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The top of the line professional drone (UAV) on the market for professional aerial photography is obviously the Phantom 4 Pro however the Xiaomi Mi 4K is its biggest competitor. The price of the Xiaomi is less than half the price of the Phantom 4 which makes it more affordable to enter the high end drone market. What distance will it fly compared to the Phantom 4 was my primary question. The Xiaomi will fly about a distance of 2.5 miles compared to the Phantom 4 at slightly over 4 miles and this is due to the Phantom 4 using Lightbridge technology. The 4k video quality and aerial photography on the Xiaomi is almost identical to the Phantom 4.
Before flying your drone research the laws in your country about aerial UAVs since not every country allows them. Never fly in places near people or animals, airports or government property. If you are going to use your drone for commercial purposes, you will need to get a part 107 license. You can read more about this at https://3dinsider.com/drone-license
The 3 axis gimbal 4k camera is supported by four soft rubber balls which prevents vibrations of more than 1,000 shakes per second and provides very impressive smooth video and photography. On the side of the Xiaomi drone is the USB port for connecting to the smartphone and the micro SD card slot.
The Xiaomi drone is slightly bigger than the Phantom 4 and is made of white sturdy plastic with gold details. On the back side of the drone is the battery with 4 status indicators lights and under the front side is the gimbal and camera which looks light a large eyeball. The gimbal camera assembly can be easily detached from the drone with a quick release latch making it easy for the user to replace a damaged unit without sending in the whole unit like with the Phantom 4. The Xiaomi drone has one of the best stabilized cameras on the market with a 3 axis stabilizing system allowing drone pilots to shoot excellent aerial photography..
By pressing the two buttons on each side, the landing gear can be folded up making it more flat and portable. On the bottom is the Sonar and small camera which allows the drone to land safely in the same place it took off. The remote controller looks more like a gaming unit with two joysticks which operate the same as the Phantom 4 drone. Left joystick is for ascending up, down, rotating left or right. Right joystick is for flying forward, backward, left or right. The three buttons are for automatic takeoff, power button and return to home. There is place to support a neck strap and battery status indicators. On the front corners of the remote controller there is a wheel on the left to control camera tilt from zero degrees to -90 degrees and a right wheel which is programmable to modify the camera exposure value during aerial flight or the LED intensity. On the front top of the controller is an extendable bracket where you can clamp and support a smartphone. It doesn’t support a tablet like the Phantom 4 drone without using a plastic extendable clamp. On the back of the controller there is a button on the left for starting and stopping the video recording and another button on the right for taking aerial photography.
Before going to fly make sure to charge the battery, remote controller and smartphone. There are two different color propellers, two with a silver ring and two with a gold ring. Each colored propeller goes on the matching color arms by pressing the propeller down on top of the motor and then turn to its locking position. Turn on the drone by pressing the power on button twice, once fast and second time slower until it beeps and the lights are flashing. Connect the controller to your smartphone via provided USB cable and use the same process for turning on the remote controller. Run the Xiaomi drone app on your cell phone and next you will see the drone sees and its position on the map. Wait for the “could fly” signal on the app and then start the motors by simultaneously pushing the right joystick to the lower left and left joystick to the lower right corner. If the motors still don’t start, rotate the drone 180 degrees and try again. The Xiaomi drone typically locks onto around 10 satellites before it can take off and this process can be slow. Also unfortunately sometimes the app crashes.
On a fully charge the 5100mah battery will give you around 20 – 25 minutes aerial flight time but will vary on factors such as wind and speed. When the battery level reaches 30%, the MI drone will give you a low battery warning and at 10% battery level the drone will automatically return home. Some automated flight programs are similar to the Phantom 4 such as “point of interest”, “tap to fly” and “waypoint”.
Overall the Xiaomi drone is an excellent buy at around $500 and no other drone can come close to the features you get for this price. HD video and aerial photography takes up a lot of memory so I recommend buying another micro SD memory card. Since the drone only comes with one battery, I suggest also buying another spare battery. Watch out DJI you’ve got a tiger on your tail!