Is the EKEN H9 a long expected GoPro Hero competitor shooting 4K at a much lower price tag? Not really – it is labelled 4K, but the resolution is interpolated, which means it is upscaled from a lower recorded resolution. Easy to check: it has a 4MP sensor (even tough it is often advertised as 12MP which is related to the photo size – upscaled as well), 4K resolution is about 8MP.

In the meantime the EKEN H9 series was extended with EKEN H9R, H9s, H9R Plus,… – more on that later. Nevertheless EKEN H9 is a great camera for a price tag around 45USD, so let’s take a look at the specs:


In this review I’ll take a look at:

  1. EKEN H9 Specs
  2. EKEN H9 Versions
  3. Body, Buttons & Ports
  4. Functions & Settings
  5. Firmware
  6. Remote Control & App
  7. Demo Footage
  8. Issues / Problems
  9. Conclusion (my 2-cents of the EKEN H9)
  10. EKEN H9 Competitors & comparable cameras

 

EKEN H9 - new design with EKEN logo vs old design

EKEN H9 – new design with EKEN logo vs old design

 

Eken H9 specs

Image Sensor: 
The OmniVision OV4689 is a native 4MP sensor. (Photos are upscaled to 12MP, hence sometimes 12MP camera is stated)
That’s the same sensor used in the SJ4000+ by SJCAM. A 4 MP sensor is too small to offer real 4K video, you would need at least a 8 MP (16:9) sensor or a 12 MP (4:3) sensor which most action cameras offer.

Chipset:
The camera uses a Sunplus 6330M chipset, that’s use in many budget action cameras. Most pricier action cams rely either on Novatek or Ambarella chipsets.

Frame Rates:

  • 4K – 10fps / 25 fps (depending on firmware)
  • 2,7K – 15fps
  • 1080p – 60/30 fps
  • 720p – 120/60fps (depending on firmware)

Be aware that the labelled “4K” is not native 4K, it is interpolated. Easy to tell for this camera as 4K is more than 8 MP and the camera just has a 4 MP sensor. If you are looking for real 4K, here is a camera comparison. The cheapest real 4K action camera is probably Xiaomi Mijia, which is a little over 100 USD. It also comes with touchscreen and other advanced features.

Video recording:
.mov files; .h264 codec
data rate 35-44 MB/s tested while 1080p 60fps recording which is quite high compared to other action cameras.

Photo:
12 MP is stated as maximum, but be aware EKEN H9 uses a 4MP sensor, hence the photos are upscaled to 12MP.

Lens:
The camera has a 170° lens, like most action cameras.

Connectivity & Ports:
Wifi is built in to connect with the app (Android & iOS)
It also offers a HDMI as well as an USB port.
Mic in via USB & A/V out via USB are not available!

 EKEN H9R offers a remote control, EKEN H9 can’t be upgraded!

Battery:
The Eken H9 features a 1050 mAh battery.
Update: Earlier Eken models like this one have a squared battery, new models have rounded batteries! The SJCAM batteries still fit as only the batteries were changed, not the slot itself. But be aware it could change as well.

Storage:
microSD of 16 or 32 GB are recommended; selected 64GB cards are supported, but not guaranteed; class 10 is recommended.

Display:
EKEN H9, H9R & H9s offer a live view 2” screen (320×240 resolution). EKEN H9R Plus offers a 2″ touchscreen!

 

Versions

Over the years the EKEN design changed a bit. The earlier design (right) didn’t show an EKEN logo on the packaging. Not also the underwater case changed. The latest packaging design is on the left:

EKEN packaging: latest to earliest

EKEN packaging: latest to earliest

 

But there are other models with similar names (name extensions):

EKEN H9R

The EKEN H9R comes with a remote controller and that’s the only difference to EKEN H9.

EKEN H9s

Eben H9s comes with remote controller and has a new feature which is live streaming!

EKEN H9se

The EKEN H9se is a cheaper, inferior version of H9 using cheaper parts.

