Are DJI Controllers Interchangeable? (What You Need to Know)


If you have several DJI drones, you may be wondering if you can interchange the controllers. Maybe one controller has better features than the other. Or one of the drone’s controllers is damaged, and you can’t get a replacement as soon as you’d like. But are they interchangeable?

In general, DJI controllers are specific to one drone model and are not interchangeable. However, some DJI controllers may be interchangeable within a series. For instance, you can use a Mavic Air 2 controller with an Air 2S. If you’re looking for a controller that works with multiple drones, you can consider purchasing the DJI smart controller.

Let’s look a little deeper into this question of DJI controllers’ compatibility and interchangeability.

Can you use a DJI Controller with other drones?

For the most part, you cannon use a DJI controller with drones from other manufacturers, and probably not even with most other drones from DJI. While most drone controllers use the same concepts, each drone model will often work with the controller designed for it by the manufacturer. 

That said, you may happen to come across drones that can use any controller, but they will have to be compatible with the controller you have, and there will be guidelines on how to bind your drone to the controller. 

Are Phantom Remotes interchangeable?

Yes, DJI Phantom remotes are interchangeable. DJI initially released a Phantom 4 Pro drone with a controller that lacks a built-in screen. They later released a Phantom 4 Pro + with an inbuilt screen. If you have the older Phantom 4 Pro, you can purchase the controller with an inbuilt screen and use it with your drone. 

However, this only works for the V1.0 models. The interchangeable remote controllers for the Phantom 4 Pro V1.0 models are the GL300E and the GL300F. For the V2.0 Phantom drones, you should use the GL300K and the GL300L controllers. 

Are Mavic Mini Controllers interchangeable with other DJI drones?

No, they are not. The Mavic Mini controller is NOT interchangeable with any other DJI drone. This means you can’t use the Mavic Mini controllers on the Mavic Air drones, the Mini 2, or any other drone model.

Can Mavic Air 2 use the Mavic Mini 2 Controller?

Unlike the Mavic Mini controller, the Mini 2 controller can be used with the Mavic Air 2. DJI allowed the Mavic Air 2 to be used with the Mini 2’s controller through a firmware update. 

You can also connect the Mavic Air 2’s controller to the Mavic Mini 2 or connect them to the same controller, allowing two people to fly the drone or one person to view what the other person is doing with the drone.

Can you use a Smart Controller with a Mavic Mini?

Unfortunately, the Smart Controller is not compatible with the Mavic Mini. The Smart controller uses OcuSync 2.0, which was rolled out in the Mini 2 and other later drones. The Mavic Mini uses Wi-Fi signals to connect to its controller, and this system of connection isn’t compatible with the smart controller. 

The Mini 2 was also not compatible with the smart controller until after a recent firmware update. The Mini 2 can now be controlled using the Smart Controller. 

What drones are compatible with the Smart Controller?

As mentioned earlier, DJI released a smart controller that can be used with many different DJI drone models. They are always updating the software to allow the smart controller to control more drones. So far, the drones that can be controlled using a smart controller include:

  • Mavic Mini 2
  • Mavic 2 Zoom
  • Mavic 2 Pro
  • Mavic Air 2 and Air 2S
  • Mavic Enterprise Series
  • Phantom 4 V2.0

To ensure your drone works well with the smart controller, make sure you have updated your drone’s firmware to the latest version.

Why is the DJI Smart Controller so expensive?

The DJI Smart Controller is an all-in-one system that eliminates the need to use an extra smartphone. If you’ve flown drones for a long time and relied on your smartphone to use the app and stream the live feed, you may have experienced a lag, poor connections, or even the app crashing depending on the phone you’re using. 

The controller is dedicated to helping you fly your drone. It has an internal memory, and you can also add an SD card to make sure you never run out of memory. The screen is customized to give you the best experience without making it too bulky. It’s also enhanced for performance, allowing it to work in extreme conditions that regular smartphones and tablets wouldn’t tolerate. 

If you’d like to use other apps, such as AirMap or KittyHawk, you can also download them onto the controller. And let’s not forget that it’s compatible with several drones. You now don’t have to buy a controller for each drone.

Is it worth getting a DJI Smart Controller?

While a smart controller offers convenience and ease of use, in many cases, it only makes sense if you have several drones. But if you only have one drone, such as the Mini 2, it might be overkill since it’s actually more expensive than the Mini 2. 

On the other hand, if you have the Mavic Air 2 or the Phantom 4 Pro, it might be worth considering it.  It also depends on what you’ll be using the drone for. For commercial purposes, the controller offers better performance, longer flight times, and sometimes a better range compared to the usual controllers. 

How do I connect my Mini 2 with a Smart Controller?

