While most of the readers might have heard of GoPro, Xiaomi is a Chinese-only brand that specializes in making all sorts of nifty gadgets. Xiaomi produces everything from phones to tablets, so the fact that it introduced a competitor into the action camera market is no surprise. Xiaomi does not actively advertise or create goods in the United States, so Xiaomi items either have to be imported from third-party Chinese sellers, or purchased through first party using one of Xiaomi’s websites for other nations (but good luck trying to get through to shipping to the United States.)
The Xiaomi Yi and the GoPro Hero are the two action cameras being compared in this article; which one is more worth your dollar, and why.
The Xiaomi Yi is Xiaomi’s release for an action camera. The Yi is probably best to be thought of as a simple replacement for a GoPro, coming in at nearly half the price of a GoPro bundle. You can usually get it on sale for even less by clicking here to get all the discounts auto-applied at Amazon.com. You can see the There are two options available; a simple white color, and a lime green/teal blue color combination. The Xiaomi Yi can record at variable framerates, but the most noteworthy framerate would be the 1080p/60 fps option. An $80 action camera (or potentially less by clicking the link above) can record at a very high quality resolution, and not stutter to capture everything (and creating unwanted lag/video fragmenting.) The Xiaomi Yi has a wi-fi function that allows for a device to connect with the camera and download footage or videos stored. This connection is around 800-1200 kb/S. The Yi splits all of its recordings into individual, unique 1.85GB portions. The mount at the bottom of the camera can be attached or disattached, and is even equipped to work with GoPro mounts. The Yi has a set of indicator lights, which will glow with 4 lights when at 100%, 3 lights when at 75%, down to 1 flashing red light when the battery is just about drained out.
Unfortunately, there are also a lot of visible, glaring drawbacks with the Yi. The first major issue is that the manual is only available in Chinese – I was able to find third-party instructions online from users who finally managed to get their camera working fully, but understanding right from the manufacturer how to use the item you just bought is a little bit more professional. The camera also uses less expensive (and even outdated) Sony lenses and sensors, meaning that the image of the Yi will be more mucky and washed-out than most other action cameras. Users were also making mention of the Xiaomi Yi running worryingly warm, even when outside of a housing.
Compared to the Xiaomi Yi, the concept of an action camera is plain but the two cameras are shockingly different. The GoPro Hero is a bit more of a complete package; it can record at 1080p, all the way up to 60 fps (and can change the FPS to get a different framerate), and not only allows for the files it creates to be downloaded over wifi, but for your phone to also act as a viewfinder for the GoPro (as long as they’re both on wireless.) The GoPro also has a lot better third-party accessory support, not relying on Chinese engineering to create things like mounts and stands for it. The GoPro Hero is also natively waterproofed, and does not need an external casing in order for it to be waterproof. GoPro also uses a newer lense and sensor, meaning that it has wider shots (definitely horizontally and probably vertically as well) at a higher quality.
Unfortunately, while Chinese products are always attractive due to their price (and sometimes design – the white Xiaomi Yi is actually fairly slick looking), they are almost always overshadowed by some type of problems. Terrible support, lower quality engineering/product longevity, and even the language barrier (remember, the Yi’s manual is only in Chinese) can be a problem. That said there are a lot of guides out there for using the device in English.
Therefore, if a user might have a need of numerous action cams, the Xiaomi Yi may be the camera to purchase. If a user has a need of a single action camera that records in high quality, the GoPro Hero would be the smarter buy. People often buy GoPros or similar action cameras to serve as dashcams for services like Uber, or just for a layer of protection – people have frequently said that the Xiaomi Yi cannot even pick up the numbers from the license plate of the car in front of it clearly. The Yi is an attractive, cheap action camera, but ultimately, if the video it creates isn’t the same quality you would get with a Go Pro.