DJI Drone Buyer’s Guide 2024: How To Choose The Best Drone For You

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RCHobby Lab’s Author: Daniel Henderson
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Reviewed by Kristen Ward
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Reviewed by Kristen Ward

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Good day, RC hobbyists! Daniel Henderson here from RChobby Lab, welcoming you to my 2024 DJI drone buyer’s guide.

I created a similar guide back in January 2022 when the DJI drone landscape looked quite different. But with the introduction of models like the Mini 3 Pro and Mini 4 Pro, there’s a lot that has changed in short order.

One of the most common questions I get on this blog is “Which DJI drone should I buy?” That’s a tough one to answer because everyone has different budgets, experience levels, and intended uses.

But in this post, I’ll overview the key factors to weigh when deciding between DJI’s most popular consumer drone models. My goal is to break down the key differences so you can zero in on the right aerial photography sidekick for your needs and budget.

Let’s kick things off with a bird’s eye view of the DJI lineup.

The Current DJI Consumer Drone Lineup

Here’s a quick overview of the main DJI drones available as of late 2023:

DJI Mini Series:

  • DJI Mini 3 Pro
  • DJI Mini 4 Pro

Mid-Size Drones:

  • DJI Air 3
  • DJI Avata (FPV model)

Flagship Drones:

  • DJI Mavic 3
  • DJI Mavic 3 Classic
  • DJI Mavic 3 Pro

I’m focusing on the models above because they’re the most popular among hobbyists and prosumers. But DJI does offer more specialized drones like the Matrice 300 RTK meant for enterprise applications.

As you can see, DJI organizes their lineup into three main tiers:

  • The Mini series which are ultralight drones under 249g
  • Mid-sized drone models
  • Full-featured flagship drones

In the sections below, we’ll explore the key differences between these models and tiers. But first, let’s cover what they all have in common.

Key Similarities Between DJI Drones

It’s important to know that while DJI’s drones do differ across various factors, they share some core similarities:

Intuitive app control: All DJI drones work with the DJI Fly app available on iOS and Android. It provides full manual camera control, access to intelligent flight modes, HD video transmission, and more.

Automated safety features: From GPS stabilization to obstacle detection and automated landing, key safety features come standard on DJI drones. So at any price point, you’re getting a reliable aerial platform.

Excellent flight performance: DJI consistently tops industry flight time and stability benchmarks, even on lower-cost models. So you never have to sacrifice core flight performance for camera capabilities when comparing DJI models.

Upgradable firmware: DJI issues ongoing firmware updates for drones to enable new capabilities over time. So buying a DJI drone is an investment, as features can expand post-purchase via free updates.

Bottom line? While factors like weight, flight time, and camera quality do vary across DJI drones, you’re guaranteed solid safety, stability and flight time regardless of which model you choose.

Now let’s explore how the key DJI models differ across some major factors.

Key Factor #1: Price

Price is for most hobbyists looking to buy their first drone. And lucky for us, DJI offers models at just about every budget level:

| Drone Model | Price (w/ RC Smart Controller)
| DJI Mini 3 Pro | $709 |
| DJI Mini 4 Pro | $959 |
| DJI Avata | $1,388 |
| DJI Air 3 | $1,699 |
| DJI Mavic 3 Classic | $1,749 |
| DJI Mavic 3 Pro | $2,199 |

A few things to note here:

  • I’m quoting prices including DJI’s Smart Controller with integrated display. You can save a bit by buying a drone with the standard RC controller and using your smartphone as a display instead.
  • The flagship DJI Mavic 3 Pro commands the highest price by a fair margin. That’s because it packs the most advanced Hasselblad camera system DJI offers.
  • Still, you can get a highly capable drone for under $1,000 if you go with the Mini series. And the Mini 4 Pro gets you obstacle avoidance and an excellent camera for just $959.

So in short, budget plays a huge role in choosing a DJI drone. Identify how much you can spend, and that instantly narrows the options.

Just know that even DJI’s cheapest drones offer excellent capability for the price. So there are solid options at every budget level to suit beginners and experts alike.

Key Factor #2: Local Drone Regulations

The second major factor to consider is your country’s drone regulations. They dictate the max weight and types of flights allowed without special licensing.

And failing to follow the rules can mean hefty fines or outright drone confiscation in some areas. No bueno!

That’s why it’s critical to consider regulations where you live before buying a drone. They may dictate which DJI model makes the most sense.

For example, in the USA, Canada and UK you can fly drones under 250g without any special licensing, registration or training. This exemption makes DJI’s sub-250g Mini drones extremely appealing if you’d like to avoid regulatory hassles.

However, if regulations aren’t an issue for you and having superior camera capabilities is important, then a larger drone like the DJI Air 3 or Mavic series may be warranted despite added rules.

The key is to research regulations for your area before deciding. That way you pick the optimal drone for your flight environment rather than settling for a less ideal model solely due to rules.

Key Factor #3: Portability

Another major consideration is portability – aka the drone’s weight, size when folded, battery design and more. Why does it matter?

  • If you want to travel with your drone, compact models like the Mini 4 Pro have a huge edge.
  • Similarly, if you’ll carry your drone on hikes or extended outdoor trips, lighter solutions make more sense.
  • But if you mainly fly in windy conditions, a heavier drone may offer the stability you need.

