I recently wrote an article that Xiaomi is planning to release their very first Yi 360 action camera. Well it seems like it won’t actually be their first. Xiaomi has actually released a 360 Panoramic Camera from their Mi brand! It came as quite a surprise when they suddenly revealed it in their online store. And while the Mi brand has mainly been known for their phones, the Mi 360 is still marketed as an action camera. So it definitely fits. Luckily I was able to get my self one so here’s my thoughts and review about the camera.
- Dimensions: 78×67.4×24mm / 3.1×2.6×0.9″
- Weight: 109g / 4oz
- Chipset: Ambarella A12
- Sensor: 2x Sony IMX 206
- Field Of View: 190º lens, 360° two lens
- Video resolutions: 3200×1800 (3.5K) 30fps; 3456×1728 30fps; 2304×1152 60/30fps
- Photo: 24MP (2x12MP)
- Modes: 360 Degree mode, Action Camera mode
- Features: WiFi, Electronic Image Stabilization, Splash proof IP67
- Ports: MicroUSB, MicroSD card slot
- Memory: MicroSD with Class 10 and SDXC cards, up to 128GB
- Battery life: 75 minutes of 3.5K at 30fps
- Price: $299
In The Box
- Xiaomi Mi 360 Panoramic Camera
- MicroUSB cable
Design & Accessories
When Xiaomi first came out with the Yi action camera, everybody was talking about how they had ripped the design off GoPro. Well the Mi 360 is anything but unique. Xiaomi has literally managed to create the thinnest 360 degree action camera ever. It has a dimension of 78×67.4×24mm / 3.1×2.6×0.9″ and that includes both the lens that stick out on either side of the camera! And the best part, the action camera looks really nice.
It has this sleek modern design that is perfect for an urban environment. Like design is everything nowadays, at least for commercial users. And this definitely gives an edge to Xiaomi. Another thing is the weight. They have some how managed to keep the weight (109g / 4oz) of a pretty standard action camera. So that’s again pretty unusual for a 360 degree camera.
The Mi 360 has a rectangular shape. The sides of the camera are actually made out of black aluminium. It feels really nice and reminds me of an older iPhone. The rest of the camera iss fully made out of plastic and only comes in one color: matte black. The body has also got a splash proof rating of IP67. The top of the camera has 3 buttons: recording, WiFi and power. The power button is also doubled as a mode button. You can use it switch between photo and video mode. The buttons itself feel decent, they give a nice click feel. So nothing mushy etc.
There are also some LED indicators on the front. You can only see them when the camera is turned on. The right side of the action camera has a compartment for a MicroSD card slot and a MicroUSB port. As you can see there isn’t a MicroHDMI port. So sadly you have to use the USB port if you want to show the videos in your TV for example. The bottom of the Mi 360 has also got a standard 1/4″ threaded tripod hole. You actually get a tripod with the camera. So it’s definitely a nice addition. It’s basically similar as the one you get with the Samsung Gear 360. It was actually one of the reasons why I picked it as the best action camera for VR videos!
The tripod is actually the only official accessory available for the camera. There isn’t a waterproof case for the Mi 360 either. You can also use the threaded tripod hole to attach it to a GoPro adapter for example. Then you can also attach it to mounts for example. Overall, I’d say that thanks to the slim design and weight, you can pretty much mount it to anywhere you want.
Video & Features
With 360 degree action cameras, video quality is extremely important. I have reviewed countless of VR cameras that look fantastic on paper, but sadly the video quality is usually blurred. Or the quality is good but the stitching is so bad. With Xiaomi, you can choose between 3 modes: VR recording, action camera recording and still photos. With VR, the Mi 360 records at a 3.5K (3200×1800) video resolution at 30fps. It’s a pretty interesting resolution to be honest.
If you turn on the action camera mode, the camera will record normal fish-eye videos at two resolutions: 3456×1728 at 30fps or 2304×1152 at 60/30fps. Again pretty weird resolutions but you can always crop. The plus side is that recording has been made as simple as possible You don’t have to spend time messing around with the settings etc.
I have to say that I’m actually pretty happy with the Xiaomi Mi 360 video quality. Obviously it isn’t as good as action cameras in the same price range, but compared to other 360 cameras, it’s not bad. While there is quite a bit of blur, you can still see everything. It’s actually pretty sharp closer to the camera. They have also captured the colors really well, they look natural and nothing has been over tuned.
Another good thing is the stitching. Xiaomi handles this incredibly well. I wish Nikon could fix this on their KeyMission 360. At the very least, they should definitely take notes. The stitching can be done via the Mi Sphere app on your phone. You just have to connect the camera to your Android or iOS phone via WiFi. The app can be found by scanning a QR code that comes inside the cameras manual. Also I do want to note that the manual comes in Chinese, so that’s kind of annoying. I wish they at least added a short English one.
But it’s not hard to spot the QR code. The App actually comes in English and it’s identical for both iOS and Android. The app itself is easy to use. You can use it to view live feed, change settings and view past recordings. The stitching isn’t done directly in the camera. The app actually does that for you. That’s why it takes some time before you can actually view the video. You can also share videos and photos directly from the App. Oddly enough there isn’t an option for YouTube. But you can still use it to upload to Facebook. So that’s positive.
The Xiaomi Mi 360 Panoramic Camera is an excellent alternative for the Samsung Gear 360. While I do think the Samsung Gear 360 is better in almost any aspect, besides the design, the Xiaomi is probably better if you don’t have a Samsung phone. That’s really the main downside of the Gear 360 as it can only be connected to certain Samsung phones. So for $299, the Xiaomi Mi 360 is definitely a good 360 degree action camera.