DJI Mini 2 SE and DJI Mini 3 are in a tight battle to earn their place as the best budget mini drone you can buy.
These two drones are among our top recommendations for the price range of $300 to $500.
That’s why deciding which drone is better is challenging, but we’ll start with an in-depth comparison and professional opinions.
In the meantime, let me give you a quick answer.
DJI Mini 3 has better specs than DJI Mini 2 SE in terms of flight time and camera quality but at a slightly higher price. The Mini 2 SE is one of the cheapest DJI drones and a fantastic option to start flying.
This article is for you if you want to learn about these drones and our final recommendations.
DJI Mini 2 SE overview
Great Starter Drone
DJI Mini 2 SE
Lightweight and Foldable Mini Drone with 2.7K Video, 10km Video Transmission, 31-min Flight Time, Under 249 g, Return to Home, Automatic Pro Shoots, Drone with camera for Beginners.
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08/15/2023 04:06 am GMT
|Specs||DJI Mini 2 SE|
|Size||138×81×58 mm folded, without propellers|
|Weight||246 g at takeoff|
|Max Speed (S-Mode)||16 m/s (35.7 mph)|
|Flight Time||31 mins|
|Video Transmission||DJI O2|
|Transmission Distance||FCC: 6.2 mi (10 km); CE, SRRC, MIC: 3.7 mi (6 km)|
|Wind Resistance||10.7 m/s Level 5 wind resistance|
|Camera||1/2.3-in CMOS that can photograph at a resolution of 12 MP and record at 2.7k 30 frames per second|
|Gimbal||Three-axis mechanical gimbal|
|Sensing System||No anti-collision sensors; only precise hovering range downward sensors|
|Remote Controller||Compatible with DJI RC-N1|
- Cheapest DJI drone on the market and one of the newest
- Fantastic drone for beginners to start flying
- It’s foldable and lightweight
- It weighs under 250 grams and may benefit from relaxed drone laws
- Good flight time
- Decent camera quality
- The three-axis mechanical gimbal stabilizes images and videos, even in windy conditions
- Can fly long-range
- Good wind resistance
- An excellent choice for lightweight travels
- It doesn’t record in 4k, and even in 2.7k; it only records at 30 frames per second
- The photo resolution is relatively low, at just 12 MP
- No anti-collision sensors
- No Active Track
- It also lacks a follow-me mode and some intelligent features
The DJI Mini 2 SE was released in March 2023, which makes it a relatively new drone.
It’s one of the cheapest in the DJI family and an excellent budget-friendly option if you’re looking to invest in the hobby but are tight on budget.
The Mini 2 SE may not be the perfect choice for professional photography or videos, but it can film in 2.7k at 30 frames per second, more than enough for most uses, such as social media or YouTube filming.
DJI Mini 3 overview
|Specs||DJI Mini 3|
|Size||148×90×62 mm folded, without propellers|
|Weight||248 gr at takeoff|
|Max Speed (S-Mode)||16 m/s (35.7 mph)|
|Flight Time||38 mins with Intelligent Battery
51 mins with Intelligent Battery Plus
|Video Transmission||DJI O2|
|Transmission Distance||FCC: 6.2 mi (10 km); CE, SRRC, MIC: 3.7 mi (6 km)|
|Wind Resistance||Level 5 Wind Resistance at 10.7 m/s|
|Camera||1/1.3-inch CMOS capable of photographing at 48 MP resolution or filming in 4k at 30 frames per second|
|Gimbal||Three-axis mechanical gimbal|
|Sensing System||No anti-collision sensors; only download hovering sensors|
|Remote Controller||Compatible with DJI RC-N1 and DJI RC|
- It’s lightweight and small in size.
- It’s under 250 grams
- Can film in 4k at 30 frames per second
- The still photography resolution is up to 48 MP
- The DJI Mini 3 has excellent wind resistance
- This drone can fly long-range without issues
- It has a three-axis mechanical gimbal for fantastic stabilization when filming or photographing
- This drone can fly for a long time, in particular with Intelligent Battery Plus
- It’s compatible with DJI RC, the remote controller with a screen
- It’s not very expensive
- It doesn’t have any obstacle-avoidance sensors
- No Active Track or follow-me mode
- It’s slightly more expensive than DJI Mini 2 SE
The DJI Mini 3 was released in December 2022 and is still in production.
This drone is a fantastic choice for beginners and travelers looking for a cheap, lightweight drone.
