- ln-depth comparison between the DJI RC Pro, DJI RC, DJI RC-N1 and the DJI Smart Controller;
- Each controller is cross-compatible with a range of drones. Find out which drones each controller is compatible with;
- The RC Pro, DJI RC and Smart Controller have built-in screens, while the RC-N1 does not have a screen and is instead used with a mobile device;
- The RC Pro and Smart Controller have 1,000 cd/m² bright screens, the DJI RC has a screen brightness of 700 cd/m²; while the RC-N1 depends on the brightness of the individual mobile device;
- The RC Pro, DJI RC and RC-N1 have a transmission range of up to 8km (CE), while the Smart Controller is limited to 6km (CE).
These days, it might feel like choosing the right drone controller is just as big a decision as picking the best aircraft.
Not only are there a myriad of controllers available, but remotes such as the recently-released DJI RC, as well as the DJI RC Pro, as well as the standard DJI RC-N1 and even the original DJI Smart Controller are compatible with a range of DJI drones.
It is therefore extremely important that operators are clued up on their controllers to ensure they pick the best RC for their needs.
For instance, should a pilot flying the Mini 3 Pro opt for the DJI RC or the RC-N1? Should an Air 2S operator using the original Smart Controller upgrade to the next-generation smart controller, the RC Pro? What are the advantages of having a controller with a built-in screen, or is the RC-N1, which is used with a smart device, suitable?
With this in mind, we've prepared a detailed guide comparing the RC Pro, DJI RC, RC-N1 and Smart Controller. There are other DJI controllers out there, but this quartet seems a sensible comparison, based on their cross-compatibility with a range of DJI's latest drones.
DJI RC Pro vs DJI RC vs RC-N1 vs DJI Smart Controller - At A Glance
The table below provides an at-a-glance overview of these controllers, including their key features and DJI drone compatibility.
|RC Pro||DJI RC||RC-N1 (also known as the RC231)||Smart Controller|
|Compatible DJI Drones||
Mavic 3 (including Cine);
Mini 3 Pro
Mini 3 Pro
Mavic Air 2
Mavic Air 2
Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom
Mavic 2 Enterprise Series, including Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced
Phantom 4 Pro V2. 0
|Screen Size (inches)||5.5"||5.5"||Depends on the mobile device.
Supports devices up to 180mm (L) x 86mm (W) x 10mm (H).
Also is compatible with tablet holder.
|Screen Brightness and Resolution||
1920 x 1080 resolution
1920 x 1080 resolution
|Depends on the mobile device.||
1920 x 1080 resolution
|Controller Weight||686 g||392 g||387 g (not including mobile device)||630 g|
|Transmission Range (CE)||8km||8km||Up to 8km||6km|
|Live View||Up to 1080p/60fps||1080p/30fps||Up to 1080p/30fps (depending on mobile device performance)||1080p/60fps|
|OcuSync Version||O3+||DJI O3||
DJI Mini 2/DJI Mavic Air 2: O2
DJI Air 2S/Mini 3 Pro: DJI O3
DJI Mavic 3: O3+
|Operation Time||3 hours||Approx. 4 hours||
6 hrs (without charging any mobile device)
|Operating Temperature||-10°C to 40°C||-10°C to 40°C||-10°C to 40°C||-20°C to 40°C|
|Storage Capacity||32GB internal + expandable storage via microSD card.
Supports microSD cards with a capacity of up to 512GB.
|Supports microSC cards with a capacity of up to 512GB.||Depends on the mobile device.||ROM 16 GB + scalable (microSD).
Supports microSD cards with a capacity of up to 128 GB and R/W speed up to UHS-I Speed Grade 3
No microphone. For phone calls and recording, it supports an external microphone through the USB Type-C port.
Depends on each smart device.
|Available Separately||Yes||No||No, but heliguy™ does sometimes have second-hand (Approved Used) devices available.||Yes, but now end of line.|
|Available Drone Combos||Mavic 3 Cine Premium Combo||Mini 3 Pro + DJI RC Combo||
Mini 3 Pro + RC-N1 Combo
Mavic 3 Fly More Combo
Air 2S Fly More Combo
Mini 2 Fly More Combo
Mavic Air 2 Fly More Combo
Mavic Air 2
Air 2S and Smart Controller Combo
Mavic 2 Pro with Smart Controller
Mavic 2 Zoom with Smart Controller
Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced
DJI RC Pro vs DJI RC vs DJI RC-N1 vs DJI Smart Controller: In-depth Comparison
So, that's the overview.
