At 249 grams, the Mavic Mini is DJI’s lightest flagship drone yet. But there’s an even lighter version that you can get… in Japan? 

The Japanese model weighs only 199 grams -- a full 50 grams less than the global version even though they’re the same size. That’s no accident: It’s just below the cutoff of 200 grams under Japan’s drone safety rules in the Aeronautical Act, meaning that owners don’t have to obtain permission to fly above 150 meters (492 feet). A DJI representative confirmed to us that the model was specifically created to fit regulations.

It’s good news for Japanese buyers who want to avoid bureaucratic hassle, but the convenience comes at a price. The special drone has a smaller 1,100mAh battery. So unlike the 30 minutes of flight time that the other model gets, the Japanese Mavic Mini is limited to 18 minutes, which probably explains why it's exclusive to Japan.

The 199 gram version of the Mavic Mini is only available in Japan. (Picture: DJI)

Around the world, the growing popularity of drones has generated plenty of safety concerns. As pilots look for ever more exciting places to fly, governments have been enacting new laws to regulate where and how high these drones can go.

Some consumers aren’t happy about the scrutiny, though, as evident when a US hobbyist took the Federal Aviation Administration to court over its drone registration requirement. The rule was originally struck down, then reinstated on national defense grounds. The FAA now requires owners to register civilian drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams).

The global version of the Mavic Mini weighs just below that, meaning that American owners can take it straight to the sky without registering. It’s the same story for users in Australia and the UK.  

It’s not the first time that DJI has tweaked its drones to fit government regulations. Facing accusations in the US that its products pose a security threat, the Chinese company made a government version of its enterprise drone. The solution blocks the drone from transmitting data to third parties or DJI.