Welcome to my review of the Autel EVO Lite+ and the DJI Mini 2 SE.
These two handheld drones are geared toward pilots who never like to stay in one place, as they’re packed with features for facilitating easier (read: autonomous) and more enjoyable flights.
However, unless you’re stocking up for a whole fleet, you only need one of these drones. I’ve tested the EVO Lite+ and Mini 2 SE over many hours apiece to help you decide which is the best of the bunch.
This review will dive deep into the differences between the Autel EVO Lite+ and DJI Mini 2 SE and share more of my insights and experiences flying them both. You’ll learn why the EVO Lite+ has what it takes to outshine a DJI drone, which is no easy feat!
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Autel EVO Lite+
The EVO Lite+ came out at the same time that Autel revised the sensor size of the original EVO Lite and introduced the EVO Nano (two versions).
Although that was a lot all at once, the EVO Lite+ stands out for myriad reasons. It reduced the cost of what you’d have to pay to own an OG EVO Lite.
It also simplified the gimbal system, going from a four-axis to a three-axis gimbal.
Maybe that doesn’t sound so great if you’re of the mindset that more advanced tech is always better, but let me tell you this.
Four-axis gimbals are pretty darn cool, but a three-axis gimbal is still more than adequate.
In my opinion, it’s one of those “don’t fix what isn’t broken” scenarios.
But I digress. Let’s investigate what else rocks about the EVO Lite+:
- It lasts in the air for 40 minutes at a clip, so you can get more done without having to spend hours charging your battery.
- The transmission range of 7.4 miles is not too shabby for a DJI competitor and is plenty competent for new pilots.
- Its 1-inch CMOS RGGB camera shoots in unparalleled 6K video at 30 frames per second and 20 MP image resolution.
- It has automatic flight features like Active Track and SkyPortrait for hands-off photography and videography, another A+ feature for social media stars and influencers. SkyPortrait is even branded as “your personal paparazzi,” which is right up your alley if you’re chronically online.
- Excellent photography and videography modes, from Defog Mode to natural color restoration, the Moonlight Algorithm, adjustable aperture, HDR composites, and dual autofocus.
DJI Mini 2 SE
- A neat weight of under 249 grams, so you don’t have to trouble yourself with drone registration.
- A stabilizing three-axis gimbal that houses a camera with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that shoots in 12 MP image quality and 2.7K video.
- Beginner features such as single-tap launching and landing, a Propeller Guard (must purchase separately though), and tutorials through the DJI Fly app. Now beginners can feel like experts in record time!
- Creative templates and fun edits through the DJI Fly app for editing and posting your footage while you’re still in the field (great for building your portfolio or keeping up with the Joneses on social media).
- Fun Intelligent Flight Features like QuickShots that maneuvers your drone for you, completely hands-free (well, you still need to hold the controller, but you get what I mean).
Although I mostly fly drones for fun, I always perceive purchasing decisions from the other side of the coin, as I know most pilots are in it for commercial gain.
Here at Droneblog, we pride ourselves on recommending the top products on the market after hundreds of hours of research and testing.
Through my experience with both drones, I’m confident in saying the Autel EVO Lite+ is the better drone compared to the DJI Mini 2 SE. The DJI drone has video and image quality that’s been surpassed several times over by the EVO Lite+. The Autel drone has more features to bolster your image and video quality and better safety features.
Anything the Mini 2 SE can do, the EVO Lite+ can do better.
Image quality? Video quality? Photography settings? Flight time? These are all areas where the EVO Lite+ excels.
However, I don’t want to completely cast the Mini 2 SE aside. If you’re brand-new to drones or seeking a lightweight, ultra-portable solution, the Mini 2 SE will serve you well.
It’s got decent video transmission and battery, making it more applicable for recreational than commercial endeavors.
DJI never said the Mini 2 SE is a commercial drone. Its website is full of people using this drone for fun, a purpose I’ve primarily used it for as well.
If that’s what you stick with, you can still have a blast with the Mini 2 SE.
What are the main differences?
It’s comparison time.
I love a good comparison as much as anyone. I’m very meticulous with my purchases and need to feel like I’m making the best choice through careful consideration and research.
What better way to do that than by examining what these drones have and lack?
Here’s some information that might help you make up your mind.
- Weight: A name like the EVO Lite+ would probably make you think this drone weighs under 250 grams. Well, it doesn’t. Instead, it weighs 835 grams or almost three pounds. The Mini 2 SE, by comparison, is far lighter. It weighs below 250 grams. That’s about as much as your smartphone.
- Night shots: Isn’t nighttime videography and photography just the coolest? You’ll certainly agree if you choose the EVO Lite+, which boasts Autel’s Moonlight Algorithm for noise control and clarity in dark environments. Although you’re only legally permitted to use your drone at night in limited scenarios, having night footage in your portfolio could help you land gigs or sell your footage faster. The Mini 2 SE doesn’t have a feature like the Moonlight Algorithm, although later DJI drones have their answer to this feature.