The filming resolution is better than the one found in Mini 2 SE, and if we drop down to 2.7k, we can film at 60 frames per second, which is terrific for slow-motion footage.
If you are into aerial photography or looking for a drone for basic commercial work (e.g., real estate photography), you cannot go wrong with the Mini 3.
DJI Mini 2 SE vs. DJI Mini 3 – Which option is better?
For many drone pilots, the DJI Mini 3 may be a better option because of more flight time and better CMOS, which results in higher-quality videos and photographs.
But that doesn’t mean the Mini 2 SE is bad.
With a shallow starting point, the Mini 2 SE is one of the cheapest DJI drones, with prices around the older version of the Mini 2.
However, before jumping to a conclusion, comparing these two drones in-depth is best to see which ones excel at different functions.
Pricing and availability
Summary: DJI Mini 2 SE is cheaper than DJI Mini 3, and both drones are in production and on-sale
The price may differ slightly, whereas the Mini 3 is about $120-$140 more expensive than the Mini 2 SE. These are low starting points compared to other drones.
Most drones are between $500 and $1,000.
The Mini 2 SE and Mini 3’s current features make it an excellent deal between what these drones can offer and their current cost.
» MORE: Best Beginner Drones Under $500
Summary: Both drones benefit from Intelligent Flight Modes and QuickShots, but none has Active Track or follow-me mode.
The Mini 2 SE offers several QuickShot modes, such as Dronie, Helix, Rocket, Circle, and Boomerang. Moreover, you can capture panoramic images in modes like Wide, 180-degree, or Sphere.
The Mini 2 SE has a return-to-home function, bringing the drone back and landing for you with the touch of a button. It also has an automatic takeoff function and can hover with high precision.
The maximum takeoff altitude is 4,000 meters.
The Mini 3 benefits from the same features.
The only difference is that Mini 3 has true vertical shots, allowing you to film or photograph in vertical format for TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, or other phone-optimized social media platforms.
The service ceiling for this drone is also 4,000 meters above sea level, but if you fly it with the Intelligent Battery Plus, it would be harder to take off above 3,000 meters of altitude.
Summary: The overall flight performance of the DJI Mini 3 is slightly better than the DJI Mini 2 SE.
When you fly the Mini 3, you will feel the drone’s flight quality and responsiveness are slightly better than the Mini 2 SE.
As per video transmission latency, both drones have approximately 200ms on the low side.
This is average across most drones with the O2 video transmission module.
A significant advantage the Mini 3 has over the Mini 2 SE is that it can operate at a temperature range between 14° to 104° F (-10° to 40° C).
In contrast, the Mini 2 SE can work only between 32° to 104° F (0° to 40° C), according to DJI.
This reflects the ability of the Mini 3 to fly better in freezing conditions during the winter.
Both drones also benefit from the global satellite system from GPS + GLONASS + Galileo, which can acquire the same number of satellites based on their technologies that will help with RTH and a few other functions.
Conversely, the Mini 2 SE and Mini 3 also have Level-5 wind resistance, which is quite advanced to help these drones remain stable in high winds.
And because of the three-axis mechanical gimbal, the footage taken with any of these drones will remain stable and smooth.
Summary: The DJI Mini 3 camera is much better than the DJI Mini 2 SE.
The Mini 2 SE has a CMOS of 1/2.3-inch. This camera sensor is similar in size to the one in the DJI FPV.
This drone can photograph at a resolution of 12 MP.
By today’s standards, 12MP is relatively low if we’re looking for professional aerial images.
Overall, the images from the Mini 2 SE are not bad. They are pretty good if used for Instagram or social media platforms, but if you want to photograph at a higher resolution, you must look further than this drone.
As for filming, the Mini 2 SE can film in 2.7k at 30 frames per second.
If you’re looking to create cinematic content, 2.7k should be more than enough, and with 30 frames per second, if you have an ND filter to set the shutter speed at 1/60 or equivalent, you will be surprised by the beauty of videos this drone can capture.
This may not be enough for slow-motion filming. In this case, you must drop the video resolution to 1080 to film in 60 frames per second.
The Mini 3 can film in slow motion at 2.7k, much higher than 1080p, but the original video resolution of the Mini 3 is 4k at 30 frames per second.
At a great advantage, the Mini 3 sensor is 1/1.3-inch, much larger than the Mini 2 SE.
This will also help with the dynamic range of the video and is aimed toward a more professional video.
The dynamic range is the difference between highlights and shadows, and the larger the sensor, the better it handles this difference (e.g., the sun is not too bright, and the shadows are not too dark).
