YI Action Camera – International Version

History & Naming

The first YI Action Camera was released in Spring 2015. All over the web the name “Xiaomi YI Camera” was used. Although Xiaomi was their distribution partner in China, the company is called Xiaoyi, and for international marketing named YI Technology.

On 3rd of Dec. 2015 YI released an International Version of the camera. The first models were released for the Chinese market so the international version saw some changes which I will explain in this article. Since then several other cameras were released by YI, not only Action Cameras, also a Dashboard Camera and a Mirrorless Camera.

Back to Action Cameras: In May 2016 the new YI 4K Action Camera was released, the first camera by YI to feature touch screen & 4K resolution. In January 2017 the product line was extended by YI 4K+ Action Camera, the first action cam to offer 60fps in 4K resolution and electronic image stabilization in 4K at 30 fps.

Before going into detail about YI Action Camera, here’s a comparison with the later released models:

 

YI 4K+ Action CameraYI 4K Action CameraYI Lite Action Camera original YI
YI 4K PlusYI 4K Action CameraYi Lite Action CameraYI Action Camera
12 MP Sony
IMX377 Sensor
12 MP Sony
IMX377 Sensor
16 MP Sony
IMX 206 Sensor
16 MP Sony
IMX 206 Sensor
Ambarella H2
Processor
Ambarella A9SE
Processor
Hisilicon Hi3556V100
Processor
Ambarella A7
Processor
4K – max. 60fps
max. 120 Mbps
4K – max. 30fps
max. 100 Mbps
4K - max. 15 fps
-
no 4K resolution
available
2.7K – max. 60fps2.7K – max. 60fpsno 2.7K resolution2.7K – max. 30fps
1080p – max. 120fps1080p – max. 120fps1080p – max. 60fps1080p – max. 60fps
720p – max. 240fps720p – max. 240fps720p – max. 120fps720p – max. 120fps
RAW photoRAW photono RAW photo*no RAW photo
12 MP
max. photo resolution
12 MP
max. photo resolution
16 MP
max. photo resolution
16 MP
max. photo resolution
Display: 2,19″ touchDisplay: 2,19″ touchDisplay: 2,0″ touchDisplay: no
Battery: 1400 mAhBattery: 1400 mAhBattery: 1400 mAhBattery: 990 mAh
Image Stabilization:
up to 4K 30fps
Image Stabilization:
up to 2.7K 60fps
Image Stabilization:
up to 1440p 30fps
Image Stabilization:
no
wifi: yeswifi: yeswifi: yeswifi: yes
Bluetooth: yesBluetooth: yesBluetooth: yesBluetooth: yes
Remote Control: yesRemote Control: yesRemote Control: yesRemote Control: yes
microSD: up to 128GBmicroSD: up to 128GBmicroSD: up to 128GBmicroSD: up to 128GB
USB-C portmicro USB portmicro USB portmicro USB port
no HDMI portno HDMI portno HDMI portHDMI port
A/V out: yesA/V out: yesA/V out: yesA/V out: yes
Mic in: yesMic in: noMic in: noMic in: no
Voice ControlVoice Control***no Voice Control***no Voice Control
waterproof with casewaterproof with casewaterproof with casewaterproof with case
Price: 269 USD
(Aliexpress)
Price: 179 USD
(Geekbuying)
Price: $99.99
Amazon
Price: 59 USD
(Aliexpress - YI official)
ReviewReviewReviewReview

* It seems weird that the first & oldest YI camera got the largest sensor (16MP compared to 12MP), but the IMX 206 being used is not capable of 4K resolution. It benefits the photo capabilities tough.

** I currently don’t know if A/V out via USB-C is possible/available for YI 4K+.

*** Voice control being upgraded via firmware on YI 4K Action Camera.

 

YI Action Camera

In this article I want to cover:

  • Differences & Changes (incl. video)
  • Yi Action Camera Specs
  • Demo Footage (pics & video)
  • Accessories
  • Body & Handling
  • App for iOS and Android including Settings

 

Chinese vs International Version

 

Changes

There are 4 features which differentiate the Chinese and the International version of the Yi Camera:

Yi Action Camera International Version vs Chinese Version

Yi Action Camera International Version vs Chinese Version

 

Battery

  • Chinese Version features a 1010 mAh battery (not from Sony)
  • International Version features a 990 mAh Sony battery

Batteries from both versions are compatible! Don’t worry the Sony battery has less capacity, it actually lasts longer!

