One of the more highly anticipated announcements in the drone world would have to be the compatibility between the ever-popular DJI Mini 2 and the DJI Smart Controller. This compatibility offers even more flexible solutions, especially for owners of multiple drones that already own Smart Controllers.
The DJI Smart Controller is compatible with the DJI Mini 2. To fly your Mini 2 with the Smart Controller you need to follow these steps:
- Update the Mini 2 Firmware
- Update the Smart Controller Firmware
- Set up Aircraft Management
- Link the Mini 2 to the Smart Controller
What is a Smart Controller?
A Smart Controller is a separately purchased remote control (RC) made by DJI to control various models of DJI drones, instead of using the stock included remote control.
The Smart Controller is slightly larger than a standard DJI Mini 2, Air 2, or Air 2S remote (without an electronic device attached), a bit larger than a standard Mavic 2 remote, and slightly smaller than a DJI Phantom 4 v2 remote.
The Smart Controller works with the following DJI Drones:
- DJ Mini 2
- Mavic Air 2
- Mavic 2 Pro
- Mavic 2 Zoom
- Mavic 2 Enterprise
- Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
The DJI Smart Controller has an integrated 5.5” screen, allowing the drone operator to free up their phone, by not having to attach it to the remote, thus saving time, interruptions via notifications while flying, and perhaps, in some cases, space. It has all the functions of the included Mini 2 remote, with some added features.
Who is the Smart Controller for?
The Smart Controller is a great choice for anyone that:
- Currently has a few of the compatible DJI drones and wants to only use one remote, instead of lugging around multiple RC’s.
- Currently owns a smart controller and wants to connect it to the Mini 2.
- Would like to share their screen with an observer (perhaps a client), via the HDMI port passed through to another electronic device.
How to update the Mini 2 firmware and batteries
A very good practice, prior to flying any drone, is to make sure the drone and batteries are on the newest firmware.
This is especially the case when wanting to pair your Mini 2 with your new or current Smart Controller. The Mini 2 previously was not compatible with the Smart Controller, but a recent firmware update has changed this. Now with the Mini 2 firmware update, you will be able to use the Smart Controller with your drone.
The first step to connect your Mini 2 to the Smart Controller is to update the Mini 2 firmware. Follow these steps to complete the firmware update:
- Turn on your Mini 2 and the included RC (not the Smart Controller), ensuring that your phone is connected to the remote control.
- Make sure the Mini 2’s battery level is at least 40% and the RC’s battery is at least above 20%.
- Next, launch the DJI Fly App. After the RC and Mini 2 have linked, the app will check for firmware updates for the Mini 2 and RC.
- If there is a new firmware version, you should see a firmware update notification.
- At that point, tap Update.
- If you don’t get a prompt stating there is a new firmware version, go into Settings (the 3 dots at the top right).
- Go to the About tab. You’ll see Aircraft Firmware.
- Press Check for Updates.
- If there is new firmware available, you’ll be able to press Update.
- The new firmware will then update.
After the firmware updates successfully, you’ll need to update each battery. Do this by simply turning the Mini 2 off, removing the battery that was in the drone when the firmware was initially updated, putting in the next battery, and then turning on the Mini 2.
You’ll see Firmware Update on the screen. Press Update and repeat the process until all batteries have been updated. After this process has been done, you can turn the standard RC off, removing your mobile phone – but be sure to leave the Mini 2 on.
How to update the Smart Controller Firmware
The next thing you need to do before you’ll be able to use the Smart Controller with your Mini 2 is to make sure the Smart Controller firmware is up to date.
Follow these simple steps to update your Smart Controller Firmware:
- Turn on your new or current Smart Remote.
- If there is a new Firmware Update, you’ll be able to simply Update.
- If you don’t get a prompt stating there is a new remote controller version available, you can check for the update manually by going into Settings (icon at the top).
- Scroll to the bottom and there will be a button that says System Update.
- If there is a new update, you’ll be able to click it and be brought to a screen that downloads the new firmware version and then installs it.
- Leave the Smart Controller on in order to complete the linking process.
Setting up Aircraft Management
After the firmware update has been completed, you’ll almost be ready to link your Smart Controller to the Mini 2.
With the Mini 2 and Smart Controller on, the next thing you’ll want to do is set up your Smart Controller to access your Mini 2. With an updated firmware, if you weren’t able prior, you will now be able to add your Mini 2 to the Smart Controller through the Aircraft Management system.
Here’s how to add the Mini 2 to your Smart Controller:
- Go into Settings.
- Under the Wireless & networks heading you’ll see Aircraft Management, press it.
- Go to Add Device.
- Scroll over to the DJI Mini 2 and add the device (you’ll most likely see various DJI drones as you scroll).
- This will initiate the linking process.
- You’ll see a message that says “Linking. Press Linking Button on Aircraft to continue”
- The Smart Controller will begin beeping, signaling the linking process has initiated.
Linking the Mini 2 to the Smart Controller
It is now time to link the Smart Controller to the Mini 2.
Follow these steps to link the Mini 2 with the Smart Controller:
- While the Smart Controller is flashing and beeping, pick up your Mini 2
- Long-press the power button (press and hold) while long-pressing the “link” button on the bottom of the drone right behind the camera.
- You’ll hear a short, sharp beep come from the Mini 2.
- Stop pressing the power and link buttons.
- If you were successful, the Smart Controller will then stop beeping shortly thereafter.
If for any reason you are not able to link the Smart Controller and the Mini 2 (the Smart Controller will just insistently beep), go through the steps mentioned above for updating the Mini 2’s firmware, then try the linking process again.
Is the Smart Controller worth it?
This is a loaded question, as it all depends on what is important to you. The first thing to consider is the price of the Smart Controller. Currently, as of writing this article, a new DJI Smart Controller is going for $850 – $1000 at various reputable retailers.
For many, this is a steep price. A new DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo goes for roughly $500. A new Mavic Air 2 Fly More Combo runs about $849, the price of the cheapest new Smart Controller online.
If you have one or more of the DJI drones listed above and are strictly interested in consolidating your controllers into one RC, then going the Smart Controller route might be for you.
Since the Smart Controller is basically a 5.5” smart device and controller all in one, there is a convenience factor that many might be interested in. To some, it is worth having a Smart Controller, just to eliminate notifications interrupting the DJI Fly app while flying.
For a more in-depth discussion of whether the Smart Controller is worth the investment, you can read our article about it over here »
If you are someone who needs a dedicated all-in-one solution that is convenient and allows you to leave a few RC’s at home when you take your fleet out and money is no object, then the Smart Controller might be exactly what you are looking for. Regardless of whether you can or can’t justify spending close to $1000 on an RC for your Mini 2, it is a plus that the option is indeed there, should you want to purchase one.
Photo by Brad Starkey on Unsplash