Yi 4K Action Camera review

Want an action camera but don't want a GoPro? Well the Yi 4K Action Camera is a genuinely good GoPro alternative with a nice design, touchscreen and plenty of features. Here's our Yi 4K Action Camera review. Also see: Best GoPro - which GoPro should I buy?

Also see: Best Black Friday Camera Deals

Yi 4K Action Camera review: Price and where to buy

The Yi 4K Action Camera price is £229 and it has been officially launched in the UK. That means it sits between the GoPro Hero Session (£159) and GoPro Hero4 Silver (£329).

With the ability to shoot video in 4K resolution, this is comparable to the more expensive Silver model and is therefore a cheaper alternative – a £100 saving isn't bad at all. That's the price we've been given anyway but Amazon is selling it for £237 down from the supposed RRP of £399. If you don't mind importing the camera then you can pick is up for under £200 from Gearbest which is where our review sample is from.

So far so good, but can the Yi 4K Action Camera outdo the GoPro?

Yi 4K Action Camera design

Yi 4K Action Camera review: Design and build

There's not a great deal to say in this section but the Yi 4K Action Camera is a small action cam with the kind of look and feel you'd expect. It certainly doesn't appear or feel cheap and while we like our stealthy 'Night Black' model you can also get it in Pearl White and Rose Gold colours.

We've had numerous Chinese products in over the years which have been simply baffling to use, sometime to the point that they are useless. However, that's not the case with the Yi 4K Action Cam. The instruction leaflet is pretty helpful and we actually found it intuitive to use with the software menus which you can navigate smoothly with the large (for an action cam) 2.19in, 640x360 touchscreen which is covered by Gorilla Glass.

With the handy touchscreen, there's just one button on the top of the camera which you'll use to take photos or start/stop video recording. On the bottom is a standard tripod mount and where you'll access the battery. It's slightly annoying that the battery must be removed to access the microSD card slot but this is a minor quibble.

Yi 4K Action Camera touchscreen

It's worth noting that you don't get any accessories in the box, just the camera itself, which is a shame. However, Amazon does sell a bundle which comes with a selfie stick and a remote control. It's also not waterproof so you'll need to buy a case. For some, it will be worth spending the extra to get a GoPro Hero 5 Session (£249).

Yi 4K Action Camera review: Features and picture quality

Using the aforementioned touchscreen means it's quick and easy to switch between the different shooting modes and adjust settings like resolution. For your information, this uses a 12Mp Sony IMX377 Image Sensor.

Although the Yi camera is easy to use, it's not totally user friendly. It has Bluetooth and dual-band Wi-Fi, but when it comes to the accompanying app things fall down a bit. We had issues simply setting it up with a smartphone and the app is a unnecessarily complicated to use.

Yi 4K Action Camera review

You're likely buying an action camera to get that somewhat iconic fisheye view and while the Yi 4K Action Camera provides exactly this, you can digital straighten the image if you want your footage without the distortion. The wide-angle lens has a 155 degree view and the camera offers a fixed aperture of f/2.8.

The headline shooting mode of the action camera is 4K (3840x2160) which is limited to 30fps but can record for longer than any other at a whopping 120 minutes continuously – you'll need a reasonably large memory card to facilitate this and a fully charged battery (1400mAh).

Of course, you don't have to shoot in 4K resolution and there are good reasons not to, including the amount of storage space it takes up. The Yi 4K Action Camera can also shoot in 2.5K, 1440p, 1080p, all the way down to 480p at 240fps. The highest resolution which supports 60fps is 1920x1440.

Aside from all the different resolutions and frame rates, you can choose different shooting modes including timer, burst, time lapse and slow motion. You can also simply take still images as low as 5Mp although most will use 12Mp (4000x3000).  

We're pleased with the test footage from the camera which exhibits excellent levels of detail, even without using the higher resolutions on offer and still images are nice and sharp. However, there are few things missing which may be a deal breaker for some. The Yi can't shoot in 24fps which provides a cinematic feel and the field of view is fixed so you can't swap between wide, medium and narrow like you can with a GoPro.

Yi 4K Action Camera: Specs

  • 2.9in (640x260) LCD touchscreen
  • compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • records 4K/30fps (60mbps), 1080p/120fps, 720p/240fps video and 12Mp photos using a 155-degree wide-angle lens with F2.8 aperture
  • built-in speaker
  • 360-degree omin?directional dual microphones
  • microSD cards up to 128GB
  • SDXC card
  • rechargeable 1400mAh lithium-ion battery, shoots up to 120 minutes on a single charge
  • 65x21x42m
  • 95g
  • 2.9in (640x260) LCD touchscreen
  • compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • records 4K/30fps (60mbps), 1080p/120fps, 720p/240fps video and 12Mp photos using a 155-degree wide-angle lens with F2.8 aperture
  • built-in speaker
  • 360-degree omin?directional dual microphones
  • microSD cards up to 128GB
  • SDXC card
  • rechargeable 1400mAh lithium-ion battery, shoots up to 120 minutes on a single charge
  • 65x21x42m
  • 95g

OUR VERDICT

The Yi 4K Action Camera is an accomplished device with a good design, handy touchscreen and will provide excellent quality photos and videos. Even though it might save you a few quid compared to some higher GoPro models, the device comes with no accessories and is missing features such as 24fps and different field of view modes. A while ago we'd highly recommend it compared to the expensive Hero4 Silver but the new Hero5 Session will only be £249 so might be worth the extra.