- Safety features: The approach to safety each drone manufacturer took is wildly different here. The Mini 2 SE comes equipped with…well, not much. Okay, to be fair, it has a downward sensing system that uses infrared technology to gauge what’s around it, but it can’t actively avoid obstacles. The prop guards aren’t enough to save it if it careens into a tree.
- Colors: You want colors? You got ‘em! The EVO Lite+ comes in three hues for all tastes. Your options are white, black, and electric orange. The Mini 2 SE is only available in white, with no option to customize your drone color unless you put a skin on it.
- Beginner-friendliness: The EVO Lite+ has some beginner-friendly features, but mostly, this drone’s audience is the more established pilot. Oppositely, the Mini 2 SE is made mostly for beginners. Experienced pilots might find some of its features too rudimentary.
- Cost: The Mini 2 SE is available for under $350, which isn’t bad for a new drone released in 2023. By comparison, the EVO Lite+ is well over $1,000.
Autel EVO Lite+
The EVO Lite+ is a mid-level drone for commercial and recreational use, although it’s handier for the former.
This follow-up to the OG EVO Lite introduced cost-effective, consumer-friendly features, proving that an Autel drone needn’t break the bank.
It has features to grab your attention, but it’s much more than flash and panache.
This drone has substance, as evidenced by its 40-minute flight time, industry-leading video quality, and high-level obstacle avoidance.
It’s got smart features to rival any DJI drone, with automated flight modes such as Flick, Fade Away, Orbit, and Rocket that are very comparable to DJI’s QuickShots functions.
These single-button modes shoot automatically, just as DJI QuickShots modes do.
Better yet, you can use the Autel Sky app to jazz up your footage immediately after shooting, apply filters, and pick a banger soundtrack.
Pilots clamber for SkyPortrait, especially in the social media sphere. You can send the EVO Lite+ into the air on its own trajectory to track you and your buddies, then take photos.
The camera will automatically include everyone and make adjustments, so you don’t have to.
That’s only a taste of this drone’s awesome subject tracking, as it also includes Dynamic Track 2.1.
This improved version of Dynamic Track allows the EVO Lite+ to track almost anything. I’m talking about people, vehicles, even animals.
The drone will capture footage, so you still have to monitor it, but you can rely on its leading obstacle avoidance sensor and camera system to prevent it from crashing into a nearby tree.
You can augment your photography in new and unexpected ways. Natural color restoration renews the hues of your images without oversaturating them.
» MORE: Autel EVO Lite+ Review
The HDR feature takes a composite of your images with the optimal highlight and shadow balance, and Defog Mode is perfect if you’re up with the sun or shooting vivid videos from a mountain.
The kind of footage you can put together using the EVO Lite+ is nothing short of astounding. This is a drone designed to help you gain a competitive advantage.
These features are intuitive enough for any beginner but catered toward drone pros with more experience under their belt.
That’s one of my favorite parts about the EVO Lite+: how it toes the line between beginner and seasoned pilot.
1'' CMOS Sensor with 6K HDR Camera, No Geo-Fencing, 3-Axis Gimbal, 3-Way Obstacle Avoidance, 40Min Flight Time, 7.4 Miles Transmission, Lite Plus More Combo.
DJI Mini 2 SE
The Mini 2 SE is a member of DJI’s long-running Mini series.
It’s about as lightweight as a Mini drone comes and is ultra-beginner-friendly, packed with tutorials and prop guards to prevent pilot mishaps (and painful lacerations from those sharp propellers – ouch!).
Could you use it as a serious commercial drone pilot? I suppose, but I wonder why you would want to.
After all, the Mini 2 SE lacks any obstacle avoidance, a major shortfall when surveying or doing any kind of environmental work with a drone.
Is the Mini 2 SE good for recreational drone exploration? You betcha. It’s so lightweight and intuitive that audiences, from kids to adults, can pick it up and fly it.
It’s packed with enough features to help you learn the ropes of drone flight that I’d recommend the Mini 2 SE as the first drone for any pilot.
Heck, I wish it had existed when I learned to fly a drone. I feel it would have made matters a lot easier.
And sure, many of the Mini drones before and after the Mini 2 SE are just as beginner-friendly, but there’s something about this one that I still like.
It has a nice charm and fun features that make the experience with this drone one in a million.
It has a full extent of the Intelligent Flight Features. This is a DJI drone we’re talking about here, and even though it’s a basic one, especially by today’s standards, it still uses QuickShots.
You can choose from four modes: Rocket, Helix, Dronie, and Circle.
You can also take off without manually doing it, and land automatically. New drone pilots can proceed with the utmost confidence thanks to all this cool automation.
Lightweight Drone with QHD Video, 10km Video Transmission, 3 Batteries for Total of 93 Mins Flight Time, Under 249 g, Automatic Pro Shots, Camera Drone for Beginners.
Winner: Autel EVO Lite+
I don’t want you to feel like I’m beating up on the poor Mini 2 SE because it’s an exceptional, zippy little drone in many ways. However, its camera is not one of them.
The three-axis gimbal is fine.
