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 :
- Standard (Click Here)
- Travel (Click Here)
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 modesPhoto, time-lapse photo, timed photo and video
- Memory : Micro SD up to 64GBClass 10 Micro SD card is highly recommended
- Video RecordingSupports various resolutions to chose from
- 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
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.
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Lens and Sensor
Camera has: Ambarella A7LS high-performance image processor, Sony Exmor R BSI CMOS 16 MEGA Pixels image sensor and ST High Performance 3-Axis G-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
Here is the link where you can download 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.
Xiaomi YI Sports Action Camera
Video Quality - 70%
Photography Quaility - 80%
Price - 85%
Value for the money - 85%
User Experience - 70%
App - 85%
Customer Support - 70%
Built Quality - 79%
Unbetable quality for the price, but...
Fantastic images quality. Video colors are fabulous. Price can not be beaten. Very good customer service. Beautiful design. Small, compact and easy to use. Video is not as sharp as I would like. You must use APP to change settings. No LCD Screen. Back door cover can easily get lost. WiFi sometimes wont connect. Fantastic for average consumers, but not as good for extreme sports. LED light is not visible under direct Sun light, so you cant be sure if you are recording or not.
any updates on how to get this cam working with iphones? Has the iOS app been released yet? I ordered my Yi cam but still waiting for it to be delivered.
As far as I am aware, Xiaomi promised to release iOS app by the end of April. At this point that seams unlikely.
There is this app But I do not think its official, so if I was you I would avoid it.
Thanks again, awesome review by the way. Any advice on how to get this Yi cam attach onto my dog? I am trying to film from her POV as she plays fetch and runs around, would the gopro dog harness work? Thanks again, I appreciate any insight!
Thanks Samir. Since it has standard tripod and GoPro like mounts, it should work with any GoPro, SJCAM dog straps.
It is compatible with most of the SJ4000 things featured in this article.
The iOS app is out, made by 360Ants on the appstore. Downside is it’s currently Chinese only, but if you watch the videos of the android app being used, it’s the same, so you can learn to use it well enough until it’s translated. They certainly seem to be working on it and this camera is the best $70 I’ve ever spent on a portable hi-res cam…
Hi, I would just like to ask. In the specification of the yi it was mentioned that it has blutooth 4.0 but when you pinpoint each of the compartments of the yi there is no button for the blutooth, y is that?
Thank you very much for your reply. I would love to hear it from you.
I’m I wrong in assuming u can use the wifi to live stream video and use it to fly fpv with a quadcopter and a smartphone running on android. Or is this not what the wifi is intended for?
Great review by the way.
Alvaro Q.F says
Your review is excellent, but your conclusion has totally scared me. I´d like to record the routes on my mtb, everybody around me has told me to buy a GoPro and that i should refuse to buy other less expensive cameras, and I really like the GoPro Hero4 Silver (as it has a touch screen), but the difference in the price between GoPro and other marks such as SJCAM and Yi tells me that I would be paying for something that it’s not worth the money. I’ve been trying to decide between the SJ5000+ and the Xiaomi Yi since i arrived to that conclusion, and before reading your post i was thinking about buying the Yi because the video/photo quality is a little bit better than in the SJ5000+ (even if it doesn´t have a screen at the back).
If i can afford to buy a GoPro Hero4 Silver and everything else that I would need should i buy that camera and refuse to buy a Yi or a SJ5000+? Even if the GoPro “only” takes 12MPX photos?
I’ll take your answer into account when taking the final decision.
My intention was not to scare you 🙂 It is important however to speak the truth about products, including this one.
If you are stuck between the SJ5000+ and Yi, I would go for YI. SJ5000+ is rushed product with lots of firmware problems.
Since you will be using it on a motorbike, right? I guess video stabilization is important? Download sample videos I have put, and see if that is okay for you or not.
Have you considered SonyAS100V? Megapixels do not matter much, sensor is what counts. 12mp or 16mp the difference is not huge.
Alvaro Q.F says
I would be using it to record my mountain bike routes (and in the swimming pool, on the quadricopter and remote control cars and some other things) so the image stabilization is one of the most important things (if not the most important), which is much better in the GoPros than in the Yi, but i wouldn’t expect excellent stabilization from the Yi for that price. I would also use the camera to take photos.
I have not given to Sony Cameras a chance because my intention is to mount the camera on my chest with a harness, in the frame of the bicycle or in the handlebar. It would be less comfortable.
SJ5000+ has been an option because it works quite well (some months ago it was terrible but it has improved), even if it has some hardware limits and not a very good firmware, but at least it works.
In the last weeks some problems from the Yi have appeared, that’s why I was still deciding which should i buy between the camera from SJCAM or Xiaomi, but now i have added the GoPro Hero4 Silver, and i would say that right now i am thinking between the Yi and the Hero4. What would you do in my case?
Thanks for your advise.
It seams you will be using YI in extreme situations as well.
Listen, quite honestly, Yi makes great videos (I expect them to update firmware and increase bit rate and sharpness) and even better photos.
But if you need good video stabilization, you must know that most of these low budget cameras do not have it.
If you need a camera for serious video recording, then you must pay good money for it. And you should get a GoPro.
But if you are on the budget and need cam for having fun, showing off videos to your friends on YouTube, etc, cameras like SJ4000 and YI should be good. After all, if you have some friend that has any of those cheap alternatives, I recommend you to try it out first and see how it works for you. SonyAS100V sounds like a camera that should be perfect for you (but it is not that cheap). The only thing that will be hard with AS1000V is mounting it on a chest, because of its shape.
I do not like giving people recommendation on what to buy, since people are different and prefer different things. That is why, here is a bit more material that might help.
Here you can see my SJ4000 review. Samples can be downloaded here.
And here you can download some sample image/photos from YI.
Hope that helps Alvaro. Feel free to let me know if you need any additional help. Would love to hear what you ended up buying. Feel free to drop me a line.
I have had a Gopro Hero 3+ Silver, I can tell you this camera in my opinion is more value for money than the Gopro, its many times cheaper but not so many times worst 🙂 In fact at the time of writing this the Yi is the best for the money, I strap mine to my quadcoper and take videos like this one, check it out 😀
Hi Sir . I would like to know if we can use the selfie stick and remote underwater. Your reply is highly appreciated. Thanks
Thanks, very good review. This is my first experience with an action cam and I must admit that the Yi is excellent VFM. However, I do think that:
1. The lack of an LCD screen is annoying. I felt like tearing my hair trying to adjust settings every damn time. I mean the app is user friendly, but having to connect every time is a pain.
2. I know that most action cams don’t, but optical image stabilization would have been a great addition. I mean there is no hard and fast rule that an action cam cannot be used for clicking photos, right?
3. Is it just me or do others invoke the mercy of God as well while trying to update firmware? I went from 1.0.2 to 1.0.9 pretty smoothly, but man it was one harrowing experience.
You made some fantastic points here, I do agree with all of them. Optical image stabilization is something that all action cameras should have, but I guess we cant get all for under 100$. Perhaps in future, who knows.
Haha, about the APP updates, I always have the same feeling, but if you are patient and do not turn it off while updating, you will be good.
luckily, i went through the manual process. I have had issues with OTA updates on my Samsung and Nexus devices in the past.
The Price is really good. GoPro has no Chance 🙂
praveen pagadala says
I just luved the way you put the article mate. Superb just keep up the good work. Seeing your article i finalised Yi Camera for my personnel use. I am based in India currently, Just checking how to get the Camera to India (I mean via singapore or USA). I am not good at writing but i am not able to control myself praising you man. Keep rocking dude
Hey Praveen, thanks so much, really appreciate your kind words 🙂
I am selling my piece. Let me know if you are interested. I am based out of Mumbai.
praveen pagadala says
please send the details via mail at [email protected] or you can contact me on +91 9505 650 650. I am currently based in Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh India mate.
Dan Pih says
It looks fantastic value but the app only controls 100% kill it for me. If you’re in an ‘extreme’ situation the last thing you want to do is get your phone out and start fiddling.
Yup, unfortunately that is exactly what my point in this review was. It was frustrating to pull out a phone when I am out there in the mountain. Obviously in extreme situation we need less things to worry about. Hopefully Xiaomi will preform better with upcoming cameras in this area.
hi, very good reviews. i would like to use this to prepare music videos with my band but no comments on sound recording capabilities. any clue? what would be your recommendations for a camera to record good audio as well as video?yi? gopro music edition?
Hi, for any serious audio recording, I would recommend some sort of external sound recorder. YI is pretty good, but I have not preformed serious audio testing, therefore I can not give my opinion on it.
Did you have any problems regarding CE certification when buying and importing form China to EU? Does Xiaomi Yi have a CE certification?
Thank you for your response in advance.
That really depends on your country and customs. My country is not in EU and I do pay custom fees when buying from China. Best to contact customs and ask. As for any certificate, you do ot get it in a box. Camera is made for Chinese market primarily.
John Middelveen says
I really appreciate all the review. When my camera arrived from China, I was desperate. You answered all my questions.
Thanks John, I am so glad to hear that. 🙂
Just heard about this little action camera. Did you also tried HDMI output? Is it work as expected when connected to any HDMI monitor ?
