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Yi Action Camera review

Cheap action cameras have flooded the market but few come close to the outright quality or price of the market beating Yi

Xiaomi Yi

Our Verdict

The Yi action camera stands as a real GoPro alternative. When compared directly to the market leader's features and build quality it might lag behind slightly, but considering the price and quality of its video, the Yi is presently GoPro's most dangerous rival.


  • Great video quality
  • Easy to use app
  • Extensive video options


  • Waterproof housing extra
  • Cover for ports is easily lost
  • Not sealed or weather proofed

The Yi has made quite an impact on the action camera market. This small camera is comparable to the GoPro Hero3 Silver when it comes to video options, yet it can be purchased for as little as a sixth of the price. It may even have played a part in the demise of GoPro budget models.

Yi's approach is altogether different from the majority of budget action cameras as it is sold by itself and all the usual extras including the waterproof housing, memory card and mounts need to be purchased separately. Even taking the purchase of accessories into consideration, the outlay for a fully equipped Yi it still less than the majority of other budget action cam kits. And to be honest, when it comes to quality, you get an awful lot more.

The Yi comes in two colour varieties, a friendly white or lurid green and yellow. Although sold body only, the camera can also be bought as a kit that includes a few accessories to help you make the most from it. In this test we looked at the Yi Action Camera Kit, which includes the camera, a very nifty selfie stick and a simple bluetooth remote. The kit is almost double the price of the base unit, but it's worth it for those few extras. The only other essential, if you want to use the camera to capture extreme sports, is the waterproof housing. This will set you back around £20/US$20.

Xiaomi Yi

The design is incredibly simple, consisting of a small box body with a 155 degree angle of view lens positioned on the front, a power/mode button to the left of the lens and a Wi-Fi button on the side. The top of the camera features the shutter button and on the back is a cover that can be easily removed to gain access to the battery compartment. A separate removable cover next to this protects the MicroSD slot and USB and HDMI ports. On the base is a standard 1/4-inch thread so that the Selfie Stick from the kit, or a standard tripod base plate, can be attached.

Xiaomi Yi

Xiaomi Yi

Imaging Lab Manager

Ali Jennings is the imaging lab manager for Future Publishing's Photography portfolio. Using Imatest Master and DxO Analyser he produces the image quality tests for all new cameras and lenses review in TechRadar's cameras channel. Ali has been shooting digital since the early nineties and joined Future's Photography portfolio back in 2003.