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DJI Mini 4 Pro vs Air 2S

DJI changed the game regarding Mini drones when they released the DJI Mini 3 Pro.

They took the features that users most wished for in Mini drones, such as obstacle avoidance and ActiveTrack, and fit them in a Mini drone, all while keeping it under 250 grams.

A year later, DJI proved once again that they had more tricks up their sleeve by releasing the DJI Mini 4 Pro, a sub-250-gram drone with even more features.

When the Mini 3 Pro was released, I was torn between getting it or the Air 2S. I compared them here and explained why I chose the Air 2S in this article.

But with the Mini 4 Pro on the scene, how does it stack up? Between the Mini 4 Pro and Air 2S, which is better?

  • Suppose you’re looking for the highest video and photo quality and don’t mind manually doing some flight modes. The Air 2S is a good option since it only has four-way obstacle avoidance.
  • If you value portability and are looking for a light drone with many features, the Mini 4 Pro is the best.

Let’s find out how these drones compare to each other and which I’d choose.

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DJI Air 2S overview

The DJI Air 2S takes aerial imaging to the next level. It’s tailored for enthusiasts and professionals who demand top-tier content quality.

Whether you’re a filmmaker, photographer, or drone enthusiast, this drone raises the bar for image and video capture.

Its key selling points include:

  • Professional-grade imaging with a 1-inch CMOS sensor for unbeatable pictures
  • Stunning 5.4K video resolution so your video can shine big screens
  • 20 MP stills for exceptional image quality
  • Four-way obstacle avoidance for safety
  • Advanced imaging features and zoom capabilities to get you closer to the action while keeping a safe distance

» MORE: DJI Air 2S – A Complete Real-World Review

DJI Mini 4 Pro overview

The DJI Mini 4 Pro is a game-changer in the realm of Mini drones, offering exceptional features in a compact package.

Designed for beginners, travelers, vloggers, and content creators, it stands out as a sub-250-gram drone, ensuring a hassle-free flying experience.

Its notable features include:

  • Lightweight, compact design for great portability
  • 360-degree obstacle avoidance to prevent collisions
  • Vertical shooting mode for perfect social-ready images
  • Impressive camera options for a variety of shooting scenarios
  • Night Shots mode for enhanced night photography
  • Extended flight time to keep you going longer between battery changes

» MORE: DJI Mini 4 Pro Review (Is It Worth the Upgrade?)

Quick verdict

Before we get into the nitty-gritty part of our review, let’s summarize who these drones are best for.

  • For beginners: If you’re a beginner or prioritize portability, ease of use, and lightweight design, the Mini 4 Pro is a suitable choice. Its stability, maneuverability, and user-friendly features make it an excellent option for novice pilots.
  • For aerial photography and videography professionals: If you’re a professional or an enthusiast seeking the highest video and photo quality, the Air 2S is the preferred choice. Its larger sensor, higher resolution, and advanced imaging capabilities ensure outstanding performance in capturing stunning aerial content.
  • For versatility and moderate wind conditions: If you need a drone that balances performance and portability, the Air 2S offers agility, good stability in moderate winds, and a wide range of features, making it a versatile option for various applications.

Key differentiating information

As we will see, both drones are practically equal in some aspects, though they differ based on their target market and when they were released.

Let’s look at what differentiates them:

DJI Mini 4 Pro

  • This drone is the top choice for users who prioritize portability and ease of use and are looking for a drone that doesn’t require FAA registration in regions like the USA due to its sub-250-gram weight.
  • It’s perfect for beginners, hobbyists, travelers, vloggers, content creators, and anyone seeking a lightweight companion for various activities.
  • The Mini 4 Pro’s 360-degree obstacle avoidance provides a level of safety unmatched in the Mini drone category.

DJI Air 2S

  • On the other hand, the Air 2S caters to those who demand professional-grade aerial photography and videography.
  • If you’re an enthusiast or a professional seeking the higher quality content, the Air 2S, with its larger 1-inch CMOS sensor and exceptional 5.4K video resolution, is the superior choice.
  • Its performance in low-light conditions and advanced imaging features make it ideal for capturing stunning visuals.

