The DJI Mini SE is a pocketable, affordable, and extremely functional drone from Mavic that packs quite a punch. With a Wi-Fi Enhanced video transmission and a capable controller, one begins to wonder, how far can the DJI Mini SE go in terms of distance?
The DJI Mini SE has a claimed flight range of about 4 kilometers (2.48 miles). However, in actual testing, it stretches out to about 1.20 kilometers (0.74 miles) in an urban area and around 2.90 kilometers (1.80 miles) in a rural area with less interference and obstruction.
In this article, we’re going to go over the dynamics of the DJI Mini SE’s flight range, what it gets affected by, whether the range is enough for most, and if you can somehow end up extending the range if needed. So, stay tuned!
Understanding The DJI Mini SE’s Range
Mavic claims that the DJI Mini SE’s range is about 4 kilometers (2.48 miles.) However, the truth is far from it. This is because the DJI has an Enhanced Wi-Fi transmission system. In essence, your remote and drone establish a direct wireless connection with each other.
Now, this connection is subject to a lot of interference which can significantly alter the maximum effective range of your DJI Mini SE. Here’s a quick look at some of them:
- Wi-Fi Interference: The greater the number of routers, modems, and other wireless devices present in your surroundings, the greater the interference. This means that your drone will not be able to catch your remote’s signals from a certain range as it’ll be too scrambled due to other wireless networks.
- Objects and Buildings: Having a direct line of sight of your drone compared to it being behind a building can lead to a huge difference in signal strength and effective range. For instance, if you are in an urban area, a skyscraper or a series of buildings can block out your drone’s signals quite quickly.
- Weather: When it is raining heavily, or the weather isn’t all that great, thick fog and extreme moisture in the air can also mess up your connection and lead to a reduction in overall range.
- Battery Life: While your drone doesn’t lose range as it loses battery life, it still performs optimally when the battery is at 80-100%. As the battery climbs down further, you’ll start noticing a decrease in your drone’s overall performance, which is also quite visible with the battery.
- Heat: While the DJI Mini SE can operate at a wide variety of temperatures (5° to 40°C / 41° to 104°F), your battery still can heat up from time to time. When that happens, your drone will need to reduce its overall throughput and power to ensure the battery doesn’t get dangerously hot. This, too, is an instance where your DJI Mini SE will lose its effective range.
Urban areas are where all drones have a lower effective range. This is because of the greater amount of variables that can cause signal interference, eventually leading to a scrambled connection. Bustling urban areas have hundreds of wireless hotspots densely packed into small areas.
Moreover, cities also tend to have large cement buildings that also block signals. So, an urban area is where you are most likely to see lower range, and the DJI Mini SE doesn’t differentiate in that regard.
In our testing, we saw the effective range of the drone to be around 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) in rural areas. After this range, we could still connect to the drone, but we did not receive any FPV transmission right after.
So, instead of hoping for the best and pushing the distance further, I opted to use the RTH feature to safely return the drone back. This is primarily because urban areas are extremely dangerous to fly into blind. You can encounter a pole, a building, or some other object that may damage your drone. Or worse, you may end up damaging a piece of infrastructure or harming someone.
So, in my opinion, staying within the 1 kilometer (0.7 mile) range for DJI Mini SE when flying in an urban area is fairly acceptable as you’ll be getting crisp footage from that distance. Since the interference was quite high, I was able to see noticeable latency when trying to control my drone.
While there’s no accurate way to calculate that, a delay of about 300-400 ms would be our rough estimate. This made steering the drone quite hard, while complex maneuvers were impossible as there would be no time to react given the delay between the footage, the signal, and the actual drone.
Rural areas are much more forgiving when it comes to drone range. However, the Mini SE was still not able to live up to Mavic’s claims of 4 kilometers. But, it got pretty close at about 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles). Now, since there were no people involved and there was hardly any interference so to speak of, the drone could be pushed further in this particular environment.
The Mini SE can go beyond 3 kilometers. But, it’ll lose its video feed somewhere around that mark with RTH being activated soon after so your drone safely returns back to you. Surprisingly, while the distance was greater this time around compared to an urban setting, the latency was lower at about 200-300 ms.
Don’t get us wrong, you can’t really be doing races at that ping. But, it still is a much more usable experience compared to the shoddy latency we had to face in a more dense setting. Regardless, while Wi-Fi enhanced has come a long way, and, I can believe that in some niche situations, the DJI Mini SE can get to its acclaimed range, practically, that won’t be happening.