Now it's time to dig a bit deeper into the capabilities, functions and layout of each controller.
DJI RC Pro
Released towards the end of 2021 alongside the Mavic 3, the DJI RC Pro is a next-generation smart controller.
The RC Pro is a direct replacement to the original DJI Smart Controller, featuring significant upgrades.
When compared to its predecessor, the performance of the CPU and GPU of DJI RC Pro is increased by 4 times and 7 times respectively, with boosted system performance and lower power consumption, offering longer use duration and a smoother control experience.
The DJI RC Pro also adopts the same control sticks (dual spring) of the DJI FPV for more precise, responsive, and smooth operation.
Which drones are compatible with the DJI RC Pro?
The DJI RC Pro is compatible with the DJI Mavic 3, DJI Mavic 3 Cine and DJI Air 2S.
Is the DJI RC Pro available to buy separately? Which drone package is it included in?
The DJI RC Pro is available to buy separately. It is priced £879.
It is also available to buy as part of the DJI Mavic 3 Cine Premium Combo.
What ports, dials and buttons does the DJI RC Pro have?
The RC Pro is a sophisticated controller packed with a wealth of buttons and ports to streamline drone operations.
In terms of ports, it features one mini-HDMI port (supports 4K video output), one microSD card slot, and one USB Type-C port (supports video output, external microSD card, and charging).
It also has three customisable buttons, as well as a 5D button.
To help with content creation, it features two gimbal dials - one to control the camera tilt and the other to control the zoom - as well as a dedicated video (record) button and a dedicated camera (focus/shutter) button.
The RC Pro also has individual back, flight pause and return to home buttons, as well as a flight mode switch.
How bright is the screen on the DJI RC Pro?
The DJI RC Pro features a 5.5-inch touchscreen which provides brightness up to 1000 nits, showing clear details even under direct sunlight, making it an optimal tool for outdoor use.
The DJI RC Pro also has Outdoor Mode, which automatically enhances the image display so that details are still clearly visible, even under direct sunlight.
Can the DJI RC Pro be used with third-party apps?
Yes. You can download third-party apps through the built-in browser or install APK files from a microSD card.
What is its transmission distance?
DJI RC Pro features a comprehensively improved transmission system. It supports the new O3+ transmission with a livestreaming at up to 1080p/60fps and a maximum transmission range of up to 8km (CE).
How much does it weigh?
The DJI RC Pro weighs in at around 686g.
What is the battery life?
The DJI RC Pro can operate for around three hours.
It supports mainstream quick-charging solutions. It takes 2 hours to fully charge DJI RC Pro with a 12V charger, and 1.5 hours with a 15V charger.
The DJI RC was released alongside the DJI Mini 3 Pro in May 2022.
This lightweight remote controller with a 5.5-inch built-in touchscreen comes with the DJI Fly app already installed and offers a smooth smooth flying experience and responsive control.
Which drones are compatible with the DJI RC?
The DJI RC is compatible with the Mini 3 Pro.
Is the DJI RC available to buy separately? Which drone package is it included in?
The DJI RC is not available to buy separately. DJI has said that it has no view to making this happen.
Currently, the DJI RC is only available as part of the DJI Mini 3 Pro + RC Combo.
What ports, dials and buttons does the DJI RC have?
The DJI RC has a decent array of buttons for operator control.
It features two gimbal dials: One to control the gimbal tilt and the other to control the zoom. It also has two customisation buttons as well as two dedicated buttons for capturing video (record) and taking imagery (focus/shutter).
However, it does not come with a 5D button. And unlike the DJI RC, it does not have a back button, meaning that navigating back is controlled through the touchscreen.
The controller has two USB-C ports, as well as a microSD card slot. One of the USB slots, as well as the SD card port, are protected by a water-resistant cover.
The DJI RC's flight pause and return to home functions are combined into one button. The controller also has a flight mode switch.
How bright is the screen on the DJI RC?
The DJI RC's screen is 5.5 inches. The screen is not as bright as the RC Plus or original Smart Controller, coming in at 700 cd/m².
Can the DJI RC be used with third-party apps?
No. The only app that can be used on the DJI RC is the DJI Fly app, which comes pre-installed. Whether this changes in the future remains to be seen.
What is the transmission distance of the DJI RC?
The DJI RC supports the DJI O3 transmission system, enabling an operating range of up to 8km (CE) and supporting a live view of 1080p/30fps.
