MGCOOL (previously known as Elephone ELECam) is releasing a bunch of new action cameras. One of them is the low priced MGCOOL Explorer, their entry level model. The EKEN H9 is quite famous in that price range, so I wanted to take a closer look. Let’s start with a comparison:

 

 EKEN H9/H9RMGCOOL ExplorerMGCOOL Explorer 1S
eken-h9-symbolMGCOOL ExplorerMGCOOL Explorer 1S
Sensor4 MP
Omnivision OV4689
8 MP
Sony IMX 179
12 MP
Sony IMX 078
ProcessorSunplus 6350Allwinner V3NT96660
FOV170°170°70°,110°,140°,170°
4K Resolution25 fps (interpolated)15 fps (interpolated)24 fps (interpolated)
2K Resolution30 fps30 fps30 fps
HD 1080pmax. 60fpsmax. 60fpsmax. 60fps
HD 720pmax. 120fpsmax. 120fpsmax. 120fps
Display2" TFT (320*240)2" TFT (320*240)2" TFT (320*240)
Battery1050mAh1050mAh1050mAh
Wifiyesyesyes
Image Stabilizationnonono
Remoteonly H9Rnono
PortsmicroUSB, micro HDMImicroUSB, micro HDMImicroUSB, micro HDMI
A/V out via USBnonono
Mic in via USBnonono
Dimension59 x 41x 24mm59 x 41 x 29mm59 x 41x 29mm
Mounts & Caseincludedincludedincluded
Price39.99 USD36.99 USD57.99 USD

 

MGCOOL Explorer is the same price as EKEN H9, but has some interesting features. Explorer offers a 8 MP Sony sensor, compared to the 4 MP Omnivision used in H9. The frame rate in 4K is just 15fps, compared to 25 fps on EKEN, but it’s interpolated anyway.
Let’s take a look at the specs in detail:

 

MGCOOL Explorer

I also included the specs for MGCOOL Explorer 1S which has a different sensor & processor compared to Explorer.

Sensor:
MGCOOL Explorer features a 8 MP Sony IMX179 sensor, a 1/3.2″ CMOS backside-illuminated image sensor. This sensor is not widespread among action cameras but is found in several smartphones such as OnePlus 3, several Huawei and Lg models.

MGCOOL Explorer 1S features a better 12  MP Sony IMX078 sensor, also used in EKEN H8.

Processor:
Explorer holds an Allwinner V3 SOC processor, found in some other action cameras like V3 sports camera.

Explorer 1S features a Novatek NT96660 sensor, same one used in many action cams such as Git2 or SJCAM SJ5000x.

Video Resolution & Frame Rate:

  • 4K  – (3840 x 2160) – 15 fps (interpolated)
  • 2K – (2560 x 1440) – 30 fps
  • 1080p – (1920 x 1080) – 60 / 30 fps
  • 720p – (1280 x 720) – 120 / 60 / 30 fps

4K resolutions is just available in 15fps, which is too low for a smooth video. Anyway it’s interpolated (upscaled from a lower resolution), real 4K cameras are at least double the price.

Explorer 1S has a better framerate in 4K resolution, 24fps, but is still interpolated.

Video Format:
.mp4 format, .h264 codec.

Photo:
Max. photo resolution is 16 MP, which is upscaled from the 8 MP sensor. File format is .jpg.

Display:
MGCOOL Explorer features a 2″  TFT Screen with 320 x 240 pixel resolution. That’s about the same as comparable action cameras.

MGCOOL Explorer holds a 2" TFT screen

MGCOOL Explorer holds a 2″ TFT screen

 

Battery:
The battery got a capacity of 1050mAh which lasts for 80 min. video recording in 1080p.

Storage:
microSD card support for cards up to 64GB; Class 10 is recommended.

Connectivity & Ports:
Wifi
You can connect Explorer camera to MGCOOL App (available for iOS and Android).

MGCOOL Explorer App

MGCOOL Explorer App

Ports
On the side of the camera you’ll find microUSB & microHDMI port
as well as microSD card slot.
Currently I’m not sure if A/V out via USB is possible,
Mic-in via USB is not available due to the microUSB port.

MGCOOL Explorer - available in black & silver

MGCOOL Explorer – available in black & silver

 

Colors:
MGCOOL Explorer is available in black and silver.

Dimensions & Weight:
Weight: 55g camera;
Dimensions: 59 x 41 x 29mm.

Accessories:
Explorer Packaging includes a 30m waterproof case, camera bracket, clip, Bicycle mount, 2 adhesive mounts, adaptor and manual.

Price Comparison / Retailer:

MGCOOL Explorer

MGCOOL Explorer 1S

 

Conclusion

MGCOOL Explorer is an interesting camera in the low price segment. A price range where EKEN H9 is very popular. For a few extra bucks you get a 8 MP Sony sensor instead of the 4 MP Omnivision sensor used in EKEN H9. There are some issues with EKEN H9 in terms of firmware upgrades and app connectivity. If MGCOOL Explorer runs more stable it could be a better choice. I hope I can test it soon to give you a hands on review and comparison.

 

Demo Video

Here’s my review of MGCOOL Explorer and a comparison with the similar priced EKEN H9

 

Join the discussion in the MGCOOL Facebook Group

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