As excited as people are about DJI’s introduction of its Mini 3 Pro drone today, a lot of enthusiasts are also stoked about the new remote controller that can be bought with it, featuring a slick built-in touchscreen and other advantages of the RC Pro.
The Mini 3 Pro is logically the focal point of today’s launch, even though so much about the drone was leaked over the last few weeks that little was left to learn from the rollout. Not so with the remote controller, with advance evidence about it limited mostly to accidentally released images by over-anxious retailers. And even after DJI’s presentation, most details about the new RC come from an English leaker who got his mitts on a bundled package, and dedicated a stand-alone video to it.
Here, then – from an array of sources – is what can be said about the controller on sale as an option with the Mini 3 Pro for $909.
The company itself describes it as “a lightweight remote controller with a 5.5-inch built-in touchscreen,” whose integration of the DJI Fly app eliminates having to cram a smartphone between clamps to use as a connected monitor. DJI’s laconic description in release notes, however, holds back a lot of information available by examining photos, or noted on leaker Darren McHandy’s video.
The new DJI RC bundled with the DJI 3 Pro is the same size as the RC Pro, and shares many characteristics. Included in those are the left- and right-hand wheels controlling x2 zoom and gimbal movement on the top edge, as well as separate video and photo buttons. Another commonality is the screen record function.
Things get different from there.
At 385 grams, the baby of DJI’s product line weights in considerably lighter than the RC Pro’s 680 grams. It also costs $290 less than the existing model’s $1,199 stand-alone retail price.
The new controller has relocated its elder’s external antennas within its casing, and features two USB-C ports and an SD card dock on the bottom edge, compared to USB-C, HDMI, and SD card slots on the RC Pro.
Though the improvement is mostly attributable to the drone itself, the new controller does command a significantly increased upward camera tilt to 60 degrees, compared to 20 on RC Pro navigated craft.
In deference to its swipe screen navigation, DJI lost the R5/Back button from the front of the RC Pro. Also absent is the Android menu containing built-in apps like Facebook and Instagram, and other third-party add-on options.
It’s still unclear whether the new DJI RC will work connecting to and flying other drone models, though independent observers tend to think it will – at least with some of them.
Also unknown – and still unspecified in DJI spec sheets – is how bright the screen on the new unit is compared to the RC’s 1,000 nit power. McHandy’s experience using it suggests it isn’t much lower, if at all.
So what will prospective buyers decide based on available information about new RC bundled with DJI’s Mini 3 Pro?
Those who already own an RC Pro may well opt for the $669 package containing an RC-N1 with the drone, as will people happy with flying via plugged-in smartphone.
But anyone suspecting they’ll eventually want to upgrade to a controller with a built-in screen will probably opt for the bundled Mini 3 Pro/DJI RC deal as a way of getting one – along with the company’s latest drone in the mix.