Last update on November 14th, 2023 at 01:29 pm
With the new DJI Air 3, DJI’s Air range joins the Mini range, which is also in its third generation since the release of the Mini 3 Pro. Even if they don’t really fight in the same category, the question of a choice between the two drones may arise. So which is the best? Which one should you buy? In this DJI Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro comparison, we’ll weigh up the pros and cons of the two models to help you decide which is best suited to your needs.
DJI Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro: design, size and weight
|DJI Air 3||DJI Mini 3 Pro|
|Weight||720g||Less than 249g|
|Dimensions (folded, without propellers) (L x W x H)||207 x 100.5 x 91.1 mm||145 x 90 x 62 mm|
|Dimensions (unfolded, without propellers) (L x W x H)||258.8 x 326 x 105.8 mm||171 x 245 x 62 mm|
The first feature that differentiates the DJI Air 3 from the DJI Mini 3 Pro is obvious just by looking at them: their size. Both drones adopt the folding design typical of DJI’s consumer drones, the Air 3 is clearly biggerWith dimensions of 145 x 90 x 62 mm when folded and 258.8 x 326 x 105.8 mm when unfolded, compared with 145 x 90 x 62 mm and 171 x 245 x 62 mm respectively for the Mini 3 Pro.
It’s also much heavier: 720 grams versus “less than 249”, as the manufacturer officially writes, a difference of 471 grams between the two models. In other words, the Mini 3 Pro weighs just over a third as much as its counterpart.
This is a big advantage for people who want to travel light: it will be much easier to make room for the Mini 3 Pro in a piece of luggage, or to slip it into a backpack without it taking up too much space among your other belongings.
🥇 Advantage DJI Mini 3 Pro hands down for ease of transport thanks to its mini size and ultra-light weight.
🚨 Note on regulations (in Europe)
The difference in measurements between the two drones doesn’t just have an impact on your bag: it will also have an impact on the regulations and therefore the places where you can fly them.
The DJI Air 3 is rated C1: you’ll need to register online and pass a short MCQ before flying. You’ll be able to fly over residential, commercial, industrial and recreational areas, but you won’t be able to fly over people.
The DJI Mini 3 Pro does not have a CE class, but with its weight of less than 250g it will be subject to the same regulations as C0 class drones. You’ll need to register online, but there’s no exam to take, and you’ll not only be able to fly over residential, commercial, industrial and recreational areas, but also single people (note: not groups of people).
🥇 Advantage DJI Mini 3 Pro, for which regulations will be more flexible and less restrictive.
DJI Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro: radio controls and transmission
|DJI Air 3||DJI Mini 3 Pro|
|Compatible radio controls||DJI RC-N2 |
DJ RC 2
|DJI RC-N1 |
DJI RC Pro
DJI RC Motion 2
|Video transmission system||O4||O3|
|Operating frequencies||2.4 GHz |
|2.4 GHz |
|Max. transmission distance||FCC: 20 km |
CE: 10 km
|FCC : 12 km |
CE : 8 km
The Air 3 and Mini 3 Pro each have their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to their video transmission characteristics and the radio controls with which they are compatible.
The DJI Air 3 uses the fourth and latest generation of the company’s OcuSync transmission protocol, DJI O4. The new system offers even more reliable transmission than before, with higher quality (1080p at 60 fps vs. 30 fps) and longer transmission distances: 20km FCC and 10km CE. It also adds an operating frequency in Europe, 5.1 GHz, in addition to the usual 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz.
The DJI Mini 3 Pro uses the third generation of the same transmission protocol, DJI O3. This operates on both 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequencies, giving the Mini 3 Pro a range of 12km FCC and 8km CE.
🥇 Advantage DJI Air 3 for its compatibility with O4, offering more reliable transmission and better range.
But the fact that the DJI Air 3 works with DJI O4 has its downside: it is only compatible with the manufacturer’s latest radio controls, i.e. those that also use this protocol:
- the DJI RC-N2: O4 version update of the DJI RC-N1, the manufacturer’s standard remote control.
- the DJI RC 2: the new O4 version of the DJI RC remote control with display, which also evolves slightly physically with the addition of two folding antennas for more reliable transmission.
This is where the DJI Mini 3 Pro comes into its own: it is compatible with a larger number of remote controls:
- the DJI RC-N1.
