Welcome and thank you for reading this article on which drone I choose: the Evo Lite Plus or the DJI Mini 3 Pro.
Looking at the Evo Lite Plus and Mini 3 Pro, we have two “best in class” drones for what they are built to do, although markedly different in design aesthetics.
Both drones were released in 2022, with the Autel Evo Lite Plus being released in January 2022 and the Mini 3 Pro, in May 2022.
With only a 5-month age difference between the two, Autel and DJI took different approaches to these well-loved drones.
I have used both the Evo Lite Plus and Mini 3 Pro extensively over the past year or so.
This usage ranged from frequent travel around various parts of the United States to commercial work for my clients. In all cases, both drones did an excellent job.
In this article, I’ll examine the differences between the Autel Evo Lite Plus and the DJI Mini 3 Pro, my overall experience with each, who might benefit from either, and why I personally chose the DJI Mini 3 Pro over the Autel Evo Lite Plus.
If you are looking for a manageable drone that can be used recreationally and for some professional work, if you so choose, this article should help you decide.
Autel Evo Lite Plus
As mentioned, the Evo Lite Plus was released in January of 2022, making it a little under two years old, at the time of this writing.
Like DJI, Autel has found a foldable design that works for it and this design flows through all of their newer drones, including the Nano series.
The Evo Lite Plus takes design cues from the larger, more expensive Autel Evo II and Evo II Pro.
Like the Evo II Pro line, it has a professional-level 20 MP adjustable aperture 1-inch CMOS sensor camera. Try saying that 3 times fast.
The Evo Lite Plus, though close to two years old, offers:
- 40-minute flight times, which, up until the Evo line of drones, was uncommon to see in consumer and prosumer drones
- Three-way obstacle avoidance sensing, when used correctly aids in safer flight maneuvers
- 1-inch camera sensor for 20 MP high-resolution professional quality photos
- No geofencing, meaning no flight restrictions, perfect for flying in areas where proper airspace authorization has been obtained, but other drones might have difficulty unlocking
» MORE: Autel Evo Lite+ Review
DJI Mini 3 Pro
Right on the heels of the Evo Lite Plus, the Mini 3 Pro made its debut as the first DJI Mini drone with obstacle avoidance.
This was indeed something unheard of at the time in 2022 and has only been matched by the Mini 3 Pro’s successor, the Mini 4 Pro, since then.
What makes having obstacle avoidance sensors in the Mini 3 Pro such a big deal is that it is still able to retain its sub-250 g weight.
Drone enthusiasts looking to keep from registering their Mini 3 Pro, while still flying safer will appreciate this.
In terms of visuals, the Mini line had looked quite the same for several years, starting with the original Mavic Mini released back in 2019.
The Mini 3 Pro broke the design mold with the addition of obstacle avoidance sensors and a unique camera.
The Mini 3 Pro has a suite of excellent, pro-like features, which include:
- True verticle shooting which allows for instant posting to social media in the correct image ratio
- 10-bit, 4k 60 fps video for content creators and professionals looking for flexibility when color grading
- Three-way obstacle avoidance for added flight safety
- Weighs less than 250 g which is perfect for those not wanting to register their drone in the United States
When you first look at the Evo Lite Plus and Mini 3 Pro side by side, although foldable drones, they are obviously different.
The Evo Lite Plus is a larger, more solid drone than the Mini 3 Pro. On the flip side, the Mini 3 Pro’s sub-250 g weight and tiny footprint are what many look for nowadays.
Looking at both drones for a “does it all” drone, the Mini 3 Pro is my choice.
This choice was not made lightly.
As a professional who does a lot of client work, and travels quite a bit up and down the Florida East and Gulf Coasts recreationally, a drone that can do both professional work and recreational flights is important to me.
Because the Mini 3 Pro is so small, it already checks off the boxes for a recreational travel drone.
Coupled with the fact that it shoots incredible video footage, footage clients are always happy with, it works for me on a Pro level.
The Mini 3 Pro allows anyone to be able to carry just one drone with them, for a variety of purposes. Similar to a Swiss Army Knife, it’s an all-in-one solution.
What are the Main Differences?
The Evo Lite Plus is orange and the Mini 3 Pro is light gray. No, that’s not all that differentiates the two!
While both drones are about the same age, born in the same year, there are quite a few technological differences that separate the two, and we’ll look at them now.
First, we’ll focus on the Evo Lite Plus.
- Size and Weight: The Evo Lite Plus weighs in at over three times the weight of the Mini 3 Pro, at 835 g. This added weight is actually a bonus for the Evo Lite Plus, as it aids in it being more stable in the wind, though rated at around the same wind resistance as the Mini 3 Pro.