Is the HDMI output signal compatible to older HDMI display that not yet support 1080-50p ? (when using 25p frame rate settings).
Hi Setiawan, I personally haven’t done such tests, but you can Google and I am sure will find few forums with topics specific to HDMI and how it works. I did not think it was relevant for this review, but I might include HDMI tests in my future action cam reviews. Thanks and sorry if I could not help on this one.
mike h says
i see current amazon ads in this review are saying bluetooth is this a revent upgrade or false statement?
mike h says
sorry typed on my droid phone. meant recent not revent
Camera does have 4.0 Bluetooth. I am not sure how it can be used though. Probably they will release an upgrade or something similar for that functions.
Very extensive review of Xiaomi sports camera, you made some good points.
I was wandering did you make the video or just found it on YT, because i doubt its authenticity (i’m not saying its not authentic, its just that i found a couple of more videos and the video quality is not the same like zorook.com and techinasia.com/xiaomi-yicamera-review-gopro/
Thanks. Obviously this is a video I made. You can see the branding on the channel and username SJCAMGuides, so yes the video is mine.
Terrific, comprehensive review…thanks very much. I have a related question raised by the link to your also-useful article on essential accessories:
Do you happen to know if your favorite head strap from GearBest.com works with the Xiaomi Yi (with the waterproof case on)?
Thanks a bunch Dave.
Yes, you can attach anything that has either a usual action cam base mount or just a 1/4 inch screw mount, since that particular head strap is quite flexible.
That’s an excellent set of remarks you have put together. Out of all those crappy reviews, I was actually looking for something realistic.
Now I would like to state my scenario – I’m looking for more of a ‘selfie’ camera, than an action camera. I’m more of a camera geek and a hobbyist photographer. Being a photographer is painful because no one takes your photo 😛 and to be honest, I kind of like selfies . So if I had an action camera I’d be shooting some 170 degree wide selfies with it, kind of a fan of such wideness and maybe occasionally some video clippings (not in extreme conditions – could be a city driving clip at most lol). Group selfies in bright and dimmed lighting conditions, jumping with friends in photos while hanging outdoors – that’s what my requirement is and I don’t think I should be spending nearly $400 on a Hero4 for this purpose.
Oh another issue, I have a shaky hand. I know this camera doesn’t have IS, will my shaky hand make the photos come out blur?
Given my purpose, should I be putting my money on a Xiaomi Yi? Please let me know what you think.
Hi Shuvo, thanks!
I think YI would be great camera for your needs. I have no idea how shaky are your hands, so it is impossible to say if it will affect photo blur. Camera needs around 2 seconds to take photo from the moment you press the shutter. I do not have steady hands myself, and my photos are not blurry at all 🙂
I have this xiaomi yi, and I recorder a soccer match from a static place, some of the players runing left a shadow behind, its the only thing I can say that i don’t like, all other photos and sound are very good for the price. It’s a shame that the accessories are a little bit expensive but I had to get the water prof case and something else.
Other detail is the mini hdmi port, anyone know how to use it?
I hope the follow firmware updates increase the bitrate to get the maximum quality that this camera can give us to the users 🙂
Luke Murray says
I use this camera to record our weekly football match. Dont know what this guy is talking about. I used to use the sjcam sj4000 and this is much better. The camera is fixed to a point and my friend (using the app) tells me where to point the camera for the ideal position. This is one of most recent videos where the picture is good. The most recent video is poor quality due to selecting the wrong settings post production.
Enjoy, plus a guy gets the ball right in the face……..
Im looking at purchasing this as a cheaper alternative then the Gopro.
The camera will mainly be used for filming surfing so it will be used in the waterproof housing.
I can’t seem to find anywhere on how long it takes to turn on and be able to start recording video?
As I don’t have much time to catch a wave from when I see it this needs to be relatively quick.
Could you tell me the time from start up to record please?
Also can you leave it on, Say on stand by mode then just press the record button on and off to save time.
If anyone could help me out with this it would be great!
Hi Jared, it takes around 6 seconds. Its quite a slow cam for that purpose in my opinion. But again, it has great price. If you want a camera which can shoot right away I have been using Sony AS100V, and I am very satisfied with how fast it works.
I appreciate the thorough review! I was wondering if there is any way to speed up the camera’s start up time? My friend has one and the start time to video is about 3-4 secs. The one I have takes the full 6 seconds. We compared settings and cameras and everything appears to be the same. The only difference is that I am using an iphone and he is using an android. Thanks!
Chan, as far as I know that is not possible to achieve.
Really nice review and this made me purchase my very own Xiaomi Yi. The guide you made helped me install the APP on my Iphone with no problem and also I was just in time for an update. The new update allows the LCD ring in the power button to blink when recording video so it should help the user know rather than the small LED light on top and on the back. 🙂 So far so good and the pictures and video from my beach trip were all superb even when faced in direct sunlight shots. The water proof housing works well same as with the go pro or sjcam counterparts. It would not best my cousins Go Pro Hero 4 but anything below that seems like Xiaomi did a number on. hehe
Hey Chester, thanks a lot, glad it was helpful and thanks for sharing your experience 🙂
which water proof housing are you using and where did you get it from ?
Hello, thanks for the awesome review! It’s nice that you really listed down things that should be considered individually. However, does it require WiFi every time you connect to your phone or tablet? Or can you change the settings through bluetooth pairing?
If you want to use the app, you must first turn on the WiFi on the camera and then enter the app and connect them. Pairing (such as entering password) is only required for the first time. I have not tried anything with Bluetooth so far.
Luke Murray says
The bluetooth is just for selfie sticks i think to take the picture.
Hi! Am deciding between this and sj4000 for travel needs.. might do some adventurous sports like parasailing or something but rarely..
as there is no screen on this xiaomi yi will there be any light indication that indicates ‘video-ing in progress’? Ive seen some video review whereby sj4000 videos seems to appear sharper but darker is it adjustable? will xiaomi yi do a better job in terms of videos and photo captures?
Depends what you want to do with your camera. In terms of photography YI wins. Video colors – Yi Wins. Video Sharpness – SJ4000 wins. I will soon do a video and article comparison between these two, probably by the end of the week.
You can compare this review and sample videos with the SJ4000 review I did.
Very nice and thourough review.
In regards of the sharpness, I also thought the same way with my unit. Do you think this is due to the miss-focus issue? I have the Z221xx batch, what is yours?
Will you try to fix it before doing the comparison?
I honestly do not know what to think. Some people reported that it can be fixed, others say its useless. More importantly people managed to break their camera by doing this. From a consumer point of view, I review products as it is. I will not be fixing anything, as this is Xiaomi job, not mine. There are tutorials where you can try to fix focusing issue, but do not try it if you are not confident, as things may get even worse.
After reading your excellent review, I bought one! It’s an amazing camera for the price. You are right, it is better than the SJ4000 and also the M10, and compares favourably with my Gopro 3 Silver. But I can’t seem to download the Android app. Your link like several others leads to a page with a logo (paper plane – Chinese writing and the number 500). But that’s it! Various other links get a “404” Not Found or won’t download. I’m in a bit of a state. Any ideas?
My phone is a Motorola.
BTW, if you are wanting to record concerts or performances, the Zoom Q4 produces a good picture but the audio is outstanding. There’s no other camera that can equal its audio. I’ve just used it to record a live performance in London of Dvoraks cello concerto, not official, but with permission. Present cost is £249 on Amazon.
Hope to post it on youtube shortly.
Thanks a lot. I am unable to replicate the issue you are having with the links. May you please tell me which links on this page give you a 404 error.
Regarding the app, the one I used is this one But it requires firmware upgrade.
Appreciate the tips about Zoom Q4, never had a chance to use it, might try in future.
This camera is advertized as a WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 camera and even the App has an “unregister Bluetooth devices” or similarly named option. However, I can’t find out how you connect a BT device and/or what devices are supported. Do you have any info on this?
By the way. Mine dropped in yesterday. So far it’s a supernice camera, even for action stuff. My only problem is a repeating little squeaky noise that gets recorded as well (like a 3G phone interference – WiFi maybe?). If that would get fixed somehow, I’d be more than satisfied given the price paid…
I have no info on Bluetooth. I assume its made for those BT controlled selfie sticks. I believe they will add more options in future, who knows. Try updating firmware and app, it is much better then it used to be.
Your review is fantastic. I fly quadcopter and was thinking of doing some aerial photography. So I am planning of getting the YI. Will it be a good choice?
Thanks. I have seen many people using YI for AP, but I am newbie in this field. So its the best to ask someone more experienced.
Thanks for a fantastic, comprehensive review! 🙂
As a result you’ve prompted us to start stocking the Yi Camera for quick delivery to the UK and Europe. Our stock starts to arrive 18th June.
We will only supply the YI with a waterproof housing AND a frame, this way it’s compatible with nearly anything else in our range.
Since you’ve tried all these cheap action cams, which do you think is the best to buy among the three : Yi cam, soocoo s60 or sj4000, when it comes to image and video quality.. Thanks!
I would go with either SJ4000 or YI depending on your needs. SooCoo is probably good for divers, but in terms of video an photo, YI or SJ4000. I will finish my comparison article between the two soon. There are many others to be tested. But I can tell you, do not delve to much on which one to get, they are in essence pretty similar, you are loosing precious time that you could have used to record videos instead.
