- Fantastic image quality
- Electronic image stabilisation up to 4K/30
- Easy to use controls
- Reliable app controls
- No built-in waterproofing
- Voice controls unreliable
- Lack of included mounts
- Up to 4K/60fps
- 12-megapixel still image
- 2.19-inch touchscreen
- Voice controls
- Electronic image stabilisation
- Manufacturer: Yi Technology
- Review Price: £330.00/$495.00
WHAT IS THE YI 4K+ ACTION CAMERA?
The original Yi 4K Action Camera was a GoPro Hero 4 Black rival that cost you considerably less money. The follow up 4K+ Action Camera model follows a very similar template but upgrades its capabilities with 4K video at 60fps, which is a first for an action camera. Even the GoPro Hero 5 Black and Sony FDR-X3000 both top out at 30fps. This means is you can expect much smoother footage, even when shooting at the highest resolution. There’s also 120fps at 1080p option for slow-motion footage.
This, plus the inclusion of electronic image stablisation tech, makes the 4K+ is a great action camera for capturing your adventures. But its lack of built-in waterproofing holds it back in the face of the GoPro Hero 5 Black.
YI 4K+ ACTION CAMERA – DESIGN AND ACCESSORIES
The Yi 4K Action Camera on the left, new 4K+ Action Camera on the right
The updated camera’s dimensions are identical to the older model, measuring in at 65 x 42 x 30mm.Outside of a slightly simpler branding on the front and carbon fibre-like patterning, it’s hard to tell the two models apart.
On the back is a 2.19-inch touchscreen used for framing your shots and navigating the menus. It’s coated in Gorilla Glass, which easily survived me throwing the camera in my bag without any worries.
The touchscreen is your primary way of interacting with the 4K+ Action Camera, aside from the single shutter button on the top. The menu system is identical to the previous 4K Action Camera so if you’ve used that before you’ll feel right at home. There’s not been any massive evolution like the change from the GoPro Hero 4 to the Hero 5. LEDs on the front and back make it obvious when the camera is recording.
The 4K+ Action Camera is as part of a Waterproof Case Kit but in certain countries is available standalone. Without the kit the 4K+ Action Camera can’t be used to capture your aquatics-based fun. The case adds a decent amount of size and weight to the camera but includes a standard GoPro mount on the bottom.
Otherwise, the camera’s main body has a tripod thread underneath so you’ll potentially need to pick up an inexpensive adaptor if you want to use GoPro-style mounts, which are more readily available.
The lack of any any included mounts is a frustration, though. Pick up a GoPro or countless other action cameras and you’ll expect to receive basic sticky mounts as standard. None are included here even with the Waterproof Case Kit.
The other annoyance with the waterproof case is that you’ll need to pop it open to change any settings using the touchscreen, which can obviously be risky if you’re in the water. I’ve used third-party cases for the Yi 4K Action Camera in the past that include a capacitive, yet still waterproof, rear membrane material that let you continue using the touchscreen so it’s a shame one of these isn’t included.
On the side of the camera you’ll find a USB-C port for charging and faster data transfer, which is a welcome upgrade from the Micro USB connection used on the standard 4K Action Cam. The USB-C port can also now be used for connecting an external microphone if you want better audio capture.
The bottom of the camera gives you access to the replaceable battery, which is the same size as the older camera’s. Handy if you have any kicking around like I do. The microSD slot is also hidden away here.
YI 4K+ ACTION CAMERA – CONNECTIVITY AND APP
The 4K Action Camera’s Wi-Fi pairing was one of the most reliable I’ve seen from an action camera and thankfully that remains the same with the 4K+ model. There’s still dual-band Wi-Fi, meaning you can toggle between the superior range of 2.4GHz or the faster transfer speed of 5GHz and I had no issue with either.
I mainly left it in the 5GHz mode, which sees data transfer speeds to a paired smartphone of about 6MB/s, which is pretty swift.
