sphere panoramas.
It’s difficult to tell in the camera has been completely overhauled as it retains the 1/2.3-inch CMOS 12MP sensor fronted by an 83º FOC f/2.8 lens.
What is different is the step-up in resolution for video and the ability to capture Jpeg and raw images.
Video resolutions top out at 4K 30fps which is a step-up from the Mini’s 2.7k, and you also have the option of 2.7k at 30/25/24fps and FHD 24/25/30/50 and 60fps.
For video and stills, there’s an ISO range of 100-3200, and you can select to alter this manually or automatically.
The shutter speed can be adjusted from 4sec to 1/8000, which enables you plenty of scope for creative effects.
As is now standard with all DJI imaging products the max video bitrate is 100Mbps, so a big leap from 40MB/s on the Mavic Mini.
For such a small drone, these specifications are impressive.
You would have thought with the boost in the camera resolution, greater power and other small changes the aesthetics may have changed. Still, visually there’s very little to tell the difference between the DJI Mini 2 and Mavic Mini.
When I tested out the Mavic Mini a year ago, I was impressed by the compact size and speed of the small craft, especially when it was switched to sports mode.
Again here, after all the pre-flight checks that DJI runs you through, I was impressed by the speed and agility.
The small size makes it feel faster than it is when switched to Sports mode, and although it’s designed for imaging it’s agility gives it that feeling of an FPV drone, although nowhere near as fast especially on the cornering.
Compared to the Mavic Mini, the DJI Mini 2 has a 3m/s maximum speed boost to 16m/s.
Again despite the size, the drone is incredibly steady in flight, reacting quickly to changes in direction and it doesn’t suffer from the slight drift that I found with the slightly heavier DJI Mavic Air 2.
When the wind does pick up, you can see the DJI Mini 2 working hard to stabilize, and if left in hover, you can see it being buffeted by the wind and correcting itself.
In-flight, you can feel the difference between the Mavic Mini and Mini 2, there seems to be a touch more power, and there’s far less drift compared to the previous model.
Checking out the footage and the quality looks good, that upgrade from 2.7k to 4k pays off on quality. It’s great to see such a range of framerates available, and while 1080p is still where this drone produces the most versatile content, the 4K at 30fps is great for scene setting and smooth gliding shots.
Again the field of view is 83º rather than 80º, but as with the original Mavic Mini, that isn’t an issue.
What does make a huge difference is an update to the camera. Going from 40MB/s to 100MB/s means that the quality of the footage is far better, with more tone and detail captured, especially at faster travel speeds.
The preprogrammed flight modes such as Drone, Rocket, Circle and Helix are back with the addition of the new Boomerang flight mode. As before the visual effect of these is outstanding, especially when you consider these are man oeuvres that would have taken quite some time to skill manually.
Mavic drones, although the Mavic has been dropped in this instance, are known for their image quality, video, as well as stills, and here the small Mini 2, is well equipped.
The Panoramic mode enables you to capture stunning vistas, and after a short time with the DJI Mini 2, you start to see the potential. This might not be the DJI Mavic Pro 2, but it’s still outstanding.
While the drone and the image quality is still excellent, one issue remains. The colour of the drone seems to be designed to blend into the background. Selecting and applying a neon skin of some type would be a good idea as the line of sight for the Mini 2 isn’t a great distance unless you have eyes like a hawk.
DJI Mini 2 Sample Video
The video shot on the DJI Mini 2 in 4K 30p with the exposure set manually, using the screen on an iPhone 12 Pro to assess the result. The opening section was shot using a manual white balance setting to emphasise the warmth of the autumn leaves, but when indicated, it switches to the auto white balance setting.
For most of the filming the Mini2 was set to normal flight mode but there’s a brief spell in Cine mode.
This next video was shot in 4K 30p with the exposure set manually, again using the screen on an iPhone 12 Pro to assess the settings. The white balance was set to auto.
Some of the footage is straight from the camera, but some has been graded slightly – this is indicated in the video.
Watch to the end to see the result of using Helix mode.
The compact DJI Mini 2 has a great deal to offer all levels of a drone pilot. Primarily, its small compact size and weight mean that it fits easily into your kit bag alongside the rest of your kit.
It may not have the visual quality of the more powerful and more weighty Mavic 2 Pro or Mavic 2 Zoom, but it will always be with you when you need it to shoot stunning aerial shots.
However, the pro and amateur photographer is not where this drone is aimed. This is for all those just starting and who want to capture stunning shots without needing to worry about breaking the law and going through the drone registration.
You will, of course, still need to adhere to the drone code, but it does open up a wealth of opportunity for families and others looking for something fun.