Yi Action Camera International Version vs Chinese Version - Battery

Yi Action Camera International Version vs Chinese Version – Battery

 

Back Door

The backdoor of the battery housing is covered with an aluminum/metal sheet.

Yi Action Camera International Version vs Chinese Version - Battery Door

Yi Action Camera International Version vs Chinese Version – Battery Door

 

Bottom / Notch

The notch on the bottom of the camera is gone with the international version of the YI action camera. I think that’s a pity, I really like it as it gives more stability when mounting the camera. Or at least I was hoping for more accessories using this notch.

Yi Action Camera International Version vs Chinese Version - Bottom

Yi Action Camera International Version vs Chinese Version – Bottom

 

Color

Both versions are available in “lime green” and “arctic white”; only the international version is available in “true black”:

YI Action Camera: available in "true black", "lime green" and "arctic white"

YI Action Camera: available in “true black”, “lime green” and “arctic white”

 

YI Action Camera Specs

The specs of the camera remain unchanged compared to the Chinese Version:

Chip & Sensor:
The International Version will feature the same 16 MP Sony Exmor Sensor (IMX206)
and also the Ambarella A7 chipset.

Video Resolution & Frame Rate:
2K (1296p) – max. 30 fps
1080p – max. 60 fps
720p – max. 120 fps
480p – max. 240 fps

Lens:
Aspheric surface FHD photology glass lens, F2.8 DFOV 1550
Focal length:
2.73 +-5%мм; 155° wide angle

Recording Format:
Format: .mp4; Codec: .h264;
30fps recording is 29.97fps (same as GoPro)
Currently the bit rate is 25MB/s, but there is an unofficial firmware pushing the camera to 30MB/s

Audio recording:
dual track, 96KHz sampling

Display:
Yi Action Camera doesn’t have a LCD display. Although there is a 3rd party accessory LCD which is made for Xiaomi Yi.

Battery:
A detachable 990 mAh Sony battery is used (compared to an unbranded  1010 mAh in the Chinese Version)

Storage:
Yi camera supports up to 128GB microSD cards (min. 16GB), class 10 recommended.
A microSD card is not included in both versions.

Connectivity & Ports:
built in Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0:
– wifi connects to Xiaomi iOS or Android App
– Bluetooth for Yi remote control
microUSB for:
– charging
– A/V output
– mic-in is not supported
microHDMI port for HD video output.

 

Retailers / Price Comparison:

Chinese Version:
It seems that the Chinese version was unlisted at almost every online store. Here are the links with the last known prices:
Banggood: 67.49 USD – Gearbest: 69.99 USD – Geekbuying: 69.99 USD
On Aliexpress it can be found from now and then: 71.95 USD

International Version:

  • Banggood: 86.99 USD
  • Gearbest: 69.99 USD (official reseller) – Coupon Code: YIAC5
  • Geekbuying: 89.99 USD (official reseller)
  • Aliexpress: 89.99 USD (official YI store)
  • Amazon (official YI store)



 

Hardware Version / Comparison

I did an article about the different hardware version of the Yi action camera, my international version is a Z23L model. The “L” indicates that the lens doesn’t has an IR (= Infra Red) filter. The Chinese Version I got is a Z221 model and I did the lens focus fix. The only noticeable difference I saw where the results when the sun was directly shining into the lens creating a flare:

Xiaomi Yi international vs Chinese Version

Chinese Version (left) – International Version (right)

The Chinese Version shows some purple flares whereas the International version’s picture turned a bit brownish and soft. If the sun is not directly in front of the camera the image looks similar:

Xiaomi Yi international vs Chinese Version

Chinese Version (left) – International Version (right)

Here’s the full video in 1080p with 60fps for you to compare. As I was recording without an underwater case, the sound if of course not useable, but I wanted an image without adding an additional layer over the lens:

 

Accessories

Alongside with the International Version of the Yi Action Camera several Original Accessories were release including a YI bag, several straps (Head, Chest,…) and mounts. Take a look at the overview, also including 3rd party accessories such as the LCD screen backpack:

Looking for accessories? Here are my Yi Accessories reviews

Original Xiaomi Yi Action Camera Accessories

Original Xiaomi Yi Action Camera Accessories

 

Body & Handling

The power button is on the front of the camera. Around this button there is a LED light with an additional role. The color indicates the battery status:
Blue = 100-50% battery, Purple = 50-15% and Red: 15-0%

Power Status: Blue = 100-50% battery, Purple = 50-15% and Red: 15-0%

The power button is also used to switch between photo and video mode. The current mode is indicated by 3 status LED lights:

Yi has 3 status LED lights

They are located on the top, backside and bottom of the camera. When you are in photo mode the LEDs are off and flash once you take a picture. When you switch to video mode they are on permanently and start flashing while recording. So you can operate YI Action Camera without using a phone.

