It’s often said that if something seems too good to be true, it’s because it probably is. Read on about Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi’s first ever consumer drone, launched today, and make your own mind up on this one.
Xiaomi new quadcopter, called ‘Mi’, will come with a three-axis gimbal and a choice of two cameras, high definition 1080p or the higher resolution 4K. According to the company the standard model will have a range of 0.6 miles, while the 4K model will be able to travel twice as far. Most interestingly for drone enthusiasts, the 4K model will be retailing at 2,999 yuan. That’s just under $460. That’s cheap.
The standard, 1080p model will retail at $380. And get this: the Mi comes with a battery life of 27 minutes. That’s just a minute shy of DJI’s Phantom 4.
The Mi drone will come with a range of standard features well known to most pilots, including follow me, the ability to focus on a point of interest, return to home and waypoint navigation. In terms of hardware, the pieces seem to be modular, which means replacing/upgrading them, along with the battery, is possible.
Comparing Xiaomi’s 4K offering to what would be it’s closest rival in terms of specifications, DJI’s Phantom 3 4K, the Mi drone stacks up pretty favourably. DJI’s drone comes in at $800, almost twice as much as Xiaomi’s new drone. It’s clear then that the Chinese manufacturer, famed for its low cost electricals, is seeking to undercut the world’s most popular consumer drone maker. Whether the end result will be as efficient and reliable remains to be seen, but this is certainly a big day for the industry nonetheless.
Xiaomi hoping to lure industry newcomers?
Let’s face it. If you’re an experienced pilot, it’s unlikely that you’re going to gamble on Xiaomi’s drone ahead of an established brand such as DJI – at least until there are plenty of strong reviews from trusted sources.
Speaking to the BBC, Engadget’s Chinese editor-in-chief Richard Lai seemed to agree. He said, “The feature set between the Mi Drone and DJI’s Phantom 3 is almost identical – they can both be made to return home and circle around a point of interest – but Xiaomi’s product is so competitively priced you have to wonder if it can make much profit”.
“So, the new drone will probably appeal to beginners. But experienced fliers want reliability and a brand with experience, and DJI has spent years refining its technology.”
“It will take Xiaomi some time to prove itself as we still don’t know how reliable its drones are, the quality of its video footage or how well its software will work.”
The company has stated that the 1080p Mi Drone “will be crowdfunded on the Mi Home app starting 26 May 2016” while the 4K option “will be available for testing via an open beta programme at the end of July.” Xiaomi is yet to announce when the final product will hit the market, or whether it will be offered outside of China.