Xiaomi is a fantastic tech company. They have created everything from smartphone accessories to even laptops now. But one of their most talked about product is their newest action camera. Also known as the Xiaomi Yi. Xiaomi Yi is a budget action camera that has received a huge amount of international attention with its $87 price tag and GoPro style look. At half the price of the cheapest GoPro on the market, it can make you quite suspicious. Especially since on the paper it’s as good as $300 models.
But I mean that is impossible, right? There is no way a $87 camera can be realistically as good as a $400 one. So if you are looking for a $87 action camera that can be better than a $300 GoPro, then that is sadly impossible. While I agree that a huge part of GoPro’s price is it’s brand name, the price difference is just way too big for it to be just that. So now that we realize that, we can actually focus on how well the Xiaomi Yi performs in the review and if it’s worth it.
UPDATE! New firmware update for the Xiaomi Yi upgraded it to 2K videos at 30fps!
- Dimensions: 60×42×21mm / 2.4×1.7×0.8″
- Weight: 72g / 2.5oz
- Sensor: Sony Exmor R BSI CMOS 16
- Chipset: Ambarella A7LS
- Field of View: 155°
- Video resolutions: 2K 30fps; 1080p 60/48/30/24fps; 960p 60/48fps; 720p 120/60/48fps; 480p 240fps
- Bitrate: 60Mbps
- Photo: 16MP
- Modes: Single Shot, Burst, Time-Lapse
- Features: WiFi, Bluetooth
- Ports: MicroUSB, MicroHDMI, MicroSD card slot
- Memory: MicroSD with Class 10 and SDXC cards, up to 64GB
- Battery life: 100 minutes of 1080p at 60fps
In the box
- Xiaomi Yi camera
- USB cable
Design & Accessories
First thing you’ll notice about the Xiaomi Yi action cameras design is its simplicity and sleek look. Most articles I have read call it a GoPro look-a-like but I disagree. Apart from the dimensions and back, it hardly looks like it. For example the lens is positioned center vertically. Also the main power/record/capture button has also been added to the front.
Xiaomi Yi is also a tiny bit bigger than the GoPro cameras. It has a dimension of 60.4x42x21.2mm compared to GoPro Hero4 59x41x21mm. The weight of the camera is around the same at 72g so it’s possible to use it on a drone without any problems. While the size difference is that little, there are plenty of gimbals that still require some DIY action to hold the Xiaomi Yi. Such as filing down some of the plastic edges. The plus side is that it isn’t hard to do. The Xiaomi Yi is made out of plain plastic. Nothing fancy about it.
Perhaps the fanciest thing about the action camera is that it comes in two different colors: Lime Green and White. I personally like the option of two colors. My own favorite is the white option. But there are still plenty of people who like the green color more as it’s more colorful and not just a plain piece of plastic.
Besides the front button, there is also a WiFi button on the right side with a LED light. Since the Xiaomi Yi doesn’t have a LCD screen, you are stuck having to use your iOS or Android device to change settings. So that’s why having WiFi is a must. Back of the action camera has also got a compartment for MicroSD, MicroUSB and MicroHDMI ports. There is also a second compartment for the battery.
Perhaps the only negative part about the design is that the lens isn’t covered with a protective glass. That means that it’s pretty easy for it to get scratches. So make sure that you take good care of it, especially when storing. I would avoid putting it into a pocket. Maybe get a special pouch or a case for it.
As far as accessories go, you don’t really get any with the basic package. There are combo deals on Amazon that also include a selfie stick and a waterproof case. I would personally get it with a waterproof case as it also works as a protection if you are planning to mount it anywhere. Another plus it is compatible with a GoPro adapter. Which means that you can use mounts made for GoPro’s. Which does open up a huge selection of different options. Another feature is that the Xiaomi Yi has a threaded tripod hole underneath the action camera. You can use that as well to either connect it to a tripod or purchase a GoPro-Tripod adapter.
Video quality & Features
While the Xiaomi Yi is pretty cheap, it does have a fantastic sensor created by Sony. The Sony sensor and Ambarella A7LS processor lets the Xiaomi Yi action camera record at a resolution up to 2K at 30fps. I feel like that is more of a “novelty” feature. I personally have never felt the need to use it. On the other hand, the Yi action camera can also record at Full HD 1080p at up to 60fps. Which is perfect for 99% of action camera users. You can also use 720p at 120fps to record slow motion videos. So on paper, the Xiaomi Yi has everything you will need to record a video. Xiaomi Yi camera lets you shoot videos from 1080p 60fps to 480p 240fps. But the most impressive thing about the camera is definitely the Sony sensor that provides amazing natural colours.
Here is a perfect example of a video captured in 1080p. Xiaomi Yi honestly impresses me so much. It has the perfect colors among any other action camera under $300. Everything looks realistic and nothing has been overtuned. Even the sharpness is in place. Quite often I see cheaper action cameras fail miserably at displaying green scenery. Trees and grass are usually just a huge blob of blur. With the Xiaomi Yi, they have some how maintained the sharpness and details.
For $87, the video quality is unbelievably good. I have read about people sometimes having problems with focus in the past. I’m not sure if that can still happen but it’s actually a problem with the lens. But it can be fixed with some DIY modification. You can read more about it on google. It’s pretty easy to do and greatly improves the video quality. So if your Xiaomi Yi comes with the focus issue, you can fix it.
Oh and I want to show you one more video example. This one has been recorded at night. See how good the footage is even at low light conditions. I would say that it beats almost all the cheaper/older GoPro’s by far. Really impressive.
So a little about photography as well. I mentioned that the Xiaomi Yi has a fantastic Sony sensor and it’s quality displays in photos as well. I do think that it captures videos though but you do have to remember that it’s an action camera made to record videos. Photos are it’s secondary purpose. Still it features a burst mode which snaps 3, 5 or 7 frames over 2 seconds. Also an interval mode that can take photos every 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 or seconds. For selfie lovers there is also a self-timer that can be set up for 3, 5, 10 or 15 seconds.
Since the Xiaomi Yi doesn’t have an LCD screen, you need to use your iOS or Android device to change settings. Xiaomi has created their own app that you need to install onto your phone. Then enable WiFi on the action camera and just pair the two devices. From the app, you can change settings, view live footage and even past footage. The app is pretty easy to use.
Xiaomi Yi is a fantastic entry-level action camera that can out do even more expensive cameras. I would say it’s the best bang for buck action camera by far. Especially if you are on a budget and can’t afford a more expensive action camera from either GoPro or Sony.
I would especially recommend using the Xiaomi Yi on a drone. It’s lightweight and the price make it perfect for aerial photography. I know that plenty of drone racers also use it on their FPV drones as they crash a lot and don’t have to worry about losing too much money if it should break. So overall, Xiaomi has created a perfect cheap action camera.
The best bang for buck action camera available!