The DJI Mini 3 Pro has been out now since May, so for most of the summer, amateur and pro pilots alike have been putting it through its paces.
When DJI announced it earlier this year, it had all the makings of a very good ultralight, do-everything drone.
Of course, at times, there can be a bit of separation between the announced features and the real-world capabilities, but not this time.
I have already done a deep dive into the DJI Mini 3 Pro’s low light capabilities and active track features (spoiler, it’s really good).
Now let’s get into something a little different.
The new DJI remote control (RC) is not only one of the most exciting features in the new Mini 3 Pro, but for DJI as a whole, as it is cross-compatible with other drones DJI makes and is also a stand-alone product.
One that I think is worth every penny.
About the DJI Mini 3
For those who don’t know, the DJI Mini 3 Pro is an absolute do-everything drone. It is a “jack of all trades” that can dabble in vertical shooting for social media, shoot incredible low light stills and video, and has more megapixels than some DSLRs.
The Mini 3 Pro has top-tier wind stability for its size and long enough flight time for you to almost forget that you are flying (but really, stay alert while in the air).
With up to 47 minutes on its new extended battery, you can have a few flights over the course of a day or two without charging, which is pretty great.
This versatile drone has been living up to its hype and exceeding expectations since its release and I personally know two pilots who are pulling out the Mini 3 Pro instead of its larger, bulkier DJI family members.
Almost overshadowed by the Mini 3 Pro, the new DJI RC was released at the same time, and although it works seamlessly with the Mini 3 Pro, it should not be slept on as a stand-alone RC that could be worth the switch with or without the Mini 3 Pro.
But what exactly is the new DJI RC? And what makes it better than the original RC N-1? Keep reading to find out.
DJI RC-N1 Controller
The DJI RC-N1 is the standard DJI remote controller that has been coming with every drone for the past few years. It is simple yet effective.
It has DJI OcuSync 2 or O2, which is DJI’s system for transmitting data over a long range and in many weather conditions.
This allows your remote control to communicate with your drone and shows you the live feed with minimal interruptions.
Anyone who has flown a drone knows losing transmission is scary, and any improvements by DJI and its competitors are welcome.
The RC-N1 can handle 5mbs/s of transmission and 1080p 30/60 fps. It also has a higher latency, and low bitrate, also referred to as ping rate. The lower the latency, the better and faster you will see what your drone sees.
This is the long-time go-to for DJI, and for good reason; it works every time.
The RC-N1 also has one of the longest battery times (as there is no built-in screen to power) and is compatible with most DJI drones as it has been around the longest.
The extra battery time and overall simplicity will also mean you must rely on your phone for every flight. This, in my opinion, is a major drawback – we have all wanted to fly but had a dead phone or one that’s low on battery.
There is also the added distraction of having phone calls, texts, or even having the phone crash while flying (ask me how I know).
New DJI RC Controller
The new DJI RC is not just an RC-N1 with a screen, it’s what you can’t see that really sets it apart.
DJI did a complete overhaul on the old N1 to bring us something that’s very new and improved in almost every way.
First, they developed O3+ or Occusync 3 the latest in wireless transmission and data transfer and when talking about a remote control this is pretty important.
What does it mean? It means that the speed of transmission went from 5mb/s to 50mb/s so you can make fast-paced decisions with fast-paced results.
The range has gone up as well from 8 km to up to 15kms (although it is important to maintain a V.L.O.S. visual line of sight at all times when flying a drone).
The transmission quality of 1080p 60 or 30 fps and around 120ms of latency for quicker transmission.
These numbers do change based on conditions as well as which drone you are connected to and will usually achieve the best results on the Mini 3 Pro or Mavic 3/Cine.
The controller weighs in at 390 grams making it not much more than the ultralight drone itself, and the antennas are built into the RC, which means no more rabbit ears while flying.
The new DJI RC’s biggest selling feature can’t be missed – a built-in 5.5-inch FHD screen. Full High Definition is a step up from HD, offering a larger screen resolution and overall better quality.
The screen offers 700 nits of brightness, nits being the scale used to measure brightness. One nit is equal to one candlepower, so it’s very bright and above the threshold needed to see the screen clearly in broad daylight.
Anything above 500 nits is good to use on a sunny day. Monitors and laptops range from 200 to 600+ nits. It is not easy to find screens with over 500 nits. That leaves the DJI RC with a very bright screen.
The built-in dual batteries offer a 4-hour runtime on a single charge that will allow you to shoot over multiple locations throughout the day with heavy use and even several days with light to medium use.
Everything down to the joysticks has been updated with the new dual spring control sticks. Although a small feature, they can make a big difference in everyday flights.
The sticks are often the only thing in between you and the drone, so full control of the drone’s every movement will help beginners and expert pilots alike avoid disaster.
The USB-C and micro-SD ports are nothing new, but that’s what makes them good as they are very common industry standard ports that everyone who has any technology these days will be familiar with.
Thank you, DJI, for not creating a new port and plug every time (like some other fruity-named tech companies).
Pairing is easy and the same process as normal.
There is an update that allows you to fly a Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 cine (and I’m sure more DJI drones to follow) from the same remote, so if you have one, that is a pretty great feature allowing you only have to bring the one controller and not haul two around.
As always, you can use a wifi connection or hotspot to download maps. Screen recording over the dropdown menu is easy and effective.
There is 8 GB of storage, of which only 2 GB are useable. Not a lot, but a good bit to have when in a pinch.
The buttons are customizable, not as much as the pro, but more than the previous non-customizable RC-N1.
Lastly, what does it cost? From DJI, you can buy the Mini 3 Pro in three packages:
- With the standard RC-N1 and then use your phone for $759USD
- With the new RC for $909
- If you already have an RC-N1, Pro, or new RC, then you can buy just the drone for 669$.
If you don’t mind using your phone, the RC-N1 works fine. But if you want an elevated experience with all the new features, the new RC is the way to go.
If that’s something you are interested in, for $309, you can buy a stand-alone RC unit (just the controller) or for an additional $150 if buying with the Mini 3 Pro Drone.
New RC VS the RC Pro
How does it compare?
The battery is better on the new RC but worse than the screenless N1. But the Pro has the most storage space on it and allows third-party apps, something I would like to see added to the RC’s features.
Overall the DJI RC, RC Pro, and Smart Controller are all relatively similar with only a few differences, as mentioned in battery and storage.
The biggest difference is the third-party apps and compatibility (what drones work with what controllers), of which the most widely compatible is the RC-N1 if you own multiple DJI drones.
What really sets the different controller options apart is which drone you have and what your budget is.
There is a big difference between the screenless one and any of the built-in screen remotes.
But the differences between the three with screens are very small, so if you are looking to make the switch to one with a screen, it is definitely worth it.
If you are deciding which remote control to buy outright, the DJI RC is definitely my recommendation.
For the price, DJI RC comes in well below the other two and has most of the same features.
The most important feature by far is the phone-less aspect. Having a screen with a direct connection from the controller to the drone without ever having to pull out your phone is the biggest asset of the DJI RC.
This feature in my opinion makes it worthwhile alone.
How many times have you pulled out, showed up, and got ready to launch your drone and had a dead or dying phone? Or even worse, have the dreaded scenario of your phone starting to die while flying?
All of the above has happened to me.
Although this is not the first DJI RC to have a screen, it is, in my opinion, by far the best-screened unit to date for the price.
This is the best thing DJI has done since they added a tablet with the Phantom 4 series drones.
This is a game changer and will change the flying experience completely. All the other features new to the DJI RC are just more reasons to add the RC to your everyday flying.