The Mavic air is more expensive, but it is still frequently compared to these two.
However, with the recent release of the DJI Mini 2 and Mavic Air 2, things have changed a lot, and now you can check my full comparison between the DJI MINI 2 vs the Mavic Air 2 over here.
What are you going to learn in this article?
This being said, let's get into the article itself!
You can also check my separate review for the DJI Mini 2 over here.
The Fimi X8 is definitely the winner in this category with a total of 33 minutes in perfect flying conditions. This has never been seen before in a drone for this cheap price.If you want to check other drones in this price range I recommend you check my top drones under $500 article. You'll get a notice at about 15% to land, but it can actually last for 30 minutes even in real life conditions, although expect to have 10% battery after that, or even less, which is not ideal.
The Mavic Mini is also pretty close, at a really small difference behind, flying for a maximum of 30 minutes, about 27 or so in real life conditions until the battery reaches critical levels. The Mavic Air is not that great when compared to these two, even though it's almost twice as expensive. The 20 min battery life is even shorter in real life conditions, being somewhere around 18 minutes, which is good, but doesn't even compare tot he others.
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 expected the Mavic Mini to have an annoying high pitched noise like the Mavic Air or the Spark, since it's a smaller drone and the motors spin faster, but it wasn't so at all. Of course it's not close to the low pitched sound of Mavic 2, but it's way less annoying than most.
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.
I have personally tested the range of the Xiaomi Fimi X8 and indeed it does go to 5km if there's no interference between you and the drone. In the city, with all the wifi and the building blocks, expect less range out of it.
But that's how every other drone works. The Mavic mini and the Air both have the same Wi-Fi system in place that on paper is slightly shorter than the Fimi x8, but I wouldn't necessarily worry about that small difference. However, there is an important distinction to be made if you buy your Mavic from Europe.
Both the Mavic MIni and the Mavic Air have shorter discances of about 2km if you buy them from Europe and they come in CE mode.
The Xiaomi Fimi X8 has the same range even in CE mode, but you shouldn't have any issue with that, as you'll probably be getting it from China anyway.
And that's actually one of the cheapest and best ways to buy it currently.
That's how I got mine, and now you can even find a black version of the Fimi X8 on Banggood.
The Mavic Mini is such a popular drone mainly because it fills a market that didn't really exist before: professional drones under 250 grams. Being under 250 grams, it's legal to fly in many countries without the need for registration. The main focust is of course the limit of 250grams in the States. The Mavic Air and Xiaomi FImi X8 both don't fit this category. The Fimi x8 being the bigger one out of the three, but still very portable thanks to the foldable design.
All these drones fly pretty damn fast, and although there are differences, wouldn't consider it necessary. You can use their speed to follow cars or fast moving objects, as well as making the video look more fast paced. Does Xiaomi Fimi X8 have a sport mode? As you probalby know, most DJI drones have a sport mode as a default option, but the Xiaomi is an exception. It doesn't have a sport mode to activate per say, but you can change the maximum flight speed from the app and you can go up to 64km/h.
Only one of the three drones has obstacle avoidance sensors built in, and that's the mavic Air.It has 2 cameras in the front and two in the back. It can be useful for stopping before hitting objects and espeically for flying backwards. However, I never really use the obstacle avoidance, and actually tend to disable it as it can be limiting sometime to where you can fly.
Although the Xiaomi FImi x8 seems like it has obstacle avoidance in front, and so is the Mavic Mini, they actually don't. It's just a design feature to make them look cooler and more like their more expensive counterparts.
What about optical flow cameras? Optical flow cameras are the cameras bellow a UAV that take photos of the ground and adjust the hovering position of the aircraft even in places where there's no GPS. All these three have optical flow sensors and/or sonar bellow for both vertical and horizontal stabilization.
In what scenarios is obstacle avoidance useful?
Thanks to the optical flow stabilization, they can all pretty much be flown inside. I would consider the Xiaomi Fimi X8 a bit more unstable and too big for flying inside, so if that's a thing that you plan to do, leave it to smaller drones. The perfect indoors flier is the Mavic Mini, as it comes with a protective 360 degree cage in the Fly more combo and coupled with the very stable camera flow, it flies really well and there's no danger for crashing it.
