UPDATE: Pictures of the DJI Mini SE have been doing the rounds for a couple of weeks, thanks to a leak from US retail giant Walmart, forcing the DJI to officially comment on the drone’s existence.
It has told us that the DJI Mini SE will use “the internal components of the DJI Mavic Mini in the shell of the DJI Mini 2,” but,regardless of where you might think Walmart stores are, it has also been clear that there are "currently no plans to sell this product in the US or Europe (apart from Russia)." A shame, since the statement also managed to sneak the words "attractive price" in there.
The specs for the Mini SE, also now briefly exposed on DJI’s Brazil and Singaporean stores, make clear that the drone features a 12MP camera on 3-axis gimbal with a maximum resolution of 2.7K@30fps, just like the Mavic Mini – which will certainly please entry level drone photographers despite the lower 40Mbps storage rate.
Equally significant to the market, especially in the US and Europe, is the 249g weight limit that the Mini SE meets – so perhaps it is destined for these markets eventually?
These leaks have also shown images of the controller for the first time, putting to bed any rumors that DJI’s newer larger style of controller was destined to accompany the Mini SE. More logically, given the lower 4km / 2.5 mile maximum range, the SE is accompanied by the darker, older design (sans screen) with folding phone grips.
Experienced DJI users will know that without the modern OcuSync 2.0 radio system transmission can be somewhat less reliable than drones from the last couple of years, but the Mini SE still offers a great deal of potential. As a potential gift / self-gift, this range still comfortably beats most devices seen in that category.
So why won’t customers in the USA and Europe get this potentially cheaper drone? For now DJI tell us it is "a specialized product tailored for entry-level drone pilots in markets where consumer drone use is emerging." That’s another way of saying that the Mini 2 is the preferred choice for more mature markets who might have slightly deeper pockets, and appreciate the benefits of 4K video and 10 mile-radio range.
It seems possible that the Mini SE will emerge in these markets later this year, though. In terms of clues, we have the following: a product release like this would make more sense before the Christmas holidays in the USA; there were Prime Day deals on the Mavic Mini; and, of course, we started with a leak from Walmart!
More interestingly, the $299 Walmart leaked price is $110 less than the store charges for Mavic Mini. Perhaps now we know the value of these same specs for the 2021 holiday season? Even stranger, the Mini SE product page is still there on the Walmart site…
DJI Mini SE First Thoughts
When the Mini SE replaces the Mavic Mini as DJI’s entry-level drone, it seems very likely it’ll immediately take over as the idea choice for anyone with serious photographic or videographic ambition dipping their toe into the drone space. While DJI have suggested the wind resistance will be a little different, the controller will be identical and it’s reasonable to assume that the software features broadly similar too.
Since all of these are so useful for shareable photos and clips, and are especially suited for viewing in a device-obsessed world, and because so many aspiring creators across social platforms aren’t blessed with enormous budgets, it seems very likely to assume a North American & Europe launch is coming soon.
If you can go a little higher, the new DJI Mini 2 might make an even better choice, especially if you prefer to edit in 4K; read our review to decide if you want the extra features.
ORIGINAL STORY (18 Jun 2021): An affordable new drone, the DJI Mini SE, is apparently on the way that will cost as little as $299 (approximately £215 / AU$400).
At this price, the DJI Mini SE would bring premium drone photography to the masses. DJI is the gold standard right now, with its DJI Mavic 2 Zoom being our pick as the best camera drone on the market. Not everyone has $1,300 to spare, though, and while the DJI Mini 2 is more affordable (currently $449.99 at Walmart), even that's a significant chunk of change.
The Walmart listing in question is currently lacking a price, but it does reveal a lot of specifications, which give a good idea of what the drone is like.
And despite the name, it doesn't seem to be a scaled-down version of the DJI Mini 2. Because while it has a similar design, its attributes seem closer to the original DJI Mavic Mini. The full specs listed are as follows:
- Single frequency
- 1/2.3 12M pixel
- Resolution 2.7K
- 3-axis gimbal
- Photo mode: Single Shot and Interval
- Photo Resolutions: 4:3 4000×3000 16:9 4000×2250
- Video Resolutions: 2.7K: 2720×1530 25/30p FHD: 1920×1080 25/30/50/60p
- QuickShot modes: Dronie, Circle, Helix, and Rocket
- Remote Controller: 720p/30fps
- Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 3 bracketed frames at 2/3 EV Bias
- Medium Interference (suburban landscape, open line of sight, some competing signals): Approx. 6 km
- Flight time: 30 minutes
- Weight: 249g
The 2.5-mile range means that it's unlikely to employ Ocusync, DJI's sophisticated transmission system first released with the DJI Mavic Pro. And the 2.7K camera falls short of the 4K standard many drone photographers have become used to.
However, as an entry level model at such a low price ($100 less than the original Mavic Mini) this looks like being quite the game changer. Especially because, at less than 0.55 lbs (249g), it's so light that you won't need to register to fly it in some countries.
We're still awaiting more details, but given what we know already this new drone will surely be a very tempting buy – both for beginners and experienced drone pilots wanting to expand their fleet.
And will it prompt other drone makers to step up, and release their own, more affordable models? Here's hoping.