DJI Air 3 vs. Mini 4 Pro: which compact drone is best?: Digital Photography Review

The Air 3 (left) and the Mini 4 Pro (right) were released months apart in 2023. They share many similarities and a few differences. Which one is right for you?

Photo: Kara Murphy

Drones have been accessible to the general public for about a decade and continue to grow in popularity. They’ve become a valuable tool for videographers and photographers alike, providing unique vantage points that otherwise would have required renting a helicopter. With Skydio and Autel recently announcing a departure from the consumer drone market, DJI has emerged as the leader in this particular niche.

Buy the DJI Mini 4 Pro:

Buy the DJI Air 3:

DJI’s Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro are ushering in a new era of safer, more reliable flying. Both models offer 360º omnidirectional obstacle detection, superior connectivity between the remote and drone with DJI’s OcuSync 4 (O4) transmission technology, and a variety of automated features that make capturing polished and professional-looking imagery feasible – all at a relatively affordable price.

The Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro have updated gimbal clamps that protect the wide-angle fisheye cameras on the front of their bodies.

Photo: Kara Murphy

These drones have a lot in common, but they each have specific features that make them more suitable for certain people, depending on budget. We’ll explore what the Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro offer and see which is the best option for most drone pilots. Is it worth investing in one of these newer models? Let’s find out.

By the numbers: DJI Air 3 vs. Mini 4 Pro

The Air 3 is larger, heavier, and costs more than the sub-250g Mini 4 Pro. [A sub-250g does not need to be registered with the FAA in the US or with analogous agencies in many other countries, as long as it’s being used for recreational purposes.] This will make any Mini or sub-250g drone more appealing for some folks as Remote ID becomes effective in March 2024.

Weighing 720g, the Air 3 is heavier and will fare much better in high winds and other elements than the lightweight Mini 4 Pro. If you are in urban areas where wind tunnels form between buildings or if you fly your drone along the coast near large bodies of water, a lightweight drone is not your best option. And, yes, due to its weight, you’ll need to register it to comply with Remote ID.

DJI Air 3 Mini 4 Pro

$1,099 with RC-N2

$1,349 Fly More Combo with RC-N2

$1,549 Fly More Combo with RC 2

$759 with RC-N2

$959 with RC 2

$1,099 Fly More Combo with RC 2

$1,159 Fly More Combo Plus with RC 2


Dual-camera system

Type 1/1.3 sensor

12MP (AEB 3/5/7) or 48MP (AEB 3/5)

F2.8 (fixed), 70mm, F1.7 (fixed)

Type 1/1.3 sensor, F1.7 (fixed)

12MP (AEB 5/7, 2X zoom)

48MP (AEB 3)

Digital Zoom Wide-Angle Camera: 1-3x

Medium Tele Camera: 3-9x


1-3x, up to 4K/60p

4x, up to 1080p/60p

Max Video Resolution 4K/60p, 150 Mbps 4K/60p, 150 Mbps
Video Transmission OcuSync 4.0 (O4), 20 km OcuSync 4.0 (O4), 20 km
Log Video 10-bit D-Log M 10-bit D-Log M
Intelligent Flight Features


Cruise Control





Cruise Control


ActiveTrack 360º



Obstacle Detection and Avoidance Omnidirectional, 360º Omnidirectional, 360º
Flight Time 46 minutes 34 minutes/45 minutes*
Dimensions 207×100.5×91.1 mm (8.15×3.96×3.59 in) 148×94×64 mm (5.83×3.7×2.52 in)
Weight 720g 249g
Vertical Shooting 2.7K/60p True Vertical, 4K/60p

*45-minute flight time requires a heavier battery, increasing the Mini 4 Pro’s weight to >250g.

The Mini 4 Pro is the first DJI drone to offer ActiveTrack 360º, which allows you to follow a subject from any angle, in any direction, including the front. The Air 3 will not allow you to track a car or person from the front.

The Mini 4 Pro also allows for True Vertical Shooting, meaning the camera’s entire sensor is used without cropping in any FocusTrack mode or while recording video at up to 4K/60p. This also applies to still images. Vertical shooting is available on the Air 3, but only at a maximum resolution of 2.7K/30p as of this writing. Since this camera does not rotate, the image is cropped.

DJI Air 3 vs Mini 4 Pro: Battery life and runtime

DJI made the front legs of the Mini 4 Pro longer. This makes launching and landing much easier than the Mini 3 Pro.

Photo: Kara Murphy

The Air 3 has brand-new, larger-capacity batteries that snap into the back of the drone. At up to 46 minutes of battery life, the Air 3 has the same flight time as the much more expensive Mavic 3 series.

