Xiaomi releases $460 Mi drone with 4K camera
Xiaomi, the Chinese brand well known for its affordable and feature packed smartphones will be also making drones for consumers. The company has a knack for providing high-end technology and performance at very competitive prices and if it keeps up the good work, their drone might be making DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, who is also based in China, a bit uneasy.
The Mi Drone is a modular quadcopter for the consumers, and will be available in two variants, one with a 4K camera and the other with a 1080p camera. The drone’s remote control will use the Mi smartphone as the viewfinder. The former will be available in late July for 2,999 yuan (approximately $455, AU$635 or £310) as part of an open beta program. The latter is priced at 2,499 yuan (around $380, AU$530 or £260). Xiaomi stated that the 1080p Mi Drone will be crowdfunded through the company’s Mi Home application, starting on May 26.
The Mi Drone carries a ball-shaped 4K camera beneath it which uses a Sony 12.4-megapixel CMOS sensor that can capture video at up to 3,840 x 2,160 resolution at 30 fps. Images can be captured in both JPEG and RAW formats. Its detachable gimbal does 3-axis stabilization which corrects itself 2,000 times per second, and this is assisted by an optical flow sensor positioned between the camera and battery bay on the back. The drone looks a lot like the Phantom series from DJI, with the all-white body and below body camera.
Xiaomi’s drone is packed with some really good features. The whole unit is modular, the camera is detachable and so are all the rotors, which adds to the ease of serviceability of the whole unit. The drone with made with carbon fiber components, which gives it a very light weight of just 140 grams. The drone has an operational range up to 2 kilometers and the 5,100 mAh replaceable battery gives it a flight time of 27 minutes on a single charge.
The Mi Drone uses both GPS and GLONASS for positioning, and has a visual positioning system on the bottom that allows it to remain stable while flying at low altitudes in environments where it cannot get a satellite signal. Its detachable gimbal does 3-axis stabilization which corrects itself 2,000 times per second. It also offers the standard package of autonomous flights modes: takeoff, landing, return to home, waypoint navigation, and orbit. The Mi Drone also has the ability to create a Geofence to limit its movements. The drone controller has a dedicated button for take offs and landings, there is even a switch for returning the drone home. The drone will also return home automatically, if the battery is running low or if the drone lose contact with the controller.
Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun officially unveiled the Mi Drone in front of more than 370,000 live stream viewers. “I want everyone to be able to afford good stuff. That’s why I set up Xiaomi in the first place,” he added.
It is pretty clear that Xiaomi is targeting the Chinese firm DJI as its rival in the quadcopter drone business with such pricing. The least expensive of DJI’s drone, the Phantom 3 4K sells for about 3,999 yuan ($799, AU$ 1099 or £550).