This also helps a lot with post-processing videos.
Moreover, the Mini 3 can also film in HDR (High Dynamic Range), boosting the video quality by a large margin, whereas the Mini 2 SE cannot film in HDR.
The Mini 2 SE and Mini 3 have only “Normal” Color Mode, which is a disadvantage if you want to color-grade your videos.
You will need a D-CineLike drone, such as DJI Mini 3 Pro, DJI Air 2S, etc.
The Mini 3 maximum video bitrate is 100Mbps. In contrast, the Mini 2 SE benefits only from a 40Mbps bitrate, so the video quality from the Mini 3 is far better.
If we’re looking at the photo resolution from the Mini 3, it is either 12 or 48 MP.
You can photograph much better with the Mini 3, with a higher dynamic range, four times the Mini 2 SE resolution, and better adjustment options.
Both drones can photograph in JPEG + DNG (RAW), allowing you to further post-process your aerial photographs in Lightroom or similar software.
As mentioned, Mini 2 SE and Mini 3 (as with most DJI drones) have an excellent three-axis mechanical gimbal that will impressively stabilize your video footage when flying or taking sharp turns, even in high winds.
Aircraft and controller
Summary: The DJI Mini 3 is slightly larger than the Mini 2 SE, but both are under 250 grams. As well, DJI Mini 3 is compatible with DJI RC.
When we look at the form factor of the Mini 2 SE and Mini 3, we cannot spot many differences other than the Mini 3 being slightly larger.
Both drones have two airflow inputs facing forward above the camera, a unique design from DJI that will help the drone cool down when flying.
Also, both drones have two antennas facing down from the frontal arms that will act as landing gear.
While the design of the drones is quite similar, not many differences can be spotted other than the Mini 2 SE is a slight modification of the Mini 3 structure.
The aerodynamics of both drones are decent, which will help with wind resistance, flying long-range, and increased battery life.
Both the Mini 2 SE and Mini 3 are foldable drones.
When folded, they are small and can be placed in a backpack or a large pocket. They can literally fit in your palms.
The Mini 2 SE is compatible only with the standard DJI RC-N1 controller.
With this controller, you must connect a compatible Android or iPhone phone with the DJI Fly App installed to connect and fly the drone.
The live view image on your phone connected to DJI RC-N1 seen from your drone will be 720 pixels at 30 frames per second.
The latency will be around 200 milliseconds at the lowest point.
The Mini 3 is also compatible with the same DJI RC-N1 remote controller. After a few firmware updates, Mini 3 became compatible with the DJI RC.
The DJI RC-N1, the standard controller without a screen, will have the same requirements to function with a phone with the Mini 3 as with the Mini 2 SE.
If you purchase it separately or as a drone kit, the Mini 3 with the DJI RC will have a few advantages.
- The DJI RC has a 5.5-inch full HD screen that works at 60 frames per second.
- The screen is touch control-enabled, and its brightness is up to 700 nits, which is fantastic for flying a drone in full sunlight.
- With DJI RC connected to the Mini 3, the transmission range and power are slightly improved, and the latency may be narrowly reduced.
- You will free up your mobile phone.
- The drone setup time is drastically reduced.
Summary: The DJI Mini 3 flies longer than the DJI Mini 2 SE—also, the DJI Mini 3 benefits from two batteries.
The flight time of both these drones is fantastic for 2023.
The Mini 2 SE can fly for about 31 minutes, according to laboratory tests done by DJI.
In real-world situations, you should expect to fly your Mini 2 SE for at least 20 to 25 minutes.
Many factors can affect flight time, such as wind speed, distance, altitude, additional accessories, etc.
In contrast, the Mini 3 has two batteries:
- The drone can fly for up to 37 minutes with the Intelligent Battery
- The Mini 3 can fly for up to a whopping 51 minutes with the Intelligent Battery Plus
In reality, we should expect a flight time of about 30 to 32 minutes and respectively 45 minutes, depending on the battery and other weather conditions.
Note: If you add the Intelligent Battery Plus to the DJI Mini 3, this drone will exceed the 250-gram barrier and no longer benefit from relaxed drone laws.
The Mini 2 SE battery has a capacity of 2250 mAh.
It is a two-cell Li-ion battery weighing about 82.5 grams and has an energy output of 17.32 Wh.
The Mini 3 Intelligent Battery has a capacity of 2453 mAh.
