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Drones

Xiaomi's remarkably cheap Mi Drone takes off in July

The Chinese electronics brand has made good on its plans to launch an affordable quadcopter that will start at about $380 in China.

With the Xiaomi Mi Drone, the Chinese company keeps doing what it does best: promising tech with high-end specs and performance at incredibly competitive prices.

Outside of China the company is best known for its smartphones, but it has been building a lineup of related devices such as the Yi action cam and the Mi Box, an Android TV-powered set-top box.

Now there's a quadcopter. Xiaomi says the Mi Drone will come in two versions, one with a 4K-resolution camera and another with a 1080p camera. 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) and will be crowdfunded through the company's Mi Home app, starting on May 26.

While there's definitely been a drop in consumer drone prices, a sub-$500 price for a quad with a 4K-resolution camera is remarkable. Category leader DJI's least-expensive quad with a 4K camera comes in at $799. Though you probably won't get as polished a product as the DJI, Xiaomi is promising a compelling package.

The 1080p camera features a 16-megapixel Sony sensor while the 4K version uses a 12-megapixel sensor to record at 3,840x2,160-pixel resolution and supports photo capture in raw format. Both are mounted on motorized three-axis gimbals for image stabilization. To make traveling easier, the cameras are removable and the landing gear folds up.

Other features include:

  • GPS and Glonass support for accurate positioning outdoors
  • Visual positioning system for stability when flying indoors or without GPS (below 2.5 meters/8 feet)
  • Up to 27 minutes of flight time from a 5,100 mAh removable battery
  • Automatic take-off, landing and return modes
  • Flight path planning and point-of-interest orbiting modes

Where to Buy

Xiaomi Mi Drone

Visit manufacturer site for details.

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