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Is DJI Mini 2 SE Good for Beginners? (Hands-on Review)

15 mins
Drone Blog
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Released in early 2023 and one of two Mini drones to come out this year (the Mini 4 Pro is the other), the DJI Mini 2 SE is a dependable, affordable, enjoyable drone to fly.

I awaited its debut with anticipation, and once it was released, eagerly picked it up and began flying it within the same week.

I’m not a beginner drone pilot anymore, but I still remember those days. That had me thinking, how appropriate is the Mini 2 SE as a first drone or an early drone for new pilots?

  • The DJI Mini 2 SE is ultra-beginner-friendly.
  • The drone has single-button launching and landing, built-in tutorials via the DJI Fly app, Failsafe RTH (Return-to-Home), hovering, and automated flight cinematics.
  • **However, it lacks obstacle avoidance, which is disappointing. **

Even though it doesn’t have any means of dodging obstacles, I’d still say the Mini 2 SE is a strong contender for your first drone.

It has features designed to make learning easy, and what more can you ask for? (Okay, obstacle avoidance, I get that.)

Join me on this exciting journey into the ins and outs of the DJI Mini 2 SE, so we can explore together whether it’s a drone to buy for yourself as an aspiring pilot or for your child, friend, or family member. 

DJI Mini 2 SE overview #

Released on February 9th, 2023, the DJI Mini 2 SE is the next step up from the older Mini 2, which hit store shelves in November 2020.

I had to try it, as I hadn’t flown my Mini 2 for a while after the Mini 3 Pro came out, and I was eager to see if the Mini 2 SE felt like the old Mini 2.

**» MORE: **Is the DJI Mini 2 SE Worth It?

It did and it didn’t. It’s a familiar drone, sure, but with so many great features that it feels fresh and inventive, just as DJI intended.

Here’s what comes as part of your affordable purchase.

Handy weight #

Heavy drones make beginners feel uncertain about their movements and more prone to mistakes.

The Mini 2 SE weighs under 249 grams, making it very manageable.

Many drone manufacturers have striven to dump the excess weight when producing drones, as drones under this weight threshold are FAA-friendly.

However, DJI has been doing it for years, and many of its Minis are within this tidy weight range. 

**» MORE: **DJI Mini 2 SE vs. Holy Stone HS720E (Which One is Best)

1/2.3-inch CMOS camera #

The Mini 2 SE includes an ultra-capable three-axis gimbal equipped with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS camera. The quality isn’t anything to write home about, 2.7K for videos and 12 MP for photos. 

Considering the cost of the Mini 2 SE, I’m not surprised it doesn’t have the world’s greatest camera quality. This is certainly no Hasselblad, but here’s the thing: I think it’s fine for beginners.

Think back to when you learned to fly drones. Were you obsessed with image and video quality right out of the gate?

Maybe if you came from a photography or filming background, then possibly, but otherwise, probably not. I know I wasn’t. 

New pilots just want to fly and film something. They’ll worry about image and video quality later, then probably upgrade to a drone like the Mini 3 Pro. 

**» MORE: **Camera Technology in Drones (Explained)

Video transmission capabilities  #

These days, it’s all about livestreaming your videos as you take them, especially if you’re an influencer or social media star.

The Mini 2 SE can send HD-quality video 10 kilometers or 6.21 miles away.

Other DJI drones can do it better, but this is still great tech for an entry-level Mini drone at this price. 

**» MORE: **DJI Transmission System (Everything You Need to Know)

Solid battery life #

For a Mini drone under $400 (basic edition only), the Mini 2 SE can fly far enough. Its projected battery life is 31 minutes.

Every time I’ve flown this drone, I’ve gotten closer to 26 or 27 minutes, which is still fine for a first-timer’s drone.

That’s more than enough time that you won’t even know what to do with it. Comparable Holy Stone drones have briefer flight times, making it worthwhile for new pilots to invest in DJI instead. 

