One of China’s most popular consumer electronics brands today launches its own take on one of the hottest categories in consumer tech: drones. Xiaomi’s Mi Drone is a quadcopter with a three-axis gimbal, 4K camera, and a remote control that uses your Mi smartphone as its viewfinder. The 4K version retails at 2,999 yuan (just under $460), while the 1080p model is priced at 2,499 yuan ($380). Typically, 4K-camera drones from DJI and Yuneec retail for more than $1,000.
One of the key advantages that Xiaomi seems to be touting with the Mi Drone is the modularity and serviceability of the whole thing — the camera module is detachable, as are all the rotors. This new drone has a 5,100mAh battery, which is also easily replaceable, and Xiaomi claims the unit can get 27 minutes of flight time on a single charge, which is at the high end of what most consumer quadcopters offer.
The Mi Drone uses both GPS and GLONASS for positioning, and has a visual positioning system on the bottom that allows it to remain stable while flying at low altitudes in environments where it cannot get a satellite signal. It also offers the standard package of autonomous flights modes: takeoff, landing, return to home, waypoint navigation, and orbit. The Mi Drone also has the ability to create a geofence to limit its movement.
Xiaomi notes 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.”