EKEN H9 vs EKEN H9se

EKEN H9 vs EKEN H9se

 

EKEN H9se has a 150° lens, a lower resolution screen (220 x 176 px instead of 320 x 240) and a different sensor: 4 MP GC4603 instead of 4 MP OmniVision OV4689. It does not feature 720p resolution with 120 fps and you can’t upgrade to a H9, as it uses a different firmware!

EKEN H9R Plus

EKEN H9R plus is the latest model of EKEN H9 series cameras. It got completely different specs then the other H9 series cameras! It got a 14MP Panasonic sensor (similar to SJCAM SJ8 Air) and a 2″ Touchscreen. But the price is also way higher at about 90 USD.

EKEN H9R Plus offers a 2" touchscreen

EKEN H9R Plus offers a 2″ touchscreen

 

Here’s an overview of currently produced EKEN cameras. If you want to compare out of production models like EKEN V8s or EKEN H8 Plus, check out my EKEN comparison article.

ModelEKEN H5s PlusEKEN H5sEKEN H6sEKEN H8/H8R/H8sEKEN H9/H9R/H9sEKEN H9R Plus
EKEN H5s Plus

EKEN H5s Plus

EKEN H5s

EKEN H5s

EKEN H6s

EKEN H6s

EKEN H8s

EKEN H8s

EKEN H9s

EKEN H9s

EKEN H9R Plus

EKEN H9R Plus

Remarkskull designout of production(to be confirmed)
Sensor12,4 MP
Sony IMX 078
12,4 MP
Sony IMX 078
14 MP
Panasonic 34110
12,4 MP
Sony IMX078
4 MP
Omnivision OV4689
14 MP
Panasonic 34112
ProcessorAmbarella A12S75Ambarella A12S75Ambarella A12S75Sunplus 6350 chipSunplus 6350 chip Ambarella A12
Lens / FOV170°170°170°170°170°170°
4K Resolution
max. framerate
30fps
native (real 4K)
30fps
native (real 4K)
30fps
native (real 4K)
30fps
interpolated (not real 4K)
25fps
interpolated (not real 4K)
30fps
interpolated (not real 4K)
2,7K – Resolution
max. frame rate
60fps60fps30fps30fps30fps30fps
1080p –Resolution
max. frame rate
100fps100fps60fps60fps60fps60fps
720p Resolution
max. frame rate
200fps200fps-120fps120fps120fps
Image Stabilizationyes
up to 4K 30fps
yes
up to 2.7K 30fps
yes
up to 4K 25fps
nonono
Photo Resolution
(native - unscaled)
12 MP12 MP14 MP12 MP4 MP14 MP
Display2" touchscreen2" touchscreen2" live view2" live view2" live view2" touchscreen
Front Displayyesnoyesyesnono
Facebook Livenononoonly H8sonly H9sno
Battery1050 mAh1050 mAh1050 mAh1050 mAh1050 mAh1050 mAh
WiFiyesyesyesyesyesyes
Remote Controlyesyesyesonly H8R & H8sonly H9R & H9syes
Portsmicro USB, micro HDMImicro USB, micro HDMImicro USB, micro HDMImicro USB, micro HDMImicro USB, micro HDMImicro USB, micro HDMI
A/V out via USBnononononono
Mic in via USBnononononono
Dimension (mm)59.3 x 21.4 x 41.159.3 x 21.4 x 41.159.3 x 21.4 x 41.159.3 x 21.4 x 41.159.3 x 24.6 x 41.1?
Mounts & Caseincludedincludedincludedincludedincludedincluded
Aliexpress (ATPowers)
confirmed retailer
n/an/a$ 86.00n/aEKEN H9:$ 39.99
EKEN H9R:$ 47.99
$ 73.99
Banggood$ 119.99$ 119.99$ 89.99$ 73.99H9: $ 39.99
H9R: $ 49.99
$ 89.99
Gearbest:-$ 98.99$ 97.99-H9R: $ 49.99-
Amazon US
(official EKEN store)
Out of stock-$108.99Out of stockEKEN H9R:
$56.99
EKEN H9s:
$61.99
$79.99
Amazon DE
(official EKEN store)
--Derzeit nicht verfügbarDerzeit nicht verfügbarEKEN H9R:
EUR 63,00
EKEN H9s:
EUR 63,00
-
ReviewReviewReviewReview-

