DJI Mavic Mini vs Spark (2020): Comparing Portable Drones

Portable mini drones can produce fantastic photos and breathtaking videos that can rival bigger models. DJI welcomes drone-flying beginners with their two smallest offerings, the DJI Mavic Mini and the DJI Spark. As the newer model, the DJI Mavic Mini has several key improvements over the DJI Spark, which has its own unique features as well. Check out our comparison below to find out which DJI drone fits your needs better.

DJI Mavic Mini vs Spark Drone Comparison Chart

ModelDJI Mavic MiniDJI Spark
 DJI Mavic Mini - Drone FlyCam Quadcopter UAV with 2.7K Camera 3-Axis Gimbal GPS 30min Flight Time,...DJI Spark with Remote Control Combo (White)
PriceCheck Price on AmazonCheck Price on Amazon
Dimensions5.5″ x 3.2″ x 2.2″ (folded)
9.65″ x 11.4″ x 2.16″ (unfolded)
5.62″ x 5.62″ x 2.16″
Weight0.55 lb0.66 lb
Max Flight Time30 min16 min
Max Speed29 mph31 mph
Camera1/2.3″ Sensor, 12 MP1/2.3″ Sensor, 12 MP
Video2.7K1080p
Gimbal3 Axis2 Axis
Range*4000 m2000 m
Bitrate40 Mbps24 Mbps
AppDJI Fly AppDJI Go 4
Flight ModesQuickshot, Sport, CinesmoothAdvanced, Gesture, Quickshot, ActiveTrack, TapFly
Photo ModesSingle Shot, IntervalSingle Shot, Interval, Burst, Panorama, Shallow Focus
ReleasedNovember 2019May 2017

Design

The DJI Mavic Mini is lighter and more portable than the DJI Spark.

DJI Mavic Mini vs Spark Drone Design
Sporting similar designs, the DJI Mavic Mini (left) can be folded for easy storage while the DJI Spark (right) remains as is.

As the smallest drones from DJI, the Mavic Mini and Spark can both fit in the palm of your hand. They won’t strain that hand either, since they’re both lightweight. However, their weight difference has an important implication. The US, Canada, and other countries require drones heavier than 250 grams to be registered first. As such, there’s no need to go through this step with the DJI Mavic Mini as it’s right within the limit. The 300 gram DJI Spark, however, does. Note that adding anything on the Mavic Mini, such as propeller guards or custom stickers and decals, will cause it to go over this limit.

Another advantage of the DJI Mavic Mini is its foldable design. It can shrink down to a neat bundle that can be stowed away conveniently in a bag. The DJI Spark has fixed arms so you’ll have to be a bit more careful when storing and transporting it. One noticeable design feature the DJI Spark has that the DJI Mavic Mini doesn’t is the front-facing sensor. Combined with the bottom sensor, this allows the DJI Spark greater obstacle avoidance while flying. 

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Overall, we prefer the slimmer arms and uniform color of the DJI Mavic Mini. It looks more modern and agile than the two-tone finish and slightly bulk look of the DJI Spark. 

Flight Performance

The DJI Mavic Mini can fly farther and longer than the DJI Spark.

DJI Mavic Mini vs Spark Drone Flight Performance
Enjoy a wider coverage and longer flight time with the DJI Mavic Mini.

One of the best improvements DJI made with the Mavic Mini is its flight capabilities. Not only can it fly longer and go farther, it’s also more stable, thanks to its 3 axis gimbal compared to the DJI Spark’s 2 axis gimbal. This makes side-to-side movements and circular flight patterns much smoother, resulting in more impressive footage. The DJI Mavic Mini carries a larger lithium polymer battery with a capacity of 2,400 mAh versus the 1,480 mAh of the DJI Spark. This translates to nearly double the maximum flight time, letting you cruise and shoot with the DJI Mavic Mini for up to 30 minutes while the DJI Spark needs to return to home before 16 minutes are up.

The DJI Mavic Mini also has double the range of the DJI Spark. You can fly up and away as far as 4 kilometers or 2.5 miles with the Mavic Mini while the Spark is limited to within 2 km or 1.24 miles. Note that these ranges are in FCC mode, which is unavailable in Europe. In EU, the max range for the Mavic Mini is cut in half to 2 km, but the DJI Spark gets further reduced to only 25% of its US range or 500 meters when running in CE frequencies. Both quadcopter drones will automatically go on ‘return to home’ mode if their battery gets too low or their connection cuts off when passing max range.