If you use a standard Intelligent Flight battery on the Mini 4 Pro, you’ll get up to 34 minutes of flight time. The Intelligent Flight Plus batteries give you up to 45 minutes. However, using the bigger Plus battery will place the Mini 4 Pro’s weight above 250g, and you’ll need to register it before flying.

Both the Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro have charging consoles that secure the batteries when charging. Because you can’t see how much a Mini battery is charged, the console will display the remaining amount of power for each one. As a bonus, the Air 3’s console is designed to allocate all the power from the other two batteries to one so you can take a full flight.

DJI Air 3 vs Mini 4 Pro: Remote compatibility

The Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro are compatible with the RC-N2 and RC 2 remote controllers. These are your only remote options since there’s no backward compatibility with older models. Both remotes have DJI’s O4 technology, which gives the drones a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) range. While you never would fly that far beyond visual line of sight, this robust transmission can help deliver uninterrupted connectivity and a 1080p/60p low-latency stream to your remote’s screen.

DJI’s RC 2 remote looks similar to the original DJI RC. The difference is the antennas included for superior transmission between the drone and its remote.

Photo: Kara Murphy

DJI Air 3 vs Mini 4 Pro: Cameras

The Air 3 is the first in its series to offer a dual-camera system and support native vertical (9:16) shooting. The bottom main camera has a 24mm equiv. fixed F1.7 wide-angle lens and 82º FOV. On top is a 70mm medium telephoto camera (giving you the equivalent of 3X optical zoom from the main camera) with a fixed F2.8 aperture with a 35º FOV. Both cameras use Type 1/1.3 CMOS sensors that support 12MP pixel-binned and 48MP full-resolution photos.

The Mini 4 Pro has a single camera with the same Type 1/1.3 CMOS sensor, 24mm equiv. focal length and fixed F1.7 aperture as the Mini 3 Pro. Instead of relying on a separate telephoto lens, you can crop in up to 2x digitally when shooting 12MP photos, which does result in a hit to image quality.

The Air 3 is the first in its series to offer a dual-camera system.

Photo: Kara Murphy

The Air 3 allows for 4K/60p video recording and 4K/100p for slow-motion clips, all of which can be captured using DJI’s D-Log M color profile for more flexible post-processing. The Air 3 also includes Night Mode, introduced with the Mavic 3 series; this feature allows you to record up to 4K/30p video at an ISO up to 12800. D-Log M (10-bit) is not supported, however.

The Mini 4 Pro can also record up to 4K/60p video and Slo-Mo 4K/100p footage. The Mini 4 Pro has D-Log M, too; however, as with the Air 3, it’s unavailable while shooting in Night Mode.

Intelligent Flight Modes

Both the Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro offer QuickShots – Dronie, Circle, Helix, Rocket, Asteroid, and Boomerang. MasterShots – which performs a series of QuickShots and stitches them all together in the DJI Fly app – is available on both models. FocusTrack, which allows you to select a subject, typically a car or person, and follow it using Point of Interest, ActiveTrack, or Spotlight, is also included.

The Mini 4 Pro is the first DJI drone to introduce ActiveTrack 360º. Building on the original ActiveTrack, this iteration allows you to track a subject from all angles. While the Air 3 allows you to track your subject from the sides or behind, the Mini 4 Pro can also track from the front. A large trace wheel will appear at the bottom left-hand corner of your remote’s screen, and you can use your finger to create a custom path for the drone to fly around the subject.

The Mini 4 Pro introduced the ActiveTrack 360º feature. You can draw a path with your finger, and the drone will automatically follow that same course around your tracked subject.

Screenshot: Pilot Institute

What makes either the Mini 4 Pro or the Air 3 a worthwhile investment, however, is the inclusion of the Waypoints Flight feature. This feature allows you to set a predetermined flight path by customizing various parameters for each waypoint, including altitude, speed, and the camera’s orientation so that you can repeat a shot multiple times. The drone will then fly the course automatically in the order you designated or in reverse.

On the Air 3 and more advanced drones, including the Mavic 3 series, you’ll get more information in your app’s interface, including how long the drone takes to complete its course. On the Mini 4 Pro, you get sparse information and will know how long your pre-planned course will take when it starts. All missions can be saved and repeated.

DJI squeezed an auxiliary light onto the Mini 4 Pro while keeping it under 250g. It will activate when you launch and land the drone at night or in low-light conditions.