 

Retailer / Price Comparison

There are a lot of issues with H9 clone cameras (fake H9). EKEN advises their customers to buy on Amazon, as these are official EKEN stores! Since 2017 EKEN cameras are easier to spot as they have an EKEN logo, before they did not!

If you are buying, check if you are buying an “EKEN H9” or just a “H9 camera”!

List of official EKEN stores on Amazon:

Banggood
was confirmed by EKEN to sell original products!

These Sellers on Aliexpress were confirmed to ship original EKEN products:

Gearbest
EKEN is back on Gearbest! (confirmed by EKEN)

  • EKEN H9R: 51.99 USD
  • Be aware, there also a H9 camera – not EKEN ! – it’s a different camera!

 

Amazon (official EKEN store) – recommended by EKEN to get original camera!


 

Body, Buttons and Ports

EKEN H9 - front & back

EKEN H9 – front & back

 

The body of the EKEN H9 is the same size as the SJCAM SJ4000, so you can use their accessories as well. On the frontside of the camera there is the power and mode switch button as well as a LED for status and charging. The camera’s top holds the shutter button, which also acts as select button in the camera’s menu, and a large recording LED.

On one side you’ll find 2 buttons to navigate the menu as well as for play back and wifi. You can remote control the cam with an iOS or Android app. The remote control was introduced later sold in a bundle as EKEN H9R. A little towards the front there are some holes where the speaker is located. When playing back a video, you will also hear the recorded audio.
On the other side, there’s a microUSB and micro HDMI port as well as the micro SD card slot. Cards up to 64 GB are supported, class 10 is recommended. Above there are holes for the microphone.

Almost the whole backside of the camera is covered by the large 2″ LCD display.
On the bottom there’s the battery door. The EKEN comes with a 1050 mAh battery. The size and shape of the battery is the same as the batteries for SJCAM or GitUp. Newer models use rounded batteries, but the slot is still the same, so you can use non-rounded batteries as well:

EKEN H9 - new battery vs old battery

EKEN H9 – new battery vs old battery

 

Included Accessories

The Eken H9 comes with a huge pack of accessories, which changed during the product’s lifetime. Now a second battery is included!

EKEN H9 included Accessories (Updated set)

EKEN H9 included Accessories (Updated set)

 

As mentioned above the camera has the same size as SJCAM action cameras, so you can use SJCAM accessories.
The bottom of the underwater case features the well known GoPro Mount, so you can use any GoPro Mount with this camera.
The included frame (Clip 1) offers a 1/4″ thread, so you can mount the camera with the standard photo tripod screw.

One 3rd party accessory became available that was often requested by users – an underwater dome!

 

Functions & Settings

You can change settings very comfortably with the large screen on the backside.
When you power up the camera with the power button on the front, it will get you to video mode first. A small icon on the left side of the screen will show you that you are in video mode and the current settings. By short-pressing the power button you can cycle through the modes of the camera: photo mode – burst mode, where the camera takes 3 pics within a second – time-lapse mode and settings. To enter the settings you have to press the shutter button which will also act as select button. You can navigate the menu by pressing the up and down buttons on the side of the camera. By pressing the mode/power button you’ll get one step back:

EKEN H9 Menu

There are 5 pages showing your settings

 

Video Resolution:
You’ve got the following options:

  • 4k – 25fps (depending on firmware)
  • 2,7K – 30fps
  • 1080p – 60fps
  • 1080p – 30fps
  • 720p – 120fps (depending on firmware)
  • 720p – 60fps (depending on firmware)

The latest firmware includes 4K 25fps & 720p 120fps! (Only EKEN H9, EKEN H9se can’t be upgraded!)