- the DJI RC, a superb remote control with screen released at the same time as the Mini 3 Pro itself.
- the DJI RC Pro, also with display, DJI’s top-of-the-range consumer radio control, released with the Mavic 3.
And to top it all off, the Mini 3 Pro is now also compatible with the DJI RC Motion 2 joystick-type remote control. Coupled with DJI Goggles 2 or Goggles Integra, you can fly it like a real FPV drone! Something the DJI Air 3 can’t do, at least not yet. Only time will tell whether DJI will do the same.
🥇 Advantage DJI Mini 3 for its long list of compatible radio controls and its ability to be flown in FPV mode.
DJI Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro: autonomy
|DJI Air 3||DJI Mini 3 Pro|
|Batteries||4241 mAh Li-ion 4S||2453 mAh Li-ion|
|Battery weight||267g||80,5 g|
|Max. flight time||46 minutes||34 minutes|
|Max. hovering time||42 minutes||30 minutes|
|Recharge time||65W charger: approx. 80 minutes |
Charging station + 100W adapter: approx. 60 minutes
|30W charger: approx. 64 minutes |
30W charger + charging station: approx. 56 minutes
While the two drones have their advantages in the field of transmission, there’s no match for them when it comes to autonomy. With its much larger batteries (4141 mAh vs. 2453 mAh), the DJI Air 3 can stay airborne for up to 46 minutes, compared with 34 minutes for the Mini 3 Pro.
Of course, these are manufacturer’s data, and flight times are slightly lower in real-life conditions, but this applies to both models. So real time or theoretical time, that’s a difference of around 12 minutes, which is not insignificant.
It’s important to note that for a drone of its size, the Mini 3 Pro offers more than impressive flight times, and is already very comfortable. But comfort levels will be even higher with the Air 3.
🥇 Advantage DJI Air 3 for its impressive autonomy.
DJI Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro: in flight
Wind speed and resistance
|DJI Air 3||DJI Mini 3 Pro|
|Maximum speed||21 m/s (limited to 19 m/s in Europe)||16 m/s|
|Max. ascent speed||10 m/s||5 m/s|
|Max. descent speed||10 m/s||5 m/s|
|Max. wind resistance||12 m/s||10.7 m/s|
The larger, heavier DJI Air 3 logically boasts slightly better flight characteristics than the DJI Mini 3 Pro.
In particular, it is faster horizontally, with a maximum speed of 21 m/s (75.6 km/h), compared with 16 m/s (57.6 km/h) for its rival of the day. Note that if you live in Europe, the difference will be a little less obvious, since you’ll be limited by law to a maximum speed of 19 m/s anyway.
The Air 3 is also faster up and down the mountain – twice as fast as the Mini 3 Pro, in fact, with maximum ascent and descent speeds of 10 m/s (36 km/h) versus 5 m/s (18 km/h).
The same applies to wind resistance. The Air 3 still benefits from its larger dimensions, and can withstand winds of up to 12 m/s (43.2 km/h), compared with 10.7 m/s (38.5 km/h) for the Mini 3 Pro.
Mind you, this doesn’t detract from the fact that the Mini 3 Pro is an extremely reliable drone in flight, and incredibly stable despite its miniature size. But the Air 3 will be slightly more so, thanks to its larger wingspan and heavier weight. So if you live in a windy region, the DJI Air 3 will certainly be more suitable.
🥇 DJI Air 3 advantage on speed and wind resistance.
|DJI Air 3||DJI Mini 3 Pro|
|Obstacle sensors||Omnidirectional detection system |
+ infrared sensor under the drone
|Forward, rearward and lower optical system|
When it comes to in-flight safety, the DJI Air 3 is the clear winner. It is the first drone in the Air series to include omnidirectional obstacle detection, something only the Mavic 3 range has had to date, and which the Mini series lacks.
The Mini 3 Pro, however, is the most advanced Mini in this respect, with obstacle sensors pointing forward, backward and downward. But while the Mini 3 Pro has a few blind spots, the Air 3 has sensors in all directions and can therefore detect obstacles in its path 360 degrees around it.
Both drones can use their obstacle detection system to automatically correct their trajectory, thanks to the APAS function. On this point, the Air 3 is also slightly ahead, since it incorporates the latest generation of this function, APAS 5.0, compared with version 4.0 for the Mini 3 Pro.
