Xiaomi — a company normally associated with affordable Android phones — has just taken the wraps off its very first drone and it looks set to take on DJI by being an incredibly affordable and capable machine. The Mi Drone boasts a bunch of features you’d expect to find in a modern-day quadcopter and its most expensive version costs just ¥2999 (~$460).

Xiaomi‘s Mi Drone includes a number of impressive features and is built by Flymi using carbon fiber materials, and weighs just 140g. What’s more, it has a 5,100mAh replaceable battery which should see it last up to 27 minutes per charge and a range of up to 3km.

The powerful antennas in the remote should mean you rarely lose control of the drone, and if it does lose signal, there’s a built-in ‘auto return’ feature to bring it back to you automatically. There’s also real-time battery and position monitoring, with a built-in alert to tell you when to fly it back if battery levels start getting too low.

In addition to having powerful antennas, the remote control has an optional cradle which you can slot a smartphone in to and view a live feed of the video footage.

There are two versions of the Mi Drone. One features video recording up to 1080p resolution, while the other offers 4K resolution. The former costs ¥2499 ($380), while the other costs ¥2999 (~$460), both significantly cheaper than high-end DJI Phantom drones.

While it’s a new category for Xiaomi, it’s not surprising to see the Chinese firm turning to new product categories. Having practically flat-lined in China last year and showing few signs of growth, the company has expanded its portfolio this year to include more than just phones and televisions. At I/O last week it announced a brand new Android TV set-top box, and has now launched its first camera-laden quadcopter.

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The drone will enter a crowdfunding phase in Xiaomi’s Mi Home app from tomorrow, but an open beta tester program will be launched in July. Sadly, as with many of Xiaomi’s products, we have no idea if/when the drone will be available outside of China.


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