This is a comparison between the Mavic Mini, the DJI Mavic Air and the DJI Spark.
These are all the older version of DJI drones, so if you want to check the newer ones, check my comparison between the DJI Mini 2 vs Mavic Air 2 here.
This article is going to compare every single spec and feature between these drones in depth!
The price of the Mavic Mini and the Spark are in the same category of under $500.
The Mavic air isn't much more expensive than these two and you can also get it on Amazon quite cheap.
If you want a similarly priced drone as the Mavic Mini but 4k and manual video settings, you should check my review of the Xiaomi Fimi X8.
These drones are all long distance quadcopters, so you might be interesting in seeing some alternatives in my top long range drones list (one goes up to 9km).
Mavic Mini has surprised us with it's 30 minute battery life, not seen before in such a small sized drone(check out my top mini drones article -opens in a new tab). Usually the smaller the quad, the less it stays in the air for. I don't know what sorcery DJI did with this new one, maybe it's the really low weight and efficient motors, but compared to it, the Mavic Air has a 20 min battery life and the Spark only 16 min at most. These are the numbers for perfect flight conditions, no wind, flying at a constant speed and such. So what are the numbers for the real life scenarios ? The Mavic Mini flies for 27 min in normal conditions while the Mavic air for about 17 and the spark 14 min. This makes the Mavic mini that much more suitable as a reliable camera drone, as you simply don't have the time with drones like Spark to carefully plan and shoot all that you want.
You might be wondering how silent is the DJI Mavic Mini and if the small size and non-silent props will make it fly with an annoying buzzing.
How many decibels does the Mavic Mini have?
I have measured the Mavic mini to have 64 decibels on average when nearby.
I have noticed that the pitch of the sound changes a bit the smaller the drone is, so the DJI Spark for example or the Mavic Air are more annoying than the Mavic 2 pro for example.
Good thing I measured the decibels of each drone and compared them side by side in this noise video comparison of all DJI drones (including the Xiaomi Fimi x8).
If you're too lazy to watch that or simply want a quick answer, in the table nearby you'll find the average values for each of the drones: Mavic Mini vs Mavic Air vs Mavic 2 pro vs Spark vs Xiaomi Fimi x8.
The Mavic Air and the Mavic Mini both can fly as far as 4km(2.5 miles) away while the spark can fly for about 2km, a bit more if you're lucky. This is the range in FCC mode, and it seems no one is talking about this, but if you're getting the drone from Europe, the range will differ a lot because they will use CE frequencies.
FCC mode is made only for the US, but it's illegal in the EU (although there are some workarounds).
What's the Maximum range in Europe?
The Flight distance for the Mavic Mini in Europe is 2km, same for the Mavic Air, but for the DJI spark is about 500m. Which is a big difference.
I initially though the Mavic mini will be much slower than the Spark because it would have smaller motors and less overall power, however, that's not really the case. The Mavic mini can fly up to 47km/ hour while the Spark can reach 50 Km/h, a measly 3 km difference. The DJI Mavic Air has the big prize with 68 KPH max speed in sport mode. In the table I even compared the drones to the maximum speed Usain Bolt has ever reached.
The Mavic Mini is in a completely different segment if we consider the importance of weight. If you're looking for a drone that's under 250 grams so you can fly it without registering in the US, then it simply doesn't have any competition whatsoever. If you don't care about registering your done, the weight difference isn't that significant, as all these drones are about as portable, with the Spark being slightly bulkier since it's not foldable.
Speaking about obstacle avoidance, all three have bottom sensors for flying inside and better landing, but the Mavic mini lacks the forward facing sensors, even if it may look like it has them. The Mavic air wins this with both forward and backward sensors included. Personally, I usually deactivate the sensors just to have more freedom in flight, so I'm more than willing to compromise in this department. In what scenarios is obstacle avoidance useful?
Yes, it's the best drone from DJI to fly indoors. Thanks to the bottom sensor, it flies really steady, and even more, you can get the 360 prop guards from the Fly more combo and you can hit the walls however you like without crashing and damaging the propellers. Ijustine just tried to fly the Mavic Mini Indoors and it was a complete success, even with all that screaming and wall-hitting.
At 250grams I expected there wouldn't necessarily be an improvement from the Spark, but oh was I wrong. As you may know, first of all, the DJI Mavic mini comes with a 3 axis gimbal, just like the Air. This makes the side movement much smoother compared to the Spark for example that only specs a 2 axis gimbal and can get jittery if you do circles around an object for example.
And the 2.7k resolution is a considerable improvement from the DJI Spark. I usually actually record in 2.7k with 4k drones too because it's easier to process and still has plenty of sharpness and detail in the image, so the Mavic Mini is perfect by default. But it's understandable why you'd want to record in 4k in some situations, so the Mavic Air winds this one.
Another easy way to tell how good a camera records details is the Bitrate, this is basically a number of bits of information that's processed in a unit of time. So the more bits, the more information the image has, and the more details can be captured in that respective time frame.
