Welcome to my review of the Autel EVO II Pro and DJI Mini 3, two worthy competitors in the battle of the best consumer drone.
The EVO II Pro and Mini 3 aren’t the newest in their respective drone lines, but that ain’t such a bad thing.
The bugs have been worked out, many pilots have amassed experience with them (including yours truly), and all their features are known – the good, bad, and the ugly.
I primarily fly drones for fun but always keep a keen eye on the commercial features that could make a drone versatile enough for work projects.
After all, the best drones are enjoyable to use but can help you get jobs done.
This review will compare the differences in features between the Mini 3 and EVO II Pro, capitalizing on my many hours of experience with both drones to declaratively assign a winner. I’ll make a deep, thorough comparison of features, so you can decide whether you agree with my recommendation of the Mini 3 or like the EVO II Pro better.
Whether you’re adding to your commercial fleet or looking for a beginner-friendly solution to take to the skies, the right drone is waiting for you.
I’ve got the intel ahead to help you decide, so let’s jump right into it!
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Autel EVO II Pro
The EVO II Pro was released in 2020, making it almost two full years older than the Mini 3.
Drone technology moves fast, and the differences in those two years will become apparent as this review continues.
However, it’s not like Autel released the EVO II Pro and forgot about it. Oh, no. Rather, it was upgraded three times over, with the V3 edition and its included rugged bundles still one of the best values for the money you can get today.
Here are some of its starring features:
- 1-inch Sony CMOS camera sensor that shoots in 6K video quality at 30 frames per second
- 20 MP image quality in 12-bit DNG quality for easier editing
- 6.4-inch Smart Controller SE so you can keep your phone in your pocket
- 12 kilometers of transmission range that competes with any DJI drone (even in 2023)
- 19 sensor groups for 360-degree obstacle avoidance
- Amazing flight time of 40 minutes
DJI Mini 3
The newer kid on the block, the Mini 3, is like the middle cousin in DJI Mini drones.
Released in 2022, the Mini 3 continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in a small consumer drone.
However, considering this is DJI we’re talking about here, the continuing innovation in the Mini line shouldn’t surprise you.
Here are some of my favorite, can’t-miss features:
- Lightweight enough that you don’t have to register it (under 249 grams)
- 1 1/3-inch CMOS sensor that shoots in 4K HDR video quality and 48 MP image quality
- Hands-off Intelligent Flight Modes designed to facilitate beginner flight, including auto takeoffs
- LightCut editing suite for polishing your footage and publishing it on the go
- Exceptional camera capabilities, including f/1.7 aperture, four-in-one pixels, and zoom for detail-driven photography
- Battery life of up to 51 minutes by upgrading to the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus
» MORE: DJI Mini 3 – Beginner’s Guide
While newer might not always be better, this is one of those instances where it undeniably is.
We’ve compared these two drones extensively, testing them in the same conditions to see which performs with more agility and enjoyability. That’s our promise to you at Droneblog, to only recommend the best.
We’ve concluded that the DJI Mini 3 outshines the DJI Autel EVO II Pro in all the areas where it counts, including beginner functions, weight, on-the-go editing, ease of use, smart modes, and battery life.
In a way, comparing the EVO II Pro and Mini 3 is like apples or oranges, as their differences are especially apparent (as you’re about to see in the next section).
However, in a pure head-to-head, the Mini 3 has more of what today’s drone pilots are looking for.
It’s commercial-friendly yet great for recreational use. It has beginner features but doesn’t hold your hand so much that an intermediate or more experienced pilot feels like they shouldn’t use it.
Because it’s newer, the Mini 3 has more cutting-edge features than the EVO II Pro. It also helps that the Mini 3 is a DJI drone.
There’s a reason this brand is associated with consumer drones more than any other. It’s the pinnacle of quality in many cases, and other drone brands find it tough to beat DJI’s features.
All that said, pushing the EVO II Pro to the side would be a huge mistake. This drone is a verifiable powerhouse capable of amazing feats.
The rugged bundle included with the V3 edition makes it cost-effective, even if its price is more than twice the Mini 3.
You’ve got to consider that when you buy the Mini 3, you’re getting a remote controller, a drone, and that’s about it. Some packages only include the drone.
If you want everything else you need to fly, such as a microSD card, upgraded battery, ND filters, and the DJI Two-Way Charging Hub, you must purchase them separately.
