Is the EKEN H9 a long expected GoPro Hero competitor shooting 4K at a much lower price tag? Well, 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, 4K resolution is about 8MP.In the meantime the EKEN H9 series was extended by 2 real 4K models: the EKEN H9 Plus and H9 Pro – more on that later.
Nevertheless EKEN H9 is a great camera for a price tag around 40USD, so let’s take a look at the specs:


In this review I’ll take a look at:

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

 

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. (Picture is upscaled to 12MP, hence sometimes 12MP are stated)
That’s the same sensor used in the SJ4000+ by SJCAM. The 4 MP sensor is smaller than the ones used in other new cameras like the 12,4 MP Sony sensor in Firefly 6S and SJ5000X Elite or the 16 MP Sony sensor used in Git2 and Xiaomi Yi.

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:

 4K Camera Comparison

Video recording:
.mov files; .h264 codec
data rate 35-44 MB/s tested while 1080p 60fps recording.

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!

Recently the EKEN H9R was released which features a remote control

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:
2” Screen (320×240 resolution)

 

Versions

Over the years the EKEN design changed a bit. As shown in the photo at the beginning new cameras wear an EKEN logon on the front (from early 2017). Also the package design changed as well as the waterproof housing. Besides that both have identical functions and features, EKEN H9 is still EKEN H9.

EKEN H9 - new packaging vs old packaging

EKEN H9 – new packaging vs old packaging

 

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

EKEN H9R

The EKEN H9R comes with a remote control. Note that you can’t upgrade a EKEN H9 camera to work with the remote!

EKEN H9se

The EKEN H9se is a cheaper version of H9 with cheaper built-in 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 H9 Plus & H9 Pro

In contrast to EKEN H9 the Pro and Plus version are both real 4K action cameras. The difference between those two models is the sensor: Plus uses a Sony Sensor whereas Pro uses a Panasonic sensor. The Sony sensor offers more frame rates in 1080p and 720p whereas the other specs are the same.

 

Here’s a comparison chart of all EKEN H9 series cameras:

Model:EKEN
H9 Plus
EKEN
H9 Pro
EKEN
H9/H9R
EKEN
H9se/H9Rse
Sensor12,4 MP Sony
IMX 117
14 MP Panasonic
34110
4 MP Omnivision
OV4689
4 MP
GC4603
ProcessorAmbarella A12S75Ambarella A12S75Sunplus 6350Sunplus 6350
Lens / FOV170°170°170°150°
4K Resolution
max. framerate
30fps
native (real 4K)
30fps
native (real 4K)
25fps
interpolated
25fps
interpolated
2,7K – Resolution
max. frame rate
60fps30fps30fps30fps
1080p –Resolution
max. frame rate
120fps60fps60fps60fps
720p Resolution
max. frame rate
240fps120fps120fpsno
Display2" live view2" live view2" live view2" live view
Front Displaynononono
Battery1050 mAh1050 mAh1050 mAh1050 mAh
WiFiyesyesyesyes
Image Stabilizationnononono
Remote Controlyesyesonly H9Ronly H9Rse
Portsmicro USB, micro HDMImicro USB, micro HDMImicro USB, micro HDMImicro USB, micro HDMI
A/V out via USBnononono
Mic in via USBnononono
Dimension (mm)59.3 x 21.4 x 41.1
same as GoPro
59.3 x 21.4 x 41.1
same as GoPro
59.3 x 24.6 x 41.1
same as SJCAM
59.3 x 24.6 x 41.1
same as SJCAM
Mounts & Caseincludedincludedincludedincluded
Aliexpress (ATPowers)
confirmed retailer
n/an/a39.99 USDn/a
Gearbestn/an/an/an/a
Banggood99.99 USD
coupon code: EKEN20%3
99.99 USD
Coupon Code: EKEN20%3
EKEN H9:
33.99 USD
EKEN H9R:
43.99 USD
Coupon Code: EKEN20%3
EKEN H9Rse: n/a
Amazon US
(official EKEN store)
n/an/a$69.99n/a
Amazon DE
(official EKEN store)
n/an/aEUR 79,99n/a
Amazon UK
(official EKEN store)
n/an/a£69.99n/a

 

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
available from: 33.99 USD – visit store – Coupon Code: EKEN20%3
Banggood was confirmed by EKEN to sell original products!

These Sellers on Aliexpress were confirmed to ship original EKEN H9 & H9R:

Gearbest
this is the offer for original EKEN H9 – this is the offer for a H9 camera – it’s a different camera!

 

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


 

Body, Buttons and Ports

EKEN H9 4K Action Camera

Front- and Backside of the EKEN H9 (early version – no logo)

 

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 of there 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.

 

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) and new EKEN H9 from 2017 (white). There are only 2 notable, visible firmware changes:

  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 Control:

EKEN H9R comes with remote control

EKEN H9R comes with remote control

 

EKEN H9 does not came with remote and it can’t be purchased afterwards. You have to buy EKEN H9R! 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.

 

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 40 USD I think EKEN H9 is a great camera. Similar priced cameras don’t show such a good performance. Well, be aware you buy a 40 USD camera, so don’t expect features of a 400 USD camera. But for its price, it’s a great deal.

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.

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

 The recordings in 1080p with 60fps are ultra sharp. Many comments on my YouTube channel say that my Xiaomi Yi is out of focus, but I think it is just due to the fact the the EKEN offers such a sharp picture and a very high contrast. 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. I got the feeling that the colors are a bit blue-ish; I personally prefer the color style of the Xiaomi Yi. That was in auto mode, you can change white balance, but only in the app as stated above.

Which get’s me to some issues with the cam.

 The batteries on the early built versions were not good, they drained fast. The new rounded batteries are an improvement!

 EKEN also gets very hot pretty fast and therefore some anti fog strips in the underwater case are highly recommended.

 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.

 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.

The sensor of the camera is small (Omnivision 4 MP) compared to SJ5000X and Firefly 6S (Sony 12 MP) or  YI Action Camera and Git2 (Sony 16 MP). 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.

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

 

But back to the price. It is lower than YI and you get an underwater case and several mounts included, so there have to be some deductions quality wise. The EKEN is a very affordable camera and comes with basically all you need to get started- for just around 40 USD – a great deal!
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
available from: 33.99 USD – visit store – Coupon Code: EKEN20%3
Banggood was confirmed by EKEN to sell original products!

These Sellers on Aliexpress were confirmed to ship original EKEN H9 & H9R:

Gearbest
this is the offer for original EKEN H9 – this is the offer for a H9 camera – it’s a different camera!

 

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


 

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