Photo: Kara Murphy

Another feature available on both drones is Cruise Control. You need to set either the ‘C1’ or ‘C2’ button in the Fly app to activate it. You’ll fly at a certain speed, and as soon as you hit the designated button, your drone will fly at a consistent speed. This is useful for longer flights and allows you to focus on camera maneuvers, altitude, and other effects.

I already own a Mini 3 Pro or Air 2S. Is it worth the upgrade?

The Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro are both significant upgrades from their predecessors. The Air 3 performs much better in flight, especially in higher winds, has obstacle avoidance in all directions, the Waypoints Flight feature, and far superior battery life. The Air 2S camera has a 20MP, 1-inch CMOS sensor. While the Air 3’s Type 1/1.3 camera can produce 48MP images, it uses a quad-bayer sensor and can sometimes produce less refined results.

Starting with the Mini 3 Pro (right) and now the Air 3 (left), DJI has significantly improved the design and functionality of its battery charging consoles.

Photo: Kara Murphy

The Mini 4 Pro’s camera uses the same Type 1/1.3 sensor as the Mini 3 Pro, and both are capable of True Vertical Shooting. Where this model shines is, once again, omnidirectional avoidance, Waypoints Flight, and the new Active Track 360º feature that can track a subject from every angle. It’s worth noting that if you’re like me and ever accidentally flew into a tree due to a lack of sensors on the side, having obstacle detection on every possible side is extremely helpful.

“The Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro are both major upgrades from their predecessors.”

Now that we’ve established that the Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro are, in fact, significant upgrades, we also need to talk about why they may only be for some. Even though they are more budget-friendly than the Mavic 3 series, they still need to be purchased with a new remote. If you already have a DJI RC or RC-N1 controller that you’re using with another drone, the Mini 3 Pro or Air 2S are more economically friendly choices. Ultimately, it comes down to what you’re willing to spend and what features you’re most excited about.

Which one is best for you?

Let’s try to answer this article’s underlying question: Which DJI drone, released in 2023, is right for you? I’ve flown both extensively and came to the following conclusions.

The Air 3

the Air 3 is ideal for photographers and videographers looking to shoot at different focal lengths and fly at higher altitudes or along coastlines where wind speeds pick up.

The Air 3’s body is 470g heavier than the Mini 4 Pro. That added weight makes it ready to scale tall buildings or mountainous areas. Plus, you get more advanced video and photo features – the maximum 8-second shutter speed can create cool light trail effects or enhance lower-light settings, for instance. The added flight time and extra camera can both be very nice to have, too.

Even though the Mini 4 Pro has omnidirectional obstacle detection and avoidance, it is still susceptible to colliding with small twigs or power wires. Same with the Air 3 or any other DJI drone. A prop cage, pictured, is a great tool for preserving the drone if it crashes or runs into a wall.

Photo: DJI

The Mini 4 Pro

The Mini 4 Pro is ideal for two types of remote pilots: the casual flyer or the professional remote pilot needing additional perks. As we covered in our extensive article on the forthcoming Remote ID ruling, any drone weighing less than 250g at takeoff does not need to be registered with the FAA – so long as it’s flown recreationally. That means you get some of DJI’s best features at your disposal without needing to register it with the FAA.

“The Air 3 is ideal for those looking to shoot at different focal lengths and fly at higher altitudes or along coastlines where wind speeds pick up.”

What I appreciate about the Mini 4 Pro or any Mini-series drone is that DJI has constructed a light prop guard cage that makes operating indoors a breeze. Whether you have the Mini 4 Pro, with omnidirectional obstacle detection and avoidance, or one of the original models with no sensors, the cage, in most cases, will cause the drone to bounce off a wall or object and keep moving.

The Air 3’s (right) build resembles the more advanced Mavic 3 (left). Both drones will likely hold up better in higher altitudes and windy conditions than smaller DJI models, such as the Air 2S and Mini series.

Photo: Kara Murphy

I taught my daughter to fly in our house, and we practiced during the winter when it was too cold to operate outside. It should be noted that the FAA’s airspace regulations do not apply indoors. A tiny, lightweight drone like the Mini 4 Pro is perfect for this use case.

“The Mini 4 Pro is ideal for two types of remote pilots: the casual flyer or the professional remote pilot who needs some additional perks.”

Ultimately, you’d want a Mini 4 Pro for affordable access to cool features such as ActiveTrack 360º and True Vertical shooting – this model is highly versatile thanks to its lengthy feature list. Although it’s less capable outdoors and has weaker imaging specs, you do get a lot for your money with this model. Ultimately, there are some distinct differences between the Air and Mini models, and you’ll need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of both based on what you’re hoping to do with a drone.

Buy the DJI Mini 4 Pro:

Buy the DJI Air 3:

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