After the DJI Mini 3 Pro was released in May 2022, one of the dilemmas people had was choosing between it and the Air 2S.
Now DJI has released a new drone, the Air 3.
The Mini 3 Pro was a worthy contender against the Air 2S, as you got almost the same features with a few advantages in each, but how does it hold up against the Air 3?
The DJI Air 3 is the better drone thanks to its advanced flight features, 360-degree obstacle avoidance, dual camera system, advanced imaging capabilities, and longer flight time.
However, the choice between the Air 3 and Mini 3 Pro largely depends on your specific needs and preferences.
If you prioritize advanced camera capabilities and professional features, the Air 3 is the way to go.
However, if you value portability, simplicity, and a budget-friendly option without compromising on decent camera quality, the Mini 3 Pro is better for you.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Keep reading to make the right choice on which drone you should get.
DJI Air 3 overview
DJI Air 3 Fly More Combo with DJI RC 2 (screen remote controller), Drone with Medium Tele & Wide-Angle Dual Primary Cameras for Adults 4K HDR, 46-Min Max Flight Time, 48MP, Two Extra Batteries.
- Newest DJI drone
- Affordable with professional-level performance
- It has a unique dual camera, capable of excellent low-light photography and filming.
- The DJI Air 3 comes with an omnidirectional sensing system.
- Advanced ActiveTrack and Follow-Me features.
- Can fly for a long time
- Top-notch transmission system, OcuSync 4.0
- Can fly long range without issues
- The DJI Air 3 has to be registered (above 250 grams)
- It is not the best choice for hiking and lightweight traveling.
- The camera’s sensors are smaller than the one found in its predecessor, DJI Air 2S.
Being the latest addition to DJI’s catalog of consumer drones, the Air 3 is packed with features, some of which we had hoped to see in the Mini 3 Pro.
Below is a brief overview of the main features this drone has.
- Dual camera system: The Air 3 features a dual camera system, each with a different aperture. This allows you to take shots from two different perspectives to combine them later or pick the best one.
These cameras include a 1/1.3, f1.7 24mm wide angle lens and a 1/1.3, f2.8, 70mm 3X telephoto camera.
- Vertical shooting mode: If you want to shoot videos in portrait mode and post them directly to social media, the Air 3 can do that by automatically cropping the footage.
I will discuss how this compares to the Mini 3 Pro’s vertical shooting mode later.
- Advanced ActiveTrack: The Air 3 comes with the latest ActiveTrack 5.0, which allows it to track objects in more directions and lets the user change the tracking direction.
- OcuSync 4.0: The Air 3 also features the latest transmission from DJI that promises a range of up to 12 miles and better performance in areas with interference.
- 360-degree obstacle avoidance: The Air 3 is the first Air drone to feature 360-degree obstacle avoidance, making it usable for more complex shots than its predecessors.
- More intelligent flight modes: In addition to the flight modes we are used to in Mini and Air drones, such as QuickShots, MasterShots, and FocusTrack, the Air 3 also features modes like Night Mode, Cruise Control, and Waypoints, which were only available in the Mavic 3 drones.
- Longer flight time: DJI is upping their game when making batteries.
With all the features and weight of the Air 3, it’s advertised to last up to 46 minutes in the air, though you can expect at least 40 minutes due to the various factors that affect a drone’s flight time.
DJI Mini 3 Pro overview
It’s incredible how a small drone can have powerful features, especially for aerial photography. The compact and lightweight qualities of the DJI Mini 3 Pro make it sturdy enough to withstand strong winds.
- One of the most popular drones ever.
- It’s small, portable, and lightweight.
- It weighs under 250 grams and may benefit from relaxed drone laws.
- Excellent for photography and filming for its price
- 3-way anti-collision sensors
- Can fly for a long time
- Can fly long-range
- It has two batteries compatible.
- Perfect for beginners
- With the intelligent battery plus, the Mini 3 Pro weights above 250 grams
- It doesn’t have an omnidirectional sensing system.
- The Active Track is inferior to the one found in Air 3.
Released in May 2022, the Mini 3 Pro is DJI’s most advanced mini drone.