Thanks for your excellent review.
What i need is to record videos and photos of my son’s daily activities during his childhood, and for some not extreme outdoor activities (car touring, hiking, and swimming-with shallow dive).
Will Yi be a good choice?
And, can you give me informations about size of the file Yi made?
1 minute recording @1080p60 = … MB file,
1 minute recording @1080p30 = … MB file, and so on…
Thanks. As I mentioned in the review, for those sort of activities it will be great camera. I found it very annoying for hiking though, but that does not mean you will have the same experience.
About file size, you can download sample footage, links are also in the review, so you can check out yourself, as I do not have any 1 min samples to compare.
I can not decide between this camera and SJ4000. I would need camera for recording some action, mostly road biking, maybe some paddling on the see. In terms of stabilisation of video recording what do you think which one is better?
Another feature is bike mount. As I understand your review the Xiaomi does not offer any mounts. So is then better to go with SJ4000?
Check back this blog in a day or two, there will be detailed head to head comparison of these two cameras.
None of these offers image stabilization. For the price, its hard to expect that. If stabilization is important, perhaps you can consider Sony AS100V or GoPro, but they are at least three time the price.
You get bike mount in package with SJ4000, Yi has no accessories in the box, but you can order it separately.
thanks for reply. Will wait for comparison post.
Hi again, pavle,
Thank for Your answer few days ago.
Finally, I got my Yi cam.
I’ve taken some photos and videos.
I got its photos are great.
But the videos, I found its sounds dominated by noises, too much hiss.
And the sound almost gone when I put Yi in waterproof case, even I took the videos while motorcycling in crowded road.
Any suggestion with that?
Note: I played the video in PC with 100% volume (PC and GOM Player).
Next, when I put SD card into PC, in the folder I found ’duplicate’ of my all video files.
Example: Video file named YDXJ0001.mp4, it has duplication video file named YDXJ0001_thm.mp4.
The duplicate files have smaller capacity (4-7% than the original file), and smaller video size while played (about 640×480 px).
Can I set Yi to not make ’duplicate’ video files?
Note: I have downloaded the latest firmware version.
Many thanks for Your helps and attentions.
Luke Murray says
The duplicate files, are the files you can preview via wifi as they are smaller and take less time to upload to your phone, tablet etc via wifi. You’re right about a minor hiss on the mic, i did notice that on mine (new firmware maybe sort it out). As for silence while in the case: Its waterproof, it has to be sealed completely, sound doesnt have a great chance of getting through much although some will. If you just want water resistant, maybe drill some holes in it near the mic area?
You may hear the hissing in this video of mine
Its very faint but IS there.
Ervin, since you already got a reply from Luke, I will only add : try to turn off the WiFi, maybe it is causing some sort of interference. If its more serious problem, try googling for his issue, I have seen some fixes on forums, cant remember where exactly. Though its always a risk.
You can avoid having duplicate files by using free Sony Memories app which imports video from PC.
thanks for this outstanding article!
I will appreciate your help trying to evaluate the compatibility of this product as a dashboard camera? I’m thinking about buying it for this purpose.
Do you think it will be able to handle the heat? And does a direct charging is possible (not through battery)?
Thank you very much!
Hi Carmel, for the sole purpose of dashcamera I would advise you to look for true dashcamera. This is not a car camera. It heats a lot and as for now does not have dashcam options. It is possible to charge it the way you want. Check this Site for true car cameras.
Thank you for your detailed review!! I really appreciate your time and effort, especially since the included instructions are pretty much worthless (like you pointed out :).
Thanks a lot Brian.
I appreciate your review and I liked it. Even I order the same camera from http://www.banggood.com, just received two days back. I am very new to this gadget. I just want to know that can I record a slow motion video directly though this camera or I need to edit it afterwards. Please help!!!!
Hi Taufik, slow motion has to be done in post processing.
Ivan Entusiasmado says
Thanks for the honest review. It is harder every day to find someone who is not biased. I want the xiami, but I don´t feel like buying the one without screen. Do you know if they are planning to sell one with the screen?
Thanks a lot Ivan. I really do not have information about such version. It sounds possible, but we can only do a blind guess at this point. If you feel like you need a screen, SJ4000 might be good option. Here is its full review and also comparison vs YI.
Great review!! I really found it thorough and helpful.
I had already ordered my Yi camera from banggood.com and it received a few days ago. Started shooting once I downloaded the IOS app and managed the settings. The video are sharp and the pictures are brilliant. The Yi is really is an amazing value. I hope they add some some image stabilization with future firmware updates. Video look great when Yi is stationary but once you go handheld little motions translate to a very shaking video. I can only image what they would like like if I put on bike or action style.
On another note, I need your assistance. I just noticed I get a blurred mark, right in the center of all my videos and pics today. It appears the lens has a tiny blemish/scratch on it. I want to reach Xiaomi’s Customer Service to see what the replacement options are. Will they send me a new lens or a camera? I tried Googling with no luck. Can you share their link or email? Thanks and keep up the good work.
Thanks for sharing your experience and for very kind comment. Its better to contact BangGood customer support first, since they are the vendors in this case. Of course, you can reach Xiaomi on this link.
First of all you have done a really good job reviewing all these action cameras and very precise and on spot.
I wanted to ask for your opinion as to which one to buy out of Sj4000, Sj5000 or XiaomiYi, I will be mostly using it for outdoor sports and stuff like that and although I prefer a Lcd screen to make things easy I was also a bit concerned when you said XiaomiYi performs slightly better than even Sj5000 ?
I would appreciate your response.
SJ5000 is overpriced for what it offers. I have not bought one, since its software is terrible. I would go with either SJ4000 or YI, depends what is your preference, you can view their comparison here.
Thank you for your reply, I am not sure if you already have a bad experience with Sjcam Sj5000 but so far from what I have seen from reviews it actually looks pretty impressive in terms of its video and picture quality, especially with more frames compared to Sj4000. I am basically looking for a decent video and picture camera, I like XiomiYi but as you mentioned how it takes so long to boot, no Lcd and some software issues is kind of deal breaker for me. I did came across negative reviews about Sj5000 and especially the Wifi glitches but overall from amazon and other sites reviews people are still preferring it over Sj4000 because of the quality. Therefore its confusing and on the other hand there’s Sj7000 (not sjcam) which looks good but not sure as it seems fake something. Which one should I really buy than? one more thing is Sj5000 plus really worth the extra money as it just have a bit better lens as 60p videos is just repetition of frames so that’s not really an improvement to me .
I already told you my opinion, if SJ5000 is good for you,then go get it, but it has software problems (no idea if they fixed them). You can take a look at newly released SJ4000+. I will review it in few days.
Thank you for your timely response, I tried browsing around and came to this conclusion that its actually Sj5000+ which is mostly unstable and is having software issues compared to Sj5000 Wifi which is more stable and have now been further supported by software update in March 2015 (if not mistaken). I would love to take a look at Sj 4000+ review by you but it seems that model is still in testing mode (Sjcam website) maybe a bit more wait before it can be shipped globally. I am just a bit worried about the sound quality of the Sj5000 some videos the sound is decent while other users complaining, hopefully it gets fixed in upcoming updates.
My Yi in on way to me! A query on bluetooth. .does it pair with the easily available ios and android bluetooth remotes?
I have not tested Blue Tooth, as mentioned in couple of previous comments. Yi released its own BT remote as far as I saw.
Looks like a cam for me, ordered already. But I wonder if this camera can serve as a webcam after connecting to PC, like SJ4000? Couldn’t find thi info so probably no, but I;m asking just to be clear.
PS Great review! 🙂
No, it can not be used as a webcam.
And I bought a xiaomi Yi camera and I tired to download the videos that I took on micro SD card to computer, there are always 2 videos saved. One with 1080p and one with lower one.
I don’t want the lower one to be saved on my SD card as it consumes the storage of the card and also it is annoying to delete the lower version on computer after downloading them.
Please let me know how I can change his setting.
Thank you in advance for your time and help!
Hi Takuya, it happens because smaller file is lower quality video for previewing on the phone/tablet. Imagine you would have to preview 1GB via the WifI, it would take forever. Instead these files are quicker for previewing via the app. I do not know if this is possible to turn off. I export all of my videos via the Sonny Memories software which exports only high res ones right away. Then I format the card.
Hi, i read the full photos review but i would like to ask, would you recomend this camera just for photos, my objective isnt videos, i would like to use to take pictures of travels, would you recomend this one or pay more for a gopro hero 4 silver(interrogation). I liked the pricetag of this camera, but i would not buy if it isnt good(i dont need a really professional pictures, just good pictures). I also would like to know about pictures at low light(if the sensor is good for that) and the time burst option, could i take a lot of time burst pictures and after(at night) choose the best shot, or i need to select it before take the next picture(question)
Its the best to download samples I have added and compare if that is good enough for you. It is decent for photography in my opinion. You can take up to 7 photos per second. I do not understand your last questions, please re-phrase it.
Can I took a photo with selfie stick? Has it some button to push when I want to make a photo? Or do I need to open mobile app every time, when I will want to take a photo? Thanks!
