Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi has launched a new action cam to rival the GoPro Hero — at least, in China anyway. The Yi Action Camera won't be available outside of Xiaomi's home country, but is selling for the impressively low price of 399 CNY (just $64) and offers some eye-catching specs to match. The new device shows the company's ambition to move beyond the smartphone market, and offer consumers the chance to buy in to a larger ecosystem of Xiaomi products.
On paper, the Yi Action Camera easily beats the GoPro Hero
The Yi itself features a 16-megapixel camera capable of shooting 1080p video at 60 frames per second — better on paper than the $130 GoPro Hero, which can only shoot 1080p footage at 30 frames per second, or 720p film at 60 frames. Unexpectedly for such a cheap device, the Yi also uses a high-quality image sensor from Sony (an Exmor R CMOS) and offers 64GB of built-in storage — twice what's available on the Hero. Like GoPro's offering, the Yi can be used up to 40 meters underwater and comes with a smartphone app that can remotely control the camera as well as edit and share newly-captured footage.
The Yi Action Camera and its connected app. (Xiaomi)
The Yi doesn't ship with any basic cases or rigging, although Xiaomi is offering a "travel edition" for an extra 100 CNY that comes bundled with a selfie stick. The company also promises a "rich variety of accessories" will be available for the device to let users attach the Yi to objects including helmets, bikes, and even pets (check out the image above to see how happy this makes cat).
Although there's no word on whether the Yi will ever come to the US, it's impossible not to notice that it handily beats the GoPro Hero in both price and specs (real-life performance may be a different matter). This is a result of the company's strategy of offering high-end devices at razor-thin margins, but the device's very existence shows that we're wrong to think of Xiaomi as just a phone company. Xiaomi has previously launched a smart TV, an air purifier, and a blood pressure monitor, and when its first online shop opens for US customers it won't sell mobiles at all but wearables, headphones, and other accessories. The Yi could easily find a place in this line-up if Xiaomi wanted.