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DJI Mini 2 SE vs. Holy Stone HS720E (Which One is Best)

When comparing drones, there’s a misconception that only the more expensive ones are worth your time and consideration. I say nonsense to that!

Image: DJI, Holy Stone

Low-cost drones are just as important. They’re the entry point many pilots take into the exciting and captivating world of drones.

If these drones were too expensive or difficult to fly, far fewer pilots would be out there doing their thing, and that would be sad.

You’ve come to the right place if you’re seeking your first drone. Today’s post will compare two of the top beginner models, the DJI Mini 2 SE and Holy Stone HS720E.

This guide will review the DJI Mini 2 SE and Holy Stone HS720E thoroughly, examining how they’re different and how they rank in key areas like battery life, features, and performance. You’ll be able to see why I chose the Mini 2 SE as the better drone between the two and hopefully feel inspired to make your own purchasing decision.

Choosing a first drone can be tough. I’ll help you gain the confidence you need to buy a drone you’ll love!

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Brief overview

DJI Mini 2 SE

Carrying on the glimmering legacy of DJI Mini drones, the Mini 2 SE was released in February 2023, making it one of the newer members of the family.

This drone has all the features you’ve come to know and love in the Mini line but without the expensive price tag. Okay, maybe not all the features, but enough to cultivate a beginner-friendly flight experience.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Travel-friendly, as it weighs 246 grams to forego recreational drone registration, and folds down to a size that should fit in any luggage or carry-on.
  • A 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that shoots in 12 MP image quality and 2.7K video quality at 30 frames per second. This isn’t knock-your-socks-off quality, but it’s A-okay for beginners learning the ins and outs of a drone camera. The Mini 2 SE also has a three-axis gimbal.
  • Features catered to beginners, such as auto-launching and landing, auto-RTH, and long-term hovering. You won’t stress about flight basics with these smart, automated features available.
  • Fun Intelligent Flight Modes to help you begin your drone flight journey, such as QuickShots to take cinematic videos and three Panorama modes for wide-screen photography and videography. You also have access to LightCut for on-the-go editing. This DJI app uses single taps and AI to streamline your time in post.
  • A solid 4x zoom for getting closer to all the action while standing a safe distance away.

» MORE: DJI Mini 2 SE App (Read This Before Downloading)

Holy Stone HS720E

Holy Stone is largely a beginner-friendly brand, but as DJI has furthered drone innovation, it and other DJI competitors have stepped up their games.

That’s how we ended up with the HS720E, a professional-looking drone that handles easily for first-time pilots.

The HS720E caught my eye for its looks, at least initially. I couldn’t believe this was a Holy Stone drone at first. Even today, I’m blown away by how cool it looks.

Of course, you’re not in it for a drone’s appearance. You want to know what it does. Let’s take a look.

  • Electronic Image Stabilization, or EIS, provides real-time stability when shooting images and videos on your drone. EIS will adjust the image by each frame to minimize motion so your shots come out clearly.
  • A UHD camera that shoots in 4K video quality and has an adjustable lens, togglable between 90 and 130 degrees for FOV wide-angle shots without the high price tag.
  • A GPS-led navigation system with GLONASS ensures your drone hovers reliably and doesn’t get lost during those first few flights when you’re learning what you’re doing.
  • Beginner-friendly modes and features, including Smart Return to Home, an optical flow and air pressure sensor, Headless Mode, and Altitude Hold for navigating and automating drone flight.
  • Cool smart features, including Point of Interest for tracking a subject, Tap Fly for drawing a custom flight map, and Follow Me, an old favorite.

» MORE: DJI Mavic Air 2 vs. Holy Stone HS720E (Here’s My Choice)

Quick verdict

The Mini 2 SE and HS720E are awesome beginner-friendly drones, leaving you torn on which to choose.

That’s where we come in!

Here at Droneblog, we pride ourselves on providing readers like you with the best drone recommendations.

I want to help you find the best first drone so you can enjoy months of future flights.

