The tech world has been buzzing (going insane) about recently released Xiaomi Yi Sports Action Camera. The adjective that was used to describe it is – a GoPro killer.
Now with all that hype, paid media releases and other nonobjective articles by crappy paid bloggers it was inevitable that according to their articles Xiaomi created a zillion times better camera then a GoPro for just a fraction of big brand‘s price.
If you are here to read how this camera is a GoPro killer and other crappy rant, you can stop reading this review right away. Yeah, that’s right.
I do not write those sort of stupid comparisons.
I was not paid by anyone. I will not say cool stuff about a product that I have not tested, like many other people in this virtual space do. If you are here just to see if a camera is really a GoPro killer, its not so here is your answer.
There is no way that a normal person can think that a an 64-90$ camera can beat 400$ one.
It is not realistic.
It happens from time to time, but…
Has Xiaomi brought a new interesting product that is better then most other GoPro alternatives? Will the product have huge influence on the market? – Yes.
Is it a perfect action camera? No it is not.
Now that my rant is over, if you are still reading this, lets get to the point.
In this review I will do my best to do the most objective and in-depth review of Xiaomi YI that you can find on a web. My review is not a paid one, I bought my cam with my own money, so you can count I will be completely neutral and unbiased.
Additionally this article, can serve as a manual to all of you who already bought the camera and want to learn how unleash its power. I hope that this sort of introduction did not scare you. I was just really mad with way people market products. Lets now dive into this review and see how this camera preforms.
Xiaomi YI Action Camera Overview
Xiaomi YI, is lightweight camera, that can record videos in full HD in 30 and 60 frames per second. Moreover, camera can capture still images in true 16 megapixels. Its biggest advantage is its price and overall value that you get from this low-budget device.
YI camera comes in two different editions :
The only difference between these two models is that, a travel edition comes with a monopod, or a selfie stick that you get inside a box. If you are a selfie addict and do not have a selfie stick yet, you can get the travel edition.
The selfie stick itself is really neatly looking one, and definitely looks much better then most cheap ones you will find online. I personally got a standard version, and I am glad I did, since I am not addicted to taking selfies.
Table bellow features Xiaomi Yi specifications according to the manufacturer. I have added few more details and enriched the table with all relevant information.
- 15 Lens : 16MP CMOS F2.8 155° wide angle
- 8 Sensor : Sony Exmor R BSI CMOS 16 million pixel
- Size : 6 x 2.1 x 4.2 cm / 2.36 x 0.83 x 1.65 inches
- 4 Operating modes
- Memory : Micro SD up to 64GB
- Video Recording
- 1080p x (60, 48, 30 and 24 fps)
- 960p x (60fps or 48fps)
- 720P x (120, 60, 48fps)
- 480P x (240fps)
- Video System: PAL, NTSC
- Video Format: MP4
- Sound Sampling 96KHz Channel 2 Signal to noise ratio 92dBA
- Battery 1010mAh
- Charging : USB via PC or AV with adapter
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Image Format : JPEG
- Self Timer: 1-15s
- Time Lapse 0,5/1/2/5/10/30/60 sec
Whats inside the box
Once you open a box of Xiaomi Yi Standard edition, here is what you get :
- 1x Xiaomi Yi Camera
- 1x USB to microUSB cable (used for charging and transferring to your PC)
- Rechargeable 1x 1100 mAh battery
Travel edition includes all form above plus the :
- 1x selfie stick
[phpzon keywords=”Xiaomi Yi action camera” num=”4″ country=”US” trackingid=”pevlyweb-20″ templatename=”columns” columns=”4″]
There is a reason why Xiaomi is regarded as a Chinese Apple. The company pays so much attention to packing, design and compatibility that its no wonder why their CEO is called the next Steve Jobs.
I had a chance to own few Xiaomi products, and I must say I was never ever disappointed with design and packing. Minimalistic approach is visible even on a cardboard box.
The battery and the USB cable are packed so neatly together with a camera, that at first you will not even notice them. When it comes to color choices, the YI camera comes in two colors :
It is really a shame that there are not more colors to chose from. Obviously if you would like to stand out, take the green chartreuse. White one looks simple and those who prefer minimalism, should go for it. When talking to few other action camera geeks, many agreed that they should have had black color as well.