🥇 The DJI Air 3 has the edge in terms of flight safety.
The DJI Mini 3 Pro is incredibly feature-rich for a drone of its size, and is clearly the best-equipped model in the Mini range in this respect. In addition to the purely shooting-related auto-flight functions we’ll look at later in the section dedicated to images, it includes the FocusTrack subject-tracking suite for following a moving target, such as a person or vehicle.
The FocusTrack suite includes 3 modes:
- Spotlight, where the target is held in the center while the drone is manually piloted.
- Point of Interest, in which the drone flies in a circle around the target.
- ActiveTrack, which tracks the target at a certain distance and angle.
The DJI Air 3 also has this subject tracking function, but with one difference. While its Spotlight and Point of Interest modes are identical (version 2.0 for the former and 3.0 for the latter), its ActiveTrack mode is at version 5.0, compared with 4.0 for the Mini 3 Pro. This gives him a few extra settings, such as the ability to determine the tracking angle or to track the target in parallel.
But the Air 3 doesn’t stop there, incorporating a few extra functions that only the Mavic 3 has:
- Speed regulator: locks in a constant speed and direction for smooth, even movement, so you can concentrate solely on shooting.
- Waypoint: this function lets you program flight routes by positioning waypoints on a map. These can then be saved in DJI Fly for replay at a later date, at another time of day for example.
🥇 Advantage DJI Air 3 for its panoply of autonomous flight modes as complete as a Mavic 3.
DJI Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro: photos and video
|DJI Air 3||DJI Mini 3 Pro|
|Camera||Main camera : |
CMOS 1/1.3 inch 48 MP 24 mm equivalent, FOV 82°, Aperture f/1.7
CMOS 1/1.3 inch 48 MP 70 mm equivalent, FOV 35°, Aperture f/2.8
|CMOS 1/1.3 inch 48 MP 24 mm equivalent, FOV 82.1°, Aperture f/1.7|
|Max. image size||8064 x 6048||8064 x 6048|
|Photo resolution||12 MP and 48 MP||12 MP and 48 MP|
|Max. video resolution||4K up to 100 fps |
FHD up to 200 fps
2.7K vertical shooting at up to 60 fps
FHD vertical shooting at up to 60 fps
|4K up to 60 fps |
2.7K up to 60 fps
FHD up to 120 fps
|ISO range||100 to 6400 (Photo, Normal Video and Slow Motion) |
800 to 12800 (Night Video)
|100 à 6400|
|Photo format||JPEG |
|Video format||MP4 (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, HEVC/H.265)||MP4/MOV (H.264/H.265)|
|Max. bit rate||150 Mb/s||150 Mb/s|
|Color profile||Normal (8 bits) |
HLG (10 bits)
D-Log M (10 bits)
|Digital Zoom||Main camera: 1x to 3x Remote camera: 3x to 9x||4K : 2x |
2.7K : 3x
FHD : 4x
The Air 3 and Mini 3 Pro offer a comprehensive range of photo and video shooting modes, and both models feature the same functions.
When it comes to photography, both drones offer the traditional array of features: single shot, interval, burst, automatic exposure bracketing (AEB) and the three Panorama modes: Sphere, 180° and Wide-angle.
On the video side, both models feature Timelapse, Hyperlpase and the famous QuickShots (Rocket, Dronie, Circle, Spiral, Boomerang and Asteroid). The same goes for MasterShots mode, an auto-flight function that creates a video ready for posting on social networks by merging several QuickShots modes and adding music.
Like the Mini 3 Pro, the Air 3 also features the QuickTransfer function, enabling you to transfer all photos and videos captured directly from the drone to a cell phone in record time.
The only difference is the Night mode, already present on the Mavic 3, which DJI has added to the Air 3. This function optimizes low-light images by automatically increasing the ISO range.
Cameras and image quality
The main lens of the DJI Air 3 and the camera of the DJI Mini 3 Pro both feature the same 1/1.3-inch sensor. Technically, the difference in quality between the two should therefore be virtually identical. However, DJI must have worked hard to optimize this sensor, as we can see a slight difference with a slightly sharper image and a slightly better dynamic range on the Air 3.
However, this digitally accentuated sharpness feels a little “artificial”. This can be reduced in the settings. In comparison, the Mini 3 Pro’s image is softer and more natural. But in daylight and with good lighting conditions, their image qualities are ultimately very similar, and you’ll get a nice rendering with both models. It’s hard to really tell them apart in this respect.