It comes with a wide range of features that were firsts in the Mini drone series, making it the perfect drone for beginners looking for a versatile option. These features include:
- Vertical shooting mode: Unlike in the Air 3, the camera in the Mini 3 Pro changes the orientation to vertical mode, and the maximum resolution is 4K.
- Lightweight design: Being a Mini drone, the Mini 3 Pro weighs less than 250 grams, making it a perfect drone for anyone looking for a lightweight companion or those who don’t want to register their drone.
However, it comes with two batteries, and one of the batteries makes the drone heavier than 250 grams by a few grams.
This means you will have to register it, which is worth it considering you get extra flight time.
- Obstacle avoidance: The Mini 3 Pro was the first mini drone to feature obstacle avoidance.
While it’s not 360-degree obstacle avoidance, it detects obstacles in three directions: front, downward, and backward, making more maneuvers possible compared to a drone without obstacle avoidance.
- Decent sensor: The Mini 3 Pro features a 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor.
While this may not be as large as that in the Mavic 3 drones, it works well in optimum lighting but may not be the best for very low-light conditions.
- Maximum resolution: The Mini 3 Pro can shoot up to 4K at 60 fps and in both 12 MP and 48 MP, though the 48 MP is enabled by quad Bayer technology.
This resolution is good enough for content creation and professional work.
- ActiveTrack: The Mini 3 Pro was also the first Mini drone to officially get ActiveTrack, or the follow-me feature, making it perfect for hikers, skateboarders, or any other outdoor activity enthusiasts who could use this feature.
However, this feature is limited; the drone can only follow you from behind and from the side.
- Flight time: As mentioned earlier, the Mini 3 Pro has two battery options: a 34-minute- and a 47-minute.
DJI Air 3 vs. DJI Mini 3 Pro – The comparison
Now, let’s dig deeper into the main features, how these drones compare, and which you should get.
Both drones have a folding design, making them easier to pack into a smaller bag. However, when it comes to weight, there’s a huge difference.
The Mini 3 Pro weighs 249 grams, qualifying it as a hobby drone, especially in the United States.
As such, you don’t have to register it and don’t need a license to use it unless you’re using it for commercial purposes.
Even with the larger battery, this drone is still light and perfect for anyone who needs a capable drone to fit in their backpack as they engage in their favorite activities.
On the other hand, the Air 3 is larger and weighs 720 grams.
However, considering the two cameras, advanced obstacle avoidance, and improved and additional flight modes, this extra weight feels worth it for users who want a drone that can do more.
If you’re looking for a small, light, and easily portable drone that can produce excellent footage without the complexities of two cameras, the Mini 3 Pro will suit your needs.
» MORE: Best 4K Drones Under 250 Grams
These drones are priced differently, catering to different markets.
The Mini 3 Pro is cheaper, starting at $669 without the controller. This option is great for anyone upgrading from the Mini 2 or any drone that uses the DJI RC-N1 or the DJI RC controllers.
If you don’t have a controller, you must pay $759 for the Mini 3 Pro with the RC-N1 controller or $909 for the Mini 3 Pro with the DJI RC controller with a built-in screen.
The Air 3, on the other hand, starts at $1,099 with the RC-N2 (an upgrade from the RC-N1) and $1,349 with the DJI RC 2 (an upgrade from the DJI RC).
The Mini 3 Pro’s Fly More Combo is sold separately at $249, while the Air 3’s Fly More Combo is sold as a complete package, including the drone for $1,549.
» MORE: Best Camera Drones Under $2,000
Photo and video recording
Both drone models have decent cameras, but there are some significant differences.
While they both have a similar lens, the Air 3 features a dual camera system.
So, while you get a similar lens in the dual camera setup, it comes at different apertures and zooming capabilities at up to 3X in the tele lens.
This allows users to switch between the wide angle and the tele lens within the same flight. Taking footage from different perspectives allows you to also get creative in post-production.
While the Mini 3 Pro doesn’t have two cameras, it does support zooming at up to 2X in 4K, 3X in 2.7K, and 4X in Full HD.
The quality may not be as great when zooming like in the Air 3, but it’s good enough for observing the subject from a distance.
The Air 3 also shoots at a maximum of 4K at 100fps, which is a little higher than the Mini 3 Pro’s 60fps, but this shouldn’t be a deal breaker for casual users since you will often be using the 60fps or lower unless you want some complex shots.