» Also consider the Air 3 for even more advanced features and an overall upgrade to the Air 2S.

Introducing the products

Before we compare them, let’s introduce these products and their main features.

DJI Air 2S

Released in 2021, the Air 2S came as a replacement for the Mavic Air 2. It’s a drone I have owned for nine months and I loved it from day one.

Below are the main features that influenced my decision to choose it over the Mini 4 Pro.

  • Larger sensor –  It features a 1-inch CMOS sensor, which ensures high image quality.
  • 5.4K maximum video resolution – The Air 2S also shoots up to 5.4K, which may be great for larger productions where the highest-quality footage is necessary.
    • There is also an option to shoot in 4K, 2.7K, or 1080p, depending on what you need to use the footage for.
  • 20 MP stills –  The larger sensor allows the Air 2S to take 20 MP stills, which is a good enough resolution for a wide range of tasks.
  • Four-way obstacle avoidance – It comes with four-direction sensors, allowing it to detect obstacles at the front, upwards, downwards, and back.
  • Decent flight time – The AIr 2S features a 31-minute flight time, about 25 to 30 minutes of actual flying. I have used it for filming and mapping tasks, and this flight time was good enough, though you have to get several batteries.
  • Intelligent Flight Modes – Like with most DJI drones, you get Intelligent Flight Modes like Hyperlapse, ActiveTrack, Panoramas, MasterShots, QuickShots, and compatibility with apps like DroneDeploy or Litchi, allowing you to access even more features that are not in the DJI Fy app.
  • Enhanced HDR – It supports HDR and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) video, allowing for improved dynamic range and low-light performance.
  • Advanced imaging – It features advanced imaging capabilities like 8x digital zoom and Dlog-M 10-bit color profile.
    • However, the zooming capability only works in Normal Mode, not in D-Log or HLG, and only at up to 4K video resolution.
    • Zooming is also only available when shooting videos and not in photos, and it’s also limited depending on the resolution.
    • You have access to the full 8X resolution when shooting at 1080p at 24 or 30 fps, up to 6X when shooting 1080p at 48 or 60 fps, and it is not available when shooting 1080p at 120 fps.
    • When shooting in 2.7k, zooming is available up to 6X at 24 or 30 fps and up to 4.2X when shooting at 48 or 60 fps.
    • When shooting in 4K, zooming is only available up to 4.3X when shooting at 24 or 30 fps, and zooming is not available when shooting at 48 or 60 fps.
DJI Air 2S Fly More Combo
$1,249.00

Drone with 3-Axis Gimbal Camera, 5.4K Video, 1-Inch CMOS Sensor, 4 Directions of Obstacle Sensing, 31-Min Flight Time, Max 7.5-Mile Video Transmission, MasterShots, Gray

Buy from Amazon
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03/07/2024 05:16 pm GMT

DJI Mini 4 Pro

The Mini 4 Pro stands out in DJI’s lineup of Mini drones. Below are the main features that make it shine.