I’m confident in my selection of the DJI Mini 2 SE as the best drone between it and the Holy Stone HS720E. The Mini 2 SE has a superior camera system (a gimbal versus EIS), more smart features, intuitive controls, and more features beginners find useful, such as one-tap launching and landing.

The HS720E is a very fun and easy-to-use drone all around, don’t get me wrong. However, for the price, it’s missing some things, like a gimbal and more flight features.

» MORE: Best Cases for DJI Mini 2 SE

What are the main differences?

It’s the differences that keep things interesting, and the Mini 2 SE and HS720E have a lot of disparities even though they both target the same audience: beginners on a budget.

Let’s explore the respective paths these drones choose to appeal to consumers. 

  • Weight: When DJI promises you a mini drone, it’s a mini drone you shall receive. The Mini 2 SE weighs well under 250 grams, putting you under the FAA-required weight threshold of registration if you use your drone recreationally. Of course, you’ve got to register it commercially regardless. The HS720E is more than two times heavier at 495 grams. You’re forced to register a drone of this size.
  • Image stabilization: DJI equips the Mini 2 SE with a three-axis mechanical gimbal with adjustable yaw, pitch, and roll, the same feature as found in most of its drones. Despite that, the Mini 2 SE costs less than the HS720E. That drone has an inferior image stabilization system, using EIS.
  • Smart modes: It’s no surprise DJI is the king here, with Intelligent Flight Modes always a treat. Even though the Mini 2 SE doesn’t have as many smart modes as a standard Mini drone, it still has more than the HS720E.
  • Beginner-friendly features: The Holy Stone drone primarily provides beginner-friendly features through GPS, such as auto-RTH. DJI gives you Smart RTH in the Mini 2 SE and other beginner features, such as single-tap takeoffs and landings.
  • On-the-go editing: Your Mini 2 SE is compatible with Light Cut, a beginner’s app with templates and single-tap editing. You can post your footage while onsite, keeping up with project demands or an audience that’s always hungry for more. Holy Stone offers no comparable feature.

» MORE: Best Drones Under $500

DJI Mini 2 SE

Despite the Mini 2 SE being one of the newest in the Mini series, it’s not packed with the latest and greatest features.

You’d have to purchase the more expensive Mini 4 Pro for that, which isn’t as beginner-friendly.

The Mini 2 SE is more like an addendum to the Mini 2 line. It’s a great addition, standing out from the other Mini drones for how easy it is to pick up and fly.

Kids, teens, and adults can easily figure out this drone, reducing the barrier to entry for this rewarding hobby.

Fitting right in your pocket (although I recommend more durable transport if traveling), the lightweight and small Mini 2 SE has remarkable wind resistance for its size at Level 5.

DJI suggests winds of up to 23.6 miles per hour, and you can probably go up in winds of over 24 mph with no issues.

Would I go much further than that? No, so use a drone app to track the wind levels before you fly.

» MORE: DJI Mini 2 SE Wind Resistance (Explained)

The Mini 2 SE is equipped with a three-axis mechanical gimbal and a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. Expect image quality of 12 MP and 2.7K video quality.

Neither is great, and I’ll be the first to admit that. For beginners who have never used a drone before, the concern isn’t as much on cutting-edge image and video quality. It’s more on ease of use and functionality.

The Mini 2 SE’s basic camera system is fine for this drone’s intended purpose. Will you get bored with its camera limitations as you gain more experience and foster an interest in drone photography and videography? Yes.

But that’s okay. That’s what the Mini 3, Mini 3 Pro, or Mini 4 Pro are for. They all have far better image and video quality.

The DJI Fly app provides all the guidance and tutorials you need to fly safely. Launching the Mini 2 SE will happen effortlessly with a one-tap auto-takeoff feature.

Infrared sensing, GNSS, and downward vision sensing keep the Mini 2 SE hovering, but if you lose control or fly outside of range, DJI’s Smart RTH is an excellent failsafe.

It will also trigger when you begin to run out of battery, which can happen sooner than you think with an advertised 30-minute flight time.

In all other circumstances, you can use single-tap landing the same way as you launched your drone.