Another advantage of the Air 3 is its ability to shoot in D-Log M and HLG, which are more advanced color profiles that give you more room for creativity during post-processing.
The Mini 3 Pro is limited to 10-bit, which is a plus compared to drones like the Mini and Mini 2, but you don’t have as much room for editing as you would get with the Air 3.
Regarding photos, both drones allow you to take stills in 12 MP and 48 MP, though the dual camera system and more updated imaging capabilities of the Air 3 give it an upper hand.
The Mini 3 Pro does have one significant advantage, though, especially for content creators who love posting their footage on social media platforms, and that’s the vertical shooting mode.
As mentioned in the overview, the camera changes to a portrait position, which means you will not have to crop the footage to post on your channels.
Secondly, you can film up to 4K and even take photos with this mode.
While the Air 3 comes with the vertical shooting mode in both of its cameras, it crops the footage, and you can only get a maximum resolution of 2.7K at 60 fps.
This feature is also not available for photos.
Intelligent flight modes
These drones feature common intelligent flight modes such as QuickShots, MasterShots, Panoramas, Hyperlapse, and ActiveTrack.
However, the Air 3 has additional modes, making it an even better option. These include:
- Improved ActiveTrack: With the Mini 3 Pro, the only option is for the drone to follow you from behind or from the side.
But with ActiveTrack 5.0 in the Air 3, you can choose the drone to follow from eight different positions and switch between these directions as the drone flies.
This allows for some dynamic and higher-quality footage.
- Cruise control: This feature allows the drone to fly at a constant speed. All you have to do is fly at your desired speed and initiate this feature, and the drone will maintain that speed without much input from you.
This feature is handy when you need to take a shot but are having trouble maintaining the ideal speed.
This feature was only available in the Mavic 3 series drones. This feature is also available when using the Spotlight feature.
- Waypoints: Also only available in the Mavic 3 and enterprise drones, the Waypoints feature allows you to set a course for the drone to follow while taking images.
This feature works great for mapping tasks or when you want to automate a specific shot.
The Mini 3 Pro has its version of Waypoints, as discussed here, but this feature only works in the Hyperlapse mode, and you can only use it to execute a specific Hyperlapse pattern.
- Night mode: If you enjoy taking photos and videos at night, you will love the Air 3’s dedicated Night Mode that automatically lowers the ISO and reduces the noise, resulting in better night footage.
The range of a drone, or how far it can fly from the controller, as well as the transmission quality, are crucial since they affect how well you can use the drone.
That said, the Air 3 comes with the newest DJI transmission system, the OcuSync 4.0, with a range of up to 12 miles.
On the other hand, the Mini 3 Pro uses the older OcuSync 3.0 that promises a range of up to 5 miles.
In a contest for the strongest transmission, the 04 system is better thanks to more antennas and upgraded anti-interference technology.
However, the Mini 3 Pro is not that far behind and performs quite well.
The Air 3 has better flight features and performance than the Mini 3 Pro. It excels in the following aspects:
360-degree obstacle avoidance
This is a significant upgrade from its predecessor, the Air 2S, which has four-way obstacle avoidance and a considerable difference to the Mini 3 Pro, which features three-way obstacle avoidance.
While both drones perform well in areas with obstacles, you can fly in tighter areas with the Air 3 than you would with the Mini 3 Pro.
Longer battery life
The Air 3 is advertised to last 46 minutes in flight, while the Mini 3 Pro comes with a 34-minute battery.
While you may not get the advertised minutes due to various factors like wind, battery health, and temperature, the Air 3 would still last longer.
However, you can opt for the Mini 3 Pro’s Intelligent Battery Plus, which lasts 47 minutes, but you will compromise on weight, especially if you’re looking for a drone weighing less than 150 grams.
Getting this battery also brings the cost of the Mini 3 Pro closer to that of the Air 3, so you should consider which option gives you the most value for your money.
Speed and wind resistance
Being heavier and sturdier, the Air 3 can withstand winds up to 12m/s compared to the Mini 3 Pro’s 10m/s.
The Air 3 is also faster, with a maximum speed of 42.5 mph compared to the Mini 3 Pro’s 35.7 mph.
