The Mavic Mini is so small and light (249g only) that you won't need to register it with the FAA – you are registering bigger drones in the FAA, right? But that size is not just for the sake of less paperwork, but for the sake of flying. With an unmanned aerial vehicle that you can literally slide into your back pocket, it is almost never an inconvenient time to bring it, assuming you have another pocket for the controller. (You can't fly a mini phone just as you can Spark.)
DJI has traditionally been good at providing its smaller / cheaper drones. Air, for example, cost less than the Mavic Pro that came before it, but it had features that didn't have prices. Even the old old Spark on budget offered gesture control and monitoring features. However, there are a few trade-offs with the Mini – but most should not deter most people.
Perhaps the most important missing feature is obstacle avoidance. The Mavic 2 Pro and Air come with sensors that detect obstacles and make flying safer. Mavic Mini has none. That seems reasonable given that the Mini costs more than $ 1,300 less than the Mavic Pro 2 and $ 500 less than the Air. But DJI also throws the Mini at the beginners who would benefit most from these sensors.
Another notable compromise is the camera. As with Spark, there are no 4K videos here except for the Mini want shoot at 2.7K / 30 (along with FHD up to 60 fps at 40Mbps), so at least there is some form of high resolution. Another trick the Mini has is that the spark can't move her hands. The spark body is similar in size, but the fixed arms make it much less portable.
The folding design of the Mavic line has become something of a business card. What makes drones uncomfortable are those most important protruding arms. DJI came up with a clever design for the first Mavic, and has been around almost all of its consumer drones ever since. When fully folded, the Mini is about the size of a can of soda and weighs about the size of a large phone (my OnePlus 7 Pro with a holster comes in at about 230g).
In an attempt to simplify, DJI also moved the QuickShot section of the app under the camera options on the right rather than left below its icon as before. Here you can choose from photos, videos and QuickShot. A submenu for each will appear when you select it.
For photos, you will only see unexplained options for "Single" or "Timed shot", though the main settings menu includes options for the aspect ratio of the photo (4: 3 or 16: 9), screen histogram switches, and overexposure alert, network lines and so on. As mentioned above, for video, your options are FHD and 2.7K, followed by a choice of frame rates: 25, 30, 50 and 60 for FHD versus 25 and 30 for 2.7K. No 24 fps here for some reason.
The selection of QuickShots in the Mini is limited. You have Dronie, a rocket, a circle and a helix – the names broadly describe how the Mini will move around the target. This time there are no asteroids or boomerangs and that's fine. I'm more disappointed with the lack of ActiveTrack – DJI's People Tracking feature. It is present on most products, including Osmo Mobile, which has no camera at all (it uses your phones). Interestingly, QuickShot is in Mini mode you they asked you to click on a human target to focus on – so the bones of technology are there, but for some reason, the company decided not to include it. In short, the Mavic Mini cannot track you autonomously. But it seems like something not just a firmware update.
Despite minor annoyances, such as a small power indicator (it's literally a small battery icon with a percentage number like on the phone), the app is easy to use. Plug your phone into a controller, open the app, and you're doing pretty well. The bigger problem is that the drone connection is via WiFi, which hardly manages the video stream or DJI's proprietary Ocusync technology. For the most part, this is fine, but there have been too many times when the stream has stopped or skipped. This particularly frustrated me when I relied on that link to direct and track my recording.
A related issue, which is not unique to the Mini but is exacerbated by its size, is that it is incredibly easy to lose sight of a drone in the sky after looking down in the video stream. Flying in the form of sight is important. I see too many people flying with a drone out of sight, relying on a video stream to know where it is. But that video stream may fail, and with the Mavic Mini it has done so much that I would never trust it for navigation. Even with just a brief glance at the app, look up and … where the hell did that go? It caught me several times.