Despite the smaller motors of the DJI Mavic Mini, the DJI Spark only has a marginal speed advantage. Their max speeds are 29 mph and 31 mph, respectively. Despite being outperformed in nearly every regard in this category, the DJI Spark comes out on top when looking at flight modes. The Mavic Mini uses a new app called DJI Fly, which simplifies controls for beginners. It doesn’t have a Follow Me mode like the DJI Spark, likely due to the lack of obstacle avoidance through forward sensors. The DJI Spark also has several additional flight modes for more creative shooting possibilities that the Mavic Mini lacks.

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Photo and Video Quality

The DJI Mavic Mini shoots higher resolution videos but the DJI Spark has more photo modes.

DJI Mavic Mini vs Spark Drone Photo and Video Quality
With the Active Track feature, the DJI Spark lets you stay on target and shoot from a fixed perspective.

While both quadcopters are equipped with 12 megapixel cameras with 1/2.3″ sensors, the newer DJI Mavic Mini benefits from tech advancements made in the three years since the DJI Spark was released. This lets the Mavic Mini record videos in 2.7K Quad HD while the Spark is only capable of 1080p. Moreover, the Mavic Mini has a higher bitrate than the Spark, 40 Mbps vs 24 Mbps, so it’s able to process more information resulting in greater overall detail.

Still, the DJI Spark has more photo modes to take advantage of than the Mavic Mini. In addition to the standard Single Shot and Interval shooting modes available on both, the DJI Spark has Burst, Pano, and Shallow Focus modes. Pano lets you take vertical and horizontal panoramas while Shallow Focus creates depth of field through 3D vision technology. Moreover, it has an Active Track feature that can recognize your subject’s shape, allowing the Spark to track them even while moving. This provides more creative options when capturing video or taking dramatic photos of landscapes or activities.

Both portable DJI drones have the standard Quick Shot modes, including Dronie, Helix, Orbit, and Rocket. Dronie flies the drone up and backward while locking the camera onto the subject. Helix does the same but spirals around the subject instead. Orbit simply circles around the target while Rocket mimics takeoff, pointing the camera straight down while ascending at high speed. 

Controls and Other Features

The DJI Spark can be flown without a remote control while the DJI Mavic Mini is better for indoor flying.

DJI Mavic Mini vs Spark Drone Controls and Other Features
Take photos with the DJI Spark using simple gestures.

DJI introduced a fun feature for the Spark that’s no longer included with the Mavic Mini: gesture recognition. While it does come with a remote controller, you can control the DJI Spark using only your hands. In Palm Control mode, you can control the Spark’s movement and take selfies through hand motions. Making a frame with your fingers shoots a photo, while raising your arms and waving your hands will fly the Spark in the appropriate direction. This also lets you take off and land the Spark on your palm. In addition, the DJI Spark has TapFly mode. While viewing what the DJI Spark’s camera sees, you can tap on your phone’s screen to tell the drone to fly to that spot while avoiding obstacles. 

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If you want to fly a drone indoors, the DJI Mavic Mini is arguably better at the job with the addition of the 360 propeller guard. This protects the drone if it bumps into walls and objects, and it keeps you and other people same from its propellers, too. With its 3 axis gimbal and bottom sensor, you can expect a much smoother indoor flying experience with the Mavic Mini. Moreover, you can connect your phone to its remote controller by cable, significantly reducing the lag between inputs and drone response. In contrast, the DJI Spark’s controller only connects to your phone via Wi-Fi, which produces noticeable lag. The simplified controls of the DJI Fly app also make it easier for beginners to learn how to fly drones with the Mavic Mini, letting them progress from safer, more restrictive locations to larger neighborhoods.

Verdict

The DJI Mavic Mini outflies and outshoots the DJI Spark.

In the end, the most important characteristics of a good portable drone is still flight performance and camera quality, both of which are dominated by the DJI Mavic Mini. It can fly longer, go farther, and take better quality photos and videos. The Mavic Mini has a smoother stabilization that can result in more impressive cinematic shots, especially once you’ve mastered its controls. It’s more portable too, as it’s easily folded into pocket size for storage. Sealing its win even further is its much lower price than the Spark. You can save around $100 by getting the Mavic Mini, or get even better value by opting for its Fly More combo bundle, which costs the same as the base Spark drone itself.

Despite being outclassed by the Mavic Mini, which DJI aims to be the new intro model, the DJI Spark still has unique features that will make drone flying fun. With gesture based controls, you can fly the Spark without using any accessories, letting you take selfies like a boss. Its flight capabilities and image quality remain respectable for a portable drone, not to mention it has active obstacle avoidance enabling safer flights.

Last update on 2020-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Derick Bondoc
Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.