This battery is also a two-cell Li-ion weighing about 80 grams and with an energy output of 18.1 Wh
In contrast, the Intelligent Battery Plus capacity is 3850 mAh and weighs 121 grams with a power of 28.4 Wh.
This battery is only sold separately and does not come in any DJI Mini 3 kit.
Summary: The transmission range of both drones is similar, but because DJI Mini 3 can fly longer and is compatible with DJI RC, it may fly farther.
Both drones have the same DJI O2 transmission system, which is decent if you want to fly long-range.
The DJI O2 has the role of receiving radio commands from the pilot and, at the same time, transmitting live images back to the remote controller screen.
Although more expensive drones benefit from DJI O3 and O3+, the new DJI Air 3 is the first drone with the DJI O4 transmission system.
These may be a massive upgrade to flying long-range with a drone, but even like this, the DJI O2 doesn’t disappoint.
According to DJI, both drones have a maximum transmission distance restricted by the FAA of 6.2 miles, whereas CE (Europe), SRRC (Mainland China), and MIC (Japan) are limiting these areas to a maximum of 3.7 miles of flight distance.
In both situations, the Mini 2 SE and Mini 3 can quickly fly beyond the visual line of sight, which is against drone regulations.
Interference can affect these drones. In these cases, Mini 2 SE and Mini 3 will suffer from reduced flight range if you fly in suburban or urban areas.
However, we should expect slight improvements with the Mini 3 and DJI RC when flying in higher interference areas, and because of its flight time, the drone can reach greater distances before you need to return it safely.
If you’re looking for a long-range drone, both are excellent choices.
Why choose DJI Mini 2 SE over DJI Mini 3?
The Mini 2 SE over the Mini 3 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a budget drone to learn to fly for the first time or a cheap drone for your travels.
Learning aerial filmmaking and photography without investing much is best.
Why choose DJI Mini 3 over DJI Mini 2 SE?
I would choose the Mini 3 over the Mini 2 SE if looking for a drone capable of doing the basics in professional photography or videos.
The camera of the Mini 3 is drastically better than the Mini 2 SE, making this drone a suitable choice for different types of work.
Moreover, if budget allows, I would choose the Mini 3 with DJI RC for simplicity of setting up and flying, which is excellent for lightweight travelers.
DJI Mini 3 and Mini 2 SE for commercial work
Summary: The DJI Mini 3 is better for different commercial activities than the DJI Mini 2 SE because of the improved camera.
If you want commercial work, select a drone that works well for your needs carefully.
- Real Estate Photography: Because the Mini 3 has a better camera, it will be more suitable for real-estate photography.
- Roof Inspections: Both drones can be used for roof inspections thanks to stable hovering, but none benefit from optical zoom. They both have a maximum of 4x digital zoom at FHD resolution.
- Photogrammetry: The Mini 3 is vastly better at photogrammetry and mapping due to higher photo resolution.
- Professional Photography and Filming: None of these drones are suitable for professional filming and photography services, as you may need a Mavic 3 drone. However, of the two, the Mini 3 is better.
- Construction: Both drones can inspect essential construction, photograph, or film at will. You may need a drone with optical zoom for close-up inspections.
- Emergency Services: Neither of these drones is suitable for emergency services. A Mavic 3 Enterprise or similar drone should be the solution. You need optical zoom and the ability to add speakers, lights, infrared cameras, etc.
DJI Mini 3 vs. DJI Mini 2 SE for activities
Neither of these drones excels at various activities, but they are a good start if you want something cheap and reliable.
Travel and hiking
Because both drones are lightweight, they are perfect for traveling and hiking.
You can pack them in your backpack, and they will take up almost no space. You won’t even feel their weight.
The flight time of Mini 3 is better, so bringing fewer batteries may save you some weight while flying.
If you want to capture photographs and videos during your travels, the Mini 3 camera is better.
» MORE: Best Compact Drones for Travel
Unless you’re filming extreme sports, I would not recommend any of these drones.
The Mini 3 and Mini 2 SE lack follow-me mode. Expect these drones to reach a maximum speed of 35.7 miles per hour.
This may not be great if we prefer high-speed, extreme sports.
That’s why I recommend an FPV drone or DJI Mavic 3 Pro, which excels in these situations.
» MORE: Best Drones for Extreme Sports
Both drones can do well to capture B-rolls for different vlogging videos.
The Mini 3 wins here because of the better-quality camera.
QuickShots can help with some basic moves when vlogging.
» MORE: Best Drones for Vlogging