At $45, the Flymemo A9 action camera certainly is pretty affordable. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s another GoPro rival, for even the cheapest GoPro accessory costs more than this camera plus all mounts included.
I took the camera for a bit of a spin to find out just how good it is. Curious minds would be interested in knowing what a $42.99 camera can do at best… so here it is!
Flymemo A9 Action Camera Review: Specifications
As you can see in the spec sheet, we do not know what chipset and image sensor is used on the Flymemo A9. Which is a pity… although I think the chipset is from Sunplus looking at the video file naming convention.
Flymemo A9 Action Camera Review: In the Box
What you get inside the box: the A9 camera, waterproof housing case, handlebar mount, clip, 4 x mounts, 4 x bandages, 2 x adhesives, USB Cable, battery, user manual.
At the price the Flymemo A9 sells, you would think there would be no mounts included, but surprisingly, you get quite a few of them that you can use to mount the camera in multiple ways. I wasn’t able to mount the camera to the side of my motorcycle helmet though due to inadequate number of L-shaped mounts.
In addition, you get a 30m waterproof case and a user manual (that is honestly not very useful).
Flymemo A9 Action Camera Review: Build and Design
If there’s one thing about the Flymemo A9 that struck me immediately, it’s the impressive build quality of the camera and the waterproof case. The camera has a nice-to-touch finish with a rough texture at the top and bottom for optimal grip, while the buttons are firm, tactile, give great feedback and are sturdy.
Couple this with the fairly decent quality waterproof case, great feedback from the case buttons, and the slick open-close mechanism of the backdoor. Speaking of waterproofing, I immersed the camera (with the waterproof case of course) under water for about an hour and no water entered in whatsoever; so that’s quite a win.
The only gripe I found while using the camera is the ease at which the buttons on the waterproof case get pressed; while carrying the camera in my backpack, the buttons got accidentally pressed and the camera started recording video all by itself. Barring this, I am really happy with the fit, finish and overall build quality of the Flymemo A9… especially considering the price at which it sells.
What’s more, the mounts and accessories are of fairly decent quality too!
As far as ports go, the device houses a micro-USB and a microSD card slot, with the absence of a micro-HDMI port which is a bit disappointing, but yet understandable
Last but not the least, the dimensions and size of the camera are similar to most other action cameras in the market. This allows for interchangeable mounts and accessories (something that allowed me to mount the camera to my helmet by utilizing a few extra mounts I had lying around at home).
Flymemo A9 Action Camera Review: User Experience
The Flymemo A9 is relatively easy to use, but I shall still give you a brief overview on how to go about navigating your way through the various screens.
The power (mode) button on the front of the action camera powers on and powers off the unit. You simply need to short-press this button to power-on the device, which accidentally powered up the device quite a few times for me. I would have preferred to have a long-press of the button to boot up the camera. Luckily, turning off the device happens with a long-press (for about 2 sec) of the same power button.
Once turned on, the default screen you see is the video recording screen. Short pressing the OK button starts and stops video recording. While video is being recorded, an orange LED at the top of the device (which is inexplicably almost fully obscured by the waterproof case) blinks along with a small blue notification LED besides the screen. This blue LED should definitely have been bigger in size, as I found the blue light to be non-existent under broad daylight.
While on the same video recording screen, you can access the video settings screen by pressing the down button. You can toggle through the menu options with the up/down buttons and make selections with the OK button.
To toggle between video recording/image capture and playback mode, press the power (mode) button. On the image capture screen, you can capture pictures by pressing the OK button, and you can cycle through the image settings in the same way as on the video capture screen.
On the playback screen, you can play videos/still images by pressing the OK button, and can fast-forward/go-backward with the help of the up and down buttons respectively. One con I found on this screen is that both, videos and images, are all denoted by a video symbol, making it impossible to differentiate between them.
In video recording mode, the screen displays the video recording symbol, the resolution (FHD/HD) and the estimated remaining video duration that can be captured based on the free space on the memory card.
On the image capture screen, you get the image capture symbol, resolution, exposure, and the number of images that can be captured based again on free space. In each mode, a battery indicator is present at the bottom-left of the screen.
Flymemo A9 Action Camera Review: Video
Supported Video Resolutions:
The Flymemo A9 supports 1080p (15fps) and 720p (30fps). As we all know, 15fps for an action camera is inadequate (that’s putting it mildly), while 30fps is just about the minimum.
Anyway, let’s see how the camera performs at both resolutions!
1. 1080p, 15fps video:
2. 720p, 30fps video:
Note: For both the above video recordings, a SanDisk class 10 microSD card was used.
For the first video at 1080p, the camera was mounted onto a motorcycle windscreen, hence the shaky video due to vibrations from the engine. That aside, 15fps as you can see, is way inadequate, resulting in extremely laggy video. So you might as well forget about the camera being able to capture 1080p video.
At 720p (30fps), there is very slight lag, and a bit of a grainy effect in the video (the grain is inversely proportional to ambient light, which points out to a not-so-capable image sensor). There is a bit of aliasing and blur as well, all translating to slightly inferior video quality. Signs of a budget sensor…
One positive though, was the color reproduction which was accurate.
Videos are recorded in the .AVI format, but their file properties display absolutely nothing: no resolution, no frame-rate, no bitrate and no details about audio. Really mysterious, to say the least.
Nevertheless, you get a few recording options:
Exposure level can be changed, though I recommend sticking to the default value.
When enabled, it records videos in segments. When the microSD card is full, the first video is erased, and so on.. This particular feature is useful when the camera is used as a dash-cam.
As you can see, there is very little to play around with in terms of settings, which is a pity once again.
Flymemo A9 Action Camera Review: Image Capture
The Flymemo A9 captures still images up to a resolution of 12 mega-pixel. Here are a few images I captured at 12 mega-pixel in broad daylight, with default settings. Click on them to view them in their uncompressed form.
As you can see, images captured are blurry, unclear, with a lot of aliasing, while color reproduction is just about okay. Another downer is the timestamp that is being compulsorily displayed on each image captured, with no way whatsoever to disable it.
As far as shooting options go, here is what the camera gets:
This should be renamed as self-timer, as it allows you to capture pictures 2 or 10sec after the OK button is pressed.
In this mode, the Flymemo A9 captures images every 2 to 60sec depending on what option you select. Unfortunately, the images are not automatically stitched into a video: they are individual photos that need to be stitched together by a third-party video editing tool.
This feature allows the camera to capture 3 images per second.
Flymemo A9 Action Camera Review: Battery Characteristics
The camera is powered by a removable 900mAh Li-ion battery that slots into the bottom of the device. The battery takes about 2-2.5 hours to charge. When the unit is being charged, an orange LED lights up besides the screen, which turns off once complete.
What also happens when you connect the device to a charger is video recording that starts automatically, with no way of switching this particular feature off. This is what you usually see on action cameras in DVR mode (used in cars).
The battery managed to last for about 90min of continuous video recording at 720p (30fps). You also get auto-screen off and auto-power off options that should help increase overall battery backup to some extent.
Flymemo A9 Action Camera Review: Image Gallery
Flymemo A9 Action Camera Review: Verdict
While being impressive in terms of build quality, the Flymemo A9 jumbles it up where it matters the most: video and image quality. There’s no running away from the fact that it’s a really inexpensive sensor being used on the camera; you could probably get the Flymemo A9 just to test the waters if nothing else.
That said, the addition of multiple mounts and such definitely makes it easy. While it would be unfair to say that the A9 does a stellar job, I will have to concede that you do get your money’s worth with this.
You can get one for yourself at a mere $42.99 by following this link.