- Camera: This is where professionals and recreation photographers will want to take notice. The Autel Evo Lite Plus has a 1-inch Sony CMOS sensor. In addition to a large sensor size that allows for more light to enter, the camera also has a fully adjustable aperture, from f/2.8 – f/11. Aside from taking excellent 20 MP photos, the Evo Lite Plus can also shoot full 6k video, edging out most of the direct competition, even now.
- Color Choices: Since the early years of the “flying pumpkin”, the Autel X-Star Premium, Autel has offered its drones in orange. The Evo Lite Plus doesn’t stray from this, also coming in orange. However, it also comes in gray and white. For those who would like a little variety and better visibility, the three color choices should do the trick.
- Lack of Geofencing: For many, this is a make-or-break option. The lack of geofencing means that the Evo Lite Plus can fly anywhere you’d like it to. It will not be grounded by invisible fences or zones, like DJI and other drone manufacturers will.
The Mini 3 Pro has a great set of stand-out options as well. Including, but not limited to:
- Size and Weight: Whereas the larger size of the Evo Lite Plus was a, well, plus, the size of the Mini 3 Pro is something to be admired. The Mini 3 Pro is small enough to put in a small bag or sling. I oftentimes put mine in the pocket of my cargo shorts. With the Mini 3 Pro weighing less than 250 g, that means that, in the United States, it does not have to be registered. More on this later.
- Vertical Shooting: As a nod to the original Mavic Pro of 2016, the camera on the Mini 3 Pro physically and fully rotates 90 degrees. This allows the Mini 3 Pro to shoot portrait-mode photos and videos and post them to social media without the need for post-process cropping.
- Battery Options: The Mini 3 Pro was the first to use two different-sized battery options, Standard and Plus. The Standard battery option yields flight times of 34 minutes while keeping the Mini 3 Pro under the 250 g threshold. The heavier Plus option takes the weight of the Mini 3 Pro over 250 g but yields 47 minutes of flight time.
- 10-bit color: In the professional video space, 10-bit color is a must. The Mini 3 Pro produces over a billion color variations, as opposed to 8-bit systems which only capture 16 million colors. This allows for a lot more flexibility and creativity when color-grading footage in video editing software.
Autel Evo Lite Plus
The Evo Lite Plus is modeled loosely after the larger Evo II and Evo II Plus released prior.
While being a smaller, scaled-back version of those drones, the Evo Lite Plus has many of the benefits of the Evo II Plus, in a smaller, easier-to-manage package.
Autel has been known for pioneering longer battery life in consumer and prosumer drones, as seen with the release of the Evo II and II Pro.
The Evo II line boasted unheard-of 40-minute flight times way back in 2020.
That longer battery life subsequently made its way to the smaller Evo Lite Plus. This was impressive back when comparing it against its then rival the Air 2S, followed by its smaller and newer rival, the Mini 3 Pro.
Unlike the Mini 3 Pro, the Evo Lite Plus has an impressive 20 MP adjustable aperture one-inch SONY camera sensor.
This is something many professionals, and, even, recreational photographers insist on, due to exposure flexibility and image quality.
This was actually an improvement over the larger, non-professional level Evo II 8k, as that camera only had a much smaller 1/2-inch sensor.
With the Evo Lite Plus’ larger camera sensor comes the ability to shoot excellent low-light footage. The Evo Lite Plus has various night modes, for photos and videos, that look great, even by 2023 standards.
As has been standard with all Autel drones, since the days of the X-Star, the Autel Evo Lite Plus is not Geofenced.
While we’ll touch on this more, having no geofencing means no limitations put on where and when you can fly your drone.
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11/11/2023 02:41 am GMT
DJI Mini 3 Pro
When the Mini 3 Pro was released, it was to a lot of fanfare. The Mini 3 Pro was and still is a much-loved drone amongst all types of drone pilots.
It’s easy for beginners to pick up and fly while remaining fun to fly for experienced drone enthusiasts.
One of the biggest draws of the Mini 3 Pro, like its predecessors, is its tiny size and sub-250 g weight.
The Mini 3 Pro is the ideal travel drone.
Unlike any other consumer or prosumer DJI drone before it, the Mini 3 Pro managed to retain a very small footprint, weighing under 250 g, all while having obstacle avoidance sensors on board.
This means the Mini 3 Pro benefits from the myriad of intelligent flight modes DJI has to offer in its larger line of drones. Some of these modes are not possible without obstacle avoidance.
The Mini 3 Pro is not only small and has visual sensors, but it also has a few pro-level additions as well. These make it ideal for content creators and videographers.
These include 4k 60 fps shooting as well as the flatter 10-bit D-Cinelike profile.
In addition to being a great travel drone, the Mini 3 Pro packs enough punch to be used for some professional applications, such as the real estate industry.