  • Sub-250-gram drone – As mentioned, this drone falls in the category of drones weighing less than 250 grams. You can fly this drone without a license and registration in regions like the USA.
  • 360-degree obstacle avoidance – This is the first time we’ve seen 360-degree obstacle avoidance in a Mini drone, which shows how far DJI has come in their tech. They started with the DJI Mini, then the Mini SE, and Mini 2, which worked great but didn’t have obstacle avoidance.
  • Vertical shooting mode – The Mini 4 Pro features a vertical shooting mode similar to the Mini 3 Pro, allowing you to shoot in portrait mode. This works great for people who post on social media often.
  • Gimbal tilt – This drone is also designed with much room for gimbal movement, allowing it to tilt 60 degrees upward and 90 degrees downward. Now, you can get creative with your shots.
  • 48 MP and 12 MP quality – It features 48 and 12 MP photography options. However, the 48 MP quality is powered by Quad-Bayer. Basically, the 12 MP is enhanced to 48 MP, which differs from having a true 48 MP image.
  • D-Log and HLG – It features D-Log and HLG, which were unavailable in the Mini 3 Pro, giving you more room for post-processing.
  • Decent sensor size – DJI didn’t change the sensor size since the Mini 4 Pro features the same f/1.7, 24-mm 1/1.3 CMOS sensor that offers a maximum resolution of 4K at 60 fps and 4K 100 fps for slow-motion footage. The only difference is that the Mini 4 Pro now supports HDR HLG and D-Log M.
  • Enhanced ISO performance – The Night Shots Mode optimizes the drone’s ISO settings to ensure better exposure in dimly lit environments. This means you can capture more detail and clarity in your night shots.
  • Noise reduction – One of the challenges of low-light photography is noise. The Mini 4 Pro’s Night Shots Mode applies noise reduction to produce cleaner, more professional-looking images, free from the typical graininess of low-light photography.
  • Advanced Intelligent Flight Modes – DJI not only added Intelligent Flight Modes but also the latest versions.
    • A good example is ActiveTrack, which allows you to track the subject in more directions.
    • DJI also introduced a new feature, ActiveTrack 360, which allows you to draw the route where the drone will follow you and change the height and distance from you as you please.
    • This makes it more seamless to create cinematic shots.
  • Extended flight time – This drone has a 34-minute flight time and an option to get a larger battery with 45 minutes of flight time, though the latter makes the drone heavier than 250 grams. However, this battery is available in select regions.
  • Later, they released the Mini 3 Pro, which avoids obstacles but only detects them in three directions.
Our Pick
DJI Mini 4 Pro Fly More Combo with DJI RC 2 (Screen Remote Controller)
$1,099.00
  • 4K HDR Video Camera
  • Under 0.549lbs/249g
  • 2 Extra Batteries for 34-Min Flight Time
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03/07/2024 08:11 pm GMT

» MORE: DJI Mini 4 Pro – Initial Setup (Unboxing to First Flight with Video)

DJI Mini 4 Pro vs. Air 2S – The comparison

Next, let’s review how these drones perform in various aspects.

Design

Winner: Tie

The Air 2S and Mini 4 Pro feature DJI’s folding design, which you will find in most of their consumer drones.

One difference in how they unfold is that with the Mini 4 Pro you start by unfolding the rear arms, while with the Air 2S, you start with the forearms.

DJI also made a few changes to the gimbal cover and secured the props for storage. Unlike the Air 2S, where the cover only goes over the camera, the Mini 4 Pro’s cover is larger and covers even the front sensors.

For better protection when storing your drone, DJI has added a strap that holds the arms and the propellers in place.

Have you ever tried to pack your drone, and the propellers got stuck in the bag or snapped? This simple but effective device helps prevent that.

» MORE: When Should You Upgrade Your Drone? (Read This First)

Weight

Winner: DJI Mini 4 Pro

Regarding weight, the Mini 4 Pro wins because it’s adequate for most people’s needs.

As mentioned earlier, it weighs less than 250 grams, catering to those who need a drone and don’t want to get their drone registered.

It also appeals to travelers, vloggers, content creators, athletes, and other users who prefer having a small and light drone that they can carry anywhere as they participate in their activities.

However, the Air 2S is not that heavy.

Weighing 595 grams, bringing it along on your outdoor activities isn’t going to cramp your style. However, the weight increases when you add the batteries and other accessories.

If you want the larger sensor and 5.4K shooting capability and wouldn’t mind the weight, then the Air 2S is a great choice.

If your activities don’t involve carrying the drone, you can choose between the two based on other features.

Besides portability, weight does have other implications. A heavier drone like the Air 2S withstands winds better but is also easily damaged if it crashes.

On the other hand, a lighter drone like the Mini 4 Pro will not operate well in strong winds, but in case of a crash, the lesser weight minimizes the impact.