That’s the same type of gimbal the EVO Lite+ has, reducing its axes from four to three between the first and second EVO Lite. It’s also a DJI gimbal, so it’s more than passable.
The problem is with the camera itself. For a drone released in 2023, its 12 MP image quality and 2.4K video quality don’t cut it.
When you consider that the EVO Lite+ has 20 MP image quality and 6K video, that difference is huge!
The Autel drone doesn’t even have the best image quality compared to many other drones in the Mini series, but the Mini 2 SE is not one of them.
As for the video quality, it’s a steep uptick for the EVO Lite+ compared to the Mini 2 SE.
Do most people even care about video and image quality? That depends on what kind of drone pilot you’re asking.
If it’s a commercial pilot, yes, absolutely. You have to, as getting quality footage is part of your job description.
As for recreational pilots, it depends. If you’re brand new to drones, which is the audience the Mini 2 SE caters to, then you don’t really know any better to say definitively, “Yes, this is awesome camera quality.”
However, if you’re an influencer or social media star, you will care about image and video quality. You probably got into drones in the first place to give yourself an advantage over the competition.
If your video and image quality is poor by comparison, that advantage evaporates.
Winner: Autel EVO Lite+
I want to give the Mini 2 SE brownie points for performance. It’s lightweight, easy to fly, intuitive, responsive, and just an all-around good drone.
However, I couldn’t rightfully give it the performance prize when it has obstacle detection but not avoidance.
The EVO Lite+ has an intelligent obstacle avoidance system that has a wide field of frontal vision. It’s built to reduce blind spots and prevent unintended collisions.
When you consider this drone only costs about $500 more than the Mini 2 SE (yes, it’s still expensive today), the lack of an obstacle avoidance system in the Mini drone is even more glaring.
Winner: DJI Mini 2 SE
I love my EVO Lite+, but there’s one thing that’s bothered me about it. For a drone that’s called the Lite, it isn’t.
You wouldn’t expect the Nano to be a big, hulking drone, so why does the Lite weigh twice the limit to register a drone recreationally?
The Mini 2 SE is indeed a mini. It’s under 250 grams, so celebrate, hobbyists. You don’t have to register it, but watch your payload to ensure your drone doesn’t push over the weight limit.
Besides being lighter and easier to tote around, the Mini 2 SE is also smaller.
This may be a beginner drone, but it’s robust enough that you can store it in a drone backpack and see the world with it.
The EVO Lite+ is more than capable of handling the same kind of travel conditions. It’s just a little bigger and a little heavier, so it might leave you with a little less space in your travel bag.
RC compatibility and long-range flights
Winner: Autel EVO Lite+
The Mini 2 SE comes packed with its own RC-N1 controller that attaches to your smartphone. It’s a boxy controller with two handles and a few buttons on the front.
It would be best if it came with a screen, but what can you do?
This is the only remote that works for the Mini 2 SE, which uses OcuSync 2.0 transmission.
I would say the Mini 2 SE’s controller is about on par with the EVO Lite+’s. Both require you to use your smartphone as the screen.
It’s really not the end of the world, but using your phone as the screen in lieu of a screen built into your drone controller drains the battery faster, so put your phone in low-power mode and shut down any apps you aren’t using.
This Autel controller is compatible with EVO Lite and Nano series drones, so it has more compatibility than the Mini SE’s controller.
As for long-range flights, this is a no-contest. The Mini SE has about 2.5 miles of range versus the 7.4 miles for the EVO Lite+.
This is considering the DJI O2 system is an upgrade over other models.
Winner: Autel EVO Lite+
A 30-minute flight time is pretty good for a Mini drone, but admittedly could be better, especially for a drone released in 2023.
Yet DJI only promises 31 minutes of flight for the Mini 2 SE.
When you consider that the 30 minutes is only DJI’s projection, you’ll only end up getting 26 or 27 minutes out of this drone.
I couldn’t get its battery to last for 30 minutes in any test conditions (and you don’t want to drain that battery to zero, anyway), but at least the battery charges fast so you can get back out there and fly again.
The EVO Lite+ is supposed to fly proudly for 40 minutes. Again, it’s not quite that. I logged some flight times between 36 and 38 minutes, but that’s still about 10 minutes more than you get with the Mini 2 SE’s battery.
What can you do in 10 extra minutes? That can be the difference between wrapping up a project or not!
» MORE: Autel EVO Lite+ vs DJI Air 2S
It’s an interesting day when Autel bumps out DJI, but that’s the case in the battle of the EVO Lite+ and the Mini 2 SE.
The DJI drone is more beginner-friendly but is hampered by outdated battery times, image resolution, and video quality.
It’s also scant on flight features and doesn’t give you as many options for configuring your photography settings as the EVO Lite+.
Plus, most significant is the lack of obstacle avoidance in a drone released in 2023.
Obstacle avoidance and Mini drones have never been the best of friends, appearing sporadically, but it’s something today’s pilots anticipate as a baseline feature.
I found the EVO Lite+ a great all-arounder.