The Mavic Air has 100Mega bits per second which is really amazing, the Mavic Mini has 40, but believe it or not, the DJI Spark comes with only 24 mega bits per second, which is quite a difference. Remember that the DJI spark has been released in 2017 and camera and drone technology has evolved a bit since then.
The comparison bellow is zoomed in 2.5 times, and even though the lighting differs a bit (the sun was in a slightly different position), you can still tell some difference.
They both shoot in 4k(photos) so the comparison is quite fair.
Unfortunately, the Mavic Mini doesn't have the option to change ISO and shutter speed manually while recording video, and that's a shame because it means you can't really use precise image adjustment in a professional setting. The automatic mode does a great job for most people though. We'll have to see if they release some ND filters as that might change things a bit.
They all take 4k photos, with slightly varying resolutions and they're all great at that.The Mavic Air and the Mavic Mini can go up to 3200 ISo in manual mode when taking photos, while the spark is limited to 1600, but of course, the image is going to be pretty noisy at that point anyway. One area where the Mavic Mini isn't that great is the Photo Modes. The Single Shot and interval photo shots are the only tricks it can do. While the Mavic Air and Spark can do panoramas, burst HDR and even ShallowFocus.I personally don't use any of these so I don't care, I like taking good old standard photos.
But you know what I care about and most photographers will too? Shooting RAW. And one thing is certain, the Mavic Mini doesn't shoot RAW photos, only JPEG, exactly as the DJI Spark... But the Mavic Air does take both JPEG and RAW photos.So if you really need RAW images for better post processing and playing with them, the Air is the way to go.
The Mavic Mini Transmitter is as simple as it gets:
The sticks feel a bit more plasticky than the other DJI drones so far, but it works just as great and they are removable.This time, compared to the Spark, this transmitter does come with a cable that you can connect your phone with, so it has less latency. The DJI Mavic air transmitter also doesn't come with a screen and has the same functions and it also comes with a latency reducing cable, but also with the custom back buttons The spark connects the phone to the Transmitter though wifi, which is cable free, but a little more troublesome sometimes, as you experience slightly more lag this way and the range also suffers a bit.
You see, the Mavic Mini uses a new app called "DJi Fly" and it's tailored more for beginners and simplicity. It still has the main functions and settings like RTH height, gimbal sensitivity and some camera resolution settings, but It definitely lacks some important features.
Probably the biggest downfall is that the Mavic Mini doesn't come with a Follow me option. That may just be because DJI didn't want to put it there, as it's simply a matter of app software. And they probably didn't allow it because the Mavic Mini doesn't come with obstacle avoidance and it could become a problem if handled by a beginner in follow me mode.
Both the Spark and the Air have really good follow me modes and generally a few more flight modes compared to the Mavic Mini which is quite stripped down to the basics. The mini does come with quickshots like Dronie, Helix, Orbit etc, that can actually use subject tracking while you're doing them, so it's there.
This basically means that it follows the subject but while circling around. Speaking about obstacle avoidance, all three have bottom sensors for flying inside and better landing, but the Mavic mini lacks the forward facing sensors, even if it may look like it has them. The Mavic air wins this with both forward and backward sensors included. The Spark also has some more advanced quickshot modes like palm movement and Asteroid shot and other gimmicks like that.
Now, it seems that besides the weight, the Mavic Air does have the overall advantage over the Mavic Mini and the Spark seems inferior in most cases and it's not even foldable.I would frankly buy the spark only if you can find it second hand at a really good price. It's a great drone, dont' get me wrong, it's just inferior to the Mavic Mini in most cases.
But these drones are priced diferently, and that's a really really important factor. The mavic Air is a bit over $900 for the standard package while the Mavic mini is $399, that's a $500 difference. So the Mavic Air is more than twice the price of the Mini, yet, it's definitely not twice as good. The spark... it's even more expensive than the Mavic mini with about $100 normall, but even so, I wouldn't recommend to buy it at this point in time.
I would say that in many cases actually is worth upgrading from the Spark. If you already have it registered with the FAA, the weight shouldn't be a problem and if you're using it casually just for fun flying and shooting some video for yourself you should keep the spark. However, if you're a vlogger or want to get the best travel videos you can get and don't want incredible flight times, sell you drone and put $200 more and get the Mavic Mini.
In my Mavic Mini review on the site I make a comparison between what you're going to get in the package for the standard package and the fly more combo. You definitely need at least one spare battery and the Bag is also pretty useful, and those by themselves make about $100 over the standard price, which costs as much as the fly more combo. So, yes, the FLy more combo is totally the way to go, you get 3 batteries, a multi charger that also shows how much battery you have remaining. Prop guards for flying inside if you want, safely and other spare accessories.
The newer DJI Mini 2 is a pretty good upgrade from the original Mavic Mini, so in 2023 it might make a better choice instead, for not such a different price overall.