Xiaomi Mi Drone 4K – Full Length Extended Review

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Build Quality

In the unboxing I mentioned how solid this drone feels and I stand by that comment. The build is a solid textured plastic and this thing is heavy. The step up from a $200 drone to a $500 drone is quite apparent here in the way the drone is designed and built. It is quite handsome with its white textured finish and gold highlights; albeit this design is very similar to some DJI drones. The drone is slightly modular for transport: the propellors and the camera are easily removable without tools; and then the legs fold in making it almost entirely flat for transport. This is a big drone, though, so it is not the easiest to travel with.

The only thing about the build quality I am not fond of is the way the battery is seated. It is very difficult to remove. I’m sure that this is to prevent the battery from falling out during flight but the thing is there’s no dedicated lock switch or even a solid click in place when the battery goes in, and I’d rather rely on a more solid lock than a simple clip and friction.

The memory card goes into the ball of the camera. I’m going to make an important note here: this drone cannot read cards that are formatted in EXFAT which means that you can only use up to 32GB. It seems to be fairly picky about cards too so make sure to use a fast brand name card or you may get card errors while trying to record when it runs out of buffer.

Android App

The app works well enough on Android phones. Plug your phone in by USB and turn on the controller. Wait for your phone to detect the controller then enable USB tethering from your settings. Switch back to the app, where it will attempt to connect to the drone.
Once connected you are greeted with this world map view. From here you have the option of viewing the drones location on the map or viewing the video life feed. At the top of your screen here you can see the status of the drone and it will say “Could take off” when it’s ready to go. If you get a compass error at this point, I’ve found that picking up the drone, turning it left then right then placing it back down fixes this.

There are a long list of options. You’ve got your beginner mode, which limits altitude, speed and distance; ATTI mode which is more of a manual flight mode, along with different GPS settings, camera settings and max altitude settings. The only setting I would like that I haven’t been able to find is a sensitivity curve for the controller sticks. I find that the controllers are very sensitive and bank hard left or right with a slight tap.

On the video feed mode you can start or stop recording, or switch over to photo mode and take pictures, but there are also buttons on the remote that do this and they’re far easier to reach.


From power on to take off takes about 2 minutes of fiddling. Unlike a manual drone, the Mi drone needs to find a solid GPS signal, warm its batteries to an optimal temperature, align its compass, and do a bunch of pre flight checks. This is because the drone needs to know where to return to if it runs low on battery. It is a good thing because that makes it a lot more difficult to lose the drone but it also means that if you have a critical and time sensitive shot sometimes you may miss it while the drone is starting up, and I really don’t recommend rushing the startup. If you take off too quickly and the GPS is not locked, the drone may act up for the first minute or two of flying.

Once it’s in the air though it handles great. The initial settings are a bit slow but all that can be adjusted via the app. As I mentioned earlier there is a beginner mode, which limits speed and range, so it’s easy to start with. There is an automatic takeoff and landing function too. This drone is so easy to fly that my parents could do it (and they’re not tech savvy).

I took it out on an extremely windy day to see how well it would hover in place and it did not move more than a meter in any direction. The drone was being pushed back and forth by the wind like crazy but when looking at the footage of it from the drones perspective it did a very good job correcting this.

Range will depend heavily on location. Near the city where there is lots of interference I noticed that video signal will get, at most, a few hundred meters. Out in the farm fields I got way farther, about 2 KM with a reliable video signal. I also noticed that the direction the drone is facing will affect video signal range too – with the camera facing away from the controller it goes farther with video signal.

Thankfully if the drone does go out of range it will not fly away or fall out of the sky. It starts returning to its launch point based on the parimeters you set in the app. When it does get back in range you can control the return to home with the thumb sticks or cancel the return to home.
There is no collison avoidance though so you really need to pay attention to trees and buildings when it is doing its return to home, or if you set a way point for it to fly to. If you do set way points with different altitude it will be a smooth rise to that altitude so if something high is in the middle of your way points it will not go up and around. You can specify return to home altitude in the app, which I recommend double-checking every flight to ensure that you won’t hit anything if you do lose connectivity.

Video Quality


Video footage is extremely crisp and stable. It’s almost entirely free of micro-stuttering and micro-wobbling and it looks excellent displayed on a 4K screen. My footage looks great, even as as someone who is still learning techniques for flying and filming. A lot of the footage I’ve gotten with the drone looks like it could have been shot by a seasoned veteran.