» MORE: Best 4K Drones Under 250 Grams

Price and availability

Winner: DJI Mini 4 Pro

The Mini 4 Pro comes at the same price as the Mini 3 Pro: $759 for the drone, the DJI RC-N2 controller, and one battery.

The Mini 4 Pro with the DJI RC 2 controller and built-in screen costs $959.

DJI has two Fly More Combos for the Mini 4 Pro; one includes three 34-minute batteries and costs $1,099, and one includes three 45-minute batteries and costs $1,159.

On the other hand, the Air 2S’s basic package includes one battery, which costs $999, while the Fly More Combo includes three batteries, a shoulder bag, ND filters, and a charging hub, which costs $1,299.

As you can see, you get more by going for the Mini 4 Pro, but the $300 or so difference is easy to overlook if you feel like the Air 2S has the features you’ll need.

Both drones are available from DJI’s website and other eCommerce platforms.

» MORE: Best Camera Drones Under $2,000

Photo and video recording

Winner: DJI Air 2S

Both these drones have a lot to offer when it comes to photo and video recording.

Let’s look at the similarities and differences.

Similarities

  • Advanced imaging modes – Both drones support advanced imaging modes and settings, including color profiles like D-Log and HLG, providing greater post-processing and color grading flexibility.
  • HDR capabilities – Both cameras support High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging, improving the dynamic range and allowing for better performance in challenging lighting conditions, such as bright skies and dark shadows.
  • Obstacle avoidance systems – While the specific technology may differ, both drones are equipped with obstacle avoidance systems to enhance safety during flights.
  • Intelligent Flight Modes – Both drones offer a variety of Intelligent Flight Modes, such as ActiveTrack, QuickShots, and Hyperlapse, making capturing dynamic and cinematic shots easier.
  • Zoom capabilities – Both drones have Zoom capabilities. The Air 2S provides up to 8x digital zoom, while the Mini 4 Pro also has zooming options, depending on the resolution and frame rate.

Differences

  • Sensor size – The most significant difference is the sensor size. The Air 2S features a larger 1-inch CMOS sensor, contributing to higher image quality and better low-light performance than the Mini 4 Pro’s smaller sensor.
  • Night Mode – While the Mini 4 Pro has a smaller sensor, the dedicated Night Mode improves its performance for night shots or low-light conditions.
    • The jury is still out on whether it performs the same or even better as a drone with a larger sensor without the Night Mode feature, but it’s a great feature on a Mini drone.
  • Maximum video resolution – The Air 2S can record video up to 5.4K, offering more detailed and higher-resolution footage than the Mini 4 Pro, which has a maximum resolution of 4K.
  • Still photo resolution – The Mini 4 Pro offers 48 MP and 12 MP options for still photos, while the Air 2S provides 20 MP stills. The Mini 4 Pro’s 48 MP option uses Quad-Bayer technology to enhance the image, providing more flexibility.
  • Vertical shooting mode – The Mini 4 Pro features a vertical shooting mode, allowing users to capture content in portrait orientation. This is especially useful for social media enthusiasts and content creators.
  • Flight time – The Mini 4 Pro offers a slightly longer flight time, up to 34 minutes, compared to the Air 2S’s 31 minutes. Additionally, the Mini 4 Pro has an option for a larger battery with up to 45 minutes of flight time, though it may affect its sub-250 gram classification in some regions.
  • 360-degree obstacle avoidance – The Mini 4 Pro boasts 360-degree obstacle avoidance, providing safety in all directions, while the Air 2S offers four-way obstacle avoidance.
  • Zoom limitations – The zoom capabilities differ between the two drones. The Air 2S provides zooming options up to 8x digital zoom. In contrast, the Mini 4 Pro offers zooming up to 4X.

Verdict

The main differences between the two cameras are the sensor size, maximum video resolution, and still photo resolution.

The Air 2S excels in image quality and resolution, making it more suitable for professional photography and videography.