Actual built quality of the camera is on a high level. It is quite firm and you can feel that it was built from better materials both inside and out then most of cheap action cameras.
Since I prefer to have a device that looks well and works well, I regret that company sacrificed functionality of the camera for the sake of simplistic design. That is one of the reasons there is no LCD screen.
There is now a solution for attaching external LCD screen to Xiaomi YI including external battery which gives twice the recording time. For more information, please read my review of LCD + external battery.
Additionally all the settings in camera have to be changed via the app only, which is a hassle at first, but once you set your options, I guess you will not have to switch them frequently. So you can indeed use YI without the WiFi app, but to fully unleash all of its options, it is a must.
The Size and Weight of Xiaomi YI
Camera size is 60.4mm x 21.2mm x 42mm / 2.4 x 0.83 x 1.7 inches and weights somewhere around 72 g / 2.54 oz (with battery). I noticed that it is slightly heavier then few other cameras I reviewed previously, especially SJ4000 and SJCAM M10. You do not need a scale to notice its heavier.
Even though it has been announced across the web that the price for the camera will be 69$, there is no a single place online which sells this camera at that price at this moment. Apparently the 69$ price tag is only for Chinese market , where as everywhere else camera costs 89$-99$ for standard and 110-119$ for travel edition.
Since I bought mine very first day since the camera has been announced I paid top dollar – 99$ for it on eBay as a pre-order.
Update 8/30/2015 : The price of the camera has decreased drastically, and has leveraged with the prices in Chinese retail stores. Great thing, camera is now much cheaper then it used to be few months ago.
Best places to buy, deals, discounts and coupons.
Camera is quite easy to find online. Multiple stores sell them, however only a handful of them offers them at very low prices.
Here are best places to buy it, with few deals and discounts I was able to dig out:
- $66.99 on Gear Best for standard: Green camera (link) | White camera (link) | ( includes free worldwide shipping)
- 66$ + shipping on BangGood : Buy Standard for 66$ | Buy Travel for 85$ |
- Buy from Amazon (2 day, fast free Shipping with Amazon Prime for US) | Amazon Link |
- If you like bidding, you can find some deals on eBay | Ebay Link |
*Some of the coupon codes are not working when items are on sale already. The promotions change frequently on these sites, so if you are having trouble validating your coupon, let me know in the comments, and I will try to find one for you. I will try to update this section regularly and ensure we have coupons that actually work and save you few bucks. If you prefer eBay, here are some auctions ending soon.
[phpzon keywords=”Xiaomi YI camera” num=”4″ country=”US” trackingid=”pevlyweb-20″ templatename=”columns” columns=”4″]
Lens and Sensor
- Sensor : Ambarella A7LS high-performance image processor Sony Exmor R BSI CMOS image sensor ST triaxial high-performance gravity sensor
- 16 Mega Pixels
- Lens : Aspheric surface FHD photology glass lens, F2.8 aperture, 155° wide angle
Buttons and ports
There are not many buttons and ports in Xiaomi YI camera, which makes it easy to navigate and use. Bellow is a list and a short description of each button and port.
- #1 Front Button – ON/OFF Power button. Button allows you to turn camera on or off and also switch between photo and video mode.
- #2 Top – shutter button – Depending on the mode you are in, when pressed it will take a photo or start/stop video recording.
- #3 Side – WiFi button – Turns WiFi ON/OFF
- #4 – 1/4″ tripod mount
- #5 – Micro SD Slot
- #6 – USB (used for charging and file transfer)
- #7 – HDMI (connect camera to a TV. Previewing images and videos you have taken on TV)
- #8 – Battery clip (press to open battery door)
- #9 – LED Indicators (indicate weather camera is recording or not, circular LED shows battery life by changing colors, read more in battery section)
Camera allows you to take full HD videos in different modes and resolutions including 1080p 60/30 FSP for NTSC mode or 1080P 25/50 in PAL. With recent update camera can take 2K videos as well in 30 fps. Sony Sensor and wide angle lens really give fantastic, natural color to your video, nobody argues video color.