Here’s a portability comparison between some top options:

| Drone | Weight | Folded Size | Notes |
| DJI Mini 3 Pro | 249g | 145×90×62 mm | Extremely compact and lightweight |
| DJI Mini 4 Pro | 300g | 171×245×62 mm | Very portable for a drone with obstacle avoidance |
| DJI Avata | 410g w/ props | 180×180×80 mm | Sturdy foldable frame with protected props |
| DJI Air 3 | 570g |180×97×77 mm | Folds down reasonably small for a mid-sized drone |
| DJI Mavic 3 | 895g | 221×96×90 mm | Relatively compact for 1″ sensor camera drone |

As you can see, DJI’s Mini series are in a class of their own when it comes to traveling light.

The DJI Avata folds down pretty small as well thanks to its prop guard design. And the Mavic 3 gets respectable marks considering it packs a large 1-inch camera sensor.

So if you plan to travel often with your drone, strongly consider one of DJI’s folding Mini options. But the Mavic 3 and Avata work too if you value camera quality/durability over every bit of weight and size.

Key Factor #4: Skill Level & Intended Use

Here’s where we get into the nitty gritty of picking the right drone for you.

Important questions to ask yourself here:

  • Are you a beginner or expert pilot?
  • Will you mainly use your drone for photography, videography, racing or just casual flying?
  • Do any specialized capabilities like FPV appeal to you?

Answering questions like these will further narrow the options. Let’s break it down:

Beginner vs Expert Pilots

If you’re just getting started with drones, a Mini model like the DJI Mini 4 makes perfect sense. Why so?

  • It weighs under 250 grams, avoiding rules hassles in many areas
  • You get excellent safety features like obstacle avoidance standard
  • It offers 34-minute max flight times to hone your skills without added pressure
  • The Mini 4 packs impressive camera capabilities like 4K video and 48MP photos

Thanks to obstacle avoidance, tons of intelligent flight modes for capturing professional-grade aerial media and abundant flight time, the Mini 4 Pro is hands down the best “learning” drone from DJI right now.

Conversely, expert pilots may desire more specialized models:

  • The DJI Avata appeals thanks to its agile FPV design and fully immersive googles-based flight
  • The DJI Mavic 3 Pro offers next-level camera flexibility with its tele lens options
  • Upcoming flagship drones will tempt professionals eager to fly cutting edge equipment

The point? Skill level plays a major role in the “right” drone choice. Evaluate your piloting experience honestly and seek power/capabilities that align.

Photography & Videography

Most hobbyists buy a drone primarily for aerial photography and videography. If that sounds like you, camera capabilities deserve the bulk of your comparison attention.

But what specs matter most? A few key considerations:

  • Sensor size: Larger camera sensors capture more light and detail. They perform better in low-light as well. The Mavic 3 series use large 1-inch sensors compared to smaller units on the other models.
  • Megapixel count: More megapixels mean you can crop/print larger without losing detail. DJI’s 48MP sensors offer ample resolution for most buyers’ needs.
  • Lens options: Having the flexibility to swap lenses for wider views or zoom photography is nice. Only the Mavic 3 Pro offers lens options currently.
  • Video modes: All current DJI drones shoot crisp 4K/30fps video – but some offer faster frame rates. This expands slow-motion possibilities.
  • HDR capabilities: High dynamic range (HDR) video recording is important for capturing detail in high contrast settings. Most DJI drones support 10-bit HDR at this point.

If you’re all about aerial imaging, definitely read up on the exact camera specs per model. Side-by-side comparisons on DJI’s site make this easy.

But for most hobbyist needs, even DJI’s cheapest current drones shoot very impressive 4K video and 48MP photographs.

FPV & Racing

Not everyone wants a photography drone! Some users gravitate towards FPV models for drone racing, freestyle aerobatics and similar applications.

If that sounds like you, the DJI Avata combines FPV flight with stabilizing features absent on many rivals for a unique hybrid experience.

The Avata gives you immersive manual flight via FPV goggles. But you also have access automated shots plus the confidence of prop guards when learning.

So while not a racing “purest” like the DJI FPV drone, the Avata makes a lot of sense for drone pilots wanting to dabble in first-person flight without going full expert.

It’s beginner-friendly way to dip your toes in the world of manual FPV flight while enjoying advanced DJI safety features.

Final Thoughts – Finding The Right DJI Drone For You

That wraps up this 2023 buyer’s guide covering the latest DJI drone options and how to select between them!

Hopefully breaking down the drones by price, regulations, portability and skill level/use sheds some light.

Just remember:

  • DJI drone offer excellent capability for the price regardless of which model you pick
  • Check local rules BEFORE buying since regulations impact ideal model selection
  • Look for the best match of camera capabilities, safety features and design to your experience level and intended flight applications

At the end of the day, all current DJI drones will capture beautiful aerial footage and provide an amazing flight experience. It’s just about finding that perfect blend of features tailored to your unique needs and environment.

Have any other questions about picking your perfect first or next drone from industry leader DJI? Don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below! I’m happy to offer my insight drawing from many years of experience reviewing and flying DJI’s latest aerial offerings.

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Written By Daniel Henderson

My name is Daniel Henderson and I'm an avid FPV pilot and videographer. I've been flying quadcopters for over 5 years and have tried just about every drone and FPV product on the market. When not flying quads, you can find me mountain biking, snowboarding, or planning my next travel adventure.

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