All of the footage you’ve seen so far is shot in the default settings, 4K at 30 FPS. The drone also has a 2.7K at 60FPS mode and a 1080p at 100FPS mode for ultra smooth slow motion. All modes are stabilized using the gimbal. The best mode, for details, is the 4K30 and the 2.7K 60. The other modes I wouldn’t touch unless I was shooting a project that specifically required 100FPS because the difference in detail is quite significant.

4K has heaps of detail even when viewed on a big screen. Noise is kept to a minimum during the day time and colour is accurate for the most part. The default footage tends to expose a little on the darker side in order to prevent highlights from being blown out, but this results in footage that is ideal when post processed – not necessarily ideal right out of camera. There are settings for saturation and it is possible to bump up the brightness when flying but I find the right spin dial to be a little on the sensitive side so it is difficult to bump up the brightness smoothly.

When video files are saved to the memory card they include a low resolution ‘thumbnail’ file, presumably for the app to transfer quickly to your phone if you want to save the footage. I believe this is also the video that is tramsitted to you when you are viewing the feed live.

Transitions between bright and dark aren’t the smoothest, and that’s really the only minor nitpick I have about the video this drone films. Check out what it looks like when the camera switches shutter speeds: it’s not a smooth fade, so it kind of happens in steps.

Many people have mentioned issues with the gimbal horizon being wonky but I did not find that to be an issue. A recent firmware update seems to have fixed it.

No audio is recorded with the video, so if you want audio you will need an external recorder.
Even low-light shots look pretty good thanks to the stable gimbal. The low light footage does not have as much detail as daylight but it’s good enough that almost everyone will be happy with it. I wouldn’t use the drone at night as it will not pick up much detail under street lighting (plus, here in Canada it’s illegal to fly at night). If you’re going to be primarily flying at night I’d recommend steping up to a professional drone with a bigger image sensor.

Still Photo Quality (JPG and RAW)

Still photos, as JPG, are fine. Raws have a lot of noise that requires correction in post processing. I’d recommend sticking to JPG unless you absolutely need to as RAWs from this require a lot of correction to be usable. At least they’re in the common DNG format. When you take a photo, the live feed from the drone freezes for up to five seconds while it is writing to the card.

I’ve stitched photos together into a high resolution panorama and if you take the time to do a dozen or so shots by turning the drone and angling the gimbal you can stitch together a full 360. I don’t believe the drone has a way to do this automatically like the DJI drones do though.
Photo mode is completely separate from video mode and I haven’t found a way to take photos while video is being recorded. It’s no matter, though, as you can extract stills from the 4K footage and they look almost as good as what a full resolution photo would be; just 8MP instead of 12.

Battery life

The drone is rated for 28 minutes of fly time and that seems to be accurate. I’ve gotten on average, between 20 and 30 minutes from take off to landing depending on how I’m flying and the weather. When the battery reaches 30% it will warn you to land immediately and slow the speed you can fly at, so keep in mind if you’re far away it may limit your ability to return. Once it reaches 15% the drone will automatically land.


So overall would I recommend this drone? Heck yes. I’ve had a great experience flying with it and although it has some quirks, they’re all little trivial things that can easily be overlooked. I’m happy with the drone, and I think you will be too. Keep in mind brands like Mi do not have much in the way of overseas support so if something goes wrong you’ll be on your own: but the good news is that parts are readily available so if you do break it, fixing it can be fairly straightforward.


Panorama stitched from drone photos.

ThiEYE T5e vs T5 Edge – Sunday Showdown

ThiEYE T5e Benefits
  • Way more options for video control (sharpness, ISO, mic volume)
  • True 2.7k60, 1080p60, 1080p120, 720p240
  • Flatter and more neutral color
ThiEYE T5 Edge Benefits
  • Stabilization at 4K, 2.7K
  • Significantly better UI
  • Stays cooler during operation
  • Wider dynamic range
  • Slightly better exposure handling
  • Slightly better stabilization
  • Warm and vibrant color
Where to Buy

ThiEYE T5 Edge

ThiEYE T5e

For both cameras (and Akaso V50)

Video Transcript

The Thieye T5 Edge and the T5e are significantly different cameras. My goal with this video is to help you decide which would work best for you.
Let’s start with the unboxing. It’s been a while since I unboxed the T5E but I remember it coming with two batteries and less accessories whereas the Edge comes with a few more clips but only one battery.