By comparison, the EVO II Pro V3 includes the drone, remote controller, power cable, user manual, battery charger, carrying case, spare propeller set, RC charger, lanyard, RC charging cable, and two spare control sticks.
Plus, the EVO II Pro still has a camera quality that drones in the Mini series can’t match.
What are the main differences?
Going back to my point from before, these two drones are a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison. However, I think that’s what makes it fun.
These drones each have their own distinct flavor, inviting you to explore their worlds and providing different experiences when you fly.
And trust me, I would know, as I’ve tested these drones extensively and compared them against several other predecessors and successors to ensure I selected the right one.
Bearing that in mind, here are some of the biggest differences I noticed between these drones, beginning with the EVO II Pro.
- Size and weight: The EVO II Pro is not some dainty little thing. It’s not supposed to be. It weighs 1,191 grams and measures 457 millimeters by 558 millimeters by 108 millimeters unfolded. It’s a powerhouse, and the Mini 3 is much smaller by comparison in every way.
- Color and design: Orange you glad to see the EVO II Pro? Its electric color scheme is awesome; let’s be real. It also augments visibility to see the drone better, so it’s there for more than the visual appeal. The design of this drone is also a tonal shift from the Mini 3, as it has a more rugged exterior and a less polished appeal. I mean that in the nicest way possible, of course.
- Obstacle avoidance: The all-encompassing obstacle avoidance features the EVO II Pro delivers are achievable through nearly two dozen sensors. That includes IMUs, ultrasound, and vision sensors. By comparison, the Mini 3 has none, a glaring omission.
- Live Deck 2: Take your streaming capabilities further with the awesome Live Deck 2. This HDMI output module has a five-hour battery life and can transmit footage up to 7.5 miles in 1080p/60fps live video. It’s not as great as the transmission the EVO II Pro itself boasts, but it’s an excellent augmentative feature.
It’s only fair to give the Mini 3 its flowers, so here are some ways it differentiates itself from the very capable EVO II Pro.
- No registration required recreationally: The FAA requires registering all recreational drones over 250 grams. If you only use your Mini 3 for fun, it’s light enough you can skip this step. Keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to commercial drone use, regardless of the weight. In that regard, the Mini 3 is no better than the EVO II Pro.
- Beginner-friendly: I wouldn’t say the EVO II Pro lacks beginner-friendly features, as that would be unfair. However, the Mini 3 has more of them, such as Auto Takeoff, Return to Home, and Precise Hovering. Its lack of obstacle avoidance does hamper its beginner capabilities.
- On-the-go editing: LightCut Video Editor is a DJI app compatible with the Mini 3. You can download it for free in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Activate more shooting modes, preview your footage while you take it, edit it, and output it. The One-Tap feature in this app uses AI to polish your footage automatically, or you can use video templates to put your own spin on your footage. Producing social-media-ready videos without having to spend hours in post is one of the best features the Mini 3 offers.
- Intelligent Flight Modes: DJI’s Intelligent Flight Modes continue to prove why this brand is such a powerhouse. Besides the auto modes mentioned above, you can swap seamlessly between Boomerang, Dronie, Rocket, Helix, and Circle modes, taking professional-looking drone footage without having to manually manipulate the Mini 3. The EVO II Pro has smart modes, but not on the same level.
Autel EVO II Pro
The EVO II Pro is one of Autel’s leading drones, even though it’s no longer the newest.
The V3 edition includes every component and accessory you need to get out there and fly, making it the premier choice for the pilot who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on parts for their drone.
This Autel drone continues to inspire other drone manufacturers for its unsurpassed video quality. The 6K video quality this drone is capable of is undoubtedly thanks to its top-line one-inch Sony CMOS sensor.
No other drone in the DJI Mini series has the same level of video quality. Heck, even the Mini 4, the latest and greatest Mini (as of this writing), can’t produce video on the same level.
And it’s not like Autel created a 6K camera and stopped there. It melded HDR and 4K to generate a camera that has some of the best of the best detail, clarity, color, and brightness.
You’ll notice that filming in bright sunlight doesn’t make your footage look washed out, and lingering into the twilight hours doesn’t hamper quality either.
Aspiring filmmakers and cinematographers will love this drone’s immersive camera.
You can gain a competitive advantage with your news and real estate footage, as yours will be shot with such good quality you could win more clients and contracts.
I could go on all day about the EVO II Pro’s camera, but that would be a disservice to its myriad other features.