Without any doubt, colors that this camera pulls out of the scene are warm, realistic and much better then any bellow 100$ action camera that I have.
I will be completely honest and tell you that after the bombastic announcement all over the web, I expected a sharper video quality out of this green thingy.
While colors are exceptional, I really feel that video has to be clearer especially in 60FPS. In 30FPS is looks sharper though. Many action cameras from China advertise 60FPS where as in the reality they only do double frame of 30FPS, but YI can record in a TRUE 1080PX60 frames per second.
Bitrate for this camera is only 11000-13000 kbps. Obviously this has to be improved in the firmware updates. You can use custom firmware built by one of the DashCamForum members, but as always anything unofficial is a potential risk to your camera.
Good thing is that video quality can certainly be increased in the upcoming firmware updates.
Update 8/30/2015 – bit rate of the camera has been boosted in few regular updates, and is now at around 21000 kbps.
I was really disappointed with videos taken in lower resolutions, especially the 840X480 200P 16:9 which you probably will never want to use. Normally, I would not never record in this fps or resolution, but I accidentally selected it on while recording my hiking trip. It was only later I realized that my video in this mode looks like crap. I had a feeling that if a washing machine could take videos in 840X480 200P 16:9 it would look better then YI!
Please download here few short video samples that I have taken, to check the quality of the video yourself. Additionally check out my video review bellow for more shots, but be aware that on YouTube footage is compressed, which means it will look worse then in the reality.
PAL and NTSC
One particular thing that this camera offers when it comes to video recording settings is ability to chose from PAL or NTSC standards. In case you do not know what these are, you can read about them here. Briefly, NTSC is video format used in USA and few other countries, where is PAL is used in all other parts of world.
To switch between these two formats, you only have to change in of the YI app. I was really happy with the ability to switch between these two video formats in the app. Here are resolutions that each of these format allow you to chose from :
Update : There was huge update in September, and Xiaomi YI camera now allows video recording in 2k resolution.
The NTSC mode has been set as a default mode in your camera, and it allows these resolutions and FPS (Frames per second) :
- 2304×1296 30P 16:9
- 1920×1080 60P 16:9
- 1920×1080 30P 16:9
- 1920×1080 48P 16:9
- 1920×1080 24P 16:9
- 1280X960 60P 4:3
- 1280X960 48P 4:3
- 1280X720 48P 16:9
- 1280X720 120P 16:9
- 840X480 240P 16:9
Since I am in Europe, I have been using PAL format for all my videos. I mostly used 25p, because it gives a film-like effect. On the other hand, for quick, more realistic videos of sports or any extreme situations, I recommend 50p. For videos that you want to make in slow motion in post-production, the higher FPS, the better it will look when you slow the video down.
- 2304X1296 25p 16:9
- 1920×1080 50P 16:9
- 1920×1080 25P 16:9
- 1920×1080 48P 16:9
- 1920×1080 24P 16:9
- 1280X960 50P 4:3
- 1280X960 48P 4:3
- 1280X720 50P 16:9
- 1280X720 48P 16:9
- 1280X720 100P 16:9
- 840X480 200P 16:9
I was really pleasantly surprised with quality of photographs that this camera makes. All the photos are taken in true 16 Mega Pixels. Colors look quite natural. Images are decent and much sharper then the video.
Even when the camera is turned directly into the Sun, image does not get darker. Bellow are compressed images. Images on the web should be compressed because it allows a page to load faster. For uncompressed, true quality photos, download these photo samples I uploaded on DropBox. I highly recommend you to download image samples. You will definitely see the difference.
Sony 16 mega pixel CMOS sensor that camera has does not disappoint even when camera faces direct sunlight. Many other action cams will show darker image once lens is faced with direct sunlight. Xiaomi YI preforms remarkably well in this area. Take a look at a photo I took at a park. Colors look perfectly natural and are not darkened.