Build Quality

In terms of build quality, the cases of these two cameras are almost identical save for the orange markings on the Edge. From the back, the sides, and the bottom these two cams are identical and they even take the same waterproof case and batteries. The biggest difference between these two cameras comes when you turn them on. First off, the screen on the Edge is noticably dimmer than the E. They both have good viewing angles though.

User Interface

The user interface of the Edge is way better than the E. To show you what I mean I’m going to count the number of clicks that it takes to change the video resolution from 4K to 1080p. (timer this) On the edge, you hit the up arrow to enter the video settings menu, then hit the down arrow, record button, down two more times, record, then menu to return for a total of 7 clicks. On the E, it takes 19 clicks to do this same simple task. You have to cycle through the modes, through the playback, then scroll past 10 different video resolutions, most of which an average user is not going to ever need. And it gets worse when you want to change other camera settings because the menu is one long list. The edge, on the other hand, has its menus cleanly broken into different sections for video settings, photo settings and camera settings so it is far easier and takes less clicks to find what you’re looking for. The options that the Edge has are more basic, and that means it is missing several customization options: the edge does not have settings for sharpness, ISO, mic volume, or field of view, all of which the E has buried in its long list.

Real 4K

Both cameras have real 4K at 30 FPS but there is one key difference: the Edge has stabilization at 4K while the E does not. The E excells in 1080p 60 and 1080p 120, where it has far more detail. If you want higher resolution and don’t care about frame rate, the Edge is the cam for you but plan on using 1080p60 primarily you’ll probably be better off with the E. Since we’ve got the Edge on the left, lets talk about where it is best first: high resolution modes. Mounted on my bike handle bars these cameras have to deal with a lot of bumps and shaking, and side by side like this it’s hard to see the difference, so let’s look at one clip at a time.

The Edge in 4K has a decent amount of detail although perhaps slightly less than the E. I find that it also has some slight compression artifacts in smooth gradients like the sky and the clouds. Let’s take a closer look at each camera, and slow it down a little. At half speed you can see that the footage looks pretty damn good but if you’re on a big 4K screen you might see some compression noise in the form of blocks or a slight lack of smoothness in the gradients. Some of that is Youtube and some of that is the camera. The E also has a bit of noise up close but again it’s no big deal. Let’s compare that to the E.

The E footage has very slightly more detail. It’s such a slight difference that you may need to freeze and zoom into 100% to see it, but take a close look up on the trees in the distance. On the Edge it’s just a bit more smudgy.

The difference in actual resolution is kind of a moot point because unless the E is mounted on a tripod or placed on a stable surface like a table the video from it is less useful than the Edge, thanks to the stabilization. Check out the difference between stabilized and unstabilized footage and you’ll see what I mean. Also, I noticed while filming this, that the Edge stays way cooler than the E. The E gets hot at 4K resolution!

1080p 60 and High Frame Rate Modes

Let’s flip things around now and look at 1080p video, where the E is the clear winner. The difference in the amount of detail the two cameras resolve is startling, with the E being far sharper. It’s almost as if the Edge is actually shooting video in 720P, and then upscaling to 1080p.

As per usual we’ll start with the Edge up close. The video isn’t terrible, far from the worst 1080p 60 I’ve ever seen. It is a true 60 frames per second, so it can slow down to half speed and still be reasonably smooth; but still check out the grass and the pathway compared to the E. It too is a true 60 frames per second but it also resolves real 1080p. The E also has several slow-mo modes that the Edge does not: 2.7K 60, 1080p 120 and 720p 240. Quite frankly, if the Edge had stabilized 2.7K 60FPS it would be the perfect camera, but I can dream. Having the option, even if it does not have stabilization, is nice because it can be used on a gimbal or flat surface or with a proper stabilizer where with the Edge you’re stuck.

The point of this section was to say that if you want slow motion or you plan to use 1080p60, maybe stick with the E, but if you want higher resolution then the Edge is the better choice due to stabilization.


