Xiaomi Mi 4K Unboxing…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, box

Ordered Dec. 20th from Banggood, delivered Dec. 30th. I figured that would be pretty-good service at any time, but at holiday gift-giving time, I thought it was exceptional.

Everything seemed to be well packaged and undamaged, but the small power adapter (which I didn’t need) taped to the outside of the box seemed a bit unprofessional. Anyhoo, inside the brown cardboard box was the important thing. The real Mi.

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, box

First impression was that everything was nicely packaged and well presented. The drone was sitting at the top of the box with its legs folded up and motors nicely protected…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, box

Underneath that was a series of numbered boxes, all labelled in Chinese, containing the various bits and pieces, with the transmitter in the middle. And the instruction booklet, also in Chinese sitting on top.

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, box

That was problem number one. All in Thai I could have accepted (although not read) but why sell a drone outside China with the instructions in Chinese? Well, if I’m honest, there was one word in English … USB.

I continued to empty the boxes and then hunted online for instructions in English. I admit, they were not too hard to find, but to me that made it seem even stranger. If the instructions exist in English then why not print them and put them in the box? The answer to that could be that they haven’t finished proofreading, because it contains helpful phrases like “Definite a front of the quadcopter.” and “When replacing the remote control or kvadrokoptera…” not to mention “Do not hammer battery.” The latter hadn’t occurred to me, but if it ever does, I won’t.

So, what was the sum total of the contents? Glad you asked…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K

From top to bottom on the left, the camera and gimbal, and the transmitter/receiver/controller thingy. Top to bottom in the middle, bags of props and spare props (not necessarily in that order) the Mi with battery loosely inserted, and the Chinese gibberish. On the right, the main battery charger, a USB cable to connect the controller to an Android device (no cable for iOS devices,) a USB Wifi stick to connect the controller to any device including iOS, and the power cable for the charger. The USB cable also doubles as a cable to charge the battery in the controller. As I mentioned, it all seemed very nicely presented, well manufactured, with the gold accents adding a quality touch.

A couple of things I found a bit bizarre were the protective covers for the battery charger connector and the USB connector on the controller…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, flaps

To charge the battery you have to figure how to remove the cap, and to use the USB port the flap needs to be open. So what are they being protected against? They have to be open when in use, so unless I live in a tent in the middle of a desert with 150kph winds, what is likely to find its way into these cavities? Plus, both of these flaps get in the way when in use. A sharp knife will be employed.

The battery is a bit odd too. It has charging connectors on both sides. Now, if I’m smart enough to fly a drone, I think I’m also smart enough to figure that if the connector is not on one side, it must be on the other!

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, battery

Minor grumbles aside, the quirks are part of the character of the thing I suppose, everything was easy to assemble. The legs fold down and snap into place. A small plastic plate protects the gimbal connection, which when removed allows the gimbal and camera to be snapped into place…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, gimbal, camera

The propellers fit nicely. Push down, turn the locking nut on top, and that’s it … so long as you make sure to match the gold nuts to the gold flash on the arms and likewise with the silver ones…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, props

And that’s as far as the rudimentary instructions take you. Next you have to download the “Mi Drone” app and follow the instructions on screen.

The first time you use the app on your iDevice-of-choice, you need to have everything powered-up and you must have an internet connection. Technically, you don’t need an internet connection to fly, but if you don’t have one, you won’t see the map display which shows you where you are and where the drone is. I had to rush and and buy another SIM card.

Then, the app checks that all the firmware is up to date, which it probably isn’t…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, app

…and you sit around while everything is downloaded and updated. It seemed like a twenty to thirty minute wait…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, app

But I had a problem. You may have noticed two photos back it says “Cannot update, TF card not detected.” The “TF card” is what I’d call a microSD card, and pops into the camera to record the video and photos. Why that must be in place before the drone’s firmware can be updated, is beyond me.

Now, the drone doesn’t come with a card. I’m not surprised. It needs a top quality card (as I explained in this article) and they’re damned expensive. I’d ordered one from a local supplier and luckily it arrived the same day as the drone. So I popped it in. And the error didn’t go away. So I popped it in a bit further until it clicked properly into place, and the error still didn’t go away!

So, I pulled out a spare but cheap and therefore not fast enough card and popped that in. The error went away. Mighty strange, I thought. So I tried the super-fast super-expensive card in my computer and it wouldn’t work there either. It was back in the mail the next day, so I knew I wouldn’t be shooting any video until a replacement arrived … but at least I could complete the firmware update.

And that was it really. For sure, you need to be aware that nothing happens quickly. I spent a good half day, probably more, finding an English manual, assembling, fiddling with microSD cards, getting everything charged, and updating firmware.

All that was left, was to decide which iDevice to use as the FPV screen and how to mount it. That story next.


... is fascinated by flying, having worked in the airline industry for many years, and having flown almost two million kilometers. Flying and learning about drones is a natural extension of this interest.

If drones fascinate you too, and you don't know where to start, then come along for the ride, because Paul doesn't know what he's doing either!

Making top quality videos is the ultimate objective, but that will take a while.

In the meantime, mistakes will be made and written about. Drones will crash. Drones will be lost. Foul language will ensue. But eventually everything will work out fine.

If you're also interested in travel, you may like to read Paul's other blog - Twitterings.

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