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Autel vs. DJI is a battle as old as David and Goliath. Okay, maybe not that old, but if you’ve been in the drone game long enough, it can certainly feel like it!
That’s why I decided what better way to decide which comes out on top than to put them head-to-head?
The Autel EVO Lite+ and DJI Mini 3 are two flagship lightweight drones designed for excellence in handling and – best of all – being lightweight and portable.
I have always loved the DJI Mini line, so when the 3 came out, it quickly became mine. Autel intrigued me with its EVO Lite+, a drone I’ve loved just as much and used nearly as frequently.
However, there can be only one!
This guide will put the EVO Lite+ and Mini 3 in a heated competition, comparing them, identifying their differences, and presenting their strengths and weaknesses. I’ll also share my personal experience flying these drones and why the Mini 3 soars higher than the EVO Lite+.
Although light drones are often less expensive than their heavier counterparts, you still don’t want to waste a cent of your hard-earned money. I get it!
This guide is designed to help you make a drone decision you feel great about.
Without another moment’s delay, let’s get going!
Brief overview #
Autel EVO Lite+ #
Debuting in January 2022, the Autel EVO Lite+ came out as a revised version of the EVO Lite (its sensor shrunk) and an improved edition of the EVO Nano.
It’s one of the smaller drones in the Autel arsenal, yet it’s still foldable for excellent portability. Let’s take a closer look at some of its other awesome features:
- A one-inch CMOS sensor that shoots in leading 6K video at 30 frames per second and 20 MP image quality.
- An impressively long 40-minute flight time for longer joy rides and completing more professional tasks in one go.
- SkyLink transmission of over seven miles in 2.7K quality at 30 fps for HD-quality livestreams to your social media audience when on the go.
- An ultra-wide obstacle avoidance system. The included sensors allow the drone to perceive 150 degrees in front of it for fewer blind spots and collisions.
- A fantastic assortment of smart modes, including cinematic options like Rocket and Fade Away, subject tracking with Dynamic Track 2.1, and automatic selfies with SkyPortrait.
- Three fun colors to select from, so you can choose a bright neon orange if you want your EVO Lite+ to stand out or pick more standard hues like white or gray.
**» MORE: **Autel EVO Lite+ Review
DJI Mini 3 #
The DJI Mini line has evolved so fast that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with, so allow me to get you up to speed.
The Mini 3 is the predecessor of the Mini 2 SE and was released in 2022. It was followed within that same year by the Mini 3 Pro, then the Mini 4 Pro in late 2023.
The Mini 3 barely had a chance to be the new kid on the block before the follow-up release of the Mini 3 Pro, but this DJI drone still holds its own remarkably well.
Take a gander at these features:
- Lightweight enough that you don’t have to register it with the FAA for recreational use, saving you a step between getting out there and flying (you must register your drone for commercial purposes regardless of its weight).
- A leading 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor that shoots in crystal-clear 4K HDR video quality and 48 MP image quality. You can be on the cutting edge of drone technology without having to spend an arm and leg on a new model.
- Surprisingly good wind resistance for its size (Level 5), so you can fly your drone in conditions that would leave you grounded with another model.
- DJI’s suite of Intelligent Flight Modes, including Vertical and Horizontal Shooting and QuickShots for reliable footage every time.
- A battery life of 38 minutes with the default and over 51 minutes by upgrading to the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus for longer flights.
**» MORE: **DJI Mini 3 App (Read This Before Downloading)
Quick Verdict #
We only prioritize the best here at Droneblog, and I selected the Mini 3 after many hours of testing it and the EVO Lite+.
We’ve concluded that the DJI Mini 3 is the better option over the Autel EVO Lite+. This drone has exceptional portability, a lightweight profile, great aerodynamics, staunch wind resistance, and excellent image quality. It’s designed to facilitate editing on the go with the inclusion of the LightCut app.
I’ve had the Mini 3 since it came out, enjoying it for recreational flights without having to worry about registering it.
The EVO Lite+ later caught my eye, and while I love its features, it doesn’t quite live up to the Mini 3.
It’s not even that the EVO Lite+ is more expensive (although it is).
