Drone

DJI Air 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro: which drone is better for you?


DJI has two different lines of drones that are generally considered consumer drones — something a hobby photographer (or perhaps a professional photographer on a budget who doesn’t want all the bells and whistles of a Mavic). They’re the DJI Air and DJI Mini lines. And now that we’ve marked the launch of the DJI Air 3 in July 2023, both lines can claim to be on their third generations of drones. So in a mashup between both third generations of drones, the DJI Air 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro, which drone is better?

The DJI Air 3 has way more features and more powerful technology overall. It’s also way bigger and way more expensive — two major detractors. No one wants a higher price point, but many folk actively seek smaller drones (especially those in the sub-249 gram category, which the Mini 3 Pro falls into).

In this guide to the DJI Air 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro, I’ll weigh the pros and cons of both to help you pick the right camera drone for you:

Comparing prices (winner: DJI Mini 3 Pro)

At $759 for the DJI Mini 3 Pro versus $1,099 for the Air 3 (assuming you select the model with the basic controller), it’s clear which one wins out on price. You’ll save more than 30% (that’s $340) by opting for the Mini 3 Pro over the newer Air 3.

Related read: DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro: which drone is better?

DJI Air 3 vs. DJI Mini 3 Pro key specs

But of course, the (mostly) better specs on the Air 3 can make it easy to justify the $340 higher price. So with that, here’s a comparison of the DJI Air 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro and a breakdown of what each offers so you can decide the best drone for your budget:

DJI Air 3 DJI Mini 3 Pro
Takeoff Weight 720 grams < 249 g
Dimensions Folded (without propellers): 207×100.5×91.1 mm (L×W×H)
Unfolded (with propellers): 258.8×326×105.8 mm (L×W×H)
Folded (without propellers): 148×90×62 mm (L×W×H)
Unfolded (with propellers): 251×362×72 mm (L×W×H)
Max Flight Time 46 minutes 34 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery)
47 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery Plus *)
Max Wind Speed Resistance 12 m/s 10.7 m/s
Global Navigation Satellite System GPS + Galileo + BeiDou GPS + Galileo + BeiDou
Onboard camera(s) Two cameras (Wide-angle camera and Medium tele camera) One camera
Image Sensor 1/1.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 48 MP 1/1.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 48 MP
ISO Range Video: 100-6400
Photo: 100-6400
Video: 100-6400
Photo: 100-6400
Max Image Size 8064×6048 (48 MP) 8064×6048 (48 MP)
Max Video Bitrate 150 Mbps 150 Mbps
Sensing Type Omnidirectional binocular vision system, supplemented with an infrared sensor at the bottom of the aircraft Forward, Backward and Downward vision system
Video Transmission System DJI O4 DJI O3

So what do all these specs actually mean? Here’s a deeper dive into the DJI Air 3 vs. DJI Mini 3 Pro drones:

Comparing cameras (winner: DJI Air 3)

If we’re comparing cameras, realizing that we’re not comparing two cameras, but rather, three. That’s because the  DJI Air 3 comes with two built-in cameras (making it the first of the Air line to offer such a thing). The two cameras on the DJI Air 3 are:

  • A 1/1.3-inch CMOS wide-angle camera
    • 24mm format equivalent
    • F1.7 aperture
  • A 1/1.3-inch CMOS 3x medium tele camera (can achieve 3x optical zoom)
    • 70mm format equivalent
    • F2.8 aperture

The wide angle cameras on the two drones are surprisingly similar. While the Air 3 is top-of-the-line as far as camera drones come, the DJI Mini 3 Pro surprised drone fans when it delivered its own 1/1.3-inch CMOS camera sensor with dual native ISO and 2.4μm pixels for high detail. That kind of tech was something previously only available on high-end cinematography drones.

Both drones also have some nice-to-have camera modes, including a vertical shooting mode designed to make it easier to shoot videos and images specifically for mediums like TikTok or Instagram reels.

But where the Air takes the cake is that secondary tele camera. Now, videographers can quickly swap between zoom and wide angle in the same flight without having to take down the drone to change lenses, as you’d have to if you were flying a high-end camera drone like DJI’s Inspire 3.

While the Mini 3 Pro does tout a zoom feature, it has one major limitation: video only. The Mini 3 Pro promises to support digital video zoom up to 2x in 4K, up to 3x in 2.7K, and up to 4x in Full HD. Weirdly, it didn’t have photo zoom.

If you’re relying on zoom (particularly for photos), you’ll need the Air 3.

Related read: DJI Air 3 review: the most powerful new addition to Air Series yet

Comparing aircraft strength (winner: DJI Air 3)

You can’t ignore the myriad ways that the Air 3 is a far more powerful aircraft than the DJI Mini 3 Pro They include:

Better battery life: The DJI Air 3 offers up to 46 minutes of flight time. Meanwhile, the base version of the Mini 3 Pro offers just 34 minutes of flight time, meaning you get a nearly 50% increase in battery life when you opt for DJI’s newer, more powerful DJI Air 3 drone.

That said, the DJI Mini 3 Pro makes a valiant effort to win in the battery life category, and that’s all due to a separate battery called the “Intelligent Flight Battery Plus.” This is a battery sold separately by DJI via the DJI Mini 3 Pro Fly More Plus Kit, which costs $249 and includes two such batteries as well as some other goodies like extra propellers and a shoulder bag. That extra $249 cost to get the longer battery life narrows the $340 price gap between the Air 3 and Mini 3 Pro, so keep that in mind if you’re comparing the two based on cost.