On the other hand, each has its own advantages. First, the resolution. Both drones can film in 4K, but the frame rate of the Mini 3 Pro at this definition stops at 60 fps, while the Air 3 can go up to 120 fps. As a result, if you like slow motion, you’ll have to go down to Full HD on the Mini 3 Pro to get 120 fps, whereas the Air 3 can do it in 4K.
Secondly, color profiles. While the DJI Mini 3 Pro features the D-Cinelike flat profile for post-production retouching, the DJI Air 3 provides the D-Log M profile, which offers greater flexibility for your editing software. If you shoot on automatic settings, you’ll get very similar images; but if you like to retouch them in post-production, you’ll have more scope with the Air 3.
Third point: the vertical format. This round goes to the Mini 3 Pro. In fact, its camera has the advantage of being able to swivel vertically, giving a true 9:16 format in 4K. The Air 3 natively features a “vertical shooting” mode, but this, available in up to 2.7K resolution, simply cuts the image vertically. So give Mini 3 Pro an advantage if you post on TikTok.
But there’s another point where the Air 3 stands out: it has a second camera. This telephoto lens, whose sensor is the same size as the main sensor, has a format equivalent to 70mm. This opens up new creative possibilities, such as perspective compression, and the ability to frame a scene more closely without having to physically approach it, which can be useful when you want to film a gathering of people or a place that is off-limits to overflights.
Conclusion: each drone has its own advantages, so the choice will depend on your use, what you’re filming and how you want to film it.
🥇 Advantage DJI Air 3 for its second lens, D-Log M color profile and resolution offering more beautiful slow-motion shots.
🥇 Advantage DJI Mini 3 Pro for its pivoting camera offering a true vertical format.
DJI Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro: price
|DJI Air 3||DJI Mini 3 Pro|
|Standard package||1099€ (DJI RC-N2 remote control)||659€ (DJI RC-N1 remote control) |
799 (DJI RC remote control)
|Fly More Pack||1349€ (DJI RC-N2 remote control) |
1549€ (DJI RC 2 remote control)
|+189€ (accessories only)|
The options offered by DJI on its store are quite different for the two drones. The DJI Mini 3 Pro is available without a remote control (589€), unlike the DJI Air 3, which is only available with a remote control, the DJI RC-N2 or DJI RC 2.
For the same package (basic package with standard remote control without DJI RC-N1 or RC-N2 screen), you’ll need to invest €659 for the Mini 3 Pro and €1099 for the Air 3, a difference of €440.
The Fly More accessory pack is sold separately for the Mini 3 Pro, but if you add its price (€189) to the price of the drone’s standard packs, you can make a comparison with the Fly More packs for the Air 3. The result is :
- for the Fly More pack with remote control without screen (DJI RC-N1 or RC-N2): €848 for the Mini 3 Pro versus €1,349 for the Air 3, a difference of €501.
- for the Fly More pack with remote control and display (DJI RC or RC 2): €988 for the Mini 3 Pro versus €1,549 for the Air 3, a difference of €561.
🥇 Advantage DJI Mini 3 Pro for those who want to watch their budget.
Conclusion: DJI Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro, which one to choose?
As we said in the introduction, although the question of a DJI Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro choice may arise, these are two drones belonging to different categories.
The DJI Air 3 has more in-flight and shooting functions, its larger size gives it better in-flight performance, and its battery life is longer. The smaller DJI Mini 3 Pro has the advantage of being easy to transport. Despite its size, it remains very complete and has the advantage of being more affordable.
So it all depends on your use and needs, but also on your budget. 😁
Choose the DJI Air 3 if…
…you need the most complete drone possible. With its automatic flight modes, obstacle detection and second lens, the Air 3 offers more possibilities, and if its price fits your budget, you’ll be able to go further in your shooting.
Choose the DJI Mini 3 Pro if…
… you need a drone you can easily take with you wherever you go. With its miniature dimensions and ultra-light weight, the Mini 3 Pro is perfect for slipping into a backpack and filming all your adventures, without neglecting image quality. And it’s still a safe bet, the most feature-rich Mini on the market.
To find out more, check out our tests of the two drones in this DJI Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro comparison :