To connect your Mini 2 with your Smart Controller, here are the steps to follow:

  • Power up the smart controller.
  • In most cases, the smart controller will give you prompts to update it. 
  • If you don’t see any update prompt, access the settings using the three dots on the top right corner.
  • Scroll down until you get to “System Update” and click “Update,” which will install the latest version.
  • To connect your drone, access Settings again and look for “Aircraft Management.” This allows you to choose the drone you will be using.
  • If you can’t see the Mavic Mini 2, click “Add” and click the DJI Mavic Mini 2 on the page that appears.
  • Once you click it, the drone will start beeping to initiate the linking process.
  • Then, click the button below the camera until it stops beeping.
  • If it doesn’t stop beeping, then your drone may need a firmware update.
  • To do that, you need to connect the drone to the old controller, update the firmware, and retry the linking process.

Does the DJI Smart Controller have GPS?

Yes. Among other features, the smart controller has an inbuilt GPS.

Should I put my SD Card in the Smart Controller OR in the drone?

While the SD card slot in the smart controller seems convenient, it’s not the best place for it. It only records copies of the footage, which is often not of the best quality. 

It’s best to place the SD card in the drone and record the footage directly on the drone, and use the slot on the smart controller to watch the footage. However, you can still record the footage on the smart controller by changing the storage location or record through screen capture (an inbuilt feature in the smart controller).

How Much Memory Does A DJI Controller Have?

Controllers have at least 8 GB of internal memory, but they have an SD card slot allowing you to extend the memory up to 128 GB. Like with the drones, make sure the SD cards are at least UHS-I Speed Grade 3 to support the writing and reading speeds of the drones.

» MORE: SD Cards for DJI Drones (What You Need to Know)

Do You Need Wi-Fi for your DJI Smart Controller?

In order to perform firmware updates and to access certain other features of your Smart Controller, you do need to have a wifi connection. At home, you can connect to your home’s network, or while in the field, you can use a portable hotspot or use your smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

However, to fly your drone using the Smart Controller, you do not need a wifi or internet connection. The Smart Controller does not even use a wifi connection to connect to the drone but instead uses OcuSync 2.0. 

How to install apps on your Smart Controller

Follow these steps to install apps on your Smart Controller:

  • On your computer’s browser, search for Google Play Store
  • Next, search for the app you need to download.
  • Copy the link to the app and paste it into an APK downloader. Be careful with APK downloaders since some may introduce Malwares to your smart controller.
  • After downloading the APK, insert an SD card into the computer and copy the APK file onto the SD card.
  • Safely remove the SD card from the computer and insert it in your controller.
  • In the controller, tap the 4 boxes icon on the bottom left side.
  • Access File Manager, then go to the file containing the APKs and click on them to install.
  • You can also download the APKs directly from the lightning browser on the smart controller or install the Google Play app on your smart controller.

How to transfer footage from a DJI Smart Controller

Switching SD cards between the drone and controller is a good way to transfer footage, but the smart controller is also equipped with a feature known as Go Share. This feature allows you to quickly transfer photos and videos to your smartphone for quick editing. 

Here is how to use Go Share to transfer your footage:

  • Pull down the menu, and look for Go Share.
  • Click on it, and it will show a QR code.
  • On your smartphone, launch the DJI Go 4 app and access the Go Share section.
  • On the bottom left section, there’s a scan QR code icon. Click on it and scan the QE code on the controller.
  • After scanning, follow the prompts to join, and your SC and smartphone will be connected.
  • Every time you take photos, you will see them on your smartphone, where you can now download them.

Remember, if you shot footage in 4K, it will appear on your phone in 1080p, but photos will be in high-resolution JPEG format.

If you’d like to transfer the files in their original format, especially the footage you recorded using screen capture, use the following method;

  • Connect your smart controller to your computer using a USB cable.
  • Access the Android file transfer.
  • Your screen capture footage will be under Movies – Screen.
  • Then, copy the files to your computer.

Can you Use a DJI FPV Drone with a Smart Controller?

Currently, the DJI FPV drone isn’t compatible with the Smart Controller. But you can use the FPV goggles as an output using HDMI for better quality.

Conclusion

And there you have it. If you want to interchange controllers between DJI drones, make sure they are compatible or buy drones whose controllers can be interchanged. Better yet, get a smart controller and purchase drones that are compatible with the smart controllers, hoping they will make more drones compatible with the smart controller in the future.

Peter Karanja

Peter Karanja is a freelance writer and drone enthusiast. He enjoys writing about how to fly drones safely, how drone pilots can advance their skills, and the latest news in the drone industry. Peter also enjoys reading, movies, and working out.

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