I think Xiaomi now sells Bluetooth remote shutter, check out if that’s what you want.
You can only use the cheap 3th party bluetooth selfie shutters thru the app so only the official remote can take photo/video without the app.
Hey, does anyone know a hack for “longer” videos without changing battery ?
And another question. Anyone got the battery life for timelapse mode ? I need a runntime of 12 to 16t hours on 2 pictures the minute. Is this possible ?
With video @1080p a 60fps the battery is down in round about 90 minutes if i am correct.
It really makes no sense what you are asking. You can not record without having some sort of power source for that long. End of story. Its like asking to drive a car without gas. If you are asking about external power sources, you can use power banks.
mhh maybe you misunderstood me. Of course I know that the battery has limited power. But i wanted to know how long the battery will last if i take a picture every 30 sec.
And the second question is if i can use a powerbank while the yi cam is still running.
Oh, okay, so I really do not know about 30 sec pictures and battery life, as I haven’t tested it. You can record or take photos while camera is connected to its power source, no matter what power source you use. Hope that helps.
Thanks, that solved it. So i will test it with a connected Powerbank, and try some videos over knight.
Got mine today, but the ordered micro SD is broken. Have to buy a new one tomorrow .
Thanks for this post and review. Really helped me. Hope the yi is as awesome as i think it is.
You are welcome, glad I could help. Let me know how it works.
Just wanted to offer a huge thanks for taking the time to review all this for us. It’s a tremendous help and I really appreciate what you are doing. Cheers!
Thanks a lot Jason, comments like this inspire and motivate me to keep pushing. Cheers!
Thanks for the excellent review. I have ordered Yi at 68 USD from Banggood, after reading your review….
I was comparing SJ4000 / Yi / Hero…
However, I would be using Yi as Dashcam, can you let me know how to use it as DashCam…. eg. it must start recording videos when we start the car, timelapse videos..
I also read a comment that as Dashcam. its not very good… can you let me know what features are missing..
Thanks in advance
Last time I checked, it did not have any dashcam specific functions. You can of course record while charging it via car adapter, but I noticed that YI overheats often. If you need a camera for your car only, then you should have bought a dash camera not an action camera, there is a difference, their purpose in not the same.
But if you want to use it occasionally for inside the car, just for fun, while its main purpose is something else, then I guess its okay.
In that case, let me check if they are ready to change the order to SJCAM SJ4000 instead of Yi, since the Primary use is to use it as DashCam.
Thanks for the reply
SJ4000 is action camera as well, but does have car feature. My suggestion is, you should look for dashcamera instead of action camera. Simple as that.
Final question – Do you suggest SJ4000 or Blackview Hero1 WIFI A7LS75?? since chipset in Hero1 seems to be better…
Pricewise, not much of difference.
None for particular dashcam use only. Hero 1 is better in terms of photo and video, but has annoying user experience. If you do not mind that, I would go with Hero 1. SJ4000 is much cheaper, nearly half the price though.
Check out my full reviews of SJ4000 and BW Hero 1 to see what works for you.
You said the cam “does not make a time-lapse video”. I think you are mistaken here, check again. There are several options on the app. I was able to use two different time-lapse modes on my Xiaomi Yi: (i) taking pictures at certain intervals as you described (result: many pictures) ; (ii) recording time-lapse video (result: a time-lapse video). I am not sure at the moment which firmware version I am using.
How long does the battery last on the Xiaomi Yi?
Does this camera have a limit to the length of video or can you record as long as your battery lasts?
In other words, does it have a limit of 30 minutes or can you record like 6 hours of video without having to press record every 30 minutes?
You response in this matter is highly appreciated.
I need to buy the camera in the next 6 hours as the special ends in 7 hours.
All the best and thanks for the comprehensive review of the camera.
Battery lasts around 150 min of continues recording. It all depends how aggressively you are using it. Camera recording has no limits. I recommend you to get a power bank or spare battery, its always good idea.
farhan Millat says
Your review was fantastic. The best one I found on the web
Thanks, glad you liked it.
Thanks Pavle for this review. The camera plus underwater housing for under $80 USD? Ridiculous! I’m in for a Xiaomi Yi. I’m not expecting it be better than my GoPro 4 Silver, but it will be a good supplement.
You are welcome Peter, glad you found it helpful. Looking forward to hearing how it works for you. Good luck.
Hello Pavle. I thought I’d share my experience. I got the camera and housing within 2 weeks from GearBest. I bought a 64bg PNY sd card and popped in it. I saw a firmware update via the phone app and tried it. It ended up bricking the camera. I learned the microsd card has to be in fat32 (not exfat). I found a solution on dashcamtalk to solve the bricking problem. I had to use a guiformat program to format the 64bg card to fat32, use the older firmware (from dashcamtalk) then update the 1.2.10 update OTA. Fortunately, I’m back in business. I will bring my GoPro Hero 4 Silver and Xiaomi Yi with me on vacation and let you know how it goes. I like action and will use mostly 720p at 120fps because slowing down footage is really nice. Hope this helps your readers or any unlucky sap who experiences the problem with bricking their new camera.
Awesome Guides Peter. Thanks for posting this, I am sure it will help people a lot. Looking forward to hearing back from you again. Good luck and have a nice holiday. 🙂
I am new to this, can someone help me understand how is the AV Output works on Quad-Copter. I do have the latest firmware.
You will need this cable:
Or any micro USB cable with AV cables and power cables separated, so you can put them towards the battery and the quads Rx.
Hope this helps.
Shipping to US East Coast totaled 3 weeks for the accessory package, and 4 weeks for the camera (in my case).
Zdravo, Pavle, ovde tvoj imenjak, samo iz Makedonije.
For the rest of the public to understand us, I will continue on English.
I got my camera from GeekBuying and it was around $140 with a lot of accessories: waterproof case, 2 extra batteries, selfie stick (not BT), box of mounts (at least 12 of them), windshield mount, non waterproof open face case (if you want a full sound recording), lens cap, AV out cable, extra tripod mounts (for my goPro 1), battery charger for 2 batteries, gel plastic case (like for the smartphones).
I like the videos and the quality. I was using on my helmet, while riding my motorcycle, with 1980 res on 60fps. What I have found weird is that the life of these batteries are quite short. I got 53.5 minutes of recording. I may have my WiFi on, which is why I am testing it out with continuous recording without WiFi on 1280 res with 60fps. Another thing I have notices is that I get files of 10.3Gb (10 mins and 35 secs), in the card folder (no dupes). That is not a problem, and I am not sure if that can be changed for smaller or bigger files. I have class 10 64Gb card from PNY ($27) and no issues on the recordings.
I am not sure if the lens rectification has anything to do with the life of the battery, since the videos are being cropped as recorded, but that might be easily tested.
One concern that I have noticed while looking at the recordings, is that while in the waterproof case, the camera probably got a bit warmer, so after 20-25 mins of running it started steaming the lens of the case, so the videos are looking foggy. That is something that could and will bother me if happens all the time. I have noticed that after I had changed the battery, the fogginess disappeared, which led me to the conclusion about the heat and the foggy videos. Luckily, with the other battery, all 43 minutes are fog free.
OK, my camera just finished the test run on 1280 res/60fps without WiFi. Here is what I have found: total recording time 95 mins, 4x2Gb files, each holding 23 mins, and 5th file with 3 mins recorded. Not greatest, but if I knew, I would have ordered couple more than the three I have now (they were like $6.5 each). Nice thing is they charge fast, too, so if you use a power brick with the charger, it should work for longer trips. All I need to remember is to replace the battery every hour or hour and half (depends on the resolution). I will look weird with the power brick attached to a camera on top of my helmet, anyway, 🙂
At the end, great job on the review.
Take care and keep up with good work.
Thanks for sharing your experience Pavle!
Thanks for this article, it such a great article to read and understand more about the Xiaomi Yi.
Anyway I want to ask about foggy waterproof case.
I got a foggy problem with both Kingma and Original Xiaomi Yi waterproof case at the lense area. So this cause foggy video. Are the waterproof cases not seal properly? Or the camera has the higher temperature compare to the other? From the above what battery you have changed that successfully free from fogging?
I am not a diver, so not really sure. You can try with anti fog inserts to see if that helps.
Wonderful blog and nice idea behind creation of this blog. I think in future your blog will be even more popular. I can only see more affordable action cams hitting the market.
Coming to the subject, I am from India. Here I am finding Xiaomi Yi at very affordable rates (albeit without warranty). SJCAMs (which might be without warranty too) are available too but weirdly some chinese brand become more expensive here in India and same is the case with SJCAM. The authentic 4000 Wi Fi is at least costing double the amount Xiaomi Yi is costing ($82 vs $160). I think I can live without the screen on Xiaomi. My main purpose is that to use the camera when I am traveling. I typically travel by local buses when I am going to mountains or remote places. Sometimes I would like to capture footage from the window of scenery outside from the bus. I have a DSLR. I can do it with that. But it could become pain to keep holding it. That is the reason I want to purchase Xiaomi Yi. Not to forget, I also go to weekend outings. Instead of carrying bulky bags, Yi can be a nice little alternative which could fit in my pocket.
