Chinese phone making sensation Xiaomi has released its first ever drone, the (un-inspiringly titled) Mi Drone. This adds to Xiaomi’s ever expanding line of consumer products, including phones, tablets, scooters, luggage, wrist bands, and more.
The Mi Drone, as reported previously, comes with capability to record video in 4K. Besides that, Xiaomi also unveiled a 1080p version which is a bit cheaper.
The USP of the Mi Drone according to its makers is the fact that it can be easily serviced, and despite being a gadget that requires a high level of component integration, is modular. This includes the camera
and the rotors and prop guards, which can be detached easily.
The controller of the Mi Drone will allow for a smartphone to be attached, which as mentioned will act as the viewfinder for the video from the camera (we’re assuming WiFi FPV). A 5100mAh battery will power the drone, which should be good enough for over 20 minutes of flight in most conditions.
Besides that, there’s GPS, GLONASS and a vision-based positioning (equivalent to DJI’s Vision Positioning System?) for geo-location.
As for the range, the 4K version is expected to feature radio gear that’ll give it some serious control radius — 3km. The entry-level 1080p version, on the other hand, is expected to feature a 1km range.
As for pricing, like most other products from the Apple of the East (read: Xiaomi), the Mi Drone comes fairly affordable: 2499 CN￥(or $380) for the 1080p variant, and 2999 CN￥ ($457) for the 4K version.
With only a 20% different in pricing, we’d be surprised if the 1080p version sells more than the 4K edition. Interestingly, there was no mention of the follow me feature (supposed to work with an Mi Band) that leaks pointed at.
“We want everyone to be able to afford good products. That was why I set up Xiaomi in the first place,” Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun said. Xiaomi aren’t particularly known for their innovation. It’s primarily the aggressive pricing that sails the boat for the company. It would be unfair to say that Xiaomi have disappointed with the Mi Drone. For instance, DJI’s Phantom 3 4K is $799, which makes the 4K Mi Drone a very compelling alternative.
For now, Xiaomi’s first drone will stay inside the company’s home country of China. Citizens in the country will also be able to purchase a 99 CN￥ backpack for the drone, direct from Xiaomi.
The shipment timelines aren’t very clear yet, however. According to Xiaomi, the 1080p Mi Drone “will be crowdfunded on the Mi Home app starting 26 May 2016” while the 4K version “will be available for testing via an open beta programme at the end of July.”
Either way, Xiaomi loyals — and drone enthusiasts for that matter — will have some waiting to do.
Xiaomi Mi Drone Pictures