The Mini 3 is just a better value, with its Intelligent Flight Features, a comparable battery to the EVO Lite+ out of the gate (with the option to make the battery last even longer if you don’t mind paying more), strong wind resistance, and the superior camera quality.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I don’t have blinders on.
The lack of any type of obstacle avoidance is a huge deterrent in the Mini 3, especially considering how innovative and high-tech the obstacle avoidance system included with the EVO Lite+ is.
The Mini 3 also has poorer image quality, although it’s not by such a long shot that this is a glaring issue. Its biggest detriment is that it has zero obstacle avoidance, so it’s not as beginner-friendly.
» MORE: Autel EVO Lite Plus vs DJI Avata (Which One Is Better?)
What are the main differences? #
The EVO Lite+ is Autel’s answer to DJI’s Mini series, but these two drones are disparate in many ways. This information can push you toward a purchasing decision, so don’t miss it.
Here are the differences between the Mini 3 and EVO Lite+.
- Image and video quality: These drone manufacturers continue to push the envelope for what’s possible in today’s drone tech. Their video and image quality aren’t identical, with each model excelling in different areas. The Mini 3 wins in the photography department, while the EVO Lite+ has higher-quality video.
- Color selection: Tailoring your drone your way doesn’t require slapping a skin on it when you can buy an Autel drone. The EVO Lite+ is available in three colors, including a shockingly bright orange. By comparison, you can only choose one color for the Mini 3, and that’s not even really a choice. The drone comes in light gray, and that’s that.
- Obstacle avoidance: Of course, color doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. What is the biggest difference between these two drones is the lack of obstacle avoidance. That was a feature DJI added when they released the Mini 3 Pro not much later, but if you have the Mini 3, you’re left in the lurch. The EVO Lite+’s obstacle avoidance is excellent on its own, but any obstacle avoidance would have been better than none.
- Weight: Despite that the EVO Lite+ is called, well, the Lite, it’s not exactly that. It weighs 835 grams, over twice the weight of the Mini 3. You would have to register the EVO Lite+ even when using it recreationally, shelling out for the $5 registration fee. Bummer.
- Social media-friendliness: The Mini 3 has so many features a social media superstar needs to stand out, such as Vertical Shooting, autonomous flight modes, and the included LightCut app for editing video and images from anywhere.
**» MORE: **Autel EVO Lite+ vs. DJI Air 2S
Autel EVO Lite+ #
The EVO Lite+ is the second entry in the Lite series, released after the OG EVO Lite. It’s a great drone for the serious photographer, videographer, or professional pilot.
This successor got everything right that consumers loved about the first version, such as a more affordable price, the return of its CDAF and PDAF autofocus, at least 40 minutes of advertised flight time, and a sizable sensor.
The EVO Lite+ shrunk the sensor size from the OG Lite, as that had a 1/1.28-inch CMOS sensor versus the one-inch EVO Lite+ sensor.
It also reduced image quality from 50 MP to 20 MP but increased the video footage to 6K.
And although the EVO Lite+ doesn’t have a four-axis gimbal, that’s fine. A four-axis gimbal is still a rarity, and a three-axis gimbal gets the job done just fine.
Its excellent camera, foldability, transmission range, and smart features make the EVO Lite+ comparable to any DJI drone. Pound for pound, this bad boy holds its own.
It has more than enough advanced features for photographers to increase their skills, including aperture settings and HDR mode.
With one flick of a switch, the EVO Lite+ will take a series of images, then generate one composite image built from the image’s best traits, including an optimal degree of highlights and shadows.
**» MORE: **Autel EVO Lite+ Video Review (VIDEO)
It’s the kind of feature designed to save you time in post-processing, as the EVO Lite+ practically edits on the go for you.
This Autel drone has the brand’s esteemed Moonlight Algorithm for detail after dark (and less noise), Defog Mode for vibrant photography in natural environments, and natural color restoration for feeling like a pro.
You can also launch single-click cinematographic modes, like Flick, Fade Away, Orbit, and Rocket, and the drone’s tracking is fun and functional.
I had a blast exploring these features. And my post-processing time? The EVO Lite+ halved it.
DJI Mini 3 #
That brings us to the DJI Mini 3, which is kind of awkwardly sandwiched between the Mini 3 Pro and Mini 4 Pro.