The Mini 4 Pro offers unique features such as vertical shooting, night shooting, extended flight time, and 360-degree obstacle avoidance, making it an appealing choice for those who prioritize these capabilities and value its lightweight design.

» MORE: DJI Air 3 Review

Range

Winner: DJI Mini 4 Pro

One thing I appreciate about DJI is that they are always trying to improve their drones in various aspects. And one of these aspects is the range.

The Air 2S comes with the OcuSync 3.0, a considerable improvement at the time of its release, offering a range of up to 7.5 miles.

Having flown the DJI Air 2S for a long time now, I can attest that the connection is relatively stable, though if there is too much interference, the live feed breaks up a bit, and sometimes you lose the connection completely.

But this has only happened to me a few times, and in areas with less interference, I could send the drone up to four kilometers away.

The Mini 4 Pro comes with the newest OcuSync 4.0, which we first saw in the Air 3.

This new system promises a range of up to 12 miles and comes with more improved antennas and better anti-interference technologies compared with older drones like the Air 2S so that it would perform better in long and short-range flights.

Besides, even though you could try to fly the drone for 12 miles, it probably wouldn’t make it due to the battery life.

» MORE: Long Range Drones: Ultimate Guide

Controllers

Winner: Tie

Both drones use similar controllers, but the versions differ. The Air 2S comes with the DJI RC-N1, a controller compatible with the previous Air, Mavic, and Mini drones.

DJI later made it compatible with the DJI RC, which first came with the Mini 3 Pro that features a built-in screen, eliminating the need to use a smartphone.

Both controllers are comfortable in your hands, to say the least. The RC-N1 is a budget-friendly option and a good choice for people who don’t mind streaming the drone’s live feed using their smartphones.

But if you want to get your drone in the air as fast as possible and don’t want any background apps running as you use your drone, the DJI RC is a good option.

The Mini 4 Pro now comes with the RC-N2, an upgraded version of the RC-N1, and the DJI RC 2, an upgraded version of the DJI RC.

The newer controllers feel the same in your hands as the older ones, but as mentioned earlier, they have more antennas and are built to work with the DJI O4 system.

There are also some subtle and not-so-subtle design differences, especially between the DJI RC and DJI RC 2.

Besides the extra antennas, DJI seems to have replaced metallic gimbal dials with plastic ones.

They also added an extra vent at the back, widened the distance between the screws, eliminated the extra USB-C charging port, and removed the protective cover over the SD card and USB-C ports.

If you had a lanyard for the DJI RC, you would have to modify its attachment or get a new one to use with the DJI RC 2. The DJI RC 2 is also 30 grams heavier, but that difference does not change how you feel about both controllers.

However, the screen size, brightness, display quality, and FPS are identical, except that the DJI RC comes with a cold temperature display compared to the warm temperature display in the DJI RC.

One difference you will feel, especially if you have used the original DJI RC, is the faster load speed. Some users complained that the DJI RC sometimes took too long to start or experienced a lag when switching between cameras.

But the DJI RC 2 is faster, and there’s no lag, thanks to the upgraded CPU and GPU. Unfortunately, these newer controllers will not work on any older drones unless DJI decides to change that in a future update.

Intelligent Flight Modes

Winner: DJI Mini 4 Pro

While both come with a comprehensive list of Intelligent Flight Modes, the main differences stem from the fact that the Air 2S is two years older.

As a result, it comes with previous versions of Intelligent Flight Modes.

For instance, DJI recently released ActiveTrack 5.0 and ActiveTrack 360 with the Mini 4 Pro.

This allows you to follow the drone in more directions than the Air 2S, which only allows you to follow the subject in three directions.

Spotlight, Point of Interest, etc., are also upgraded to the latest versions. Coupled with the 360-degree obstacle avoidance, you have more options to be creative compared to the Air 2S.

» MORE: DJI Waypoints (Explained for Beginners)

Flight features and performance

Let’s look at how these drones compare based on their flight features and performance.