Speaking of higher resolution, on the Edge, both 4K and 2.7K are 60 Megabits per seconds so I prefer the 2.7K mode. I think this is the best mode on the camera, so lets step down to 2.7K for the rest of this comparison. I’ll be using the 1080p60 on the E so you don’t have to suffer without stabilization.
We’ll take a close up look at the Edge first of all. The Edge does a decent job with stabilization and although it’s not as powerful as some high end cameras it is quite good for the price. It maintains a good amount of detail without loss of resolution. The video stays flat with stabilization distortion being well corrected and there’s little wobble.

And now lets see the E. Remember that the E is in 1080p 60 because this is the highest resolution it offers stabilization in. The stabilization is pretty good too. Which one do you think does better? Let me know in the comments.

Colour and Exposure

It’s hard to say which colours are more accurate; I think that the Edge consistently pushes a bit towards warmer yellows, which you can see on the concrete compared to the E. At this point it’s basically preference. I find that the Edge is a bit more vibrant than the E, as well it is definitely warmer in many situations. The Edge is the clear winner though in terms of dynamic range. There were several times where I felt the Edge looked overall better, especially when there was a lot of contrast in the scene like during bright daylight. Check out the cloud in the top right. The Edge has detail throughout the cloud whereas on the E it’s a big bright splotch.

Low Light and Night

Low-light is kind of a toss up between the two cameras. In some situations the Edge is a bit brighter, but as it gets darker and darker both cameras get more smudgy due to noise reduction. In a dark situation the stabilization on both cameras are ineffective. The Edge can get brighter than the E, but at the expense of detail. For most people either camera will be good enough but my personal preference sways slightly towards the Edge.

Audio Quality

Audio quality between the two cameras can only be compared with some samples. The Edge just got a new firmware update that promises improved audio quality and I have to say, I really notice the difference between the new firmware and the old one but it’s still not as clear as the E. The Edge has a bit of a problem where it sounds echoy and hollow, as well sometimes it peaks and clips the sound with a harsh crackle. The new firmware improved this a little. Check it out:

Still Photos

Well, this will be based on your preference again; If you prefer the brighter and more dynamic colours of the Edge and can put up with the slightly smudgy details it is better, but if you prefer the sharpness and way that the E resolves detail


I tried my best to make this video not confusing but it was quite difficult since the two cams are named basically the same thing. It looks like for most situations I like the Edge more though, which was a massive surprise. The only things I really think the E are better at is audio and high frame rate modes.

It seems like the hunt for the perfect budget 4K camera is still on. I’d be happiest with a mash-up of these two camera to be honest. It seems like, when buying one of these cameras, you need to take into account what each camera is best at and figure out what you want to prioritize. A lot of cameras out there that say 4K are junk but these two seem to be on the higher end. They’re still not perfect but each iteration is getting closer.



Akaso V50 versus ThiEYE T5 Edge || Cheap Real 4K Showdown

The ThiEYE T5 Edge is very slightly better than the V50 in almost every way (lens, stabilization, user interface), but it’s not enough to justify the 30% higher price on Amazon. The V50 has a more rounded accessory package too. If you can get a deal from an overseas seller the Edge is a marginally better cam, otherwise stick with whatever is cheaper on Amazon.

The T5 Edge is currently only 10 GBP more on Amazon UK (and that’s worth it imho but 30+ difference isn’t)

Author’s note: I forgot to note when I showed a cropped 4K and 2.7K sample, so if you’re wondering why the quality of those two shots are so poor, now you know. They’re cropped in!


Akaso V50 – USA and Canada
Akaso V50 – UK

ThiEYE T5 Edge – USA and Canada 
ThiEYE T5 Edge UK
Cheap / International Seller 

Spare Batteries for Akaso V50 / T5 Edge and charger kit (international seller)

Akaso V50 Charger / ThiEYE T5 Edge Charger only
Single spare batteries for Akaso V50 and ThiEYE T5 Edge

Batteries, UK

Please note: the above links are affiliate links. I get a small kickback if you use them to purchase a product. It helps my channel grow and make more videos like this. Thanks for your support!

ThiEYE T5 Edge Unboxing and Review – A Cheap Real 4K Cam with Stabilization at 4K


The ThiEYE T5 Edge is one of the newest cams in ThiEYE’s lineup, and it is one of the first cheap cameras to feature real 4K and electronic stabilization at 4K 30FPS. Initial tests look promising – but this camera has a big legacy to live up to. The original T5e was one of our favorite cameras last year, so it’s going to be a tough fight. Subscribe to us on Youtube to find out when the showdown video is released later this month.