Despite the fact that it has so many successors, it’s still a new DJI drone by many standards, having only been released in 2022.
Yet DJI drone technology comes fast, so the Mini 3 came out amidst a flurry of others.
It’s certainly a step up from the Mini 2 SE, and although it doesn’t have quite as many features as the Mini 3 Pro, the Mini 3 is a solid little drone all across the board.
It wins points for its lightweight quality. For a drone that calls itself the Lite, the EVO Lite+ is hardly that.
The Mini 3, on the other hand, lives up to its reputation, weighing under 250 grams.
It’s a traveler’s best friend, weighing so little that you can bring it with you anywhere and everywhere without worrying about space limitations.
The Mini 3 has excellent video and camera capabilities for its size and age, and its 48 MP image quality is among the best you can find in a DJI consumer drone.
You’ll appreciate how clearly you can shoot without having to utilize a Hasselblad camera. And if you need to zoom, this camera has 4x capacity.
Zooming is always a handy feature to have. You can stay away from dangerous areas yet capture shots that make you look like you’re standing right there. YouTubers especially should find that feature handy.
**» MORE: **How to Connect DJI Mini 3/ Mini 3 Pro to Wi-Fi (Step-by-Step Guide)
The sensor is the stuff of wonder, and although you can’t set the aperture, the four-in-one pixels of the sensor keep your images clear and crisp.
The gimbal – an ordinary three-axis, thank you very much – can swap seamlessly from vertical to horizontal videography and photography.
You won’t have to spend precious time orienting your footage for Instagram stories or Twitter when the Mini 3 does it for you right out of the gate.
That’s far from the only way the Mini 3 saves you time when editing. Its included LightCut app invites you to explore photo and video templates in vertical and horizontal orientations.
Single-tap editing lets you get your social media footage out faster, so you’re always top of mind to your audience.
Head-to-head comparison #
Camera system #
Winner: DJI Mini 3
Whether you’re a technical drone photographer or someone just learning the ropes, the Mini 3 is the right drone for you.
I know, I know, the EVO Lite+ has an adjustable aperture, the Moonlight Algorithm, and its HDR feature. I love those inclusions, and the HDR is one of my favorite features in any drone, period. I use it all the time.
The EVO Lite+ also wins in the video quality category, but not by a huge margin. It’s not like you’re missing out or settling for the Mini 3’s 4K HD video.
That’s more than passable, and only a stickler would split hairs over the Mini 3’s video compared to the 6K quality the EVO Lite+ can achieve.
The Mini 3 has the better image quality, and this is much less of a small comparison. The EVO Lite+ only shoots in 20 MP versus the 48 MP for the Mini 3.
Sure, it’s not quite that good quality if you zoom, and timed and single-shot modes produce 12 MP stills, but the 48 MP is head and shoulders above the EVO Lite+.
The gimbal also lets you swap from vertical to horizontal videography and photography in the Mini 3, a feature in which the EVO Lite+ has no comparable alternative.
» MORE: Camera Technology in Drones (Explained)
Flight performance #
Winner: DJI Mini 3
Now this is a biggie, as a poor flight experience will limit everything else you can do with your drone.
That said, I had to give this category to the Mini 3 for several reasons.
For one, it’s a lightweight drone, a true lightweight. The EVO Lite+ has a name that belies its actual size.
Now, being lightweight helps in areas of performance, as a lighter drone is quicker and more responsive to handle.
However, the Mini 3 isn’t as wind-resistant as the EVO Lite+, which I’m sure you pretty much expected, given the Autel drone’s weight.
The Mini 3 has Level 5 wind resistance, making it capable of withstanding gusts of about 24 miles per hour. The EVO Lite+ boasts Level 7 wind resistance.
Now, here’s the thing about wind resistance in drones. It’s an estimate, just like battery life and many other factors.
I’ve flown the Mini 3 in 35-mph winds, and it did just fine. It did more than fine, really. It performed remarkably.
I also love its selection of automated Intelligent Flight Modes. I know, the EVO Lite+ has its own comparable smart modes, but DJI is the pioneer in this area.
I love how you can use modes like Rocket or Dronie and get perfect video footage every time. Although neither of these are beginner drones, this is one of the Mini 3’s most beginner-friendly features.
