Back then in Mobile World Congress of 2015, Yi Action Camera was quite a sensation. Not just because it showed a convincing promise of how good tiny China-made cameras would be in the future, but also because the company that unveiled it was none other than Xiaomi. Stateside, the Chinese tech giant is more known for its smartphones. However, recently it has expressed some interests as well towards wearable tech by backing up Yi Technology. The latter is the actual company that manufactures Yi Action Camera. Although originally only available in China’s market, the camera eventually made it here and it’s for a good reason.
Yi Action Camera Design
Right off the bat, you can tell that Yi Action Camera is meant for casuals instead of the most hardened sport junkies. It bears a rather unusual color for a sport cam, showcasing bright lime green at the front and teal on its side (there’s also the all-white version as well). There’s a large power button on the front sitting right next to the wide-angle lens. It’s also the same button used to switch between modes. On the top, you can find another small button to control the camera’s shutter. Meanwhile, the built-in Wi-Fi can be turned on using the button on the left side. It has not touchscreen, so you’re going to have to rely on the small LED lights to tell if the camera is recording or not. Battery life is indicated by a light around the power button that changes its color matching how much juice is left in the tank.
Yi Action Camera Key Features
At less than 100 bucks, Yi Action Camera is to be compared with the likes of Polaroid Cube and other tiny wearable cameras. In reality, however, this camera easily outperforms them. Heck, even the pricier GoPro Hero will submit to the greatness of this little shooter. Under the hood, it sports an Ambarella A7LS chipset, the same system used by other action cameras worth over $200. Additionally, it’s also armed with 16MP CMOS sensor as well as 155-degree wide-angle lens. Thanks to such high-profile specifications, this camera can record full HD 1080p video at 60fps and 720p at 120fps. Mind you, other cameras on the same price range top out at 1080p/30fps and 720p/60fps. Aside from its recording capability, the camera can also capture still images up to 16MP using its Single, Burst, or Time-lapse mode.
Yi Action Camera Performance
First thing’s first, Yi Action Camera is without any screen, so the only way to tell in what mode the camera is currently is by using its mobile app. Fortunately, hooking up the camera with your smartphone is a painless process. Once connected, you get to see what’s in front of the camera’s lens. Live stream while the camera is shooting is also accessible. Off to the battery, let’s just say it’s not the best Yi can put together. Setting up the camera on its highest recording mode 1080p/60fps will barely give you an hour recording time. Good thing is it’s removable, so you can always bring some spares to restore its juice quickly.
What it lacks on the battery is made up by its excellent video and image quality. Its exposure and color reproduction are top notch while its sensor adjusts quickly to sudden changes in lighting. Using the camera’s highest recording mode (1080p/60fps), all the objects in the footage look sharp and crisp. You will certainly notice the difference between this camera and other cheap knockoffs when you’re recording while moving at high speeds. None of what it captures turns to indistinguishable mush. Sure, you might see some artifacts as you put the camera closer to an object or if you use the camera in dim light environment, but it’s also the case with many other action cameras.
For its price, you wouldn’t expect it to be on par with the far more expensive action cameras like GoPro Hero 4 Black performance-wise. However, Yi Action Camera proves to be a strong contender against any entry-level action cameras. If you’re willing to trade off 4K capture with attractive pricing and don’t mind to purchase accessories separately, Yi Action Camera is likely to be a good deal for you.