Why your old DJI Smart Controller won’t work with Mavic 3

dji smart controller mavic 3

With DJI’s latest flagship drone out in the market, many have wondered if they’d be able to use their original Smart Controller with the Mavic 3. The short answer is no, and here’s the explanation DJI is giving…

DJI markets its Smart Controller as a device “designed to maximize your outdoor flying experience.” But that’s true only if your drone is equipped with OcuSync 2.0 video transmission technology. So, the list of compatible aircraft includes DJI Mini 2, Air 2S, Mavic Air 2, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic 2 Enterprise Series, Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced, and Phantom 4 Pro V2.0.

This just in: B&H Photo shows DJI Smart Controller as discontinued

The Mavic 3, meanwhile, comes with the updated O3+ transmission system. This technology not only makes Mavic 3 more responsive while reducing video lag, but it also allows the drone to transmit a 1080p/60fps live feed – which is a first for a DJI drone.

Sadly, though, the O3+ transmission system appears to be the reason why Mavic 3 doesn’t like to be paired with the original DJI Smart Controller. Instead, it offers the next-generation DJI RC Pro as a compatible accessory. As the drone maker explains in the official DJI Forum:

Before we launch out Mavic 3, we have already tested the compatibility between DJI Smart Controller and Mavic 3. Since the hardware of DJI Smart Controller cannot support all the image transmission system requirements of Mavic 3, we cannot guarantee that the actual effect of DJI Smart Controller’s image transmission will be as good and stable as that of RC Pro, also the new function, 4G image transmission. Thus, DJI Smart Controller does not support use together with Mavic 3 for now.

It’s worth noting, though, the new RC Pro ships only with the higher-end Mavic 3 Cine version. The base model comes with the DJI RC-N1 Remote Controller, which, interestingly enough, uses OcuSync 2.0 transmission system – the same as the original Smart Controller. Then, what exactly makes RC-N1 compatible but not the Smart Controller? And would DJI be able to solve this issue with a firmware update? DroneDJ has reached out to the company for comment.

Also read: 5 fantastic features Mavic 3 won’t get until January 2022

Smart Controller, Mavic 3 incompatibility upsets fans

In the meantime, DJI Smart Controller users are tremendously unhappy with DJI’s decision to launch the new RC Pro. Many bought the Smart Controller for $800 in the hopes that it would be compatible with future drone releases. And at $1,200, RC Pro is not exactly a cheap upgrade. In fact, it costs only marginally less than what someone would pay for an Air 2S Fly More combo. At the same time, RC Pro is compatible only with Mavic 3 and not any other DJI drone.

As one user pointed out on Twitter:

The official DJI Forum is also flooded with rants, including:

When I invested in the smart controller one reason was that DJI said at the time it will be compatible with future drones. So that is really, really disappointing! The Mavic 3 is expensive as it is and now I need to buy a new controller too? The least DJI should do is offer a trade-in for those already owning the old smart controller. Maybe not 1:1 but at least giving a hefty discount for those who trusted DJI when they said the controller will work with future models!


Seems to me that DJI is becoming the more and more Apple and forcing expenditure on product that I would not fully utilize. I was so excited for this release and poised to immediately buy the M3. The financial leap from Fly More Combo to Cine is way too much. I just cannot bring myself to the expense of the Cine package to get a smart controller. So that’s a sale lost DJI.

Read more: DJI ‘working on assuring compliance’ for Mavic 3 in Europe

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