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 the manufacturer is related to Xiaomi, the company is called Xiaoyi, and for international marketing the company is called YI Technology.

On 3rd of Dec. 2015 Xiaomi released an International Version of the Yi Action Camera. The first models were released for the Chinese market and 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 to offer 60fps in 4K resolution. Marking YI’s new top of the line product.

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

* 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+.

*** I assume RAW photo and 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
  • App for iOS and Android

 

Chinese vs International Version

 

According to the press release I got the International Version differs:

The package is better, local language and all the international certifications


And according to the description on amazon.com:

The U.S. version is compatible with U.S. Wi-Fi network environments and voltage, along with U.S. environmental standards. It has different packaging and English instructions. The other non-U.S. version are not from authorized sellers and could be counterfeit.

Yi Action Camera International Version vs Chinese Version

Yi Action Camera International Version vs Chinese Version

 

Changes

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

Battery

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

UPDATE: first reports said 1100 mAh but after receiving the camera the printing says 990 mAh – BUT it lasts longer! See video above.

Batteries from both versions are compatible!

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:
The Xiaomi Yi 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 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 to Xiaomi 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 Xiaomi Yi Accessories reviews

Original Xiaomi Yi Action Camera Accessories

Original Xiaomi Yi Action Camera Accessories

 

App & Settings

The same App is used for the Chinese and the International Version. Since I installed the YI Action App first (I use an iOS device) the app improved a lot! (The first version I used was only in Chinese) Since then the stability improved a lot and also the Firmware Update via the phone is now pretty smooth to do, also the landscape mode was introduced. Only thing I would wish: a little more settings for the camera (White Balance, ISO, Exposure). The iOS App even got an App for the Apple Watch.
I also tested the Android App with similar great results!

Start Screen – Mode selection

In the very early versions there were different modes for photo and video, now you got everything on one start screen:

Yi App Start Screen (iOS)

Yi App Start Screen (iOS) (right) – Mode selection after pressing the button right of the shutter button (left)

This is the screen when you connected your Yi action camera and your smartphone. I’ll go through the buttons from to down:

On top you can disconnect (right) or enter the settings (left) – more on the settings later.

What cam with a later version is the “expand button” in the picture. The preview picture will switch to fullscreen and landscape mode – that was requested for a long time!

The first line below the live preview shows the current settings on the left and the battery status of the camera on the right.

Right of the shutter button you can select the mode of the camera. There a two lines, first line shows the photo modes: Single, Timer, Time-Lapse and Burst; the second line the video modes: Video & Video Time-Lapse.
Left of the shutter button you can change the settings for each mode:

 

Photo modes

Xiaomi Yi Photo Modes: Single, Countdown, Time-Lapse & Burst

Xiaomi Yi Photo Modes: Single, Countdown, Time-Lapse & Burst

 

  1. In Single mode you can select resolution
  2. In Timer mode you can additionally select the self-timer countdown: 3s – 5s – 10s – 15s
  3. In Time-lapse mode you can select the interval: 0,5s – 1s – 2s – 5s – 10s – 30s – 60s
  4. In Burst mode (no photo) the camera  will shoot as many pics as possible in selected resolution. There are no selections available in this mode.

 

Video modes

Xiaomi Yi Video Modes: Video & Time-Lapse

Xiaomi Yi Video Modes: Video & Time-Lapse

 

  1. In Video Mode you can select the Resolution and Frame Rate (more options available in the settings)
  2. In Video Time-Lapse Mode you can select resolution interval when pictures should be taken and video length. When off is selected the time-lapse is taken until you stop it manually

 

Photo vs Video Time-Lapse:

You can select video time-lapse where a video of your time-lapse is generated. When selecting time-lapse in photo mode, several photos will be taken according to the selected interval, but no video is generated!

Settings

When you enter the settings in the top menu of your app you’ll have a variety of options. I’ll go through them per sections.

Video section

The first section in your app handles settings for video recording showing the following options:

Yi Action Camera - Video Settings (iOS)

Yi Action Camera – Video Settings (iOS)

 

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:
You can select if you want date, time or date & time recorded with your video.
Currently the Timestamp is not displayed when “lens rectification” is turned on. In early firmware versions the stamp was distorted in that mode.

Lens Rectification off & Timestamp off - LR off & T on - LR on & T on

Lens Rectification off & Timestamp off – LR off & T on – LR on & T on

 

Resolution:
The following options are available. What’s interesting, that 720p 30fps is not available.

  • 2k – 2304×1296 30fps 16:9 (2K) – new with firmware 1.2.0
  • 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

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.

Default Recording Mode:
Here you can select if the camera should start in video mode or Time-Lapse mode (video time-lapse).

Metering Mode:
In earlier version metering mode was located in the video section, which was later moved to camera section later.

 

Photo Section

In the next section you can control the photo options of your camera:

Yi Action Camera - Photo Settings

Yi Action Camera – Photo Settings

 

Resolution:

The following resolutions are available on your camera. All of them are in a 4:3 format; 16:9 formats available with firmware 1.2.0:

  • 16M (4608×3456 4:3)
  • 13M (4128×3096 4:3)
  • 12M (4608×2592 16:9) – new with firmware 1.2.0
  • 8M (3264×2448 4:3)
  • 5M (2560×1920 4:3)

Default capture mode:
You can choose from 4 photo modes:

  • Single
  • Time-lapse
  • Timer
  • Burst

Here you can select in which mode the camera should start, when selecting the photo mode.

Time stamp:
You can select separately if you want a timestamp in photos and/or videos.
Same as for video timestamp you can select date, time and date & time. Also there is currently no timestamp when “lens rectification” is turned on.

Lens Rectification off & Timestamp off - LR off & T on - LR on & T on

Lens Rectification off & Timestamp off – LR off & T on – LR on & T on

Camera Section

The next section handles general camera settings:

Yi Action Camera - Camera Settings

Yi Action Camera – Camera Settings

 

Preview Switch:
This option switches off the preview on your phone.

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

In photo mode there seems to be a longer exposure and the picture gets brighter, but not much reducing noise.
In video mode the picture seems way darker than in photo mode, still testing on motion blur as frame rate will auto go down.

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.

Adjust Lens distortion:
Earlier it was called: Lens rectification or Lens Aberration Correction
The 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. The image I posted in the timestamp section looks better than this one. I don’t know exactly how this is done technically. GoPro has a superview mode where the camera uses the full 4:3 sensor (xiaomi also has a 4:3 sensor) and stretches the edge to a 16:9 video picture.

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 important when you want to use the camera for FPV. Via USB there is also no delay in video transfer like during 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.
(Implemented in Firmware 1.0.9)

Metering Mode:
This option was located in the video section in earlier versions of the app. You can select:

  • Center metering
  • Average metering
  • Spot metering

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

Emergency Backup:

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

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!

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.

Auto Power Off:
You can select 3, 5 or 10 minutes after which the camera should power down when not in use or select off.

Device Section

Last section of your app handles the device settings:

Yi Action Camera - Device Settings

Yi Action Camera – Device Settings

Model number is shown as well as your camera’s serial number.
The serial numer indicates the hardware version.
Current Firmware version is shown.
When selecting SD card you’ll see how much storage is left on your microSD card.
A nice option is “find camera”. When you select it the camera will start beeping. Well of course the camera has to be turned on (check auto power off). And it seems that it doesn’t matter which buzzer sound you have selected.
Unbind bluetooth devices – This setting is new with firmware 1.2.0 when the bluetooth remote was introduced.
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

 

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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