Full Review

Coming soon!

Stabilization Test


T5 Edge on Gearbest

Xiaomi Mi Drone 4K – Unboxing and First Look

Buy the drone here!

If you find yourself in a position like me where you want real 4K footage for your channel and don’t want to spend a ton of money this looks like a good choice.

Flying this compared to a manual drone is insanely easy. There’s a button to auto take off, another to land. A beginner mode for learning. It is easy to fly and will return to where it started if you lose signal. It goes pretty fast and has a good range. The battery life is quite long.

The app can be a bit complicated (hence why I’ll do a video just on it). Sometimes the drone would not take off due to compass error. You can fix the Mi 4K drone compass error by picking up the drone again and turning it to face north, then placing it back on the ground.

Mi also has a 1080p version but I think the 4K version is the way to go. If you only want 1080p just get the tiny DJI Spark instead.

Please be aware of laws and regulations in your area before flying drones.

Buy it here 
Accessories / Spare Parts

Action cam used for supporting footage: Xiaomi Mijia 4K
Head cam: Firefly 8S

Note: It says Chinese version but the plug I got was North America compatible.

Thanks for watching!


Akaso V50 Unboxing and Review – Real 4K on a Budget


Skip to video samples: 2:57 | Buy the camera here | Full written review coming soon! | USB charger for Akaso V50 (does not include batteries) | Extra batteries and charger for Akaso V50 (compatible)

At $110, this is one of the least expensive real 4K cams available on Amazon. At the time of posting I think it’s one of the better deals for someone who wants more resolution than 1080p but doesn’t want to break the bank. This is my initial test and review, more testing and a full breakdown of video quality (including comparisons to other cams) will be released in the next few weeks.

The video quality isn’t as clean as something like the SJ7 Star or Firefly 8S and definitely not as good as GoPro Hero6 or Sony FDR-X3000 – it’s quite close though. But overall for the video quality you get versus price, this is a good deal for a cam available on Amazon Prime. Of course, spending this much from an overseas seller will net you a much better camera but that requires import and shipping time.

Included in this video is some drone footage, some biking footage and some driving footage.

Please don’t trust Amazon reviews on this cam, because Akaso has been known in the past to give free copies of the cam for 5-star reviews. Watch video samples and decide for yourself.

I think the V50 is definitely worth getting over the Akaso EK7000 and the Akaso Brave 4 since those are both fake 4K and there are cheaper cams with the same hardware as those two available on Amazon.

If all you need is 1080p, get the SooCoo C30 instead because it’s cheaper, has stabilization, bigger batteries and a real 12MP sensor (fake 4K though).

Ele Rexso K Unboxing and Review – Cheap Stabilized Real 4K

The Ele Rexso K is based on a Hi3559 Processor and 16MP Panasonic MN34210 sensor. The camera performs best in its native 4K 30FPS resolution, with 1080p and 2K modes not being as sharp as competitors. Audio is quiet. Video is pretty good at night with lots of detail, however there is a decent amount of noise introduced. The user interface can be somewhat confusing but it is straightforward enough once you figure it out.

At $84.99 (when reviewed) this cam is the cheapest real 4K cam I’ve tested to date and it performs quite well at 4K given its price. However there are better cameras with sharper 1080p60, and better stabilization.

I recommend that you check out the Firefly 8S instead if you plan to be shooting mostly in 1080p.

Xiaomi Mi A1 (5X) In-Depth Camera Review

A little while ago I made a review of the Xiaomi Mi A1 and I had a lot of good things to say about the phone as well as a couple fairly minor criticisms. I suggest watching that if you’re considering this phone. But one thing I didn’t go into detail about was the camera, and since that’s sort of my area of expertise I wanted to do an extended video on it. First of all, I want to say that this is a $200 smartphone so I don’t expect perfection; and in daylight the phone is a perfectly competent shooter with a wide dynamic range (detail in shadows and highlights), accurate color and straightforward user interface. But at night that story changes and if you, like many phone camera users, find yourself shooting the majority of your pictures indoors or in non-ideal lighting, you may want to consider something else. Many older flagship models, such as the LG V20, have far superior cameras to this phone and only cost a few dollars more.

