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Cameras

Xiaomi launches GoPro rival with a jaw-dropping price tag

Xiaomi launches the Yi Action Camera with a spec sheet to match GoPro's entry-level camera and two-digit price tag.

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The Yi Action Camera. Xiaomi

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has brought its budget-friendly sensibilities to the action camera world, and the result is enough to make even the most ardent GoPro owner stop in their tracks. Xiaomi's Yi Action Camera is a compact action-travel camera made for the non-sedentary photographer.

Like the entry-level GoPro Hero , the Yi Action Camera comes with comparatively powerful photo and video capabilities, despite its diminutive size. The new Chinese camera is priced at 399 RMB (about $65, AU$85 or £40) -- half the GoPro Hero's retail price of $130.

Despite the big price gap, the Yi actually meets the GoPro Hero's specs head-on -- at least on paper.

Both cameras share a few features in common, such as built-in Wi-Fi for file transfers and remote control via companion apps. The two cameras also have similar battery capacity, identical waterproof depth, and the handy option of bracket-mounting the device on your chosen helmet, pet harness, or vehicle.

However, the Yi pulls ahead in video quality. The GoPro Hero shoots at a 5-megapixel resolution and records 1080p video at 30fps or 720p video at 30fps. The Yi Action Camera is powered by an Ambarella A7LS image processor paired with Sony's back-illuminated Exmor R BSI CMOS image sensor, which enables it to shoot photos at 16 megapixels and record 1080p video at 60fps, outclassing the GoPro ever so slightly. The Yi Action Camera is also significantly lighter -- 72g, versus the 111g GoPro Hero.

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The Yi Action Camera is light on accessories, but you can still get the all-important selfie stick. Xiaomi

The GoPro Hero does have a wider viewing angle -- 170 degrees against the Yi Action Camera's 155 degrees, and GoPro's brand ubiquity comes along with a host of accessories and transparent plastic camera housing, which the Yi Action Camera lacks. The Chinese action camera does come with a 499 RMB ($80, AU$105 or £55) option, which bundles only a proprietary selfie stick, along with a choice of white- or olive-coloured camera body.

What dampens some of the excitement for the Yi Action Camera is the notoriously limited availability of Xiaomi's products. The Yi Action Camera is currently available only in the Chinese market and subject to Xiaomi's flash sales through its online Mi store.