Review: Xiaomi Yi Action Camera

Sunday, August 23, 2015

So at the moment, Action Cameras are coming from everywhere with varying prices and build quality. Chinese company, Xiaomi better known for making low price high-quality smartphones and tablets has launched their own action camera without sacrificing quality at a budget-friendly price tag.


What’s Inside the Box

Let’s go quick inside the content of the box. What I have is the white Xiaomi Yi Sports Camera Travel Edition. The box is lot bigger than the normal box to make room for Yi Monopod included in the Travel Edition. Other than that, all you get is the instruction and manual in Chinese which doesn’t help me any. It also has a short micro USB cable for charging, a 1,010mAh replaceable battery, and the camera itself. All that for about Php4,500 or around $94. Whereas the camera by itself cost roughly around Php3,700 or around $79. So basically you got a decent quality monopod for about $15 nothing more and nothing less. On separate purchase, I bought a hard plastic case for the Yi cam for extra protection for just $2 and a Samsung Evo microSD card for $18.



The Yi Camera

What I bought was the white color. But there’s also another color in jungle green which I’m not a huge fan and found it like a toy of a 3 year old kid. The whole exterior shell is plastic so no rubber or any kind of soft touch materials just good old-fashioned hard brittle plastic. So briefly going over the ports and the buttons on the front next to the camera lens is the multi-purpose power button which also acts as the button between photo and video modes. It has a bright LED ring around it to indicate the battery life. At the top, it has the photo shutter button which also acts as the video recording button with the red LED indicator next to it to let you know when you’re recording or not. And next to that is the microphone. There’s nothing on the right side of the camera but on the left we have the WiFi toggle button with a blue LED indicator light above to let you know when the WiFi on or off. On the back, we’ve got two covers. The one on the left is where all our ports and slots are housed under so we’ve got micro USB for charging, micro SD card slot which supports up to 64GB, and micro HDMI port and on the right side which houses the 1,010mAh replaceable battery. And lastly on the bottom, we have our standard tripod threading as well as another LED indicator letting you know what’s you’re recording or not.

Yi Camera App

Now you’re probably thinking by now how we interface with it and start taking advantage of that 16 Megapixel Sony Exmor Sensor that Xiaomi was kind enough to include. First you have to download the Yi camera app. You can download it via Google Play or at the Apple App Store. The version I’ve downloaded is the latest one, version 1.11.1. Now once you’ve downloaded, the first thing you going to do is to power on the Yi camera by pressing and holding the power button until you see the ring light up. Once it’s done, you can press the WiFi button and wait for it to change from solid blue to flashing blue LED. Once it’s flashing, you launch the Yi app. You may check first if you had the latest firmware on your camera. My Yi Camera has an outdated firmware version so I’ve downloaded the latest one. To check and update it, go to app’s settings located on the top right of the app, then tap firmware download. The app downloaded the newer version 1.2.10. The app has a bunch of feature page on its homepage, just ignore that and tap that camera button. Once you’re there, you’ll notice a pretty nice interface for the current resolution, aspect ratio for the camera, and frames per second for the video are all displayed above the viewfinder as well as the camera’s current battery status. At the middle bottom, there’s your camera shoot button as well as the gallery on the left and the other options aside from photo shooting like Timer, Time-Lapse, Burst, Video, Sight and Time Lapse on the right. At the top right is the settings button.



Yi Sample Photo and Video

Photo shoot at 4608x3456 4:3 16MP
at Pass Island with a gloomy weather
aurumOne Hotel room
at beach side of Bellevue Resort in Panglao Island, Bohol
Video recording at 1080p at 60 FPS




My Thoughts

So as you can see high quality looks little overly processed. You also notice that there’s no such thing as image stabilization with the Yi cam. Lowering the FPS should help a tiny bit but not much. Battery life on a 1,010mAh battery won’t last your whole day if that you were hoping for. Recording in 1080p at 60 FPS pretty much 1 hour before you need to charge again which takes you about 90 minutes. If you’re planning to use this on vacation and use it a lot. I do suggest taking a power bank or buying a second or even a third battery. As far as the accessories, most people I heard can use their GoPro accessories with the Yi cam. Unfortunately, the waterproof case is not one of them. But you can find a number of waterproof case compatible with the Yi cam even an official Yi camera waterproof case for about Php1,400 or about $30. So I think if you’re in the market for an action camera and are planning to use it as one with getting it wet and dirty but don’t have the money for the GoPro, the Yi cam is the perfect option BUT, I’d suggest investing in at least both the waterproof case and hard plastic case which altogether will set you back for around Php6,000 or $130 for everything you need including the camera which I think that’s pretty damn unbeatable deal.

Xiaomi Yi Specs

8 Sensor : Sony Exmor R BSI CMOS 16 million pixel
15 Lens : 16MP CMOS F2.8 155° wide angle
Size : 6 x 2.1 x 4.2 cm / 2.36 x 0.83 x 1.65 inches
WiFi
4 Operating modes
Memory : Micro SD up to 64GB
Video Recording
1080p x (60, 48, 30 and 24 fps)
960p x (60fps or 48fps)
720P x (120, 60, 48fps)
480P x (240fps)
Video System: PAL, NTSC
Video Format: MP4
Sound Sampling 96KHz Channel 2 Signal to noise ratio 92dBA
Battery 1010mAh
Charging : USB via PC or AV with adapter
Bluetooth 4.0
Image Format : JPEG
Self Timer: 1-15s
Time Lapse 0,5/1/2/5/10/30/60 sec





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