DJI RC-N1 Remote Controller
The DJI RC-N1 Remote Controller is a standard DJI drone remote which comes in combos with drones such as the Mini 2, Air 2S, Mavic Air 2, Mavic 3 and Mini 3 Pro.
Unlike the other controllers mentioned in this blog, it does not have a built-in screen and is instead used in conjunction with a mobile device.
Despite this, the RC-N1 is a popular remote, and while it isn't a smart controller like the DJI RC, RC Pro and Smart Controller, it still packs enough features to ensure a decent flight.
And the DJI drone combos that it comes in tend to be cheaper than the combos featuring the respective smart controllers.
For the record, the RC-N1 and RC231 are the same product. The RC-N1 is the name that DJI choose to advertise it as, but RC231 is the name you’ll probably find on the back label on the controller.
Also, the RC-N1 has labelling to match the flight modes (Cine, Normal and Sport) of the Mini 3 Pro, Mini 2, Air 2S, and Mavic 3, while the RC231 is labelled to match the flight modes (Tripod, Normal and Sport) of the Mavic Air 2.
Which drones are compatible with the DJI RC-N1 Remote Controller?
The DJI RC-N1 is a diverse remote controller, compatible with a range of DJI drones, such as:
- Mini 2
- Mavic Air 2
- Air 2S
- Mini 3 Pro
- Mavic 3 (including Cine)
Is the DJI RC-N1 available to buy separately? Which drone package is it included in?
Despite its huge compatibility list, the DJI RC-N1 is not available to buy as a separate controller from official dealers, as new.
However, heliguy™ does sometimes have second-hand (Approved Used) RC-N1 devices available.
The DJI RC-N1 has become a staple controller in numerous DJI drone combos. These are:
- DJI Mini 3 Pro
- DJI Mavic 3
- Mavic 3 Fly More Combo
- Air 2S
- Air 2S Fly More Combo
- Mini 2
- Mini 2 Fly More Combo
- Mavic Air 2
- Mavic Air 2 Fly More Combo
How bright is the screen on the DJI RC-N1 controller?
As mentioned previously, the DJI RC-N1 controller does not have a built-in screen. Instead, operators need to fix a mobile device to the controller and download the required flight app onto the phone or tablet. This means that the brightness and size of the screen is dependent on each individual mobile device.
In terms of size, the DJI RC-N1 supports smart phones up to 180mm (L) x 86mm (W) x 10mm (H).
To complement this, the DJI RC-N1 Remote Controller Monitor Hood is available separately to protect smartphone screens in strong lighting conditions and reduce glare for a clearer image during use.
An RC-N1 Tablet Holder is also available, enabling the controller to hold 7-10 inch tablets.
Using a mobile device for drone operations isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there are some factors to consider compared to choosing a dedicated smart controller with built-in screen for drone operations.
For instance, set-up time is slightly longer as you need to connect the mobile device; unlike dedicated smart controllers, mobile devices aren't necessarily optimised to work in ultra-bright conditions, often not being able to provide a constant high-brightness display and automatically decreasing brightness in an outdoor environment; you need to save space for your flight app; you rely on your device having enough battery (although the RC-N1 can charge devices during flight, at the sacrifice of controller run time); and your phone is essentially out of action during flights.
None of the above are deal-breaking, but whether these issues matter depend on each operator.
What ports, dials and buttons does the DJI RC-N1 have?
Compared to the smart controllers, the DJI RC-N1 feels fairly basic.
For instance, the controller does not feature certain buttons, such as the 5D button, while video and photo mode are combined into one button, instead of having their own dedicated button.
It also does not have a zoom dial, meaning that this function needs to be controlled by using the smart device's touchscreen.
The controller does feature a gimbal control dial (controlling the tilt of the gimbal) and has a USB-C port.
Its flight pause and return to home functions share the same button, and it also has the customary flight mode switch.
Can the DJI RC-N1 be used with third-party apps?
Apps can't be downloaded onto the controller itself, as the RC works in conjunction with a smart device.
Therefore, the apps are dependent on what are on that particular smart device.
What is the transmission distance of the DJI RC-N1?
When used with different aircraft hardware configurations, DJI RC-N1 Remote Controllers will automatically select the corresponding firmware version for updating and support the following transmission technologies enabled by the hardware performance of the linked aircraft models:
- DJI Mini 2 and DJI Mavic Air 2: O2
- DJI Air 2S and Mini 3 Pro: O3
- DJI Mavic 3: O3+
Normal phone screens, however, cannot provide a constant high-brightness display and will automatically decrease brightness in an outdoor environment.