Camera App

Ease of use

Lets start the camera app itself. The camera app is actually one of my favorites that I’ve used to date because of its simplicity. The main interface has basic options only: flash, HDR, portrait blur mode and several filters. Under the options button, there are other choices and the advanced manual mode. If you prefer manual mode, there is no way to have the camera default to it, but it does have a full range of options including shutter speed down to 1/15 second (no long exposure), ISO, white balance and focus.

Tapping anywhere in the frame will lock focus and sliding up or down changes brightness, if you don’t like what the camera has determined for you.

Taking photos in normal mode is fast, with minimal shutter lag. Turning on HDR however introduces up to one second of lag as you can see when I wave my hand through the frame here. There is no automatic HDR mode so it’s up to you to turn it on for the situation.

To record video requires two presses, since the video mode is separate from photo. Click the video button, wait a moment for it to load then hit record to start. There are far fewer options and modes with video, and there is no way to take video with the secondary zoom lens.

Still Photos – Main Camera


Daylight is where this camera excells and the difference between this phones camera and other mid and high end smartphones is quite small. The vast majority of people will be very happy with how this phone shoots in the day. The A1 produces nice colours and it has a fairly broad dynamic range. Photos are vibrant, if occasionally on the blue side. By default there is a lot of contrast and photos are over sharpened. Thankfully there is an easy way to tweak both of these settings to your personal preference. If I were to generalize I would say that the vast majorit of photos I take with this phone turn out good, with only a few turning out excellent.

Low light

Anything other than broad daylight and this camera starts to fall apart fast. Unfortunately, due to the lack of optical stabilization, it is significantly harder to take clear, non-blurry photos with this camera than it is with other smartphones that have stabilization. This was one of those things that I did not think about until it was gone, and now that I am missing it, I really miss it. Photos start to get grainier as the light goes out, and indoors or night shots lack detail and look noisy – that is, when they’re clear. This was the first time in years I found myself taking multiple photos and praying one would turn out where I could read text on signs, or if I was taking photos of labels to send to friends it was guaranteed I would need to shoot two or three to get them clear enough to read. My LG G4, which was cheaper than this phone, has way better low light performance.


Surprisingly though, flash photos look really good so long as you’re within about 2 meters of your subject since that’s all the flash can illuminate reliably. The flash is more of a pinkish tone than other phones (which tend to be more white). In my opinion this results in natural skin tones, whereas the whitish LEDs of other phones I have tested next to this one end up a little bit green. As with most phones, the flash is positioned so close to the lens that there is a lot of red eye, and there is no way to easily remove it with the phones built in Google Photos app.

Still Photos – 2X Main Camera


Daylight is the zoom lenses forte, seeing as it too does not have optical stabilization. Photos shot in broad daylight or overcast look decent, with good colour overall and minimal noise. I wonder why Xiaomi used a different sensor than the main camera, as the main camera has more detail and a better colour and noise profile overall but again I think that this is something the majorit of people won’t be concerned with as it does provide a little resolution bump over using digital zoom.

Low light (doesn’t work!)

The only way to use the secondary camera in low light is in manual mode. If the A1 determines it is not bright enough out (as in, not broad daylight), it will default to using digital zoom instead of the secondary camera. I found myself often wondering if the photos in overcast looked poor because the camera was shooting with its secondary sensor that is not as good as the primary one, of if they looked poor because it was shooting with the primary sensor and using digital zoom instead. This can be rather frustrating – and it kind of defeats the purpose of having the secondary lens. Why not just have a single, better quality camera instead of two mid range sensors? I guess to be trendy? Nonetheless, if you force the camera to use the secondary lens in low light you will see why it tries to default to the wide lens with digital zoom: photos are very noisy and lack most detail.

Portrait Mode

Because the portrait mode uses the secondary camera, Xiaomi handily warns you that it may be too dark if you are indoors or it is night time. Portrait mode works decent in daylight, cutting out most background details although occasionally it does accidentally blur some hair. In anything other than daylight, since it uses the lower quality secondary sensor, it is subject to the same limitations mentioned above. That is to say, people look weirdly noisy while the background is artifically blurred and it makes for unappealing photos overall. But yeah, as long as there’s enough light, great!

Still photos – Selfie Camera

In the day, the selfie camera takes competent photos. The focus is tweaked to fairly far away from the camera so to get the best photo I found I really had to stretch out my arm. Once I did that though, there was an adequate amount of detail on my face and the camera did a good job handling tough situations like bright backlighting.