My main concern however is that Yi at least currently doesn’t allow custom controls of things such as ISO or White Balance. White balance could be a relief because if I am shooting videos using multiple cameras like from DSLR and action cam then I can set both of White Balance to same or at least similar. This can make life in the post production easier but still since I am a part time video editor, I think I can work with it? yet I am having double thoughts on whether to go for Yi or go for SJCAM. I am hoping that in future Xiaomi come up with this update. Such update will be MASSIVE. and can seriously even compete with later GoPro Hero such as 2 or 3. I read one post on dashcam talk forum where a user said that White Balance settings are part of SDK from Xiaomi. so lets keep the fingers crossed.
Accessories are another thing. Another question I have, if I have an existing handheld stabilizer or a tripod, can I mount Yi on them easily or there is different mount for them as well? Sorry if this question sounds stupid.
I would also appreciate your advice on which one do you think I should buy.
Thanks for the kind words Noor. Appreciate it!
As far as YI vs SJ4000 is concerned, you can read this post.
All your questions are answered there.
If the price is a concern to you try Amazon, eBay and especially GearBest (they do free worldwide shipping and have lowest prices).
Everything with a standard 1/4 inch screw will fit YI immediately, as it has a mounting whole at a bottom.
Hope that helps.
Thanks much Pavle. Why do people say that the standard GoPro mounts won’t fit Xiaomi Yi though? What is the difference there?
P.S. Thanks for gearbest recommendation. Very similar prices to banggood.com
Prices are very good but I have too see how much customs will charge me for it. Maybe I should buy a camera from here and then order accessories from gearbest. There will be less/no customs duty on accessories i think.
No idea which mounts wont fit, probably they are referring to brackets, waterproof case, etc, which of course are different for most of the cameras anyway.
all congratulations for impressive review.
I also own a few days ago yi camera. I set the camera as in your settings but I have some doubts!
1. Some video files can not open, why? (I use Transcend Premium 300x, 32GB, writing 11 MByte / s, reading 17.6 MByte / s)
2. While the camera in my hand and moving with it or move to the left to the right in the video it manifested as a shift, shear, twitching image Video! Is this normal? Or is it because the camera does not stabilize? Although, on your video did not notice that picture so to speak, shake! Or should gently?
Installed the latest update for the camera!
Did I get the right camera? Or I expect too much from it!
Smaller files (lower quality) ones are made for previewing via the app, to make previewing faster. Those same files exist in better quality and can be viewed on your PC. Make sure to have proper video player on your PC. Either VLC or Quicktime if you are on Mac.
Camera has no video stabilization. If you need camera with built in stabilization, be prepared to pay at least three times the YI price.
thanks to rapid response. Smaller files are ok, these at higher resolutions a couple of them have not been able to open, but today I had no problem to open video files shorter and longer than 20min. I’ll see how it will be later. Maybe it’s the latest software installation or because of formatting micro card.
Too bad there is no video stabilization. Perhaps to minimize shake when the camera is rigged on a monopod or something!
does your Yi camera get warm during charging or during shooting? And does your camera plastic ring around the lens is shifted to the left in millimeter as my?
Whay is video stoping after 10 or 15 sec and than i have to start it againe? Battery is full micro sd is only on 50%. Iam doing it without phone app.
For some reason I can not set that the video displays the date and time?
If it is no secret which software do you use for assemblying the video?
Yes, Xiaomi Yi overheats after extensive use. I do not have problem with the plastic ring you mentioned. Make sure that Loop recording is turned off, that is probably why you have shorter clips. Time stamp can be set inside the app. All these things are already mentioned in the article and plenty of comments above. 🙂
I use Adobe Premier Pro. Its not free though.
Loop recording is turned off and againe short first videos! I don t know why! Someone say problem is micro sd card.
And simply Thanks!!!
Pavle hi againe. Is this one sd card like your amazon.com/Sony-Memory-SF64UY2-TQ-VERSION/dp/B00X140B06/
and you by it there?
I have the MicroSDHC class 10, 45bs, this one seams to be 90mbs which is faster and better.
For YI (or any similar) you do not need to think too much or invest much, just get MicroSD or SDHC class 10 by reputable brand. (Samsung, Sony, Scan Disc, Kingston, Transcendent etc). I personally use Transcendent, Sony and Samsung cards, never had a single issue.
Mine is transcend MicroSDHC class 10, 45bs , but real about 11 write speed and 17 18 read speed! on some other place a read that problems with short videos is becouse of slow write speed micro sd card. And i always have short videos!
Chaitanya s says
Very good review. I am from India .I want to purchase action camera for shooting videos while I am on my Motorcycle. Please guide
shahrukh sayyed says
I have bought Xiaomi yi Action Camera a week ago. i have a 16 GB class 10 Sandisk Memory card attached with it. I recorded some videos yesterday using Xiaomi app. Now i transferred all the videos to my PC. But, i cannot play it. Neither VLC nor Quicktime player. It shows the error,
VLC: “Unidentified codec: VLC could not identify the audio or video codec”
Quicktime: “Could not open as it is not a File that Quicktime can understand ”
Please, Tell me what should i do now. I need those videos.
Make sure you transferred proper videos (bigger size) and not the smaller ones, as smaller are for app-preview only. Check your folders one more time, if problem persist its probably your PC problem, but you should contact manufacturer or retailer for support.
Aviran Nachmani says
Dear Members ,
Can anyone tell me which memory micro sd card should i buy?
How about taking a look at the article? Under Memory card headline.
I really liked your review , it is very informative for the new users and also for those who are planning to buy this cam.
It’s been few weeks with camera , I’m also noticing the video is less sharper at 60fps, and don’t know why when I replay video on my PC it doesn’t play smoothly. However it plays better on my MacBook Pro but not as smooth as your sample videos. I’m using lexer class 10 32GB card. Any suggestions and tips to improve the video recording and replay?
As mentioned in a review and some comments, that is a focus issue. You can try to fix it manually, but if you have no idea what you are doing its better to leave it that way.
Thank You so much for the prompt response , I will try to fix it.
So I ordered Xiaomi Yi from gearbest.com. I don’t know how long but I am expecting at least 40 days. After 45 days, I will be going on a trip. Well there’s a slim chance of it reaching within time but I do hope it does reach before I leave on trip
I have another question. I actually bought 2 x Class 4 32 GB Micro SD cards for SanDisk Sansa mp3 player which is having battery issues and hence these two cards are lying unused. So I was thinking maybe to use these two Class 4 cards with Xiaomi Yi. Do you think that is a good idea? I will obviously not be shooting videos of length say more than 3-4 minutes at one time and rest will be timelapse photos. So yeah would love to hear your thoughts.
ScanDisc are OK memory cards, and they will work with YI, but manufacturer recommends at least class 10. Test it out and if it works for you.
But there is a reason why they recommend faster cards.
I actually ended up ordering two pairs of Class 10 any way since we were getting discount on local website due to independence day lol
I will regardless test my class 4 cards as well.
Why don’t you use NTSC for more frames? Better quality IMHO.
thanks for the awesome review. I think the camera is exactly for me, yet I have two questions:
– do you know how the camera performs in places like clubs or concerts where there’s not that much light around ? I was wondering if the photo/video can capture anything in these environments.
– where did you get the camera from ? I’m from Czech rep. and the camera costs around 125$ here, which is a bit too much in my opinion.
Thanks for the reply
I would say its decent in low-light. But if you need professional footage of clubs or concerts, you do need a professional camcorder, which are ten times as expensive at least.
I bought mine from GearBest. You have links in the description, 125$ is way too much, on GB its cca 69$ with worldwide free shipping.
Dude..i know English is not your mother-tounge language so neither mine, but i’d like to suggest you to use “then” and “than” correctly. They both are difference. I am Indonesian, i have travelled the world more than you since child and i speak many foreign languages more than you but then i like this honest review aboit Xiaomi Yo. (Just one of an example for using correct “then” and “than”).
Anyway it is better than polaroid cube action camera. This Xiaomi Yi has wifi to connect to smartphone for controlling and uses Sony Exmor sensor. Xiamo Yi has 155° wide-angle while Polaroid Cube has only 124° wide-angle lens, that’s a lot of difference yet Polaroid Cube has no wifi and only 32GB memory micro SD slot capacity while Xiaomi Yi has twice; 64GB micro SD slot. Pentax also use Sony sensors.
You are whining about my grammar mistakes, but have you read your comment? Seriously. And what does traveling across the world have to do with an action camera and grammar?
I had to read your paragraph 3 times before realizing what it is that you want to say, and when I finally understood it, I regret wasting my time trying to decrypt it.
Appreciate your concern and comment, but you have to examine your own knowledge before trying to be a smart ass.
can i know between xiaomi and sj5000. which one should i buy?
YI for sure.
Excellent review Pavle. I watched your video too and it helped me out a lot.
I have bought the camera and I am awaiting delivery from GearBest.com
I have a few questions if you don’t mind answering 🙂
1.What is the reason for formatting the SD card as FAT32?
2. I have purchased a Samsung Evo class 10 32GB SD card along with the camera. How long can I record at 1080p 30fps?
3.I bought the white version so is there any chance of it getting dirty etc.?