For instance, this drone is foldable and stowable, a fact I don’t think it gets enough credit for.
Its image quality is not to be ignored, as the same CMOS sensor produces 20 MP images with a max ISO range of 44000 and a togglable aperture between f/2.8 and f/11.
Your image footage will have better frame rates than past EVO drones, better noise suppression, and a dynamic range to die for.
Combined with features like the Moonlight Algorithm 2.0 for after-dark shooting and 6K Hyperlapse, you can clearly understand why so many go gaga over the EVO II Pro V3’s camera.
It’s the stuff of legend!
This drone is so much more than merely a camera, of course. It has comparable video transmission to DJI, so you can send your footage while you take it.
If you juggle a lot of drone projects or you’re a social media megastar who’s chronically online, you’ll love how easy it is to share your escapades as they happen.
DJI Mini 3
The Mini 3 has a lot to live up to, considering it’s part of a beloved line of DJI drones. I think it does the job and then some!
This small, flexible, portable drone is for beginners, intermediates, and even experts who are always on the go and need a drone that travels with them without weighing them down.
Its impressively long base flight time of 38 minutes grants you more than enough time to get your work done and be on your merry way, driving to the next job site or editing on your phone while you give your drone a rest.
The Mini 3’s convenient weight makes it more accessible to beginners who don’t want to go through the time and trouble of registering their drone.
Why take the extra step when you can get out and fly your drone today? I must reiterate that skipping registration only applies recreationally, but it’s still among this drone’s top perks.
Its 4K video and 20 MP photos, achievable through its 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor, hold up remarkably well considering this drone was released in 2022, which is already lightyears away in the tech world.
Your images are DNG files, which are like RAW files regarding quality. Here’s a perk of DNG – smaller file sizes!
Compared to RAW, DNG files are up to 20 percent smaller.
Your SD or microSD card only has so much space. Taking photos that have smaller file sizes but comparable quality will allow you to fill the card with more.
More is always better!
The Mini 3 gives you other ways to feel like a professional cinematographer or photographer, even if you’ve never picked up a drone a day in your life before now.
The HDR and dual native ISO produce more shadows and highlights, the adjustable aperture range lets you capture footage in your style, and nighttime shooting doesn’t sacrifice one iota of quality.
As if all that wasn’t great enough, the true Vertical Shooting the Mini 3 boasts makes your videos and photos social-media-ready without any time in post.
You can use LightCut to give your footage that extra panache or publish it straight away.
Your competitors will have nothing on you!
Winner: Autel EVO II Pro
The Mini 3 has so much to offer in many categories, but I’d be remiss to say it’s the winner here.
It might have the better image quality between the two drones (20 MP for the EVO II Pro vs. 48 MP for the Mini 3), but it’s that 6K video I can’t get over.
Will you notice a difference between 4K and 6K video from the EVO II Pro to the Mini 3 if you’re a green pilot using a drone camera for the first time? No, of course not. Just as you won’t notice the slightly lower image quality of the EVO II Pro.
However, if you’re more seasoned at drone use, you might discern the difference.
Commercial pilots and recreational social media aficionados must have the best of the best.
The 20 MP image quality of the EVO II Pro more than suffices for everyday jobs like news photography, aerial real estate shots, and surveying. Its video quality is also more than excellent.
And while it’s true that the Mini 3 does fine in the above areas, I think the video quality of the EVO II Pro edges out the Mini 3.
However, a camera system is about more than the camera sensor. Both drones have similar gimbals, promising excellent stability in flight.
Nothing is worse than when you get the perfect drone shot only to check your footage later and discover it’s a blurry mess.
These two drones are more than adequate in this category and comparable.
Winner: DJI Mini 3
I don’t want to knock the EVO II Plus by giving this category to the Mini 3.
Both these drones are built for performance, and their flight abilities are some of my favorites of all the drones I’ve flown (which have been many!).
However, there can only be one winner, and I have to declare it as the Mini 3.
It’s lightweight, and that plays a role in its performance. I love how you can auto-launch it into the sky.
That’s a handy feature for beginners, sure, but it also comes in useful once you’ve gotten more drone experience under your belt if you want to launch your drone instantly while you’re busy setting up equipment in the area for work.
The smaller size of the Mini 3 doesn’t make it as wind-resistant as the EVO II Pro. The DJI drone has a Level 5 wind resistance. I’ve flown it in winds of 24 miles per hour without much trouble.