The small camera, despite its limitations, is still an excellent access point for those looking to use a drone for filming and stills photography.
The updated DJI flight controller is as solid as ever enabling anyone to fly with no prior experience. The built-in flight modes add an extra level of creativity, allowing you to get amazing sequences without hours of practice.
DJI has been savvy with the feature set of the Mini 2; it offers enough for anyone to get a great deal of enjoyment out of this small drone and what’s more, it’s a fantastic price.
An area I can see the small Mini 2 coming into play for pros is for recognisance, before the main flight. Especially if you’re using an Inspire or similar which takes a little longer to set-up, in these situations the Mini can quickly be set free, check out the area and survey before setting up the main drone.
The size and price of the Mini 2 make this perfectly possible, and the upgraded 4K video quality is quite exceptional.
Once again DJI has taken a massive step forward with the quality and usability with the DJI Mini 2, from beginners to seasoned enthusiasts there’s a lot to like about this small drone.
After significant research within the FAA's Part 107 regulations, serious questions have arisen regarding whether Skydio drones are legal to fly and meet Part 107 requirements. When autonomy is always controlling the drone, can a pilot really stop an emergency, a flyaway or keep the drone from hitting other people?
Serious questions have arisen about whether or not Skydio drones actually meet Part 107 regulations. After significant research, phone calls and legal discussions.... We believe the drone industry should be asking these serious questions regarding if Skydio drones are legal to fly. Whether it is Skydio, or any drone manufacturer who prioritizes autonomy over pilot control.. the questions remain.
The industry has questioned whether or not the FAA is even capable of understanding practical drone operations. We might have finally reached the denouement (climax) of regulatory idiocy. Allow me to explain...
When Part 107 arrived, many drone pilots were excited to jump on board. Part 107 gave drone pilots the unabridged ability to fly drones commercially. Part 107 also setup standards for pilots and for the drones they would be flying. (Download Part 107, the FAA Summary and AC107-2 in the Pilot Field Kit.)
Since the inception of standardization for unmanned aircraft systems, insurance companies have used the FAA guidelines as a base-line for insuring pilots. If drone pilots cannot meet the guidelines of Part 107, typically insurance companies cannot cover claims.
Which is why it is so important to understand if your drone actually meets the requirements set forth by the FAA. Could you imagine if a drone pilot or FIREFIGHTER was operating a drone and had a crash, only to learn that the insurance company is not covering the damages?
This is one reason we are asking if Skydio drones are actually legal to fly under Part 107. Again, whether it is Skydio or any manufacturer producing autonomous drones...the questions remain. Yet Skydio has made it clear, they intend to replace the drone pilot.
Legal to fly?
The question is actually rather simple, and tends to make more sense when explained practically. Having flown Skydio drones, we have become familiar with the control systems and wand remote. While it is extremely fun to fly the drone,
how will you stop a flyaway?
By design, Skydio drones prioritize the autonomous engine over pilot input. Period.
No arguing this point. There are no flight modes or "kill switches," to prioritize PILOT INPUT over the computer. Think of it like this. Imagine I'm flying my Skydio drone and chasing myself on a mountain bike. Let's imagine a family with kids is now approaching me on the same trail i'm biking. Let's say there are a few kids quickly approaching.
What if while i'm biking, I need to tell the drone to avoid hitting or flying over the kids?
Using the wand or remote I can move the sticks to adjust the path. While we can now "nudge" the aircraft, we cannot instantly take over control and adjust the flight path. Autonomy is always in control, and making predictive decisions on where to fly. Even Drone XL mentioned how this predictive autonomy caused one Skydio nightmare with a family in New York.
So if we wanted to land the Skydio while riding our bike, we have to let Skydio find a place to land and allow time to complete the command. How much time does this take versus time to make a split decision?
What if we wanted to stop a flyaway?
Yes FAA, you can stop a flyaway. There are really two types of flyaways and the ultimate spectacular crash!
When flying Skydio drones, there is no flight mode switch, and/or there isn't a kill switch. A pilot cannot direct the drone (via a button or switch) to prioritize pilot input over autonomous decisions.
So what happens if the Skydio is flying in areas of high reflectivity? (tall building covered in class, water, or metal roofs). How will the pilot stop a flyaway, stop the drone from hitting a child or tell the drone "hey, as the pilot i'm in control not the software."
As someone who has flown skydio, we are aware of what happens when the drone can't figure out what to do. The drone seriously just stops in place and pilot input controls are slowed down. Typically the pilot will go look at the spatial environment and direct the drone which way to go to continue the flight. This takes time and pilot can't always take over control.
There is no way to instantly (or quickly) direct the Skydio drone to move, land or avoid hitting your dog.