**» MORE: **DJI Mini 2 SE Battery (All You Need to Know)

One-Tap takeoffs and landings #

Here’s one of my favorite features of the Mini 2 SE. You don’t have to be a master at launching your drone, nor do you need to learn how to carefully land. 

Well, you should learn those things sooner than later, as they’ll make you a better drone pilot. However, you don’t have to worry about them for your first few flights, and that’s how it should be. 

You only have to press a single button, and voila, the Mini 2 SE will fly into the air. Since it has stable hovering between its downward vision system and GNSS, it will stay in the air before you tell it what to do next.

When the time comes that you want to bring it back down to earth, press the same button, and just as easily, the Mini 2 SE lands. It’s so awesome! 

**» MORE: **Drone Won’t Take Off? Here’s How to Fix it

RTH modes #

RTH is short for Return to Home, a mode designed to send your drone back to you in times of trouble. 

For example, if you lose signal, the drone should come your way, and that’s also true if the battery is almost empty. 

The Mini 2 SE has three RTH modes: Failsafe RTH, Low Battery RTH, and Smart RTH.

The Failsafe RTH activates if the Mini 2 SE has no signal for 20 seconds when connected to Wi-Fi or three seconds when operating the drone with the controller.

The Low Battery RTH is self-explanatory, but what about the Smart RTH? You can decide when to bring your drone back to you, and where to, as you create a Home Point. 

**» MORE: **DJI Mini 2 Return to Home (Explained)

Intelligent Flight Modes #

One of the best parts of flying a DJI drone is the Intelligent Flight Modes. While the Mini 2 SE doesn’t have as many as the Mini 3 Pro or Mini 4 Pro to control costs, you still get something.  

The modes include:

  • QuickShots cinematic modes that send the Mini 2 SE on a predetermined path, taking video along the way. The modes are Rocket, Boomerang, Dronie, Helix, and Circle.
  • Panoramas, with options like 180 Degrees, Sphere, and Wide Angle to broaden your photography capabilities in an exciting, innovative way. This is another single-tap mode. 
  • 4x Zoom for taking photos and videos at greater distances but capturing more immersive details. 

These modes are enough to start beginners off and give them a taste of the DJI flight experience.

Once you get used to this drone and master all its features, you can use more Intelligent Flight Modes in more advanced DJI drones. 

****» MORE: ****Does DJI Mini 2 SE Have Follow Me? (Answered)

App compatibility  #

The Mini 2 SE includes DJI LightCut, a free app with AI-driven, single-tap editing. 

You can make cuts, select your favorite highlights, add effects, choose from fun templates, incorporate music, and otherwise make your footage more professional without having to go home and pour time into post-processing. 

You probably won’t use the Mini 2 SE for commercial projects, but you can still get your family barbeque photos or beach day videos on social media the same day the events happen. 

Another app included with this Mini drone is the DJI Fly app. This is where you’ll find everything you need to fly this drone, including instructions, tips, and tutorials. 

****» MORE: ****Autel EVO II Pro vs. DJI Mini 2 SE (Here’s My Favorite)

Why DJI Mini 2 SE is a good beginner drone #

I’ve established that the Mini 2 SE is an excellent beginner drone, but I now want to take a deep dive into the reasons why. 

Easy to handle #

The Mini 2 SE weighs about as much as a smartphone and measures only 138 millimeters by 81 millimeters by 58 millimeters when folded (without its propellers).

It’s a good size for older kids to handle, and adults will have no problem working with this drone. 

Once you get into traveling with your drone, you’ll be glad you chose the Mini 2 SE.

Like the other Mini drones before and after it, the Mini 2 SE is ready for all types of adventuring, from flying cross-country to backpacking. 

**» MORE: **How to Fly a Drone: Ultimate Beginner Guide (with Drawings)

Fast launching #

I am still blown away by the auto-launch feature the Mini 2 SE has. I really wish such a thing had existed when I had learned to fly a drone, as it would have helped me along tremendously.

You’re so excited when you get your drone out of the box and charged up.