If you are one of those guys that enjoy making Nat-Geo like videos which include time lapse, you will be happy to know that Xiaomi Yi has Time-Lapse mode. This option can be set inside your app. Basically this allows your camera to continuously take photos in the intervals you set. You can set time lapse to 0.5/1/2/5/10/30/60 seconds.
For instance, if you set time-lapse to 5 seconds (which is the interval I most frequently use) your camera will take a photo every 5 seconds. One thing I did not like in the time-lapse mode is that the camera itself does not make a time-lapse video out out of your photos, which would make things much easier.
So if you leave your camera for 2 hours (180 minutes * 60= 10800 seconds) and set interval to 10 seconds you will end up with 1080 frames or photos which you need to import into your editing software and make a video out of it. If you shoot at 1080p 60 fps = 1080 frames/60 will give you 18 seconds of time lapse video. Its not that hard as it sounds, you can check plenty of tutorials on YouTube on how to create this sort of video.
Video Time lapse
Time lapseis one of many changes that happened over the last few months. Developer team pushed an update, and it is now possible to create video time lapse right out of the box. Instead of having bunch of images, that you need to put together in video editing software, you can now have video right away, by selecting an interval in the app.
Here are available intervals :
- 0.5s (15x speed)
- 1s (30x speed)
- 2s (60x)
- 5s (150x)
- 10s (300x)
- 30s (900x)
- 60s (1800x)
With these selected intervals, you chose a speed of your video. You can also select time lapse video length, which is great feature:
Let me give you an example. If you chose an interval length of 6s with a interval of 0.5 seconds, this means that camera will take photo each half of the second. This one photo represents one video frame. In order to have a video length of six seconds (provided that you want 60 frames per second video), camera needs to make 6*60 (60 frame for 1 second of a video) = 360 frames. 360 frames/0.5 interval = 90 seconds.
To conclude, this means that for 6 seconds video in 0.5 interval, camera needs to record in time lapse mode for 90 seconds. Same formula applies for any interval or duration. Great thing is that the app will calculate everything for you, and above each interval, you will see a headline how long output you will get.
Even though lots of people confuse time-lapse and self-timer there is a difference between the two. While time lapse shoots unlimited amount of photographs at particular set interval, self-timer shoots a single shoot. Self timer gives you a delay when pressing a shutter button.
This is useful option for group photographs where you as a shooter can set up a Xiaomi Yi on a stand and it will automatically take a photo for you. To learn more on self-timer, check this article on Wikipedia.
Timer can be set at :
Snapshot (Sight) is probably the least useful photography option for me. It is a proof that Yi camera is focused more on social media, sharing and being viral then on actual needs of a action camera consumer. With Snapshot you can create a short animation at ridiculous 640 x 480 / 4:3 / 30p. You can then chose an output format of animation. You can select either MP4 or GIF.
In a most recent firmware and app update, this feature is now called “Sight”. It does the same, but they ironed up some bugs that previously occurred when trying to share this useless video on social media.
If I could chose one feature that left me speechless its the burst mode. By setting burst mode on (you can select it within the app inside the photo modes) your camera will take multiple photos in just a second! For instance if you set burst mode to 7p/s in just a single seconds your camera will take 7, yes SEVEN photos.
This feature is incredible if you want to photograph fast moving objects, sport events or any other extreme situation. With 4 different burst modes to chose from, I am sure you will finally manage to capture a perfect photo of yourself jumping, running or kicking a ball.
Let me just start by telling you that many high-end DSLR cameras do not have such good burst option. And oh boy those cost above 500$.
- 7p/2s (camera will capture 7 frames in 2 seconds)
For instance my Sony Mirorless camera cost 800$ and it has a single 11p/s burst mode, which is slightly better then Yi, but damn it costs ten times more! More details on burst photography here.
Like with any other new camera you get, there are always settings and options that you can use to improve your video. If you are like me, you probably do not know what all these options mean. That is why I took a while to test the performance of each, and here is an overview of all of them.
Below is a guide that will explain you how to use Xiaomi YI much better then the manual, even if you do not know Chinese!