Autonomy is always in control.
Due to the fact that the pilot is not ultimately in control of the aircraft, we wondered if this practical limitation meant that Skydio drones may not be legal under Part 107...
The FAA interpreted Part 107 with their summary explanation document (Preamble?), but I'm not sure this particular issue has been brought to their attention. How would they know... they don't actually fly drones...
Since we haven't seen anyone else ask the questions in the industry, or at the government level, we wanted to ask the questions. Our heros and other pilots in the industry, DESERVES to know.
We're not stating legal opinion, we are simply asking the questions. We just want to know if Skydio drones are really legal under part 107 or not.
Based on the practical explanation above, could Skydio drones actually meet the guidelines of:
14 CFR 107.19 Sections C, E
What does 14 CFR 107.19 state?
Notice, section C states,"The RPIC must ensure that the small unmanned aircraft will pose no undue hazard to other people, other aircraft or other property in the event of a loss of control of the aircraft for any reason."
Notice, section E states," The RPIC must have the ability to direct the small unmanned aircraft to ensure compliance with the applicable provisions in this chapter.
Practically speaking, we question if Skydio drones actually meet these two regulatory stipulations...
14 CFR 107.23 Section A
Notice that 14 CFR 107.21 (A) states "no person may operate a suas in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another."
Remember, this particular provision is the FAA's "catch all," when enforcing against drone pilots. This particular provision was left rather vague. Now after watching numerous investigations against pilots, typically this provision is brought up with the secondary question of "what was the pilots intention at the start of the flight." Intent typically showcases a broader story by the pilot.
What happens when the pilot is unaware the drone is incapable of avoiding emergencies? What if the FAA didn't consider this? How would they proceed? Is the Skydio drone really legal to fly under Part 107?
Why ask the questions.
We want to make it clear Why we are asking these questions. Make sure to see the detailed explain here.
When the men and women of public safety are flying drones to save lives, do we really want to add liability to these service members?
Do we want them to find out the hard way?
Do we want someone in law enforcement or fire fighting sued for flying drones that were incapable of being legal? (Yet regulators were incapable of understanding or providing direction to public safety? Now you know why i'm not a fan of impetus regulators and "responder" associations. They don't know what they don't know. Blind leading the blind. Yet many of them refuse to learn the proper operational protocols as well...)
Would the insurance companies cover the flight or crash if the aircraft didn't meet the guidelines of part 107? Most insurance provisions state "Drone pilot must follow FAA guidelines at all times during the flight."
At Drone U, we believe we hold a higher standard in flight operations and education. We want to ask these questions in hopes we can prevent our heros from being on the legal chopping block. AGAIN.......
Also this particular question may prove why the drone industry is ultimately doomed. We have hit a pivot point in the industry as the NDAA will arrive soon, packed with surprising gifts. After the NDAA, we will see Remote ID. We might finally have proven that a lack of practical knowledge in DRONE flight operations by regulators, actually makes the airspace quite dangerous.
Isn't the FAA's mandate to keep the National Airspace System Safe?
We saw how that worked out with the 737 Max.. next up Skydio.
Autel Robotics announced its long-awaited EVO II series drone at CES 2020 in January, promising vast improvements over the original EVO model launched back in 2018. Its most notable feature is a modular camera system, offering three models that cover a range of features that meet different users' needs, from consumers to professionals.
The camera on the standard EVO II uses a 1/2" 48MP Quad Bayer sensor and is the first consumer drone to offer 8K video. The EVO II Pro uses a larger 1"-type 20MP sensor that gives 6K recording, and the EVO II Dual features both an optical and a thermal camera in a single unit and also maxes out at 6K recording. The modular system allows users to switch cameras if needed on a single drone.
Key specifications (not including camera)
EVO II Pro
EVO II Dual
1/2" CMOS (optical)
FLIR BOSON sensor (thermal)*
48MP Quad Bayer
640 x 512 (thermal)
Max photo resolution
Max video resolution
8K/25p, 6K/30p, 4K/60p
6K/30p, 4K/60p, HD/120p
6K/30p, 4K/60p, HD/120p
26mm equiv. (F1.8 fixed)
29mm equiv. (F2.8-11)
29mm equiv. (F2.8-11)
8x (up to 4x lossless)
8x (up to 3x lossless)
8x (up to 3x lossless)
1150g (2.5 lbs.)
1191g (2.6 lbs.)
1150g (2.5 lbs.)
*FLIR sensor size not specified
When buying an EVO II, you can choose the model with the camera that best fits your needs. If you want to switch cameras at some point, you can do it without buying a whole new drone.