There is no option to select PAL mode which will give you 25fps (and a multiple of that) and also no option for 24fps.

Looping Video:
The camera will record 10min. clips and overwrite the earliest clip when the microSD card is full.

Time Stamp:
You’ve got the option to show date or date & time in your recordings.

Exposure:
You can select: +-2.0/+-1.7/+-1.3/+-1.0/+-0.7/+-0.3/0 to correct the exposure of your camera manually.

Photo Resolution:
The options are:

  • 12 MP
  • 8MP
  • 5MP
  • 4MP
  • 2MP

EKEN H9 uses a 4MP sensor, so all photo resolutions higher than that are upscaled. Same effect as you would upscale them on a computer.

Burst Photo:
The camera will shoot 3 pics within a second and that’s the only option you’ve got. Even when selecting a lower resolution

Time Lapse:
You can set an interval for the camera when it takes pictures:
2s/3s/5s/10s/20s/30s/60s
This is a photo time-lapse mode, so the EKEN will take individual pictures but not generate a video clip out of it! EKEN V8s was the first EKEN camera that came with a video time-lapse function.

Continuous Lapse:
You have to switch on this option to take time-lapses.
I actually don’t know why you have to select it, as time-lapse is a separate camera mode.

Power Frequency:
You can select 50Hz, 60Hz or Auto.
I guess it controls the shutter to avoid flickering as the frequency in lighting is different in several countries.

Language:
There’s a huge variety of languages you can set your menu:
English, Traditional Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, French, Czech, Polish, Turkish, Russian, Japanese, Korean & Thai.

Date & Time:
Make sure to enter the right info when using the time stamp option.

Sound Indicator:
You have several options to choose when your camera should beep and the volume.

Upside Down:
You can flip the image in case you mount your camera upside down.

Screen Saver:
A nice option which shuts off the display to save battery:
off, 1 min, 3 min or 5 min.

Power Saver:
Same for the camera itself. You can select and the cam will turn off automatically when in standby:
off, 1 min, 3 min or 5 min.

Format:
To format your SD card.

Reset:
To get your camera back to factory settings.

Version:
Where your camera’s firmware version is displayed
You’ve got some basic features, but I’m missing white balance or auto-record / auto-powerup to use this cam as a dash cam.
But more about that in my conclusion.

 

Firmware

As you can see on my photos I got an EKEN H9 from 2015 (black), a EKEN H9 from 2016 (white) and a EKEN H9s from 2017 (black with logo). There are only 2 notable, visible firmware changes since its first release:

  1. The first version of EKEN H9 only could do 15fps in 4K, whereas the newer ones can do 25fps in 4K.
  2. Early 2016 there were some firmware versions that couldn’t do 720p with 120fps.

Besides that there are no new features with new firmware versions. I can’t tell if image processing was improved or the cams are more stable with newer firmware. Be very careful when updating the firmware. You need to choose the version based on the one already installed on the camera. There are 4 different versions only for EKEN H9! (besides several versions for H9R, H9se, H9Rse, H9 Pro,…). If you choose the wrong one, you might brick your camera!
If you got both settings as mentioned and everything works fine, I recommend NOT to update the firmware.

Find Firmware links in the file section of  EKEN H9 Group on Facebook.

 

Remote Controller:

EKEN H9 does not came with remote and it can’t be purchased afterwards! You have to buy EKEN H9R or EKEN H9s! The remote features are:

  • splash proof (not waterproof!)
  • working distance 15m
  • wifi connected

 

Remote Control via App:

You can also remote control the camera with your phone, an iOS and an Android App are available and called Ez iCam App.