UPDATE 10/26/2015 I have created a unique Virtual Guide to Xiaomi Yi, make sure to check it out, it presents all features in interactive and easy-to-understand way.
Metering mode helps your camera decide how to figure exposure out.
I keep mine at center, since it gave the best results, but if you would like to learn more, you can read this Wiki article.
Auto Low Light
Apparently this feature should allow better video and photo quality when shooting in areas there is not enough light, so called low-light areas. Not only that I had not noticed a better quality with this option is set on, but I also noticed that videos taken by night look even worse.
I was quite confused about this feature so I emailed Xiaomi and asked what this option does and when it should be turned on. Here is what they said :
The auto low light in settings is a feature wherein if there is low light in the area where you are taking a picture or shooting a video, you can switch the auto low light feature in the Yi camera and it would still be able to capture a nice picture or video.
From what I understood this option should be turned off unless you are in low light situation. I personally keep it always off. Until they improve it via firmware upgrades, I do not want to risk sharpness of my video.
With loop recording you can set your video to record and allow continuous recording. Be careful this also means that once your memory card is full videos will overlap each other, meaning video that has been recorder previously will be overwritten by the next one.
There is not much reason why you would like to enable this option unless you want to do some sort of surveillance camera experiment. My advice is turn it off, its useless for average consumer.
Every action camera has wide angle lens. This sort of lens allows you to capture wide field of view up to 170 degrees which is equal to what human eye can see. Which is incredible! However these sort of lens give a barrel roll distortion or a fish eye distortion as some may call it.
Basically this means that on occasions your video might look curved. While some of us like this sort of effect, not everyone are huge fan of it. So far not many action cameras had an option to correct wide angle distortion.
With 95% of action cameras you have to fix these sort of distortions in post-production. Not with Xiaomi YI. Lens rectification can be turned on or off. Once its on it will give you a bit narrower field of view, but you will not see curved buildings for instance.
No more fish-eye distortion. Good job Xiaomi! Take a look at the image bellow. On the left, option is on. There are no distortion, however the tree is barely in the scene. On the other hand, second image depicts more wider angle, but the ground looks curved slightly.
If you are looking to attach this camera to your quad-copter, you will be happy to know that since the latest 1.0.7 firmware update, this camera has an AV output.
With the 1.4 update, users are now able to flip their video for 180 degrees. Video rotation is useful when you have car suction cup adapter. When turned ON, flip will record video and show it normally, even if your camera is turned upside down. Quite useful feature, especially if you plan to use this camera as a car cam of some sort.
I have no idea why this paragraph is called accessories. Unless you buy Travel version which comes with additional monopod, inside your box you will get zero, zip, zilch, nada. It is obvious that Xiaomi wanted to create quality, affordable camera that can cause lots of hype.
Update 9/26/2015 – I wrote a brief article about Xiaomi YI best accessories, check it out for more info.
With camera having Sony 16MP sensor, manufacturer had to reduce costs somewhere and eliminating accessories was a logical move. Of course, this does not mean there are no additional mounts, gadgets and gears for your YI camera, it just means you have to purchase them separately.
What left a bitter taste is pricing for additional gear. For instance right now waterproof case costs around 30$. On the other hand, similar case for competitor SJCAM SJ4000 costs 10$. Note currently waterproof case is on sale on BangGood for 18$.
That said, Xiaomi will not make much money out of selling camera, but will increase their profits through distributing a bit pricey gear. Good news is that most of the mounts, brackets, straps, monopods are compatible with each other, so you do not have to buy Xiaomi bike stand for instance, you can get a non branded one and it will work just fine. Lots of people have asked if YI case is compatible with some other like SJ4000 and the answer is – no.
At the moment of writing, this is an official gear that Xiaomi released for Yi Action Camera :
- Waterproof Housing (best price I was able to find on it is 18$)
- Silicon protector
I recently wrote about my favorite action camera gear, and most of those listed are 100% compatible with YI at a fraction of a cost.
Xiaomi Yi uses a standard 1/4″ tripod mount, so if you have any sort of gear from previous action or any other camera, it will be compatible. One thing I really liked is that a mount whole is located directly on the bottom of the camera.