It makes a viable backup drone for professional drone pilots. I personally keep a Mini 3 Pro in my equipment bag when doing larger projects.
I do so especially when at real estate jobs, just in case my main drone fails. Likewise, I use it often in tight spaces to get that perfectly framed shot.
Winner: Autel Evo Lite Plus
The Evo Lite Plus is the clear winner when it comes to the cameras in this comparison.
While the Mini 3 Pro arguably has a great camera, the Evo Lite Plus with its 1-inch camera sensor appeals more to the professional and amateur photography crowd alike.
The camera on the Evo Lite Plus has a SONY 20 MP adjustable aperture 1-inch CMOS sensor. The aperture ranges from f/2.8 – f/11.
This means that the camera has few limitations when taking both photos and videos in various lighting conditions.
If you are one to take night footage, the Evo Lite Plus has a full suite of night modes using its highly effective Moonlight algorithm.
Nighttime video taken with the Evo Lite Plus is detailed, and sharp, with minimal noise
The 20 MP photos that come out of the Evo Lite Plus are nothing short of fantastic.
I have used the Evo Lite Plus on a few real estate jobs and the pictures were the same high quality as others I have taken with various prosumer DJI drones.
In terms of video, the Evo is advertised to shoot up to 6k. This is more realistically 5.4k, which is still great, as it is a higher resolution than the Mini 3 Pro can shoot videos at.
Being able to shoot in 5k is especially nice for those who do a fair bit of video editing and like to zoom in during video post-production, without losing too much resolution.
Something notable about the Evo Lite Plus is when shooting video in Auto, it works quite well. This might have something to do a little with the combination of the moonlight algorithm and the adjustable aperture.
The Evo Lite Plus does a great job of exposing everything well, from the shadows to the highlights. Night-time video shooting is equally as impressive as daytime shooting.
Winner: Autel Evo Lite Plus
If you are not an all-out speed freak, then this might be a bit of a toss-up. A tie.
When it comes to flying horizontally in sport mode, the Evo Lite Plus is a little under 5 mph faster than the Mini 3 Pro. To some, that difference in speed means quite a bit.
However, when you look at the entire speed average across the board, the drones are pretty much neck and neck.
|Speed in MPH||Autel Evo Lite Plus||Mini 3 Pro|
|Ascent||11.18 mph||11.18 mph|
|Descent||8.94 mph||11.18 mph|
|Horizontal||40 mph||35.79 mph|
The added weight of the Evo Lite Plus (all extra 585 g of it), equates to a slightly more stable flight when in windier conditions.
While the Mini 3 Pro is rated as a level 5 wind-resistant drone, the gimbal has to work harder to stabilize video footage.
The Evo Lite Plus has a little less gimbal work to do in windy conditions, as it moves less than the Mini 3 Pro.
» MORE: DJI Mini 3 Pro and Weather
Winner: Autel Evo Lite Plus
I have been in situations, in the past, where I would be out and about flying recreationally, see a great place to fly, and not be able to fly there because the drone sees an authorization zone and grounded me.
This may be something many have shared when flying from time to time.
With all Autel drones, including the Evo Lite Plus, there is no such geofencing.
Although the newer DJI drones running DJI Fly App are now a lot easier to unlock than a few years ago, with the Evo Lite Plus there are no unlocks needed.
As an alternative to pulling out the Aloft or UAV Forecast apps, the Autel Sky app will alert you to zones nearby.
If you happen to be in an authorization zone, you can then acquire LAANC authorization onsite through Aloft and proceed to go and fly.
Once you have experienced a lack of geofencing in various zones, you most likely will not want to go back to unlocking these zones in-app.
Portability & Convenience
Winner: DJI Mini 3 Pro
The Mini 3 Pro wins this category hands down.
When you compare what the Mini 3 Pro can do technically alongside the Evo Lite Plus, the Plus cannot compare to the Mini 3 Pro’s portability and convenience.
The Mini 3 Pro is perfect for travelers and outdoors types who like to film themselves. With it weighing in at under 250 g, it is barely noticeable when in a photography bag, sling, or purse.
Along the lines of weight, the Mini 3 Pro does not have to be registered in the United States.
However, if the Mini 3 Pro will be used for paid commercial work, or the furtherance of business, it will need to be registered.
In addition to the weight of the Mini 3 Pro, with its small footprint (you can literally hold it in the palm of your hand when folded), it is easily tucked away in almost all types of carrying solutions.
Adding to the convenience factor is the fact that the Mini 3 Pro has the option to come bundled with the all-in-one DJI RC smart controller.
Like the Mini 3 Pro, the DJI RC is ultra-lightweight and can be slipped into any type of bag without taking up too much space.