This will give you the confidence to fly without worrying about cracking up your drone on the first few flights.

» MORE: Is the DJI Mini 2 SE Worth It?

Expand your world with three Panorama modes: 180 Degrees, Wide, and Sphere.

If you live in a big city (or are visiting one) or have hiked a mountaintop, you’ve got to use this feature! It will take the photos of a lifetime.

QuickShots launches an automated cinematic video mode where the Mini 2 SE will follow a preset flight path. The footage is ready to go on social media without much need for editing.

Speaking of, when you need to edit, use the LightCut app. The app can find highlights and do automatic, AI-driven editing for you.

If you’d rather do the heavy lifting, you can add effects, music, and templates to any footage so it’s ready to post online in a jiffy.

Great Starter Drone
DJI Mini 2 SE
$299.00

Lightweight and Foldable Mini Drone with 2.7K Video, 10km Video Transmission, 31-min Flight Time, Under 249 g, Return to Home, Automatic Pro Shoots, Drone with camera for Beginners.

Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/06/2024 06:16 pm GMT

Holy Stone HS720E

The HS720E is one of Holy Stone’s more advanced drones, but it’s still packed with enough beginner-friendly features that first-timers can feel comfortable using this drone quickly.

Its camera shoots in 4K and can adjust between 90 and 130 degrees with FOV capabilities to expand your viewpoint.

The video and image quality is fine for this drone’s price, but it uses EIS instead of a three-axis gimbal.

Allow me to explain how EIS works in a bit more detail.

This image stabilization feature reduces jittering and blurring associated with foregoing a gimbal, expanding the pixel range beyond the frame’s border to buffer the natural movement of the drone.

The result should be photos and videos you’re pleased to show off professionally and personally.

» MORE: How to Fly Holy Stone HS720E (Explained for Beginners)

Dual navigation satellite systems in the form of GLONASS and GPS keep your drone in your sight, but if you start to lose it, Smart Return to Home should get your drone back to you in the nick of time.

The GPS and GLONASS systems also keep the HS720E hovering so you can focus more on taking great photos and videos than directing your drone.

Use fun, engaging smart modes like Tap Fly, Follow Me, or Point of Interest to explore the HS720E to the fullest with Holy Stone’s Ophelia app.

You can track subjects, tell the drone where to fly, or have it trail behind you depending on which mode you select.

These beginner-friendly modes will help you maximize your usage and enjoyment of this drone. When you do take over the controls, Headless Mode makes the controls more intuitive.

Holy Stone HS720E
$399.99 $299.99

GPS Drone with 4K EIS UHD 130 FOV Camera for Adults Beginner, FPV Quadcopter with Brushless Motor, 2 Batteries 46 Min Flight Time, 5GHz Transmission, Smart Return Home, Follow Me.

Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/06/2024 07:16 pm GMT

Head-to-head comparison

Camera system

Winner: DJI Mini 2 SE

The time has come to put these drones to the test to declare a winner. Let’s begin by discussing camera system quality.

Admittedly, neither drone has excellent image and video quality. As mentioned before, this is not a deal breaker.

First-time pilots don’t need the best image and video quality right out of the gate.

High-end cameras are expensive and drive up the cost of the drone, increasing the barrier to entry for beginners.

Keeping that in mind, I can confidently choose the Mini 2 SE as the winner of this category. It has superior image and video quality to the HS720E, but that’s not the only reason I picked it.

The Mini 2 SE also has something the HS720E lacks: a three-axis mechanical gimbal.

I know it may seem like I’m harping on this, but that’s only because a gimbal is such an important drone feature, especially for beginners.

Sure, the HS720E has EIS, but in my experience with this drone, EIS is simply not comparable to a gimbal.

Beginners might not demand the highest image and video quality, but they still don’t want blurry shots, as that sucks the enjoyment out of the experience.

A three-axis gimbal provides much more reliable and consistent image and video quality.

I suppose what mystifies me about the lack of a gimbal in the HS720E is that this drone costs more than the Mini 2 SE yet they still missing this critical feature.