Here’s a video that further illustrated my point and shows the actual range of a DJI Mini SE at 100% battery in a rural setting:
So, to keep things simple, I’ve also concocted a table down below to help you narrow down the range of the DJI Mini SE depending on the environment it is in:
|Situation||Range (in km)||Range (in miles)|
|Urban Situation||1.20 km||0.74 miles|
|Rural Situation||2.90 km||1.80 miles|
|Claimed Range||4.00 km||2.48 miles|
DJI Mini SE vs DJI Mini 2 vs DJI Mini 3 Pro: Range Compared
Out of all these models, the DJI Mini 3 Pro has the greatest range at about 12 km (7.45 miles). The DJI Mini 2 comes in second at 10 km of range (6.2 miles.) The DJI Mini SE ranks dead last at the acclaimed 4 km of range (2.48 miles.)
|DJI Mini 3 Pro||12 km (7.45 miles)|
|DJI Mini 2||10 km (6.2 miles.)|
|DJI Mini SE||4 km (2.48 miles)|
Now, don’t take these measurements as the Gospel; we’ve just found out how real-life situations can be extremely different as compared to tests done by DJI for the range of their drones. So, in actuality, we can see a variation of about 20-30% for each drone in its overall range.
However, that still doesn’t mean much for the DJI Mini SE.
No matter what way you put it, it still has the lowest range compared to other DJI drones. Primarily, it’s because the Mini SE is also the oldest (and the cheapest) drone in this list. So, it doesn’t have the latest and greatest in technology compared to its rivals.
Regardless, having a low range drone doesn’t mean all that much if you won’t be flying such a long distance anyway. Think about it this way. You won’t really notice the difference between a car that has a 150 mph speed limit compared to one that clocks out at 200 mph if your highways only let you go at 90 mph.
The same logic applies here. Your drone’s range does not matter if you aren’t going to be very far in the first place. So, there’s no reason for you to choose the DJI Mini 2 over the SE simply because it has a greater range. Instead, we recommend actually getting an idea of the distances you think you’ll be flying and then basing your purchase decision on that instead.
Is The DJI Mini SE’s Range Good Enough?
Yes, the DJI Mini SE’s range is more than enough for most professional and personal use cases. The Mini SE won’t be turning into a racing FPV drone anytime soon. And, neither can it be used to take stellar shots of mountains multiple miles away.
But, that’s not what it is not meant to be used for in the first place. The Mavic is meant to be an inexpensive drone that is pocketable, light, easy to fly, and has a great camera alongside decent stabilization to be able to take great shots in an affordable package.
So, in those accords, it definitely ticks all the boxes. If you are in the mood for better range, a drone like the Mavic 3 would be much more apt for those situations.
But, I’ve personally had no qualms with the Mini SE, especially in regards to its range, and was more than satisfied with my shots and overall experience whenever I took it out for a spin.
However, as we’ve mentioned, your use case may vary. This is why I’ve pointed out exactly when the drone starts glitching out and losing video feed in both urban and rural settings.
So, ultimately, you’ll have to be the judge of the situation and will need to decide whether the Mini SE fits the bill for what you are looking for in a drone.
The range is more than enough to get into the groove and, the relatively cheaper price tag combined with the great features packed in a neat package really provides a fantastic experience for a beginner.
Can I Increase My DJI Mavic SE’s Range?
Yes, you can increase your DJI Mavic SE’s range by opting for signal extenders, and larger antennas and modifying your controller. By virtue of this not really being something Mavic recommends, we’re going to refrain from going into the nitty-gritty. And, we’d urge you not to modify your controller in any way or form as it will void your warranty.
Regardless, a drone range extender such as this one can help provide you that few extra hundred (or even thousand) feet to go further beyond. Do note though, as soon as you use an extender, you won’t really be operating the drone within the manufacturer’s guidelines.
So, you may run into glitches and errors relating to signal frequency and range as the drone may not be designed to go as far as you’ve taken it with your extender.
WARNING: You need to maintain a direct line of sight with your drone to maintain VLOS (Visual Line of Sight.) Otherwise, you are in violation of the law and need a BVLOS license to be able to fly the drone further than what your eye can see.
Considering the warning we’ve just mentioned above, the Mini SE’s original range is already bordering on how far your naked eye can see without obstruction.
So, a signal extender just doesn’t make much sense unless you are going to be flying the drone in an extremely clear, unobstructed environment where you’ll be able to see it for miles on end.
The DJI Mini SE retains its spot as an excellent beginner drone with more than enough flight range and features for it to remain a great pick for even a more seasoned veteran. While the range won’t be enough for some, more extreme use cases, we feel like it’s an excellent pickup for anyone who’s getting into the hobby.