I’ve even tested its limits and pushed it in winds of 35 mph. It performed okay; certainly not as well as it would in more ambient conditions, but passably. However, I would not push this drone beyond those limits.
The EVO II Pro has a base wind resistance of 39 MPH or 17 m/s. Once again, I pushed this one to its limits of over 40 MPH, and the drone came out in one piece.
Its wind resistance is better because it’s bigger, more rugged, and durable.
I love the range of Intelligent Flight Modes included with the Mini 3, another positive of its performance. This drone can do all sorts of autonomous activities with aplomb.
As mentioned, this is certainly a benefit for new pilots who want to look cool flying a drone while still learning the ropes.
Even more experienced pilots can get something out of these modes, as they give you a break from the rigors of manual flight.
The EVO II Pro has similar smart features, but not as many, and not quite on the same level as DJI.
I’ve got to mention the Mini 3’s lack of obstacle avoidance sensors. Yes, again. This is by far the drone’s biggest detriment, and not only in the performance category, but overall.
I can understand the absence of these sensors, as they keep the drone affordable. However, I can’t accept it. It seems like such a glaring omission.
Winner: DJI Mini 3
Moving on, this was an instant, no-brainer decision.
The Mini 3 is lightweight, small, and portable. You can review the specs I presented earlier. The EVO II Pro is bigger when unfolded, so it won’t compress that much when you fold it. It just can’t.
Portability is a major consideration when purchasing a drone, considering how on-the-go many of us are.
Most drone shoppers want something light that fits into a backpack or case and doesn’t weigh them down. That’s the Mini 3 in a nutshell.
It’s ready to go on any plane, and you should be able to carry it in your checked luggage if you need to.
You can probably bring the EVO II Pro on a plane.
It’s not that much larger, and it’s certainly not an enterprise-sized drone. However, since it’s heavier, it can wear on you if you’re carrying it on your person as a backpack.
I’d recommend the EVO II Pro more for local travel and day trips, and the Mini 3 for getting out there and exploring the world.
RC compatibility and flight range
Winner: DJI Mini 3
Yep, you read that right. This is yet another category the Mini 3 effortlessly captures.
Let me explain why. This DJI drone is compatible with two remote controllers, the DJI RC and RC-N1. The former works with your smartphone. It comes in two versions, one with a screen, and one without.
Although it’s more expensive, I recommend the version of the RC-N1 with a screen. You could use it with your smartphone, but then again, why would you want to?
The screen is comparable to what you’d see if you hooked up your phone to the Mini 3, so you can leave your phone in your pocket and maintain its battery.
The EVO II Pro uses the Smart Controller SE, a small device with an eight-core image processor, HD quality, and SkyLink 2.0 Transmission technology.
You can use this controller with the EVO Nano and EVO Lite drones.
That’s a good list, but the DJI RC-N1 is compatible with almost every Mini drone you can think of, including the Air 2S, Mavic 3, Mavic 3 Classic, and Mavic Air 2.
That said, the EVO II Pro wins in the transmission distance category. It can send live video up to 12 kilometers, although when using it, it’s really more like 9 kilometers. That’s still astonishing, don’t get me wrong.
The Mini 3 uses the DJI O2 Digital Video Transmission system and can transmit up to 10 kilometers away. When it’s operating at less than that, it’s about at the same level as the EVO II Pro.
» MORE: Best Drone Controllers
Winner: DJI Mini 3
Okay, I’m giving this one to the Mini 3 on a technicality. You see, its base battery life is 38 minutes. But if you buy the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus, you can expand that to 51 minutes.
The EVO II Pro has 40 minutes of flight time.
So yes, even though the battery upgrade pushes the Mini 3 well over the EVO II Pro’s battery life, its battery with the Standard Intelligent Flight Battery is still about the same as the Autel drone.
Here’s my disclaimer, as I’ve done in all my reviews. Those battery lives are advertisements and not what you actually get, especially if you fly in high winds.
I’ve found that you get just about 30 minutes out of the Mini 3’s standard battery and not quite 40 minutes with the Autel.
And that about wraps it up. The Autel EVO II Pro and DJI Mini 3 are incredible drones in their own right.
However, the Mini 3 offers pilots more, from in-app editing on the go to excellent photo and video quality, Intelligent Flight Features, an enviably long battery life, and a registration-free weight.
It’s true that it’s missing the superior video quality, and I wish it had some form of obstacle avoidance, but its great features more than make up for what it’s missing.