It’s especially awesome for social media posters with a big presence who maybe aren’t so great at flying drones yet but want to look like they are.
» MORE: Autel EVO 2 Pro vs. DJI Mini 3 (Here’s My Choice)
Winner: DJI Mini 3
This one should have come as no surprise.
The Mini 3 and EVO Lite+ are both portable in their own ways, in that they’re foldable and stowable in a drone bag or backpack.
However, the 2x additional weight the EVO Lite+ carries will make it a bigger pain to carry around…literally.
It will also be tougher to store it in a carry-on or checked luggage that meets your airline’s requirements.
The Mini 3 has no such issues in that arena. It’s small and light enough to fit into any piece of luggage, and it’s ready for flights within your country or internationally.
» MORE: Does the DJI Mini 3 Need to Be Registered? (Explained for Beginners)
RC compatibility and long-range flights #
Winner: DJI Mini 3
The Mini 3 uses the DJI RC, a classic controller in the DJI lineup compatible with more drones than you can shake a stick at. I mean it!
You can use this remote with the Air 2S, Mavic 3 Cine, Mavic 3, Mavic 3 Classic, Mini 3, and Mini 3 Pro. What a laundry list!
I’m kind of obsessed with this controller, and rightfully so. It’s light like the Mini 3, ergonomic, and portable. Its battery is four hours, and the HD screen is a very large 5.5 inches.
With a screen that big and with that much clarity, you can leave your smartphone and tablet at home.
The DJI RC has a good degree of video transmission using the O3+ system, transmitting 1080p footage at 60 fps.
The EVO Lite+ uses the EVO Nano & Lite Series remote controller, which gives me Xbox 360 vibes. It’s a large controller that’s kind of bulky but still ergonomic.
It has a transmission range of 7.4 miles and is compatible with Autel’s Sky App.
The only problem? It doesn’t have a screen, which means keeping your smartphone handy to track your drone’s movements. This remote controller is also compatible with fewer drones.
What about the video transmission rate of the drones themselves? It’s 7.4 miles for the EVO Lite+ and 6.2 miles for the Mini 3. The Autel drone technically wins here, but only by a hair.
- Best Drone Controllers
- Long Range Drones: Ultimate Guide
Battery life #
Winner: Autel EVO Lite+
Speaking of categories where Autel wins, I have to give the battery life battle to the EVO Lite+. After all, its base battery can theoretically sustain flight for 40 minutes, an impeccable feat.
The Mini 3’s base Intelligent Flight Battery can fly for 37 minutes, which I recognize is a few minutes shorter.
You have the option to extend the flight time to 50+ minutes if you’re willing to spend on the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus.
At that point, the DJI battery would beat the Autel battery, but since you have to buy the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus separately, that flight time doesn’t feel like a fair comparison.
If you compare the 37-minute flight time of the Mini 3 and the 40-minute flight time of the EVO Nano+, these drones feel more neck-and-neck in the battery life category.
Neither drone will fly for exactly that long, anyway.
It was more like around 33 or 34 minutes of flight for the DJI drone and a little over 35 for the Autel when I tested them, and let me tell you, I was thorough and extensive.
It’s not that these manufacturers misled you. No drone ever flies exactly as long as advertised.
Bearing that in mind, I’m holding steady on my choice to pick the EVO Lite+ here.
- Drone Batteries (In-Depth Information)
- DJI Mini 3 / Mini 3 Pro Battery (All You Need to Know)
The Autel EVO Lite+ and DJI Mini 3 are two remarkable small drones.
Neither is the newest anymore, yet they both feature cutting-edge features that make them worth discussing in 2023.
The Mini 3 rises to the occasion in every way. It’s truly lightweight, doesn’t require hobbyist registration, has a remarkable camera, boasts Intelligent Flight Modes, and has a battery life on par with what Autel offers.
However, if you choose the Mini 3 as your drone, keep in mind it has no obstacle avoidance.
That’s its biggest fault, which was corrected in the Mini 3 Pro, so perhaps you will want to explore that instead.
And the intuitive remote control with its large screen will help you fly safely with the Mini 3!
» MORE: DJI Mini 3 vs. Autel Nano Plus (All You Need to Know)