EKEN H9 App

Screenshot of the Ez iCam App (iOS version)

 

On top you can select the resolution and frame rate, but 4K and 2,7K are not available within the app. Next to it you’ll find the battery status of the camera. Now what’s very interesting is that you can select white balance (AWB) within the app, but not in the camera’s menu!
When clicking the settings next to it, you just can select power frequency and format SD card – that’s it – no other options. I hope that EKEN will add it with a future app update.

Below the live image you’ll find the shutter button and the mode switch button which will let you select photo or video mode. You can’t select burst mode or time-lapse with your phone! On the other side you can find the camera roll.

So you don’t get many options within the app. On the other side, you don’t really need an app to control the camera. You can do everything on the screen and the menu and navigation on the camera works very good. If your only reason is to connect with your phone for sharing photos and videos online, you should be fine.

Live Streaming is available only on EKEN H9s – check out my EKEN H9s review for further infos.

 

How to connect:

Press the “down” button on the side of the camera to turn on wifi. On the screen you’ll see that wifi is now on.

Look for the camera on your phone’s wifi – the standard wifi name is ICAM-Hg, the standard password is 1234567890

Open up the EZ iCam App and select your camera – then the live view is show.

 

Demo Footage:

Comparison of EKEN H9 and Xiaomi Yi:

 

Comparison of EKEN H9 and MGCOOL Explorer:

Here’s a comparison with the similar priced MGCOOL Explorer:

 

1080p 60fps Demo Footage

I’m not really happy with the color style and the dynamic range of the camera, the sharpness is great tough. On purpose I tried to cover half of the picture with the car to get very light and very dark parts in one frame to see how the camera handles it.

 

Issues / Problems

As it seems that always the same problems are reported, I created a new blog post with FAQs for the EKEN H9 and solutions to them (if possible). Check out: EKEN H9 problem FAQ

 Check out the  EKEN H9 User Group on Facebook, there you’ll find the latest Firmware in the “File Section“!

 There is a discussion going on about real EKEN H9 and fake H9 cameras. If you want to be sure, buy at Amazon, which is the recommended channel by EKEN. When choosing another retailer watch out that “EKEN H9”, is stated. In case you get something different, you can apply for a refund.

 

Conclusion

For the price of 45 USD I think EKEN H9 is a great camera. Similar priced cameras don’t show such a good performance. But be aware you buy a 45 USD camera, so don’t expect features of a 400 USD camera. But for its price, it’s a great deal. Here are my pros and cons:

A big plus for the EKEN H9 is definitely its price, so it got my attention. It is cheaper than the YI Action Camera, but additionally offers a 2″ screen and comes with lots of accessories. Another competition is the newer YI Discovery Action Camera. It’s a bit more expensive, but got a 2″ Touchscreen, offers more settings and the firmware is updated frequently. You also benefit from the more advanced YI App.

The 2″ display is very bright and showing a nice image.

 The recordings in 1080p with 60fps are very sharp. I was also surprised that the 1080p 60fps recordings show a data rate of 25-45 MB/s which is very high compared to Xiaomi Yi’s 25 MB/s.

 Accessories (2017 version): The included accessories were increased in value and built quality. Great to see the addition of a 2nd battery and a mini tripod.

 App. The app is not from EKEN and lacks some features. It is ok for basic functions like copying photos to your phone, but not as functional as YI’s app. On the other hand the new Livestream feature of H9s works very well.

 The menu offers basic functions, but not as many as other cameras. It would be great to set white balance or choose other features like video time-lapse or auto power-up with auto record, to use the EKEN H9 as a dash cam.

On the hardware side two useful features are missing: external Microphone & A/V output.

The sensor of the camera is very small, only 4MP. Most action cameras use larger sensors by now – check the competitor list below. I think the small sensor results in a very sharp image, but lacks dynamic range. In the following picture I tried to frame an image where there are very dark (car) and very bright (sky) areas. The sky is completely overexposed.

EKEN H9

Frame grab of a video taken with EKEN H9 in 1080p with 60fps.