If you are a traveler or solo creator, not having to use a smartphone in addition to the remote controller enables you to get up in the air faster.
Remote Controller Compatability
Winner: DJI Mini 3 Pro
The Mini 3 Pro is the clear winner when it comes to the remote controller options available for it.
Whereas the Evo Lite Plus only uses a single remote controller, the Mini 3 Pro can be operated using the following DJI remote controllers:
If using the Mini 3 Pro strictly from a professional standpoint, the DJI RC Pro is the best (and most expensive) solution for controlling the Mini 3 Pro, as it has a 5.5-inch screen with 1000 nits of brightness.
Additionally, 3rd party apps can be installed on the DJI RC Pro, enabling it to be a true all-in-one controller solution, needing no additional smart devices.
If flying the Mini 3 Pro recreationally, then the more affordable, bundled DJI RC, is an excellent controller.
At 700 nits of brightness, the DJI RC can still be seen in very bright conditions. This is perfect for traveling.
When doing certain client work along waterfronts, I have opted to go with the RC-N1 controller. It does take a little longer to get set up and deploy, but you can use any smart device with it.
I use a Tripletek 1500 nit high brightness tablet attached to the RC-N1 for such jobs.
If you’d like a different perspective when flying, and a different way to fly, there is also the option to fly the Mini 3 Pro with the newer DJI Motion 2 Controller w/ DJI Goggles 2.
Winner: DJI Mini 3 Pro
While Autel pioneered the longer-lasting, 40-minute battery in recreational drones, DJI has taken this a step further.
The Mini 3 Pro has two battery options available to it. The Standard version and the Plus version.
If opting to go with the standard version, there is an advertised flight time of 34 minutes. The Plus version has an advertised flight time of 47 minutes.
I say “advertised” because the flight times mentioned by manufacturers are when the drone is flying in their optimal test environments.
Real-world user flight times will vary by a few minutes.
When moving up to the higher-capacity Plus batteries, the flight time increases to about 42 minutes or so. Again, this is based on real-world usage.
Regardless, having 40+ minute flight times in a Mini drone is an accomplishment in itself.
Something to note, the Standard intelligent batteries are super lightweight and keep the Mini 3 Pro at under 250 g.
When moving up to the beefier Plus option batteries, the weight of the battery moves the Mini 3 Pro out of the sub-250 g zone.
This means that the Mini 3 Pro will then need to be registered, whether you are flying it professionally or not.
Intelligent Flight Modes
Winner: DJI Mini 3 Pro
Both the Evo Lite Plus and Mini 3 Pro have intelligent flight modes aboard.
|Evo Lite Plus’ intelligent flight and shot modes||Mini 3 Pros intelligent flight and shot modes|
Dynamic Track 2(+)
The area most drone enthusiasts and solo shooters are going to be concerned about is Focus Track.
The Autel Evo Lite Plus has a similar function called Dynamic Track, but it’s not nearly as refined and useful as Focus Track on the Mini 3 Pro.
Follow Me Mode aka Focus Track is a big deal currently in the world of drones, and Focus Track on the Mini 3 Pro is top notch.
By simply drawing a square around your subject, the Mini 3 Pro will precisely follow said subject.
I have used Focus Track many times on the Mini 3 Pro at the beach following boats and jet skis and it performed marvelously.
When out on the water, the Mini 3 pro never lost its subject. When tracking cars, likewise it kept up with them, spot on.
Tracking people who walk behind obstacles is difficult oftentimes for the Mini 3 Pro.
This is because it only has three-way obstacle avoidance and not omnidirectional sensing like the newer Mini 4 Pro.
It cannot fly safely to the sides or under objects to accurately track subjects that walk or duck behind such obstacles.
Focus Track on the Mini 3 Pro does have some limitations but still far exceeds the Evo Lite Plus with its Dynamic Track.
After having owned and used both the Autel Evo Lite Plus and DJI Mini 3 Pro for more than a year, I have to say they are both fantastic drones.
Autel and DJI took different approaches to each of these drones, and I feel that the Mini 3 Pro edges out the Evo Lite Plus in the areas that matter most to me.
The Evo Lite Plus will most likely appeal to those needing a less expensive commercial workhorse than the Autel Evo II Pro.
It has a decent weight to fight off the wind while taking excellent quality 20 MP pictures and 5.4k videos.
The Mini 3 Pro, on the other hand, is the most rounded and balanced drone for those wanting both a travel drone and something that can also handle some professional workload.
With its lightweight body and small footprint, coupled with vertical shooting, pro-like 10-bit color, and 4k 60 fps video capabilities, the Mini 3 Pro is perfect for most beginner flyers, enthusiasts, and even professionals alike.