This is really good because to mount it onto a selfie stick or a tripod for instance, you do not need any additional brackets. This for me was very important and reduces both cost and the time when the camera has to be mounted.
Xiaomi Yi – Yi Cam App
Even though the app name sounds like something you do not want your better half to see on the screen on your phone, the Xiaomi Yi XXX action cam app user interface and experience overall is pretty neat.
Edit : In the latest version name of the app has been changed from XXX Cam App To Yi Cam App which makes a lot more sense and is less embarrassing! At the time of writing this review, the 1.3 app version is still a mix of Chinese and English.
WiFi App is really intuitive and easy to navigate even, and with all the updates, it is now fully translated into English. So far it is much better and easier then any other camera app I tried. When hopefully all bugs get ironed up, it should work even smoother.
There are lots of things you can do in app itself besides controlling your camera, you can see popular videos uploaded by other users, you can register and share your own videos.
One thing that really bothered me is that lag that happens when recording a video and previewing it on your phone. Its probably one of the worst lags I experienced with action cam apps. It got slightly better in 1.3 app version, but its still far from perfect.
Of course the lag will not appear in your video, just when you are viewing it live while you record. Big minus, as live preview feature is completely useless this way and looks like you are recording with a washing machine or Tetris.
The app is an integral part of this camera. There are not many things you can do without it. Like it or not, its just the way the Xiaomi Yi action cam works. You can record and take photos without the app, but for settings change, photo preview and anything else, it is essential. When you open the app you will see 3 main sections :
Since I already explain how each of these functions work, I will just mention that within an app you can set many various options for each recording/photo/snapshoot mode.
Xiaomi Yi App installation
Although it took quite a while, YiCam, an official Xiaomi YI app is now available on Google Play. Here is a download link.
In past, it was not available so if you had a phone with a crappy camera, you had to have a manual download link, because older phones could not read the app code on the packaging. All of that has now been settled with releasing a an app for Android.
One more improvement has been made, since the original release of the YI. Xiaomi launched an official iOS application, which can be downloaded on iTunes.
Yi cam uses Panasonic LiPo Battery – 3.7V 1010mAH which (according to Xiaomi) allows up to two hours with WiFi on and in 1080 p 30 frames per second. Comparing to SJCAM SJ4000 for instance, battery is slightly better and gives more recording time.
Still, I would love if the battery life could be longer. Surely, if you intend to take longer videos it would be a good idea to get a spare battery or at least have a power bank (I highly recommend this Xiaomi Power Bank).
In case you are wondering how can you know how much battery you have without and LCD screen there are two ways to do it. First is to take a look at a circular on/off button. LED lights that are surrounding it, will flash in three colors and indicate how much battery you have remaining.
- Blue LED color (more then 50%)
- Indigo (15-50%)
- Red (Bellow 15%)
Another way is to connect to your YI app and at the top of the screen, you have info on both your phone and camera battery.
Yi supports up to 64GB Micro SD and Micro SDHC memory cards. When it comes to cards type and brand,manufacturer highly recommends at lest Class 10 Micro SD cards from reputable brands. I have been using Sony 16 and 64GB SDHC cards, and I did not have a single issue. You should be OK with most big-brand cards. But I must advise you to stay away from cheap, 2-4$ cards, that are useless for action cameras.
File storage and location
All the images and videos are saved into the DCIM/101MEDIA folder on your memory card. Another folder that you will see once you plug the camera into the PC is MISC. This folder contains important camera settings in a itm.bin file. It is highly recommended that unless you know what you are doing, do not mess with MISC folder.
However if you know what you are doing, like experimenting, and do not mind breaking your camera down, you can tweak with code and create your own custom firmware. There are many forum topic online on how to modify the YI, but I personally use only official stuff.
Xiaomi YI Chinese vs US Version
Xiaomi released an US Version of Xiaomi YI camera. This was a huge delay, considering that Chinese version was launched few months before. Even though I do not have an US version of the camera, I was informed that differences between Chinese and US are minor.