The last thing you want to do is finagle with your drone for 10 minutes, figuring out how to get it into the air. It puts a damper on what’s otherwise a big moment. 

You can use the auto-launch mode until you get comfortable enough to launch your drone the hard (manual) way. 

**» MORE: **How Fast Can Drones Fly? (An In-Depth Guide)

Intuitive flight controls #

The Mini 2 SE uses the RC-N1 controller, which comes with your purchase whether you buy the base drone or the Fly More Combo.

This remote features a smartphone holster for hooking in your Android or iPhone.

****» MORE: ****DJI Mini 2 SE Controller (All You Need to Know)

Sure, it would have been cool if the controller had a built-in screen, but you can’t expect that for the price. 

Even still, the RC-N1 is easy to hold, handle, and use.

The flight controls of the Mini 2 SE felt familiar to me with my Mini 2 experience, but I have a feeling even beginners would feel confident with these controls. If that didn’t happen on their first flight, it certainly would by their second or third. 

Automated modes #

Between the Intelligent Flight Modes and RTH, the Mini 2 SE has enough automated modes for safety and enjoyment.

Beginners can get a full experience out of flying the Mini 2 SE, which is not bad for a drone at this price point. 

RTH safety net #

And yes, I’m lauding the RTH again, but that’s because it deserves it.

The three RTH modes will be like Batman or Superman – there to save you whenever you need it, and just in the nick of time. 

These RTH modes prevent unnecessary crashes which would leave you out $400 and disappointed with your drone flight experience as a whole. 

**» MORE: **Does DJI Avata Have Return to Home? (Explained)

Auto-landing  #

I also quite appreciate that the Mini 2 SE has automatic landing, because what goes up must come down, right? 

Launching a drone is one thing but landing it can feel like a high-pressure situation.

You’re still buzzing from the excitement of a successful first drone flight, and maybe you’re a little tired too, and now you have to land this thing?

While you still have to choose a good spot to land and set up landing gear (as needed), the Mini 2 SE’s automatic landing with the touch of a button is another awesome beginner feature. 

**» MORE: **How to Hand Launch / Land a DJI Drone (Step-by-Step Guide)

Why DJI Mini 2 SE may not be good for beginners #

However, while the Mini 2 SE has some exceptional beginner features, I can’t overlook these critical issues with this drone. 

No obstacle avoidance #

Let’s get the biggest one out of the way: the lack of obstacle avoidance. The Mini 2 SE features a downward sensing system with infrared technology, which is fine, but that’s only half of the equation.

This drone can read obstacles but does nothing to move away from them.

So, for example, if you were about to careen the Mini 2 SE into a giant tree, the drone would know it, but it has no ability to avoid disaster.

Putting that responsibility on a first-time drone pilot is a lot. You won’t want to crash this drone, considering its cost, making your flights insanely high-pressure.

The Mini 2 SE might help you get into the sky and then land, but what you do in between is all on you. 

Not all Mini drones have obstacle avoidance, and it’s clear as day why DJI skipped it in this drone. It was to save on production costs. 

However, I can’t help but feel like it’s an especially glaring omission. How can you make a true beginner-friendly drone without obstacle avoidance? 

****» MORE: ****Best Accessories for DJI Mini 2 SE

Few Intelligent Flight Modes #

Intelligent Flight Modes are a given in any DJI drone and could be a reason for you to choose this brand over a viable competitor like Holy Stone or Autel.

The Mini 2 SE only has a couple of Intelligent Flight Modes.

Beginners won’t know what they’re missing. I bet the smart modes will entertain you at first, but the more you fly and get used to how this drone works, the more you’ll realize it doesn’t have that much going on. 

It might not be long before you’re bored with it, and for $400, that’s not a great situation to be in. 

**» MORE: **DJI Mini 3 Pro Intelligent Flight Modes (Explained for Beginners)

Includes no prop guards or safety accessories #

Can you buy prop guards for the Mini 2 SE? Sure, you can. However, they’re not included. In fact, DJI doesn’t package this drone with any additional safety equipment. 

