(CNN) —  

Final 12 months, DJI launched the Mavic Mini, a 249-gram drone that’s extremely enjoyable to fly. Its versatile options and low value made it a compelling drone for newcomers, particularly with a launch proper earlier than the vacations.

A 12 months later, DJI is back with the Mini 2, a drone that appears practically equivalent to its predecessor however provides some key options that make up for a few of its shortcomings. Higher vary, improved battery life and, sure, 4K video are only a few of the brand new options we’ve been testing on the Mini 2.

Shortly after DJI introduced the Mini 2, we detailed our first impressions after a flight or two. Now, having spent extra time with the Mini 2 and brought it out for some long-range flights, we’re prepared to supply up our remaining opinion: That is one heck of a drone with little or no compromise.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

You’ve gotten two choices in relation to shopping for the Mini 2. You possibly can both purchase the drone, by itself, which incorporates the controller, a battery and the drone. That package costs $449. Or you may buy the Fly More Combo for $599, which comes with the drone, a controller, a carrying case, three complete batteries and several other extra equipment (like additional propellers).

The combo is by far the higher deal out of the 2, and something we strongly suggest you opt for. Regardless of the 31-minute flight time, having to attend a few hours in between flights as you recharge a single battery is annoying.

When wanting on the authentic Mavic Mini and the Mini 2, it’s not simple to inform them aside. The Mini 2 has a USB-C charging port on the again, changing the Micro USB port the unique Mini used. The identical goes for the battery charging station, with DJI making the change to USB-C — one thing we’re grateful for.

The entrance of the Mini 2 has a brand new LED mild that will help you establish which route it’s dealing with in low-light conditions. You possibly can management the colour of the sunshine within the DJI Fly app, with a number of completely different colours as an possibility — or, as we opted to make use of, a rainbow mode that has the sunshine consistently switching colours.

Just under the brand new mild is a gimbal that holds the 12-megapixel digital camera, which gives an 83-degree area of view and may seize 4K video at as much as 30 frames per second. The flexibility to file 4K video is new on the Mini line and one thing we’re glad to see make its approach into the compact drone.

There are 4 motors, every with two propellers, which have orange suggestions — whereas the Mini’s propellers have grey suggestions. The motors look the identical, however the truth is, they’re extra highly effective than the earlier technology’s. The added efficiency lets you push the Mini 2’s talents in wind as much as 24 miles per hour with out struggling any efficiency points.

In case you recall, in our review of the first Mini, we famous an expertise the place the wind carried away the drone and we practically misplaced it.

The Mini 2 nonetheless weighs the identical 249 grams, just below the 250-gram Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) weight restrict that requires a drone to be registered. It is best to nonetheless register your drone, particularly in the event you connect any equipment to it that put it above the restrict. And bear in mind, you’re additionally nonetheless required to observe all the FAA’s flying tips, resembling staying beneath 400 toes and sustaining line of sight.

One draw back to this 12 months’s setup is the dimensions of the controller. The Mini’s controller folded down right into a compact measurement, making it simple to throw the drone and controller in your bag to take with you in all places. The OcuSync 2.zero controller is pretty massive and takes up a good quantity of area. The whole package continues to be moveable, and we really feel as if the advantages of the OcuSync 2.zero controller (extra on this in only a minute) over the earlier mannequin outweigh the added measurement.

The Mini 2’s enhancements embody an extended vary, as much as 31 minutes of estimated flight time, together with sharper images and movies.

Let’s begin with the vary and connection enhancements, which additionally occur to be the explanation for the value enhance on the second-generation mannequin. As a substitute of utilizing a Wi-Fi-based controller that’s vulnerable to interference, particularly in the event you’re in an space with a whole lot of residential or industrial Wi-Fi networks, the Mini 2 comes with DJI’s OcuSync 2.zero controller.

DJI has usually reserved its OcuSync tech for its higher-end drones, just like the Mavic Air 2. Nevertheless, with the Mini 2 now incorporating it, you’re in a position to fly the drone as much as 10 kilometers away and gained’t have as many interference points.

After we examined the unique Mini, we had been in a position to get round 1,000 toes away from our home earlier than the sign would reduce out and the drone would mechanically begin to return dwelling. With the Mini 2, nonetheless, we had been in a position to fly precisely one mile away earlier than we determined to show round. We may have saved going (there have been no sign points), however we didn’t need to push our luck.

Once more, we expect the addition of DJI’s OcuSync 2.zero tech is a good trade-off in trade for the rise within the general measurement of the controller. And if you buy the Fly Extra Combo, the included carrying case makes it practically a nonissue.

DJI estimates battery life at 31 minutes per cost. That quantity comes from DJI’s personal checks, which embody flying the Mini 2 at 4.7 meters per second in windless circumstances. We had been in a position to get proper at 26 minutes of flight time, with the Mini 2 simply hovering inside our workplace. Notice, these are two completely different checks, and different elements play into battery life, resembling altitude (thinner air means the motors should work more durable to maintain it within the air, in flip decreasing battery life). Nonetheless, 26 minutes is a formidable period of time for any drone.

The digital camera’s efficiency additionally acquired a lift, with crisp 4K video and a 12-megapixel digital camera for nonetheless pictures. We’ve taken fairly a couple of images and movies throughout our time testing, together with some in a comparatively pitch-black night time of some Christmas lights.

General, we’re impressed with the Mini 2’s photographic capabilities, from extra automated picture choices, like the flexibility to take panoramas with a few faucets, to images which can be a bit sharper than we recall on the first-gen Mini. We didn’t discover any of our images to be overexposed, as was the case with the dearer and succesful Mavic Air 2.

The Mini 2 doesn’t have all the fancy object monitoring and impediment avoidance options of the Air 2, but it surely’s additionally a couple of hundred {dollars} much less. However you do get some sensible options, just like the aforementioned panoramic images, in addition to fast shot modes to take a “dronie,” the place the Mini 2 flies up and away from you whereas recording. Or a “rocket” that triggers the drone to fly straight up whereas recording.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

For somebody who has been hesitant to get their first drone due to the beginning value, the Mini 2 is built for you. It is a drone that isn’t terribly expensive however has a number of the superior options you’d count on to pay $1,000 for.

The $599 Fly More Combo is the best way to approach the Mini 2, as a result of we assure after you fly a couple of instances, one battery simply isn’t going to be sufficient.


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