The U.S. version is compatible with U.S. Wi-Fi network environments and voltage, along with U.S. environmental standards. It also has slightly different packaging (box) and (wait for it) an English-written manual. (Finally!). Possibly the most interesting difference is battery. US Xiaomi YI version has 1100 mAh Sony battery, where as the Chinese one has 1010 mAh battery (Not a Sony battery).
Similar to its parent, this one comes in two variants :
- Basic (camera + USB) priced at 99$ (link here)
- Travel bundle (camera + selfie stick + Bluetooth remote shutter + USB) priced at $139.95 (link here)
In my opinion, it does not matter much which one to get, though because of the fast Amazon shipping, it makes sense to get US one if you are in the US. As for manual, you can use virtual xiaomi yi manual I created that will help you way better then a manual manufacturer made.
Unlike many other Chinese brands which give you zero support after you purchase their product, Xiaomi has really good customer support team. I had emailed them few times and always got a prompt and satisfactory demand.
One thing I did not like is that live chat option is available only on Mandarin language. Additionally Xiaomi Global offers should offer support to consumers outside China, India, Philippines and Singapore. I tried emailing Xiaomi Global few times but their email kept returning some sort of an error.
So if you are having any troubles with your YI, feel free to email any of their departments, they all got back to me with a 72 hour reply in fluent English.
Summary – Go Pro Killer or a victim of superfluous expectation?
To sum up, upon my 30 days of extensive use of Xiaomi YI Sports Camera, I have come to a conclusion that currently it is not better then a GoPro Hero 4.
As already said, even though, camera has remarkable sensor and creates fantastic images, at the moment of writing this review the video should be sharper and with higher bit rate.
I really like the burst image mode which allows you to take fantastic shoots of moving objects. However for the price (camera can be bought for 85-99$) I do feel that this is the best choice for people who do not mind lack of LCD screen.
Video colors are fantastic and I am sure that no other on-budget camera can beat Xiaomi at this point.
Secondly, my personal feeling is that Xiaomi YI is more a camera for regular people who enjoy sharing photos and videos on social media. When using YI in non extreme situations, I found it fantastic and easy to use and did not mind using WiFi and App.
On the other hand in circumstances where you are more focused on climbing on a mountain or jumping, I found it very annoying. Many times I have failed to record a jump, just because I was unable to see if its recording or not. It takes 5-6 seconds to turn on, which in extreme situation can mean missing a memorable moment.
This camera is not a true action camera.
Finally I would like to say that even though Xiaomi did not kill GoPro Hero 4 as originally announced, it definitely defeated all other GoPro alternatives in this price range. You also should not be fooled by the 89$ price.
If you plan to use it as a true action camera, which includes recording in extreme situations with fast speed and unpredictable environment, you will have to buy additional gear such as head mount, chest strap, waterproof case. All that adds up, so unless you plan to record every day life situations of your kids running around, Xiaomi YI requires additional gear investment.
If you are looking for a camera of slightly inferior video and image quality but with all the gear, SJCAM SJ4000 is still a good choice for entry level users who are on a budget. It is fantastic that action camera market has Xiaomi as a company. Since this is their first product in this niche, I am positive we can expect more well-priced, quality products.
Bravo Xiaomi, your first camera certainly frightened a competition. But you still have to decide if your target market is a action camera user or regular consumer who wants to record holiday? You cant target everyone! Focus.
Who should buy it?
I would strongly recommend this camera to regular guys who would like to record their holidays, take selfies, make videos of their friends and family. For those purposes, you do not have to buy any additional gear. However if you are hardcore adrenaline junkie, you must be aware that there are better cameras for that purpose because even though it certainly can be used for sports, it is far more frustrating then it should be.
Note : White Standard version is currently on sale on GearBest for 69.89$$
Download video and photo samples
I have a question for you
Once again, I hope that this lengthy article helped you decide weather Xiaomi YI is right for you. Please, if you have any additional comments or suggestions based on your experience, please let me know, I am very curious to hear your two cents.
As always, for any questions or help, feel free to leave a comment bellow, I would be glad to help you out if I can. Some new features can be seen in my 360 Virtual Xiaomi YI Tour.