That’s not much of a surprise. DJI has always sold either base drones and remotes or its Fly More Combo with a few more accessories. 

Still, a beginner who’s unsure if they want to fly drones will have to spend the $400 for the Mini 2 SE, then spend yet more money for accessories. That’s a lot to ask of someone who isn’t fully committed. 

**» MORE: **27 Best Drone Accessories (I Can’t Live Without)

Expensive compared to its competitors  #

Don’t get me wrong. The cost of the Mini 2 SE is altogether not that bad, but price is all relative.

Compared to most DJI drones, the Mini 2 SE is inexpensive. However, if you hold it up against a Holy Stone beginner drone, you can save a lot more money with that brand.

That said, you get what you pay for. DJI is the biggest name in the drone biz for a reason. The manufacturer knows what it’s doing and only produces high-quality drones. 

**» MORE: **Best Beginner Drones Under $500

Is DJI Mini 2 SE a good first drone? #

Overall, I wholeheartedly believe that the DJI Mini 2 SE is an excellent first drone. Its biggest blemish is the lack of obstacle avoidance, as detection isn’t enough.

That will force you to learn how to fly safely right out of the gate. 

This is a skill worth finessing, as you can’t always rely on obstacle avoidance systems anyway. They’re technology, and at the end of the day, technology is imperfect. 

Of course, it’s always better to have an obstacle avoidance system than not, but what can you do? The Mini 2 SE simply doesn’t have one. 

**» MORE: **Drone Buying Guide: Read This Before Buying Your First Drone

Do you need to register DJI Mini 2 SE with the FAA? #

Whether you have to register the Mini 2 SE depends on how you’re using it.

Since the drone weighs under 250 grams, the FAA doesn’t require you to register this DJI drone if you fly it recreationally. However, you must if flying commercially. 

**» MORE: **Do I Have to Register my DJI Mini 2 SE (Explained)

Alternative beginner drones to DJI Mini 2 SE #

There’s a whole wide world of drones out there, so if the Mini 2 SE doesn’t quite fit the bill, consider trying these alternatives. 

DJI Mini 3 Pro #

Although it’s older than the Mini 2 SE, the Mini 3 Pro is still one of the greatest drones under the DJI brand. I’ve said that a million times on this blog, and I think I might say it a million more. 

It’s just as lightweight as the Mini 2 SE, but includes many features it doesn’t, such as:

  • A 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor camera with 48 MP images and 4K HDR videos
  • A longer default battery life of 34 minutes, with the option to extend it to 47 minutes through the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus
  • Night shooting mode, RAW photo files, slow-motion video in 1080p at 120 frames per second, and D-Cinelike Color for richer drone photography and videography
  • Multi-directional obstacle sensing and avoidance with APAS 4.0
  • An extended video transmission range of 12 kilometers, with quality of 1080p at 30 frames per second thanks to DJI O3 technology 

**» MORE: **DJI Mini 3 Pro: One-Year Review (Video)

DJI Mini 4 Pro #

A dazzling little drone, the Mini 4 Pro is an excellent successor to the ultra-popular Mini 3 Pro. I’ve had so much fun flying this little guy, which yes, still weighs under 249 grams.

Come see the other ways it’s so awesome:

  • A 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor camera that takes 4K HDR video at 60 fps and 48 MP images
  • HDR combo stitching with SmartPhoto, RAW image files, 10-bit D-Log M with 1.07 billion colors, Night Shots, Digital Zoom, True Vertical Shooting with an adjustable gimbal, and Large-Angle Tilt for professional-level photos and videos
  • Omnidirectional obstacle detection and avoidance with APAS 
  • A great default battery life of 34 minutes, with the option to add up to 45 minutes to your flight with the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus
  • A 20-kilometer transmission range 
  • Many Intelligent Flight Modes, including Advanced RTH, Waypoint Flight, Cruise Control, Panorama, MasterShots, Hyperlapse, and QuickShots 

**» MORE: **DJI Mini 4 Pro Review (Is It Worth to Upgrade?)


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