Taking a page from the GoPro Hero 5 range, there are now voice controls, but I found them to be a mouthful to initiate and unreliable when outdoors. You can issue commands like ‘Yi Action record video’ or ‘Yi Action turn off’ but unless you’re right next to the camera these commands often get lost.
The camera pairs with the Yi Action companion app for iOS and Android, which guides you through the process of connecting to the camera’s Wi-Fi network. The app lets you change all the settings you would expect as well as providing a live view of the sensor, which is handy if you have the camera mounted out of the way. The delay in what’s shown on your phone is only minimal, too. I generally resorted to this whenever I needed to remotely trigger the camera rather than using voice.
The app will also let you trim and share videos easily and for still images you can apply filters and image effects like a pseudo-tiny planet view similar to what’s available on 360-degree cameras. They’re fun for a few minutes but not something I see people using regularly, similar to the Instagram-like side to the app where people can share their content.
YI 4K+ ACTION CAMERA – VIDEO AND IMAGE QUALITY
The updated action camera uses a Amba H2 SOC processor for the first time, which allows for up to 120Mbps video. Yi claims it delivers faster processing speeds, but requires less power than its predecessor. Other specs include a Sony IMX377 12-megapixel image sensor, which is the same as before.
In terms of resolutions and framerates, it’s much the same as the 4K Action Camera. You can still get up to 120fps at 1080 and 240fps at 720p. The big change is the camera now tops out at 4K resolution at 60fps, which is so far unprecedented in an action camera.
Even if you don’t plan on playing back your footage at such a high framerate – it requires a reasonable amount of processing power to do so – it gives you the flexibility for more dramatic slower motion footage while still at 4K.
Electronic image stabilisation can also now still be achieved at 4K and 30fps whereas previously it wasn’t an option when recording in 4K at all. While not a patch on the optical stabilisation of the Sony FDR-X3000 Action Cam, it still does an excellent job of ironing out the bumps and shakes.
4K, 60fps, no EIS
Video quality is an improvement over the previous Yi 4K Action Camera mainly thanks to the higher bitrate video. Captured footage is crisp and sharp and colours are vibrant, especially if you opt for the Yi colour profile that pushes the saturation slightly. If you put the camera inside its waterproof housing, sound is muffled slightly, which makes it a shame there’s no built-in waterproofing like the GoPro Hero 5 Black.
Still images are similarly well exposed with sharp, detailed photos when there’s lots of available light. As with all action cameras, you begin to see more noise under low-lighting conditions but nothing out of the ordinary. The ability to correct the lens distortion also makes it less obvious shots are taken on an action camera with a wide angle lens.
The usual timelapse modes are also available as well as the ability to shoot video while capturing stills at set intervals.
YI 4K+ ACTION CAMERA – BATTERY LIFE
The camera managed about 80 minutes while recording 4K video at 30fps, whereas 60fps droped it closer to the 60 minute mark. That’s not bad considering all of the processing involved. Recording in 1080p puts you closer towards two hours of continuous video capture. Charging through USB-C takes about an hour and as mentioned you can always carry spare batteries with you.
SHOULD I BUY THE YI 4K+ ACTION CAMERA?
The 4K+ Action Camera builds upon the impressive foundations of the original Yi 4K Action Camera. Whether or not those improvements are worth around £100/$150 more remains to be seen, though.
Certainly 4K/60 is an impressive feather to have in Yi’s cap and puts all other action cameras in the shade. Video quality is very impressive for both image and video capture. The downsides are the lack of built-in waterproofing and a lack of mounts included in the box.
Also, at around £330/$495 with the Waterproof Case Kit it’s not quite as ridiculous value as the original Yi 4K Action Camera when compared to a similar GoPro, especially when you factor in the need to pick up other mounts and accessories. But the Yi 4K+ Action Camera is still a very capable alternative if you can work around some of its shortcomings.
Having 4K/60fps video is an impressive first for the Yi 4K+ Action Camera but a few annoying niggles detract from the overall value.