How much does the DJI RC-N1 weigh?
The DJI RC-N1 weighs 387 g, but this does not include the smart device.
Therefore, the weight of the controller will increase with the addition of a phone or tablet.
For instance, an iPhone 13 would add an extra 173 grams, while a Samsung Galaxy S20 would increase the controller's weight by 163 g. A tablet, with tablet holder, would add additional weight.
What is the battery life of the DJI RC-N1?
The DJI RC-N1 has a decent amount of endurance.
The controller can go for as long as six hours when not charging the mobile device being used with it.
When the controller is charging the accompanying mobile device, its battery life reduces to four hours.
DJI Smart Controller
The original DJI Smart Controller, this device broke new ground when it was released back in 2019 and set the foundation for what was to follow.
In what is now a legacy product, the Smart Controller is now end of line. But it is a worthy addition to this blog because of its compatibility with some leading DJI consumer drones, including the Air 2S, and it comes with the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced.
Which drones are compatible with the DJI Smart Controller?
The DJI Smart Controller is an extremely versatile RC, compatible with the following DJI drones:
- DJI Mini 2
- DJI Air 2S
- Mavic Air 2
- Mavic 2 Zoom
- Mavic 2 Pro
- Mavic 2 Enterprise Series, including Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced
- Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
Is the DJI Smart Controller available to buy separately? Which drone package is it included in?
The DJI Smart Controller has always been available to buy as an individual item. However, the device is now end of line, so is in scant supply.
The controller is also available as part of several drone combos. These are:
- DJI Air 2S and Smart Controller Combo
- Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced
- DJI Mavic 2 Pro with Smart Controller
- DJI Mavic 2 Zoom with Smart Controller
What ports, dials and buttons does the DJI Smart Controller have?
The DJI Smart Controller has a HDMI port (that supports 4K video output), microSD card slot, a USB type-C port, and a USB-A port.
It also has up to three customisable buttons, a 5D button, and separate buttons to capture video and photos.
The Smart Controller also has a gimbal control dial as well as a second dial which has different functions depending on the drone it is used with, such as:
- Mavic 2 Pro: Adjust exposure compensation (in Programme Mode), aperture (in Aperture Priority and Manual Mode) or shutter (in Shutter Priority mode).
- Mavic Air 2/Mavic 2 Zoom/Mavic 2 Enterprise/Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced: Turn to adjust the zoom of the camera.
- Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual: Turn the dial to adjust the exposure compensation.
- Phantom 4 Pro V2.0: Use to control the camera's roll.
It also features a back button, individual return to home and flight pause buttons, and a flight mode switch.
How bright is the screen on the DJI Smart Controller?
The DJI Smart Controller has a built-in 5.5-inch 1080p touchscreen screen, providing an ultra-bright display to keep your live feed easily viewable, even in direct sunlight.
At 1000 cd/m2, the display is approximately twice as bright as conventional smart device screens.
Can the DJI Smart Controller be used with third-party apps?
Yes it can. Third-party apps can be downloaded through the built-in browser or APK files can be installed from a microSD card.
The DJI Smart Controller also supports Android apps that were developed using DJI Mobile SDK. However, drone compatibility with these apps depends on whether or not DJI Mobile SDK supports the drone.
What is the transmission distance of the DJI Smart Controller?
The DJI Smart Controller has a smaller transmission range than the DJI RC Pro, DJI RC and RC-N1.
Using an older version of OcuSync - OcuSync 2.0 - it has a maximum transmission range of 6km (CE).
This means that compatible drones which use newer OcuSync, like the Air 2S on O3, will be limited to 6km when used in conjunction with the Smart Controller, instead of being pushed to their true capabilities.
How much does the DJI Smart Controller weigh?
The DJI Smart Controller weighs approximately 630 g.
What is the battery life of the DJI RC-N1?
The DJI Smart Controller can work for up to 2.5 hours.
It supports Quick Charging, via the type-C port at the bottom of the controller.
DJI RC Pro vs DJI RC vs RC-N1 vs DJI Smart Controller - Summary
DJI offers a quality ecosystem of remote controllers.
While they aren't the only ones on the market, the DJI RC Pro, DJI RC, RC-N1 and the Smart Controller are cross-compatible with a large range of DJI aircraft.
Selecting the right one for you - depending on its individual compatibility with your desired drone - is crucial, to ensure you make the most from each flight.
Hopefully this in-depth guide has helped you make an informed decision. But if you want more information, please contact our sales team who will be more than happy to help further.