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Xiaomi Mi Drone, a 4K quadcopter is astonishingly cheap

China’s Xiaomi announced its latest product—a drone priced at 2999 yuan ($456) for a model with a 4k camera, and 2499 yuan ($380) for a version with a lower resolution 1080p camera. Xiaomi says that a pre-orders will begin for the 1080p version tomorrow, while a beta version for the 4k version will be given out to select users.

In true Xiaomi fashion, the device is priced astonishingly low compared to competitor models. Chinese manufacturer DJI’s Phantom 3 drone, for example, sells for $800.
Xiaomi plans to sell the Mi Drone with a 1080p high-definition camera with a 1km (0.6 miles) range for 2,499 yuan (£260), and a version with a higher-resolution 4K camera and 2km range for 2,999 yuan (£310).

By contrast, DJI - another Chinese firm - sells the Phantom 3 4K with a range of 1.2km for 4,999 yuan (£520).

Xiaomi vice president Hugo Barra said that drones were "typically a product for rich people", but that his company wanted to sell them to a wider audience.

In terms of aesthetics, the Mi Drone probably won’t turn heads. Its blocky, utilitarian aesthetic, the product of China-based drone company Flymi, calls to mind DJI’s Phantom series of drones. But what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in specifications. The Mi Drone, which will ship in both a low-end, 1080p model and a high-end, 4K 30fps configuration later this year, holds its own in a crowded field of quadcopters. It has a 5,100mAh battery, which affords it a range of 3km and a flying time of up to 27 minutes, and it sports a 360-degree, 12.4-megapixel, RAW-capable camera with a 3-axis self-stabilizing gimble that makes up to 2,000 tilt corrections per second. The Mi Drone’s remote, meanwhile, features a camera tilt-adjusting dial, a dedicated shutter button, a button for landing and take-off, a built-in slot for your smartphone, and antennas with a radio control range of up to 2km.

"They certainly are never going to match the smartphone sector, but they do have the potential to scale to something like DSLR camera sales.

"There are a lot of potential commercial applications for drones once regulators approve them.

"So, maybe there's a longer-term play here. When Amazon, DHL and other package delivery firms start deploying drones they might come and buy them from Xiaomi."

For its part, DJI said it welcomed the challenge.

"More competition will spur every company in this industry to improve its technology, and DJI will continue to strive to be the market leader," said a spokeswoman.