If you're in the market for a tiny drone to shoot landscapes, weddings and more, it could be worth waiting a few weeks – some new DJI Mini 4 Pro leaks suggest that the successor to one of the world's best drones is gearing up for a launch. Meanwhile, DJI's main US rival, Skydio, has announced that it's quitting consumer drones.
The reliable DJI leaker @JasperEllens has posted a video on X (formerly Twitter) showing what he claims is a Mini 4 Pro performing a test flight (below). The resolution of the video makes it tricky to confirm if it's indeed a Mini 4 Pro, but the analyst's solid track record (alongside other recent leaks) suggest it likely is the new sub-250g drone.
So when might the DJI Mini 3 Pro successor actually land? Jasper Ellens suggests that an "end of September" release is looking likely. That tallies with previous DJI launches that have taken place in September, including the DJI Action 3 and even its first folding drone, the DJI Mavic Pro, which arrived in September 2016.
Once again a wild #mini4pro appears. Now on video, spotted from a nearby drone. I guess end of September release. pic.twitter.com/uHcbAuyuUiAugust 10, 2023
According to previous leaks, the Mini 4 Pro is likely to be a relatively minor update over last year's Mini 3 Pro, with the most likely upgrades being an omnidirectional obstacle-sensing system (like the one on the DJI Air 3), OcuSync 4.0 connectivity and a new DJI RC 2 controller.
But the apparently small upgrade still comes in stark contrast to the news about Skydio leaving consumer drones for good.
Despite only selling drones like the X2 in the US and Canada, Skydio built a reputation as DJI's main rival – particularly for solo shooters who wanted a drone with powerful auto-flying and tracking features. But in a blog post, Skydio said it's decided to "sunset our consumer business in order to put everything we’ve got into serving our enterprise and public sector customers".
Current owners of drones like the Skydio 2 Plus will continue to get software and customer support, and Skydio says "we stand by all warranty terms, Skydio Care, and will continue vehicle repairs". But it's a sad day for drone competition, as DJI now has a near-monopoly on consumer drones – and that's never a good thing for choice and innovation.
Still, if you need a tiny, folding drone, Skydio has never really offered anything like a Mini 3 Pro – and it sounds like the Mini 4 Pro could soon take that drone's mantle.
Analysis: DJI gets the consumer skies to itself
It's a shame to see Skydio exit consumer drones, as I've long hoped to see autonomous flying cameras like the X2 launch outside the US and Canada. And while new contenders like Autel have arrived in recent years to bring some much-needed competition, DJI still completely dominates the drone space.
Right now, DJI's global drone market share is still well over 70% (around 74.3%, according to Drone U), dwarfing the likes of Autel, Parrot and Yuneec. So it certainly makes sense for Skydio to focus on its enterprise and public sector work.
The latter is seeing growing demand from the military, law enforcement and construction – and as a US-based company, Skydio can take advantage of the politicization of drones that saw a potential DJI ban threaten to take down the Chinese company's consumer offerings in the US during 2021.
DJI drones remain legally on sale in the US, but the controversy has hit their use within government departments, and new bills calling for a wider ban continue to be tabled in Congress. Still, the good news for consumers is that these efforts, and the lack of competition, don't appear to be slowing down DJI's product development, with that Mini 4 Pro launch now looking highly likely for September.