 

Here are 2 frame grabs from the comparison video with the Xiaomi Yi (video above). You can see that the EKEN H9 image is very sharp and the contrast is high, but the sky on the right is overexposed whereas the Xiaomi Yi still shows the texture of the clouds, but not as sharp. (click for full resolution)

Frame grab of a video taken with EKEN H9 in 1080p with 60fps

Frame grab of a video taken with EKEN H9 in 1080p with 60fps

Xiaomi Yi

Frame grab of a video taken with Xiaomi Yi in 1080p with 60fps

 

EKEN H9 Competitors & comparable cameras

So let’s conclude the EKEN H9 main specs and compare it to other cameras. As already mentioned I think for a price of 45 USD EKEN H9 is best of its class. For more or other features you need to invest a bit more money. But maybe they offer the specs that are required for your situations:

EKEN H9

  • 4 MP sensor
  • 4K video interpolated – 25fps
  • 1080p – 60fps
  • 2″ Screen
  • no external microphone
  • no image stabilization
  • accessories included

Yi Discovery
The new entry level camera from YI technology is Yi Discovery and available for $59.99. Check for promotions, they are quite frequent! It offers some benefits over EKEN H9. It got a larger 8 MP sensor, offers a 2″ Touchscreen & more settings. You also benefit from the YI App which is way advanced compared to EKEN App. On the downside no accessories are included.

8MP Sensor
4K video interpolated – 20fps
1080p 60fps
2″ Touchscreen
no external microphone
no image stabilization
 accessories not included
Review

SJCAM SJ8 Air
is the new entry level action camera by SJCAM. It’s available for 89 USD. It got a larger 14 MP sensor, offers a 2,33″ Touchscreen, a state of the art USB-C port that also allows the use of an external microphone & more settings. Accessories are included in the full box.

14MP Panasonic Sensor
no 4K video
only 1080p 30fps
2,33″ Touchscreen
external microphone available
no image stabilization
accessories included
Review

Git 2
Git2 is a bit of an insider tip but I like it a lot. Check for offers you might get it for under 90 USD. It’s twice the price of EKEN H9 but offers way more features which you will benefit from in the long run. It’s a solid camera with a great firmware and excellent image stabilization! It got a larger 16 MP Sony sensor – 4 times the size of EKEN H9’s sensor!

16MP Sony Sensor
4K video interpolated – 24fps
1080p 60fps
1,5″ Screen
external microphone available
image stabilization available
 accessories included
Review

Xiaomi Mijia
If you want a real 4K action camera, this is probably the cheapest and I like it a lot. It’s available for a bit over 100 USD. Very solid camera (also solid built). Besides real 4K with 60fps it also offers higher frame rates in 1080p – 120fps. It comes with image stabilization and a large 2,33″ Touchscreen.

8MP Sony Sensor
real 4K video – 30fps
1080p 120fps
2,33″ Touchscreen
no external microphone
image stabilization available
accessories not included
Review

 

I hope you like this article and check back on my blog from time to time, as I will constantly update the infos.
If you want to leave any feedback or disagree with my thoughts on the camera, please do so in the comment section.

Discuss with other users on Facebook in the EKEN H9 Group

check out my overview of all EKEN series cameras: Comparison of EKEN cameras

 

Retailer / Price Comparison

There are a lot of issues with H9 clone cameras (fake H9). EKEN advises their customers to buy on Amazon, as these are official EKEN stores!

List of official EKEN stores on Amazon:

Banggood
was confirmed by EKEN to sell original products!

These Sellers on Aliexpress were confirmed to ship original EKEN products:

Gearbest
EKEN is back on Gearbest! (confirmed by EKEN)

  • EKEN H9R: 51.99 USD
  • Be aware, there also a H9 camera – not EKEN ! – it’s a different camera!

Amazon (official EKEN store) – recommended by EKEN to get an original camera!


 

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