The EVO II was released in June following several delays, beginning with a software bug and supply chain shortages. Has the company ironed out the glitches that delayed its launch for a few months? And, how does it compare to similar models from DJI? We'll explore both questions in this review.
We tested the standard EVO II, thanks to our friends at Drone-Works. Chicago-based professional Antoine Tissier lent us his EVO II Pro model for some additional tests. We did not test the EVO II Dual.
Aircraft and controller
The EVO II bears a strong resemblance to DJI's folding Mavic series of drones, though its body is substantially larger, and it doesn't quite fit in your palm. One thing that's a bit perplexing is that the bottom propellers don't fold neatly under. They jut out slightly, making it more difficult to carry the drone in-hand.
The EVO II features a total of 12 computer vision sensors located on the front, rear, top, bottom, left, and right side of the aircraft for omnidirectional obstacle avoidance. There are also two ultrasonic sensors located on the bottom of the drone for precision hovering.
The Owner's Manual points out that there are blind spots on all 4 corners of the drone. When I flew the EVO II in diagonal directions, I noticed that obstacle avoidance didn't activate at times. You should always fly your drone within visual line of sight, regardless.
The bottom of the Autel EVO II aircraft is equipped with 2 Ultrasonic sensors (closest to the camera) followed by the Downward Vision System (in the middle and back) and the Downward Vision Lighting LED (middle-right).
Autel claims a 40-minute battery life while flying and 35 minutes when hovering without wind. I found this figure extremely accurate. For comparison, the Mavic Air 2 clocks in at 34 minutes while the Mavic 2 Pro tops out around 30 minutes. That extra 6–10 minutes of battery life will matter if you're performing an inspection or mapping a site.
The battery is huge at 7,100 mAH and slides in and out easily. According to Autel, a 'patented Battlock system' prevents the battery from ejecting during fast flights or crashes.
8GB of onboard storage is available if you're without a memory card or as back up if you run out of space while capturing imagery. Media stored on the drone can be accessed through a USB-C port located on the right-hand side. On the opposite side is a microSD slot that can house a card up to 256GB.
Controls and flight modes
The EVO II is powered by the same type of remote as the original EVO, which is disappointing for several reasons. Because you're using it to maneuver your drone, the remote should be ergonomically friendly. Unfortunately, that's not the case with this particular design. Two rather awkward handles fold out from the bottom that are made of slick plastic. While I didn't fly in hot weather, I couldn't help but wonder how challenging it might be to hold on to the remote should my palms sweat.
Your mobile device clamps in on top of the remote, and you don't need to remove your smartphone case. Much like the original EVO or competing Mavic models, tablets will not fit. The main part of the controller features a built-in 3.3–inch OLED display.
The controller's 3.3–inch built-in OLED display gives you critical flight information.
It's possible to operate the EVO II using the remote controller on its own. This works for taking photographs or video clips on the fly. However, Autel recommends using its Explorer app on a smartphone to access all of the drone's features.
Unlike recent Mavic controllers, there isn't a simple routing solution for connecting your mobile device if you're using Apple's iPhone. Instead, a USB Type-A port can be found at the bottom of the remote. This means you need to supply your own connecting cable, much like the DJI Phantom 4 models of 2016. For all other smartphones, a USB Type-C connector is included.
Another issue stems from two buttons labeled 'A' and 'B' on the remote's backside. They're way too easy to accidentally press while flying and activating, for example, the Voice Assistant or an Intelligent Flight mode. It's possible to program the buttons to perform different functions, but you're likely to activate a feature unintentionally at least once per flight, and it's distracting at best.
I can't help but wonder why Autel didn't take a cue from DJI, who made it incredibly simple to switch flight modes by featuring them front–and–center on their Mavic Air 2 remote. For example, to activate 'Ludicrous' mode, the equivalent of Autel's Sport mode, which allows the drone to travel at its top speed of almost 45 mph, you need to go into the app's settings menu to switch over.
The sticks on the remote are easy to maneuver with just the right amount of resistance. When powering on, you'll have to press down on the drone battery button for three or more seconds before it powers up or down, a bit different for DJI users accustomed to a quick tap followed by a two-second hold.'
Odds and ends
Drone-Works sent me the EVO II 'Rugged Bundle,' which includes a hard case designed specifically for this product by GPC. It also has two extra sets of propellers and an additional flight battery. The case is rather large for what is fundamentally a compact drone and will be a hassle, especially with airport security, once air travel becomes commonplace again.
On the right is a Mavic 2 case I purchased for myself. Though the drone isn't too much smaller than the EVO II, the case that comes with the 'Rugged Bundle' is overwhelmingly large for a foldable drone.