Indoors it’s not too bad either as long as there’s a decent amount of light, and at night it’s not the worst selfie cam I’ve ever seen. Its primarily best for daylight shooting though.

Video – Main camera


Basic resolution tests show that this camera is capable of shooting real 4K at 30 FPS and real 1080p at 30 FPS. Slow motion has a lower frame rate. While video has a decent amount of detail, it tends to be extremely contrasty and overall darker than I would like. There’s no way to adjust the contrast of the video, like there is for the photos, so you’re stuck with what Xiaomi has decided is good for you. To be fair, it’s far from the worst smartphone video I’ve ever seen as it does offer true 4K. I just wish that there was an option to tweak the contrast like there is for photos as it feels like this camera is capable of doing way better than it currently is.

To show you what I mean, here is a still photo processed by the camera with no colour editing. And then here is a video in the same situation. The dark parts of the video are much darker and the bright parts are much brighter and the colour is different. If the video camera did what the photo camera did I would definitely be giving it more points.

Low light

The camera maintains a decent amount of detail in low light by lowering the shutter speed well beyond the required 1/30 of a second for video. This results in moving objects getting blurry and the video looking like it is skipping occasionally. But honestly it’s not that bad because there’s minimal noise and as long as you’re holding the camera dead still you can make out details.

Lack of electronic stabilization

Even though the cameras do not have Optical Stabilization, Mi could have included electronic stabilization but unfortunately that did not happen. It makes walking and talking with this camera quite difficult. Most of these tests I had the camera resting on an object or on a tripod or using a handheld stabilizer because I didn’t think you all would want to watch ten minutes of me shaking the camera. Again, this is something I didn’t realize I’d miss until it was gone. I thought it was a give-in for smartphone cameras.

Audio Quality

The biggest issue, with video though, is the garbled background noise. I actually waited until the Android 8.0 update on this phone to see if they fixed the issue, but it is still there for me. Any sound processed by this camera seems to be subject to a strong noise reduction, which results in car noise sounding like someone is shaking a bucket of nuts and bolts. Watch the video to hear it for yourself.

Autofocus hunting

There are two autofocus modes with video: continuous autofocus and tap to focus. I highly recommend leaving the camera on tap to focus as the CAF mode tends to be fairly sensitive and jump between focus points. The autofocus is not smooth.

Video – Selfie camera

Video with the selfie camera is similar to photos with the selfie camera.


The camera overall is competent in daylight but in mixed lighting results are much poorer. Unfortunately bad lighting is from my experience, 75% of what cell phone photos are taken in. So yeah, the Mi A1 is a competent phone with a decent camera for a mid-range device, but is it really worth your money? If you’re the kind of person who uses the camera a little and the rest of the phone features more, it is a compelling device, but for the avid photographer, look elsewhere.

Xiaomi Mi A1 (5X) Unboxing and Review

The Xiaomi Mi A1 (5X) is a mid-tier smartphone with decent specifications and a metal build. At a budget price of $200, the phone offers some features found mostly on advanced smartphones: a secondary back camera for optical zoom, fingerprint unlock and stock Android. There are a few places that Xiaomi can improve for its next iteration: for example, the camera is virtually unusable in low light due to its lack of optical stabilization. Also, the secondary zoom camera lens does not work in low light; the camera app defaults to the main camera with digital zoom (likely so that it is not as blurry from camera shake). The design could also be refined: thinner bezels, less regulatory text on the back of the phone and no backlight bleed from the hardware capacitive buttons would be welcome changes. Overall this is a decent phone from a company who has experience making solid budget devices.

Note: make sure you check compatibility with your local network, otherwise this phone may not function.

Camera Review

Please click here to see the in-depth camera review.

Blueskysea B1W Dashcam Unboxing and Review

The Blueskysea B1w dashcam is based on a Sony sensor at a budget price. While the camera firmware needs some tweaking since it’s on a first firmware revision, this camera has a lot going for it for the price: 1080p at 30 FPS in h.264, a Sony sensor, and a compact form factor. It is also based on a capacitor which usually means higher reliability in hot and cold weather.

Note: The video samples are based on an older firmware version and may not represent how the video currently looks.

Full review coming soon.