4. How do I spot if my lens is out of focus?
5. I’ve seen a review on YouTube where a guy uses a Coca Cola bottle cap as a lens cover. Is this safe and can you try it out for me as I don’t have the camera yet?
Thanks and excellent review as always. 🙂
1. I format my cards in cameras, therefore I am always sure its formatted the right way.
2. I do not know, it always depends on fw and bunch of other things. Check sample videos I put and do your own calculation, it will be approximate however.
3. Don’t have a white version, but with proper cleaning it should be OK.
4. Video will be less sharper in long distance, there are tons of tutorials on how to fix it on YT.
5. I have seen this as well. Buy 2$ lens cap instead, much better.
I wouldn’t say you have to use pal for Europe in this case. It would even be better to use 60 fps instead of 50 because your monitor is probably 60hz anyways (fps synced with the refresh rate=no slight stutter). Also, you said the videos were only ~11 Mbps (you have a typo there saying they are 11 000 Mbps, instead of Kbps) yet all your sample videos are about 25 Mbps. Maybe an error in your measurement? The format profile is Main which also is a little disappointing by not being High. The audio bitrate at just 128 Kbps AAC is a bit on the low side too. I’m not too keen getting this myself because of the focussing issue but it looks like a good package overall. Thanks for the in depth review. We need more of those around!
Kind regards, Paskahousu
Thanks Paskahousu. Of course, it is not required, you can use either. I will soon update the article and add more info, since the firmware updates changed few things here and there. Focus fix can be applied manually, there are lots of videos on YouTube on how to do it. Appreciate your comment.
Good job. But I have got some remarks.
ST High Performance 3-Axis G-sensor – what it is for? As I understood Yi does not have auto flip feature? Does that means auto flip have to be added at some point with firmware upgrade?
Need for additional accessories – it is true for goPro as well, it not what makes Yi worse choice.
Did you try Loop function? As you describe it really sounds ridiculous. But it could be a killer feature if continuously loops not full SD card but a little buffer (say 10 sec). U could shoot event after it occured!
G-sensor detects shake, its a feature for dashcameras. There is image flip. I am comparing this cameras to other Chinese cameras similar price range, so it does lack accessories for its price. Loop function does what I explained already. The article will be updated soon with more info, since the firmware change slightly.
I am using it for recording the surgeries.I am not able to zoom to see the details.I know this is an action camera and preferable would be wide angle rather than narrow.
Can somehow zoom in be done
Using software or lenses.
Certainly not, camera has no optical zoom, and even if you zoom it in via the software (which is possible) it would look terrible. Its just not possible with an action camera.
Great review! However.. I’m very curious to you sample videos. The link you gave doesn’t exist anymore. Would like to download them, because I know that youtube messes up and compresses the uploaded videos.
I have checked and all of the links are working just fine. Perhaps you can try again?
Just wondering why every video I record produces 2 video files on the sd card? Or do I have something set up wrong?
Jim, this question has been asked few times in comments already. There are two type of the same videos on your SD card. Smaller size ones – they are tiny low quality videos that have complicated format and can be only pliaed in the phone app. This kind of compression enables faster video rendering when playing it on the phone for instance. However, true videos are larger files and I am sure they can be played on your computer, unlike the smaller files which are meant only to be used with a phone app.
First of all, awesome review! Really love how detailed and unbiased you went with it in your article. One question. Are there any other action cam that is as (or almost) good as a GoPro? If there are a few, can you list it down from the best to the least good one. Thanks man!
Cameras rated by money/quality ratio can be seen in the right hand sidebar on any article, page or blog.
I really enjoyed reading your review. I wanted to get a xiaomi yi and I was doing a bit of research. So far this is the best review I have read. The only thing that I mind about the camera is the lack of a screen. Now that I have read your review, I know that I still have to buy gear for more active activities and that it is a bit slow. I hope you keep on making reviews of other action cameras.
Thanks a lot for your kind comment Cydude, appreciate it. These kind of comments keep me going for sure!
Glenn Thomas says
Does anyone else have problem with playback from Yi -cam? I have win 10 and can’t get any player to play back video, always gives error “can’t play or unrecognized format”
even though it says files are .mp4
Thomas, you are probably playing smaller sized file? If so that one is meant to be played via the app only. If you have problems with all of your videos, change your micro sd card, it might be broken.
How about battery standby time?
Not sure what you mean by this. If you mean battery drain while on standby it appears that issue has been fixed.
I just bought xiaomi yi,
May i know how to detect wether my xiaomi yi cam are fake or original? (Sorry for my english tho)
I never heard of the issue with fake Xiaomi YI. Is there any particular reason why you suspect its not genuine?
I heard that sjcam have many fake cam. So, im afraid that xiaomi yi have the fake one too. Im really sorry for my english. Btw, great review. It really help me a lot. Thanks for reply tho…
Honestly, this is the best review i had in other language (i’m indonesian btw) i was actually doing some research by reading some review from xiaomi yi user. And i think your review is the most accurate from all of review i had read. But i think you forgot one thing, its audio quality. My xiaomi yi camera is on shipping right now and i can’t wait to test it. Very nice review Mr. Pavle.
Thanks a lot for your kind words Lukman. You are right I did not pay a lot of attention to audio in this review, but there is a audio test compered to other camera in this article.
hi there, so far I have used 1080p 60fps for all my videos with Wifi off and the battery can last from 40 min to 60 min at maximum. Is this normal?
You said 1080p 30fps u can record for 2 hours with wifi on and that is pretty good
Battery life depend on few factors, but indeed its lengthier in 30fps, I haven’t preformed serious tests in 60fps, as 30 frames is enough for my needs.
Amazing review! Lots of information and great comparisons against other products. By far the most detailed I have found.
Somewhere in the review you say an update now allows 2k resolution. Is that much better than the 1080p? Those it really have any use? Does it work well?
Thanks in advance for your answer…
Thanks a lot Armando. In my experience, there is no difference, I use 1080p, be aware that 2K does not have 60fps.
So you are saying that if the quality of the video and the bitrate were higher the xiaomi would be a gopro killer??
What about fixing the problem with the focus (well known issue with the xiaomi yi) in order to sharpen images and add a small script to get 40 or 50 mbps of bitrate?
Well, i did those mod to my baby and im telling you there is nothing to envy to the gopro hero 4!!
Have a look for yourself:
Nope I never said that, you obviously made your own conclusions. It has a long way to go. But they are on a right track.
Ajay praakash says
what is the focus range of this cam ? i need to fix the out of focus issue , but not sure how far to keep a object and focus on it ?
For me it will be failure as an action cam. Action cameras should be aerodynamic as e.g. Drift Stealth. Only then they don’t distract rider when are mounted on the helmet. Such boxes are not a good solution.
Great review! I would like to know your opinion. Im a soccer coach and I would like to record some video plays of my team will it be helpful to buy this cam for this kind of things or would you recommend me another camera with better specs?
Eric, I think it will be good for it. Action cameras are great for that, especially if you want to attach it to yourself while recording, but you can always leave it on a tripod.
Thanks for your great review on Xiaomi Yi.
I like to get one of this but is there any other site that I can get this product besides gearbest?
Gearbest has lack of interesting on helping customers. Last time when I ordered using gearbest, i found missing items from the delivered package. But it took almost a week until I finally get some of their response towards my complaint. Because there were no phonecalls available, 24/7 live chat never worked, and took a while until they respond to the ticket.
Thanks Kevin, GearBest is the cheapest, but there are some on Amazon (link) as well.
Very nice review!!!I want to buy one from gearbest,but it doesn’t ship where i am.So i choose tinydeal as an alternative for it can ship where i live,but it bothers me that i don’t know if the yi action camera on tinydeal is legit.
I just bought a Yi and have been playing around with it. Took some video at 1080p 60fps, but when I play them back in VLC using the frame by frame button, the image only changes every 2 clicks… sooo it’s running at 30fps and doubling the frames.
You mention that the Yi will record in true 60fps?
Maybe I got an old model or something?
Thanks for the review, read the whole thing before I bought it. Just planning on doing casual travel filming. Definitely going to keep it or maybe gift it to my gf and pony up the cash for a GoPro.
I think I figured it out. Does the auto low light mode switch it to doubled frames? I would start off in a dark area doubled and then it would switch to full 60fps when I moved to a bright part of the room. Disabled auto low light and it’s no longer doubling.
I came across this camera for the first time, the features and price excite
I have couple of questions though. Since this doesn’t have flash it means i can not use it in any low light / night situations.
Secondly, i dont see any lens / lcd to see the shot I am taking. Even at the back there is no slot for eye. How do you see the shot you are taking? Pretty sure its not a guessing game
Aly, this is meant to be an action camera, not a point and shoot camcoder, dslr or anything else. It is meant to be used without flash and with no optical viewfinder. You can see what you are recording through the app on your phone, as mentioned few times in the comments and article itself. There are other cameras that have LCD at the back/
You mentioned it supports up to 64Gb card. Works just fine with mine 128Gb MicroSDXC
Thanks for the input. Official specs claim 64gb, but indeed some higher capacity cards can be formatted in a way to be supported, however I have not tested them.
Please put comment area at top so people don’t have to scroll down to the bottom.
. What editing software can I use?