Stability and wind resistance

  • DJI Mini 4 Pro – Due to its lightweight design, the Mini 4 Pro may struggle in strong winds. While it’s highly portable, it’s less stable in adverse weather conditions.
  • DJI Air 2S – The Air 2S, being slightly heavier, tends to be more stable in windy conditions. It can handle moderate winds better but is still susceptible to strong gusts.

Agility and maneuverability

  • DJI Mini 4 Pro – The Mini 4 Pro is nimble and offers excellent maneuverability. It can perform quick turns and agile movements, making it suitable for capturing dynamic shots.
  • DJI Air 2S – The Air 2S also provides agility and maneuverability, allowing for creative aerial movements. While it’s not as lightweight as the Mini 4 Pro, it remains agile and responsive.

» MORE: Drone Safety Features (All You Need to Know)

Ease of use

  • DJI Mini 4 Pro – The Mini 4 Pro is beginner-friendly and suitable for all experience levels. Its lightweight and stable flight characteristics make it easy to control and a good choice for newcomers to drone piloting.
  • DJI Air 2S – The Air 2S is also user-friendly, with features like obstacle avoidance and intelligent flight modes that assist with safe and straightforward flying. While it offers more advanced features, it remains accessible to beginners and experienced pilots.

Obstacle avoidance

  • DJI Mini 4 Pro – The Mini 4 Pro takes a significant lead in this category with 360-degree obstacle avoidance. It is the first Mini drone to offer full-spectrum obstacle detection, ensuring safety from all directions.
  • DJI Air 2S – While the Air 2S has a capable four-way obstacle avoidance system (front, upwards, downwards, and back), it falls short of the Mini 4 Pro’s comprehensive 360-degree obstacle avoidance.

» MORE: Best Drones with Obstacle Avoidance

Flight time

  • DJI Mini 4 Pro – The Mini 4 Pro offers a longer flight time, up to 34 minutes, on a single battery. There’s also an option for a larger battery that extends flight time to 45 minutes (available in select regions).
  • DJI Air 2S – The Air 2S provides a decent 31-minute flight time, translating to around 25 to 30 minutes in actual flying conditions. While respectable, it lags behind the Mini 4 Pro in this aspect.

Flight range

  • DJI Mini 4 Pro – Equipped with OcuSync 4.0, the Mini 4 Pro boasts an impressive range of up to 12 miles. However, real-world flights are unlikely to reach this maximum range due to battery limitations.
  • DJI Air 2S – The Air 2S features the OcuSync 3.0 system, providing a commendable range of up to 7.5 miles. While still impressive, the Mini 4 Pro has a more extended range capability.

Best SD cards for these drones

Once you have chosen one of these drones, below are the SD cards you should use with it.

There are many brands of SD cards out there, but these should guide you in what you should be looking for.

» MORE: Understanding SD Cards for Drones (Explained For Beginners)

Best SD cards for the DJI Air 2S

SanDisk 64GB Extreme microSDXC
$10.54 $9.98
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03/07/2024 08:56 am GMT
SanDisk Extreme 128GB V30 A2 microSDXC
$20.99 $17.99
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03/06/2024 03:16 pm GMT
Kingston Canvas Go!Plus 128GB V30 A2 microSDXC
$17.18
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03/06/2024 04:22 pm GMT

» MORE: What SD Card Do I Need for DJI Air 2S?

Best SD cards for the DJI Mini 4 Pro

Lexar Professional 1066x 64GB
$14.99 $11.99
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03/06/2024 08:52 pm GMT
SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO microSD
$18.95
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03/06/2024 06:41 pm GMT
SAMSUNG EVO Plus (With Adaptor) 128GB Micro SDXC
$15.38 $11.50

Up to 130MB/s, Expanded Storage for Gaming Devices, Android Tablets and Smart Phones, Memory Card, MB-MC128KA/AM, 2021

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03/06/2024 05:36 pm GMT

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