Mi Action Camera 4K (Xiaomi Mijia Mini) Review
We got a lot more than we expected from the cheapest 4K camera on the market, the Xiaomi Mijia Mini. We should have known we were in for a pleasant surprise when we saw the sleek packaging, but it’s had to know what to expect for a hundred bucks. That’s right, you can find your own Mijia Mini (also sold as the Mi Action Camera 4K) for just $106.00 depending on your retailer and shipping costs. Let’s recalibrate your expectations and your camera settings.
- Model: YDXJ01FM
- Processor: Ambarella A12S75
- Image Sensor: Sony IMX317
- Lens: 7-element Glass Lens
- Aperture: f2.8 aperture, 145-degree FOV
- Screen: 2.4″ LCD, 960 × 480 pixels
- Recording Modes: 4K 30fps, 1080p 100fps, 720p 200fps
- Recommended: 4K SD Cards SanDisk Extreme U3 and Extreme PRO U3 (Images), Kingston SDCA3 U3 and SDCAC U3 (Video)
- Battery: 1450mAh
- Dimensions: 7.15 x 4.27 x 2.95 cm
- Weight: 99g
We started to get excited when the Mi Action Camera arrived. It comes in an attractive white box that looks like it could hold an Apple iPod. Sleek and sturdy, sliding off the case reveals the tiny camera, battery, and USB cable.
The device looks good and feels good in the hand. It’s easy to hold with your thumb and first two fingers due to the sandpaper-like finish on the sides. The rectangular casing with rounded corners has a pleasing 16:9 aspect ratio. The front is matte black and smooth with a powdered finish, the lens is recessed in a firm metal ring, and the rear is a 2.4” LCD glass screen. There is one metal button on the top. On the side, the USB port is protected by a reassuring plastic slider. The battery housing (which also has the microSD slot) has an arrow that you depress to lock and unlock the spring-loaded sliding cover. The camera weighs just 99 grams and is incredibly well-built for the price.
We were ready to start taking pictures when we discovered that the instructions were in Chinese. Intended primarily for sale in Mainland China, the camera didn’t come with an English-language user guide. We reached out to a Mi forum and found a solution: you need to update the firmware. While it sounds scary, it was pretty easy. You download the file to your SD card and put the SD card in the camera. It will ask you if you want to update the firmware in Chinese. We checked using Google Translate to see that it was working and selected yes to update the firmware. Once it was updated, you can change the language to English in the General Settings tab. The update even included new tweaks to camera performance from Mijia. The camera supports English, and we’re confident that future models intended for export might come with English options.
Once we updated the camera and switched the language to English, we were ready to take some 4K pictures and videos.
Using the Camera
Holding down the top button turns the camera on or off. We followed on-screen instructions to learn how to use the camera’s touchscreen. The startup guide was easy and covers the relevant basics most users will want. I tried to complete the suggested action (such as swipe or push), but it was just a description; you tap the screen to go to the next part of the guide. There was a QR code to download the recommended Mi Home App from Google Play or the Apple Store, and a list of recommended 4K SD cards. There was no message to let you know that the guide was over, which was momentarily confusing. At the same time, the minimalist instructions and lack of branding was a nice change of pace from the obsequious “friendliness” of most new devices. The Mijia Mini doesn’t want to be your friend. It wants to do its job.
Once we knew how to control the screen, the Mini was easy to use. The 960×480 touchscreen display is the largest available on a camera of this size to date. On the home screen, you can identify the current device mode, battery power, and press a slider switch symbol in the bottom right corner to tweak mode-specific settings. You swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal four menu options (General Settings, WiFi, Lock, and Power Off). In the general settings, you can adjust the screen brightness (High, Medium, and Normal) and volume (High, Medium, and Mute). Mute was a welcome option to silence the endless beeps and alerts on modern devices.
Swipe to the right to select your device mode, including Photo and Video, and swipe to the left to see your image gallery. Press the button on the top of the camera to take a photo or start/stop recording video. The LED indicator on the front is red when the battery is charging, cyan when the device is on, white during data transfer, and orange when the battery is half empty. A small LED next to the shutter button blinks red when you turn the camera on and take a picture or video.
The interface was simple and effective and quick tweaks to camera settings were easy to make. Once we were familiar with the controls, we took the Mini out for a spin. We’d recommend bringing a soft case or bag for your camera if you’re going to take handheld shots or videos. It doesn’t come with a case or lens cap and, as far as we can tell, there isn’t one available from Xiaomi.
The touchscreen is adequate for framing your pictures and videos, but you will want to check your results on a computer or tablet. Like most touchscreen devices, it can be difficult to see in bright light, but keep in mind you can control the camera remotely for most action shots, and it doesn’t matter for video. The 1450mAh battery is good for almost 90 minutes of 4K recording or 120 minutes if you drop down to 1080p in quality.
When we took our first pictures, we noticed a slight delay between depressing the button and the actual photograph—just remember to keep the Mini steady. The camera uses the same processor as several other options on the market, including the ThiEye and Hawkeye. Video had good sound quality, and daylight pictures were up to spec, but don’t use the Mini for any nighttime videos. Take a look at the image quality for yourself.
Settings and Modes
The Mi Action Camera has an array of video and image modes. Standard video options include Resolution Quality and weather correction. You can take a Timelapse Video, Slow Motion, or Loop. You can take a Video+Photo and snap pictures at set intervals.
Photo settings include Aspect Ratio, Output Format, Shutter Speed, ISO, and Color modes. You can set a self-timer or timelapse. In the general settings, you can put the camera in housing mode if you mount it on a stand or use the underwater Waterproofing Housing Case. Yes, this camera is not waterproof—just keep the price in mind—but Xiaomi has an underwater shooting rig good for up to 45 meters. From what we can tell, it’s not great. It only has one button and limits your ability to change the settings on the fly. That said, this action camera will cover all of your basic needs for 4K pictures and videos.
Mi Home App
If you download the Mi Home App, you can connect your phone to the camera WiFi and use a remote user interface. You can change several settings, start and stop recordings, and view photos or videos on a larger and higher resolution screen. This is definitely the best option for checking your results on the move.
There are some downsides to going with the most affordable option on the market. The camera has a basic interface, no case or lens cap, and slow shutter speed for pictures. But the touchscreen size, specs, and performance are solid. The Mi Action Camera (Xiaomi MiJia Mini) is the best deal for a 4K action camera, full stop. The camera is very well-built, tough, and easy to use. It’s more than good enough for adventure videos and on-the-run photography.
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Jenny prefers iPhones over Androids, coffee over tea, and staying up late rather than waking up early. Oh, and she can build a PC from scratch in under 35 minutes.