Considering the price difference, the Mavic Air should distinguish itself by having a considerably better camera. But are things really this way? On paper, it doesn't really have the advantage. When it comes to resolution, the Mavic Mini loses a little, since it records in 2.7K. However, that's more than enough for most people.
Bitrate is basically the amount of information that gets processed by a camera in a certain interval of time. The bigger the bitrate, the more details the photo can contain. For a perspective, the DJI Spark had 24Mbps, whil the Mavic mini comes with 40Mbps and the FImi x8 and Air both have 100Mbps.
Drag the slider from side to side, and remember that it's normal for things to differ (in this case, the sun position). Try to look at the quality, and if you want to compare the full images download the original samples from the buttons bellow.
These images are zoomed in quite a lot for you to see the differences and are shot in standard modes, without any color changes.
This is probably the most sensitive subject when it comes to these drones compared. The camera settings can make the difference between something a pro can use and something a casual user can use. The Elefant in the room is the Mavic mini, that doesn't have manual settings for changing the ISo and Shutter speed of the Camera, while the Xiaomi and Air both have this option.
There's something called the 180 rule in cinematography and filming that says that you should keep the shutter speed at twice the FPS, and the only way you can actually do that is by putting some ND filters during the day and adjust the shutter speed correspondingly. If there's not much light outside, it shouldn't be a problem, but it's still on automatic. Same goes for the White balance, as it's automatic on the Mavic mini but not automatic on the Mavic Air and Fimi x8.
A good example is that it could change the colors while you're shooting a sunset/sunrise scene with your drone. This could be a cool effect, but definitely something most professionals aren't looking for. In this case, if you're making money with the drone and plan to do cinematography and more advanced stuff, you probably should only pick the Mavic Mini as a spare drone.
As you may know, the Mavic Air does shoot RAW photos. However the Mavic Mini doesn't as it's more oriented for beginners, who don't really edit their photos that much in post processing. The Xiaomi Fimi x8 on the other hand does indeed shoot RAW photos.
All three transmitters are very high quality, with big similarities between the Mavics. The sticks of the Mavic Mini are made from plastic instead of metal, just so you know. Also, they have the main buttons functions as the usual GPS drone, Return to home button, dial for changing the camera angle, on/off, etc. The FImi x8 does have a 5 directional joystick on it that's customizable and it also has the advantage of a bigger fitting bracket, that can fit even tablets (the size of an Ipad mini)
The flight modes are quite complex for DJI drones in general, but teh Mavic mini keeps things simple.It doesn't come with many, unlinke botht he Xiaomi and the Air that have a ton. I have tested all the xiaomi flight modes in the following video comparison with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
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.
Yes, all of them return to home both on low battery life and on loss of signal.I have experienced that myself when doing the range test with the Fimi x8, as it returned back home after I reached the maximum range and I lost signal. The landing precision for all of these is about the same, a maximum of about 2m from the point the were launched.
The Mavic Air is not that relevant anymore in the discussion between all these as it's quite expensive and the battery life is not that great.
I personally think that for this budget you should go for the Mavic Mini if you're not a professional that uses ND filters.
It's a great choice since you don't have to register it and it's really portable. It's also slightly cheaper than the Xiaomi (with about $100).
The Xiaomi Fimi x8 is the better choice for people who want a bit more out of their drone, but aren't that concerned about registering their drone or the weight.
It is suitable to be used in more professional settings thanks to the RAW photos and adjustable camera settings.
It's not necessarily a different Pro version as it's simply a change of color. I like it more black, so I thought some of you might want to know that this is for sale and it looks very professional in my opinion, although it doesn't have anything changed from the original, it does come in a full "fly more" package. It isn't called that way, but I wanted to compare it with the DJI package to get a better understanding of it.
Into the topic of accessories, these drones, being very popular have almost any kind you can think of, from Spare batteries and other parts, to lighted chargers, multi chargers and ND filters. Speaking about ND filters...
The Mavic Mini is the only one who doesn't have them OR have any use for them curently. They all have very portable carrying bags too and extenders for the tablet holders.