. What is difference between WiFi and Bluetooth features?
1. Whichever you want, it has nothing to do with a camera, no limits or whatsoever.
2. WiFi is for the app, Bluetooth is for remote controller.
1. Thank you for introducing me to this camera. I have a feeling it’s the one I’m looking for. When I make my final decision does it make any difference if I click to Amazon through your site versus just going to Amazon directly? I mean, do you benefit in any way if I click on the seller’s button. If you do accrue any benefit I will make a point to come to your site first when I finally make my purchase.
One question: please forgive my ignorance but after reading the review I’m still unsure what going on with Image Stabilization. Does it have any Image Stabilization at all? Maybe for Video but not for Stills or vice versa?
Glad you found it useful. Make sure to check YI Virtual Tour to understand the camera better.
Some of the links in the article are affiliate, which means website will earn tiny percentage from your purchase, which I use to cover operational costs of the site and buy new products to review. This does not affect your final price. Price stays the same for you. Thanks for that.
Camera has no optical nor digital stabilization, its hard to expect that at this price range. You can read more on stabilization in general on Wikipedia.
Hope that helps.
Dev Martin says
This is an excellent review. I have bookmarked it in hopes Chrome will resurface it when I need it. I would say that there wouldn’t be too many paid Xiaomi reviews in English. They aren’t marketing in English-speaking countries and Engadget said they refused to even send a review sample. They borrowed theirs from Gear Best for their review. I do like your review though. Great work.
At the time camera was released there were so many PR releases and articles made by people who have not spend a day with the camera, that I assume they were paid to do a review/video with one goal – create a hype.
Glad to know some sites do not do that. Even more glad that you enjoyed the review. Thanks a lot.
Thanks for your great reviews! Is there a way to have a 16mp picture taken (for example every 10 seconds) while recording a movie? And another question, does the camera need to be already switched on to be able to connect to it with your smartphone?
And a last question, you say the video is not very sharp, can this be due to the out of focus problem with the lens many people are complaining about?
1. Do you mean photo in video? I am afraid not. (You can see all settings that camera has in this virtual manual I made).
2. Camera needs to be turned on in order to turn on the WiFi, which must be triggered from the camera, by pressing WiFi button.
3. Yes, probably.
Thanks for the quick reply! I was going trough the virtual maual indeed, I hoped I missed the option I asked about :). So the camera is sleeping until you turn it on with your telephone-app, just like a GoPro?
I am not quite sure what you mean. The process of turning the WiFi is this : Turn on the camera, press the tiny WiFi button, enter the app on your phone and you can change settings or operate the camera remotely. If you ask if camera needs an app in order to take photos/videos, answer is no. It can work without the app for some basic operation.
Sorry for the confusion. I need the camera for an experiment where I cannot physically access the camera anymore, so I cannot turn on the camera and press the wifi button. You can really turn on/off a GoPro with the telephone-app without having to touch the physical buttons on the GoPro, I was curious if the Yi has this option too.
Hope this is more clear :)!
Yes, that is more clear. As I said WiFi has to be turned on via the button on the camera manually. Hope that answers your question.
Thanks for the answer! Would it be a problem if I turn the camera on, turn on the wifi and connect to it with my phone for example a day later? Or do you know cameras of comparable quality (and price) which you can turn on with a telephone app just like a GoPro?
That would require something like external power supply or a power bank. I do not think these cameras are made to be on 24h, though in theory it is possible. I am not aware of any camera that can meet your requirements, sorry.
Thanks for this article, it such a great article for me (I’m totally a newbie in photography, camera technology etc), this blog is very clear and easy to understand 🙂
anyway I want to ask one thing,
If I buy a new brand of Xiaomi Yi, and I don’t have any memory card, what would happen? Can I shot a picture from my phone, and save it directly to my phone gallery?
Or there’s no way it will work, so I must buy a new memory card for my new Xiaomi Yi?
Thanks, so glad you enjoying the blog. Very interesting question. I just tried it and it is not possible, because camera first saves images/videos to microsd card and than you can download those same files to your phone. So you certainly need a memory card. In theory in order that to be possible, camera would have to have an internal storage.
So, I strongly recommend you to get an microsd memory card of class 10 of reputable brand (Samsung, Sony, Transcendent, etc). Hope that helps.
If you are a YI beginner, take a look at this guide.
First of all, awesome review but i could’t find any info about sound quality and recording music is it possible for you to check out this part too!
Unfortunately I do not go to concerts and such events, so its impossible to make such test for me. However I have tested YI close to a loud speaker on one occasion and it was absolute crap, so I do not think its good enough for loud music.
Hi. This may be a stupid question, but can you sync the app and your Xiaomi Yi in a non wifi zone?
Does the wifi adapter act as a “bluetooth connector” or do you have to be connected to a wifi network in order to change settings.
Thanks a lot, great reviews!
Camera has a built in WiFI so it will have it everywhere. Works similar to Bluetooth. Its not like you can connect to browse the web with it, just control camera remotely via the app. To answer your question, it can work where there is no WiFi connection, because it does not need any sort of WiFi, it has one on its own.
That’s exactly what I wanted to here. Thanks a lot Pavle. Great lad!
Hi great review!
I’m looking for cheap action camera that I can use every so often, no often enough to warrant a GoPro and nothing too serious, festivals, car drives, running that kinda thing to upload to You Tube. Is this the camera for me?
Kenny, I think that YI can be pretty good choice for your needs.
Thank you for an excellent review, especially the updates you have made! I plan to use this for whitewater, mounted on my helmet (with the waterproof case of course). Since I don’t need outstanding quality, I believe it will be OK. Image stabilization would be a big thing, but in this price range, it doesn’t sound like I am going to get it.
Hello, quite an informative review, i liked it!
Me and the gf are heading to australia and figured we would do some scuba diving and perhaps make a small trip to Boracay, Philippines and try out Parasailing, Jet skiing and such, other than that i don’t belive we’ll be doing anything crazy, Would this “action camera” be suffient to capture these memories?
Patricio, as I said in the video, it is the best low-budget value for the money camera. Its not perfect, but I think it can fulfill your needs, provided your expectations are realistic.
Happy holidays to you as well and I envy you on going to such amazing trip. Have a good one!
Thanks for putting all these info. They are really very helpful. I am wondering if this xiaomi yi cam will be useful for clay shooting or similar sports where it is hard for naked eyes to see where you missed and where it will be very helpful to have a good enough camera mounted on your head to capture the action then immediately replay on cellphone to see where you missed so you can try to do better on next attempt? Most people say 240 fps is good enough and this seems to be the only one that can do 240 fps. Any thoughts?
Thanks in advance and best regards.
I do not think so, action cameras just are not that good with such long range, you probably need something that can actually zoom in and out, action cameras have fixed focus, meaning they can not zoom in nor out.
Thanks Pavle. That’s a good point. Looking at some youtube videos, it seems at least 4X zoom will be needed to be able to see better.
Ray C says
I fly a quad where the 2.4GHz is shared by the camera and the quad. I turn off the Wi-Fi in the camera so there are no interference problems causing a crash. When I do this the camera quit taking pictures. Does the photo mode resort to normal mode when the Wi-Fi is off?
Hello, nice review but you forgot to tell us about the gopro 4 which does not have an image stabilisation, a four times cheaper camera is less likely to have.
You say is not an action camera because you change the setting only with the app. For ex. if i run my mountain bike downhill and i want to change the settings of my gopro 4 from my helmet, i have to stop, or to slowdown and use the gopro app. This means gopro is not an action cam?
Thank you 🙂
Thanks, but you are pulling words out of context. Main reason Yi is hard to use in an extreme situation is because it is slow when turning on – recording right away and inability to distinguish between different modes while you are on a go.
Dont get me wrong i like your review very much, i know it has a pretty long time for boot, but for such a good quality is not a big deal. I have gopro hero hd and gopro hero 3 black and the quality of xiaomi si even equal with gopro 3. When i fly my quad i prefer not to crash with 300$ camera.
P.S. when you dont want to slowdown your video in post production is better to shot 25fps, because camera need less light for that (1 stop)
Happy new year!!! 🙂
No worries, I understood what you wanted to say. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your tips.
Happy New Year to you as well.
Can I just say, THANKS! for such an in depth and well written review! It’s cemented my decision on buying one for when i go on holiday in a few weeks time! Cheers!
Is there a feature like in gopro wherein you’ll know if it’s currently or still taking a shot?
Yes, there is a sound and LED light. You can see all functions by using this animated guide https://pevly.com/virtual-tour-xiaomi-yi/
Hi, does it have a time/date stamp option when shooting videos or photos? If not do any of the go pro’s have this option? Thank you in advance
Yes it has time-stamp, it can be set inside the app.
Tkanks for very nice review.
One thing I don’t understand is the length of source material in timelaps video mode. If I want 6s output video in 60 fps I need 360 photos to be taken. If in every second there are 2 photos taken ( interval 0.5s) the source video should be 360/2=180s long but it is 90s. I am not sure if my calculations are ok?
It’s explained in the article already.
Hi, Thanks for the detailed article. I also check your other articles. Very helpful. I’m just into drones and going to mount an action cam. I cannot decide between Xiaomi Yi and Gitup Git2. Do you have any recommendation?