On the side of the camera, there is the button and LED light for wifi connection. You can connect your phone via wifi where all other settings are controlled via YI Action App (available for iOS and Android).

Wifi button and LED light

 

YI Action App & Settings

The same app (Yi Action App) is used for the Chinese and the International Version. Since I installed the YI Action App first the app improved a lot! First version I used was only in Chinese. Since then the stability improved and the firmware update via the phone is now pretty smooth to do. Only thing I would wish: a little more settings for the camera (White Balance, ISO, Exposure).

 

Start Screen

The following screenshots are taken from iOS App version 3.4.0 with firmware 1.2.13 installed on the camera.

Yi Action App (iOS) - Start Screen

Yi Action App (iOS) – Start Screen

 

When your camera is not connected you can select your camera model first. If your phone and camera are connected, you can press “enter camera” for the live preview and settings.

The first icon in the bottom menu gets you to the camera menu. Second icon takes you to the camera roll of photos stored on your phone. The third icon “Discover” represents the YI Action Plattform where you can upload your images and see photos and videos from other users.

search  for “el Producente”, I also have an account, let’s connect within the app!

Last icon gets you to your profile within YI Action App.

 

Photo modes

One menu is a list of 4 icons on top of the live view image. Press the first icon to switch from portrait to landscape view of the live view image. Second icon adjusts lens distortion and the third icon displays two different grids over the live view image. The cogwheel gets you to the photo settings shown at the right screenshot below:

Yi Action App (iOS) - Photo Mode

Yi Action App (iOS) – Photo Mode

 

Below the live image the currently selected resolution is displayed. Below is the photo mode sub menu which you can slide left/right: Photo – Time-Lapse – Timer – Burst mode.

Photo indicates the single photo mode, in time-lapse mode you can select the interval: 0,5s – 1s – 2s – 5s – 10s – 30s – 60s. This mode will create individual photos. A video time-lapse mode, where a video file is created, is available in video mode. In timer mode you can select the self-timer countdown: 3s – 5s – 10s – 15s. Burst mode will shoot multiple photos.

To enter photo settings you have to press the cogwheel on the top right, where you can find the following settings:

Photo Settings

Resolution:

  • 16M (4608×3456 4:3)
  • 13M (4128×3096 4:3)
  • 12M (4608×2592 16:9)
  • 8M (3264×2448 4:3)
  • 5M (2560×1920 4:3)

Metering mode:

  • Center metering
  • Average metering
  • Spot metering

With this option you can define in which area of the frame the exposure is measured.

Time stamp:
You can select separately if you want a timestamp in photos and/or videos.

The green photo button acts as shutter, if you press the video icon below you change to video mode:

 

Video modes

The icons on top of the live view image are the same as in photo mode.

Yi Action App (iOS) - Video Mode

Yi Action App (iOS) – Video Mode

 

There are two video modes available standard “Video” and “Time-lapse”. This time-lapse mode has a video file as final result. When selecting this mode you can choose interval time and video length.

When pressing the cogwheel you enter video settings where you can change e.g. resolution & frame rate:

Video Settings

Resolution:
The following options are available, when NTSC is selected. When you switch to PAL (in device settings) the 30fps options are changed to 25fps or a multiple of that.

  • 2k – 2304×1296 30fps 16:9 (2K)
  • 1080p – 1920×1080 60fps 16:9
  • 1080p – 1920×1080 30fps 16:9
  • 1080p – 1920×1080 48fps 16:9
  • 1080p – 1920×1080 24fps 16:9
  • 960p – 1280×960 60fps 4:3
  • 960p – 1280×960 48fps 4:3
  • 720p – 1280×720 60fps 16:9
  • 720p – 1280×720 48fps 16:9
  • 720p – 1280×720 120fps 16:9
  • 480p – 848×480 240fps 16:9

Metering Mode:
Same as in photo mode you can define in which area of the frame the exposure is measured:

  • Center metering
  • Average metering
  • Spot metering

Auto Low Light:
When you select this option, the camera will adjust the frame rate according to the current light conditions.

Video quality:
You can select high, medium or low and the camera changes the bit rate (1080p 60fps):

  • high: 25 MB/s
  • medium: 13 MB/s
  • low: 11,5 MB/s

Time stamp:
Same as in photo mode you can display time and or date in your video.

