Watch out GoPro: Xiaomi Yi 2 4K Action Camera Review

Xiaomi Yi 2 4k:

Few brands have dominated a market so closely as to become synonymous with the item itself-GoPro is one such example. However, as their plunging stock price attests to (from $86 down to $10 in 2 years!), the public has finally realized that yes, there are wonderful alternatives on the market today.

Sure, many of these are considerably lower quality and don't have the amazing features like true 4k 30 FPS that the GoPro Hero 4 Black offers. But what if I told you there is a action camera from a reputable company, with not only basically the same specifications as the GoPro Hero 4, but offered additional features, and sold for only ~$225 (half the price)? That's where the Xiaomi Yi 2 4K camera steps onto the stage. Stick with me as I take a look at this amazing action camera. 

Key features I want to highlight here is the ability to film at true 4K, 30 FPS, which is actually a usable resolution for video editing. Now, 4k may be overkill for many people, and it does require a little more computer power to edit and process. 1080p is the resolution I typically film at; at Xiaomi Yi 2 4k also offers 1080p at not only the standard 60fps, but also a buttery smooth 120fps. Additionally, the camera features a LCD backdoor screen, allowing you to quickly view exactly what you are filming (unlike the GoPro Hero 4 which has no viewfinder at all - unless you purchase a separate LCD backdoor. Now, the Yi 2 doesn't come with a waterproof case, which is a dissapointment. These can be purchased online from $10 - $40. Photos are a crisp 12MP, and the Yi 2 supports an amazing reported 2 hours of recording time-much longer than the GoPro Hero 4 Black!
Here's an excellent chart, from, directly comparing the two:

The Yi 2 4k comes in a tiny, smartly-packaged box. There's a USB charger, an English instruction manual, and the camera itself. That's it! No extra mounts or cases. This isn't unusual for the Yi cameras, as the first one Yi1 was very similar with its spartan approach to accessories. I only wish it included a waterproof case. The mounting option with the base model is a screw portion on the bottom of the camera. This fits with the GoPro mount screw adapter without a problem. 

I tested out the Yi 2 4k under a variety of conditions: bright, sunny days, thick fog with poor visibility, a night with only streetlights and moonlight; and indoors. I'm happy to report it performed excellently in all conditions, even with the challenging array of lighting scenarios I put it through. Video is incredibly crisp at 4k, with the colors capturing the true outdoor hue at the time of filming. Even under low-light conditions it still did well (See the sample video for great examples of this). At 2.5k, the resolution switches to allow for gyro stabilization (not available at 4k), but be cautious with using this mode, as it will leave black bars on either side of the screen if you directly upload it to YouTube. This isn't a problem with the camera, rather it's due to what size 2.5k actually is. An easy fix, if you want the gyro on, is to film in 1080p. The 1080p footage looks good, definitely not as good as the 4k footage, but still very usable and the 120fps allows it to be incredibly smooth. Audio quality is also good - I've used it to record reviews directly, without an external mic, and it picked up the sound of my voice without a problem. Photo quality is extraordinary as well; preserving the colors and lighting of the scenes without much post-processing needed. The audio beeps while recording are easy to hear, and quickly allowed me to differentiate between recording and not recording. This is super helpful while my hands were full fishing!
So, with all these glowing positive, was there any downsides to the camera? Really hard to find any; the only one I could locate was that the gyro stabilization footage still wasn't as smooth as the GitUp2's gyro. A few other reviewers have noted the issues with the gyro as well. It's extremely close, but still was a little more jarring than I would like when mounted on my head mount or my quadcopter. Also, this camera's unique size and shape means it won't fit generic SJ4000 cases, nor will SJ4000 batteries work for it. 

Sample photos:

Sample footage:

Video review:

The Yi 2 4K is simply one of the best premium action cameras released this year. It has virtually all of the features that the GoPro Hero 4 Black has, at half the price, and by some reports (Wired's review!) is actually the better of the two cameras. That's an incredibly strong showing by Xiaomi and I'm pleased with everything this camera has to offer, both videos and photos, at eye-candyg 4k resolution. Now, it is a premium-priced action camera, around $225, which certainly places it in a compeltely different category than cameras like the GitUp2, Eken H8, SJCam M20+; and for many users those other cameras will be sufficient to meet their needs. However, if you simply must have the features in a GoPro Black 4, please consider the Yi 2 4k instead- I've been blown away by it and I think you will too!

Buy Xiaomi Yi 4K online:

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December 6, 2016 at 11:15 PM delete

The YI 4K Action Camera is a remarkable camera for the money, offering great features and performance in an easy-to-use package. It has long battery life for its size. A touchscreen gives you full control of the camera or you can use the high-speed Wi-Fi to connect to your phone and control via an app. App handles shooting, editing and sharing. YI continues to add features through firmware updates.

HD Action Camera

July 12, 2017 at 12:50 PM delete

Check out my Xiaomi Yi 4k cinematic video test


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