» MORE: Holy Stone HS720E Camera Settings (Explained)

Performance

Winner: DJI Mini 2 SE

It was a tighter battle between these drones regarding performance.

First, a caveat. Neither contains obstacle avoidance. I’m sure Holy Stone did this to control costs, while DJI has only intermittently used obstacle avoidance in Mini drones.

It’s a bummer either way, but it is what it is.

Both drones have GPS for keeping your drone hovering longer, and with auto-RTH modes, you don’t have to worry about crashing your drone because it flew too far out of range or ran out of battery.

However, the Mini 2 SE wins for its Intelligent Flight Modes, which are higher quality and more numerous than Holy Stone’s.

Better yet, these features are more attuned to beginners, especially auto-landings and takeoffs.

Portability

DJI Mini 2 SE Range Explained (Everything You Need To Know)

Winner: DJI Mini 2 SE

The HS720E never claimed to be a miniature drone, but boy, does it weigh a lot. Well, compared to the Mini 2 SE, it’s a lot.

Drone weight is all relative, but it’s enough that you must register your Holy Stone drone with the FAA, whether you fly it for fun or commercial endeavors.

And sure, the HS720E folds, but it’s still bigger than the Mini 2 SE.

This DJI drone can fit in your pocket, so finding the space for it in a drone backpack, luggage, or carry-on shouldn’t be problematic.

You can travel with the HS720E too if you want, and it shouldn’t be substantially more difficult. It’s not huge or overly heavy, but it’s slightly less portable than the DJI drone.

» MORE: Best Cases for DJI Mini 2 SE

RC compatibility and flight range

Winner: DJI Mini 2 SE

The HS720E comes packed with its own controller, a straightforward, simple remote with a phone holster, and extendable legs.

If you have to put down your controller for any length of time, the legs will keep it stable, provided you’re on a level surface.

The remote controller has a screen, but only for diagnostics. You’ll have to use your smartphone to see a bird’s eye (err, drone’s eye) view.

I like this controller a lot. Yes, it’s simple, but it works well and is lightweight. I also love how the legs retract to make the controller easier to travel with.

Like the Mini 2 before it, the Mini 2 SE uses the DJI RC-N1. This remote is also compatible with the Mavic 3, Mavic 3 Classic, Mini 3, Mini 3 Pro, Air 2, and Air 2S.

It’s a simple and straightforward remote, like the Holy Stone controller, with no screen. It has an angular, boxy shape but handles more lightly than you would expect by looking at it.

The HS720E has a transmission distance of 1,640 feet, which is not great for a drone over $400.

By comparison, the Mini 2 SE boasts a transmission distance of 6.2 miles, so this one was a no-brainer.

» MORE: DJI RC vs DJI RC-N1 (All You Need to Know)

Battery life

Winner: Holy Stone HS720E

Here’s a category where the Holy Stone takes it home. The HS720E comes with dual batteries that have 46 minutes of advertised flight time between them.

However, that’s not continuous, which is important to keep in mind.

Further, this time isn’t what you’ll get in the sky. I logged about 40 minutes between the two batteries, which is good, but other Autel drones can fly for 40 minutes (ish) continuously.

The Mini 2 SE comes with one battery and has an advertised battery life of only 31 minutes. That’s more like 26 or 27 minutes IRL. It’s fine if you’re flying for fun, which is the Mini 2 SE’s primary audience anyway.

However, if you’re trying to get work done, this might not be the best drone, unless you go for the fly more combo with three batteries.

» MORE: DJI Mini 2 SE Battery (All You Need to Know)

Conclusion

The DJI Mini 2 SE and Holy Stone HS720E are beginner-friendly models that don’t break the bank and help you familiarize yourself with how to fly.

While either would make an exceptional choice for your first drone, I recommend the Mini 2 SE for beginners.

It’s packed with automated features that don’t require you to master your drone to use, and its gimbal keeps your footage stabler than EIS.

I love this drone for fun flights, and I hope you do too!

» MORE: Best SD Cards for DJI Mini 2 SE