Another downfall of the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus is that it is decently heavy (and heavier than the standard Mini 3 Pro battery). When your Mini 3 Pro is operating with the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus, it’ll end up weighing more than 249 grams, which is otherwise one of the key reasons why people choose the Mini 3 Pro drone over the DJI Air 3 (I’ll dive deeper into why drones weighing less than 249 grams are such a big deal down below).

Improved obstacle sensing: As far as the drone’s ability to detect obstacles (and then plan an alternate route around them), the DJI Air 3 is the clear winner. It starts with the Air 3’s APAS 5.0 tech versus APAS 4.0 on the Air 3. But the real game changer comes down to the number of sensors at play.

The DJI Air 3 is the first drone in the Air Series to include omnidirectional obstacle sensing, something the Mini line doesn’t have. While the Mini 3 Pro has a forward, backward and downward vision system, the Air 3 offers awareness in all directions. Think of it like this: the Mini 3 Pro has a few blindspots, so it’s not safe to assume it’s crash-proof. While DJI won’t outright call the DJI Air 3 crash-proof (hey, it’s inevitable someway, somehow to someone), this is pretty much as close as you can get.

Better video transmission: The DJI Air 3 offer O4 video transmission, which is an improvement upon the Mini 3 Pro’s O3 video transmission. With the Air 3, you’re looking at a maximum transmission distance of 20 km (assuming low interference, such as flying at most beaches), while the DJI Mini 3 Pro has a max transmission distance of just 12 km.

DJI Mini 3 Pro
If portability is important to you, the DJI Mini 3 Pro definitely wins out given its small size.

Comparing drone size (winner: DJI Mini 3 Pro)

While the Air 3 is certainly a more powerful drone, it’s also a lot bigger — and that’s not necessarily a good thing. All of DJI’s consumer drones have drastically dropped in size from the clunky days of the DJI Phantom line. But while the DJI Mavic Pro was a game changer back when it launched in 2017 thanks to its foldable arms that condensed it to the size of a water bottle, it might even be considered a “large drone” by today’s standards.

And the Air 2S is actually a tad larger than the Mavic Pro, which is 198 mm long when folded. Meanwhile, the Air 3 is an even-longer 207 mm long. Yet, the Mini 3 Pro is just 148 mm at its longest point.

The Air 3 is also heavier, coming in at 720 grams while the DJI Mini 3 Pro is less than half that at under 249 grams.

Small size is definitely great for folks who want to travel with their drone but minimize luggage space, or for people who are just always on-the-go and want to feel empowered to tuck their drone into, say, a backpack without it taking too much real estate amidst their other stuff.

But then there’s a more serious reason why it’s critical for the DJI Mini 3 Pro to weigh less than 250 grams, and that’s the government. Many countries classify drones based on their weight, and build in more regulations or restrictions based on that. It’s quite common for countries (including the U.S.) to make drones that weigh under 249 grams exempt from many forms of regulation, including registration requirements.

Smaller, lighter drones like the DJI Mini 3 Pro help to alleviate the paperwork burden from the pilot, and they are also theoretically safer in the event of a crash (less force upon impact).

Who is the DJI Mini 3 Pro best for?

Now that I’ve dug into the differences between the DJI Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro, it’s time to understand which drone is best for which person. There is no “one best” drone. There’s simply the best drone for your situation.

So with that, the DJI Mini 3 Pro is best for a few types of people, including:

  • Entry-level drone pilots
  • People who take their drones with them on outdoor adventures
  • Frequent travelers
  • A highly budget conscious pilot who still wants a great camera

The Mini 3 Pro is great for new drone pilots. With its compact size, it’s a dream for travelers, bloggers, outdoor adventure enthusiasts and athletes who want a drone that they can throw in their bag, but won’t get in the way of whatever else they’re doing, whether it’s jet-setting around the world or going on and off-the-grid camping excursion.

And with the price difference, that $340 savings might be a saving grace for the most price-sensitive drone pilots.

Related read: DJI Mini 3 Pro drone review and guide

Buy the DJI Mini 3 Pro drone now from:

Who is the DJI Air 3 best for?

If the Mini 3 Pro is for the pilot who prioritizes their sport, expedition or travelers over the drone itself, consider the DJI Air 3 to be the opposite. The DJI Air 3 is for the person who emphasizes flying the drone above all else, thus they don’t mind the larger size and larger price tag. Because in return, they get a much more solid flying experience thanks to features like longer flight time, improved transmission and omnidirectional obstacle sensing.

A professional photographer looking for a cheaper alternative to the Mavic 3 would find this drone to be ideal.

Think of it this way: if you consider yourself an athlete, explorer or traveler first and a drone photographer second, get the Mini 3 Pro.

If you consider yourself a drone pilot first and then the sports, excursions and adventures come second to that, then get the DJI Air 3.

By the way, if you want to see a complete rundown of everything you get when you buy the new Air 3 drone, check out my fresh DJI Air 3 unboxing video!

Between the DJI Mini 3 Pro versus Air 3 drones, which one would you rather have? Share your comment below!