Thanks in advance
Uh, I am not into aerial photography at all. I am currently testing Git 2, and I believe that pros of it compared to Yi are screen and external mic, but in specs they are the same. Since I have not done any side by side, I can not tell you for sure, but YI appears to be more cost effective, as you probably do not need a screen and external mic for quad-copter.
Do you keep the battery inside after use or take it out after each use?
I keep mine inside.
I have read your review before I brought the xiaomi yi over the sj4000 or the sj10. However when I buy from Aliexpress it indicate on the product spec the 100% original xiaomi yi have optical zoom 10x-20x, but when I got the product I don’t see any zooming feature available in the apps? is it available or do not have zooming but sj4000 have 4x zooming correct? the sj4000 zooming is it via apps control or from the camera itself?
While upgrading the firmware , the apps show updating …… status & it will auto shutdown but after more than 30min I still see updating ….. status so I switch to home menu & later could not go back to see if it is finish updating, so how to see if I have successfully upgraded the firmware, what is the latest firmware version? my current version is 1.2.13, is this the factory default version?
Camera has no digital zoom. Probably an error in description. SJ4000 has 4x digital zoom. Make sure to read what is digital zoom before you buy camera, especially if that feature is important to you. All action cameras have fixed focus lenses and can not zoom optically. On SJ4000 you can zoom in by pressing arrows up and down on the camera.
As for update, you would have to contact customer support. You can follow instructions here. There are many tutorials on YouTube and on forums.
Good budget camera if you buy it from gearbest but i’ve found tons of Negative reviews
and few good reviews not sure what i should do!
thanks for the review keep it up
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a detailed review. Maybe you can answer a question about the file sizes for me. I know this camera has dual file recording. So, it produces a duplicate, smaller file size along with the original large file size.
Is that smaller file size only allowed for previewing within the app? Or can you use that smaller file size for faster sharing/faster uploading? How much smaller – percentage wise is the smaller file size compared to the larger one?
I am about to purchase via the link you have on your review, but need to know the answer to this question first.
Thanks so much for your help!
I really do not know if it can be used for anything else, never tried it as I always delete them right away. Sorry.
Its completely useless and I am not even sure if it can be uploaded anywhere, I do not think so. Just stick with normal files.
First of all nice entry btw, before this i had a hard choice to choose either Yicam or Sjcam but after reading your blog. I have made my choice to choose Yicam instead bcs of the quality. I am having a problem with camera. Why does a strip appear in my photo? it’s like TV static. Hope you can help me with my problem here. Thank you in advance.
Miles Odonnol says
My niece just gave the XiaoMi Sports Cam!
Thanks for the excellent article; it is going to serve me as a manual. I can read a little Chinese, but no where what’s needed, so I appreciate this.
Does the Yi camera allows app (phone) connection using Bluetooth instead? It would be really inconvenient when travelling outside the country and I can’t tweak the settings through my phone or preview any of my videos when wifi isn’t available.
Camera has internal WiFi, so it’s always available.
Good to know, thanks Pavle!
Hi there, Someone gave me one of these Xiaomi Yi cameras (used). Does it have a password on it from the previous owner that I need to know? Thanks so much for your detailed review and instructions!
I’ve got a large battery for Xiaomi Yi cam (You seem to have the same), but (probably due to vibration on my motorcycle) wires are unsoldered inside it.
Could you take a picture of the inside, in order to repair it ? (I particulary need to know where wires go)
I have a question about the burst mode: for how long can it keep the 7fps?
I have tried a few cameras and they all do it for about 5 seconds (at their max fps), then continue with about 1fps.
You mention as a more extreme or action oriented camera it could be frustrating to use. Can you elaborate anymore?
I’m looking for a reasonably priced camera to record off road motorcycle races (hare scrambles). Typically 1.5-2 hrs long so I realize I will likely need the 2400 backpack battery or powerbank. Would likely shoot 1080@ 30 fps all the time.
Thanks and excellent review. Bookmarked for future reference.
How large of a card would I need to get me through exhausting the battery from full charge? Guessing might run out of space with 32 and have room left with 64? Will typically be turning it on in 1080/30, occasionally 60 and letting it run 1.5-2 hrs or when battery is depleted.
rafael siqueira says
Does xiaomi yi chinese version work with app in english?
Stopped reading when you started ranting it is impossible for a 80$ item to beat a 400$ item. Seems like you were biased from the start as well trying to talk yourself into sleep every night that the most expensive buy is the best buy.
Just a comparison where it does happen to prove your logic is invalid;
Cellphones; 300-350 dollar cellphones beat the Apple Iphone 6S valued at nearly 1k in benchmarks, resolution, processor speed, graphics etc.
G’day. I am almost decided on getting one but am bothered by the fact that I cannot see what I am taking (photo / video). While it may be on wide-angle, we’d still like the subject to be in the middle, vertically and horizontally. Tx for the extensive review. It has helped so many make a good, right, informed decision.
is US VERSION of this camera is suitable for BANGLADESH…?
where in summer temperature is 30-40 degree celsius and in winter 15-25 degree celsius
I do not see why it shouldn’t.
If i buy the chinese version can i upgrade firmware to latest , which supports 2k video using the engish version of the android app.
I’m really not sure about that, you should contact YI Technology and ask them directly.
Pavle is right, yitechnology action camera updates has posted some latest updates for their firmware. You can check out the site.
I have small doubt about regarding with the file storage.
what will be the location of the saved photo?
In which storage it will be saved, either mobile phone memory or xiomi camera memory??
Aris Tee says
Firstly, lovely and honest review. Possibly the best I’ve read so far.
I was just curious, since you mentioned certain features could be improved via firmware updates, how does one do so? And where would one be able to get the updates?
YI has a good page about it, here you can download a firmware and read their instructions here.
There are also lots of YouTube videos about it if you find it easier. Good luck.
Aris Tee says
Ah, thanks man… getting one soon 🙂
I have one question;
what is Maximum range of Wi-Fi xiaomi action camera?
pls help me;
Around 10-15 meters, though understand that’s an approximate, since I haven’t done precise testing.
Dankious Memious says
Tbh, it’s really not a GoPro killer – first off, it’s made of cheap plastic which isn’t waterproof and won’t withstand a 200ft drop. Also, the 480p 240fps is absolute BS – I have a friend who owns one of these and we slowed down the ‘240 FPS’ by 1/8 to try to achieve 30fps and we were confronted with an astonishing frame-rate of 8 to 14 fps.
As a GoPro owner, I would certainly save the extra £30 (~$45) to buy a GoPro hero 1 or hero 4 session.
Your review look so neat. I appreciate your efforts, I hope you’ll review another one soon. 😀
Hi Sir . I would like to know if we can use the selfie stick and remote underwater. Your reply is highly appreciated. Thanks
What do photos and videos look like in dim lighting? Is it better than SJ4000? I’m impressed with SJ’s photo samples in dim lighting. I’m hoping this is as good.
Dev Das says
Thanks for the review.
Can we use it for very close object …
something like the distance between the object and camera is 6 inches?
How can we attach a monitor with this camera so that we can use as view finder/live preview?
Have a great new year
I don’t think action cameras are good for that kind of close ups. In theory you could but you might have to adjust the focus manually by dissembling the camera.
Camera has external display link here
Hi I would like to know if this camera can be used as Tennis camera for development and enhancing youth players?
If recorded from a first person view, I do not see why not.
Great reviews – I just went on Aliexpress and looked up some cameras and just Googled them and found your page. I read the EKEN H9 and this one. You write in layman’s terms so I actually understand the significance of the jargon and how marketing can be misleading. Great reviews!!
I’m currently looking for something to jump into water with, preferably something with an LED so I don’t have to fiddle with the phone… especially if I don’t have it with me.
Keep it up!
First I want to say that you really are action camera specialist.Thank you for your advices.
I read your article about xiaomi yi and I decided to buy one but when I checked Aliexpress sellers they have just xiaomi yi with panasonic sensor not with sony exmor. Wich is better sony or panasonic sensor?
We haven’t really tested the Panasonic sensor version, but you can get the Sony sensor version in the links in this article. GearBest has it for sure.
I hoped using a charging cord would help in looping mode for surveillance. Was disappointed that battery still drained. Got about 6 hours total before phone shut down. Suggestions?
John M. says
Hi, good day!
I have a serious question about xiaomi yi, why do i keep on seeing video reviews that it has focus problem and people are keep on suggesting and showing how to open the Yi itself and adjust the lens to correct the focus? isn’t it a major hardware or built problem Yi has to resolve? i am amazed with the picture and video quality based on written reviews but somehow, after watching these video reviews, i got disappointed with the issue. What’s your idea about this? Thanks.
Your opinion really matters for me in deciding what to buy. I asked another question in one of your post about sjcam. Im from Philippines.
Focus distance can’t be considered a flaw, since YI has been adjusted for selfies mostly. It can be fixed manually, but if I’m not mistaken, later versions of YI have this “issue” resolved. They’re focused to infinity.
Thank you for your review. I bought one of these lil cameras and am very happy with the results. I took it on a trek up to Mt Stok Kangri which is 6153 metres above sea level and the camera performed faultlessly