A faster speed allows you to get to a destination faster and get out of emergencies quickly.
» MORE: DJI Mini 3 Pro and Weather
As mentioned earlier, these drones come with different controllers.
The Mini 3 Pro is compatible with the DJI RC-N1 and DJI RC, standard controllers that are also compatible with several other Mavic and Mini drones.
The Air 3 comes with the RC-N2 and RC 2 controllers designed for the new 04 transmission.
As such, while they look similar to the previous models, they have more antennas and perform better. Unfortunately, these controllers are currently only compatible with the Air 3.
Unless DJI makes them compatible with other drones, if you’re looking for a drone compatible with other controllers you may have, the Mini 3 Pro would be the best option in this case.
On the other hand, future drones from DJI may feature the 04 system, making the new controllers compatible with other drones.
Considering the features you’re looking for, you can use the Mini 3 Pro and the older controllers or get the new Air 3 and wait for an update on compatibility.
One fascinating compatibility that DJI made possible through an update is between the Mini 3 Pro and the Goggles 2, Goggles Integra, and the Motion Controller 2.
This allows you to experience FPV without getting an actual FPV drone.
So, if you want to try this, you can opt for the Mini 3 Pro. This feature is not yet available for the Air 3.
Both are capable drones, have excellent features, and would appeal to different people. Below is why you would choose either of them.
Why choose the DJI Air 3?
The Air 3 is ideal for those who prioritize advanced photography and videography capabilities. Here’s who should consider it:
- Enthusiast filmmakers and photographers: The dual-camera system with varying apertures and zoom capabilities, along with 4K at 100fps and advanced color profiles like D-Log M and HLG, makes the Air 3 perfect for creators who demand the utmost in image quality and flexibility.
- Professional content creators and filmmakers: The Air 3’s advanced shooting modes, including Night Mode, allow professionals to capture high-quality footage even in challenging conditions. Its versatile flight modes and longer flight times also make it suitable for professional use.
- Drone pilots needing advanced tracking: The ActiveTrack 5.0 feature with multi-directional tracking and the ability to change tracking directions is a significant advantage for drone pilots who require precise object tracking in various scenarios.
- Users in windy areas: With its higher wind resistance and sturdier build, the Air 3 can handle stronger winds, making it suitable for users in windy locations.
- Those wanting extended flight time: If longer flight time is a priority, the Air 3’s advertised 46-minute flight time (though real-world flight time may be slightly less) is a significant advantage over the Mini 3 Pro.
Why choose the DJI Mini 3 Pro?
The Mini 3 Pro is designed for users who prioritize portability and ease of use while still demanding good photo and video quality. Here’s who should consider it:
- Casual photographers and videographers: If you’re looking for a drone that’s easy to carry around and provides good-quality footage without the complexity of multiple cameras and advanced settings, the Mini 3 Pro is an excellent choice.
- Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts: Its lightweight design and compact form factor make the Mini 3 Pro a great companion for outdoor activities. The obstacle avoidance system in three directions enhances safety during outdoor adventures.
- Social media content creators: The Mini 3 Pro’s vertical shooting mode allows for easy creation of portrait-oriented videos and photos, perfect for sharing on social media platforms.
- Users on a budget: The Mini 3 Pro is more budget-friendly than the Air 3, making it a suitable choice for those looking for a cost-effective drone without compromising too much on features.
- FPV enthusiasts: If you’re interested in experiencing FPV (first-person view) flying without investing in a dedicated FPV drone, the Mini 3 Pro is compatible with the DJI Goggles 2, Goggles Integra, and the Motion Controller 2, offering an FPV-like experience.
If I were to choose between these drones, the Air 3 would is the better overall drone.
Its better camera, more shooting options, durability, extra intelligent flight modes, better range, and better overall performance bring it closer to drones like the Mavic 3 series, making it a great bang for the buck.
To see both drones in action, here is a detailed video:
Best SD cards for the DJI Air 2 and Mini 3 Pro
Whether you go for the Air 3 or Mini 3 Pro, one of the accessories you will quickly realize you need is an SD card.
And not just any SD card, but an SD card with the appropriate write and read speeds and enough storage. To make it easier, below are some SD cards you can buy for your drone.