For additional settings click the button device settings:

 

Device Settings

Yi Action App (iOS) - Device Settings

Yi Action App (iOS) – Device Settings

 

You can see the serial number of your camera and a “find camera” button below, which activates a beep sound from your camera when turned on.

Firmware:
Your installed firmware version is displayed. When you press it you can check for updates.

SD card:
You can check how much of your storage is used and you can format your inserted micro SD card.

Adjust Lens distortion:
Earlier it was called: Lens rectification or Lens Aberration Correction
This selection is also available in the top icon list when you see the live image. YI Camera has a wide-angle lens therefore the image has a strong visual distortion. You can reduce this effect when selecting “adjust lens distortion”. The quality of the picture will be a little poorer as the picture is stretched. The image size will stay the same (4608 × 3456) when in highest resolution mode.

Adjust lens distortion - ON & OFF in video and photo mode

Adjust lens distortion – ON & OFF in video and photo mode

These 2 photos and 2 video frames ware taken from the same position about 1,5m above the floor. I think in photo mode it does a pretty good job as the lines are almost straight. It seems that in video mode the lines on top and bottom are straighter but with an additional distortion in the middle.

Turn on Wi-Fi when device is on:
Not much to explain here: Wifi is turned on when you power up the camera.

AV Output:
This option came with firmware 1.0.7. With a special USB cable you’ll get a video output signal via USB. This is needed when you want to use the camera for FPV. Via USB there is no delay in video transfer compared to the preview on your phone via WiFi.
You also have to turn on this option when using the 3rd party LCD display.

Video rotation:
You can flip the image 180° in case you mount your camera upside-down.

Emergency Backup:

Video Standard:
You can select the video standard PAL or NTSC.

  • When selected NTSC the frame rates above are shown – 30fps as well as 24fps and a multiple thereof.
  • When selecting PAL you’ll get 25 fps or a multiple thereof as well as the 24 fps options.

WiFi Settings:
Here you can change the name of the camera’s wifi.
As well as the wifi password. (The standard password is 1234567890)

LED mode:
You can select All on, All off or Only status LED.
The option “Only status LED” can be very useful when the bright power indicator light is reflecting in your shot. The status lights refer to the 3 red LEDs at the top, bottom and backside; the wifi led is also turned off with this option selected.

Buzzer Volume:
You can select how loud the camera should beep when pushing the buttons: high, low or mute.

Loop recording:
In loop recording the camera is saving 5 min. clips and will start overwriting the oldest files. This option is useful for surveillance e.g. when you use it as dashboard camera. If you just want to use a dash cam, take a look at YI Dash Cam which has more features for that purpose.

Camera time:
Here you can select date and time – important when you use the timestamp!

Default camera mode:
Here you can select if the camera should power up in video or photo mode.

Turn off automatically:
You can select off, 3, 5 or 10 minutes after which the camera should power down when in standby.

Unbind bluetooth devices:
This setting is new with firmware 1.2.0 when the bluetooth remote was introduced.

Restore factory settings:
Lastly you have the option to restore your camera to factory settings.

 

That’s all of the settings, I hope this article covers all the info you were looking for.
If not, please leave a comment below, so I can improve.

If you want to share info with other users, there are several Facebook Groups

 

Conclusion

These are my pros and cons for YI Action Camera:

Great image quality due to superb specs: 16 MP Sony Sensor and Ambarella A7 chipset.

 Good price for the specs you get.

 Well working app which is constantly improved.

No LCD screen (if you need one). Third party screen backpack is available.

 Accessories and mounts are not included, so if this is your first action cam you need to invest in some accessories.

 External mic can’t be used and the internal sound is not that great. GoPro has superior quality.

Competition:
I think GitUp Git2 might be the closest competitor. It offers the same sensor as YI camera, but in contrast has a 1,5″ live view screen and supports mic input. On the downside the app is not as good as YI action app and it is a bit more expensive. Here’s my Review of Git2 Action Camera.

 

Retailers / Price Comparison:

Chinese Version:
It seems that the Chinese version was unlisted at almost every online store. Here are the links with the last known prices:
Banggood: 67.49 USD – Gearbest: 69.99 USD – Geekbuying: 69.99 USD
On Aliexpress it can be found from now and then: 71.95 USD

International Version:

  • Banggood: 86.99 USD
  • Gearbest: 69.99 USD (official reseller) – Coupon Code: YIAC5
  • Geekbuying: 89.99 USD (official reseller)
  • Aliexpress: 89.99 USD (official YI store)
  • Amazon (official YI store)



 

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