Xiaomi unveils budget drones at $457 for 4K camera and $381 for 1080p

Xiaomi's two low-priced drones are expected to bring in serious competition to the market, but their debut was less than perfect due to a crash during a live demonstration.

Xiaomi has officially entered the popular drones space by unveiling two "Mi Drones" at competitive prices: 2,999 yuan ($457) for 4K video at 30 fps and 2,499 yuan ($381) for 1080p high-definition camera at 60 fps, according to a Sina news report this week.

The Mi Drones, using both GPS and Global Navigation Satellite System for positioning, carry ball-shaped video cameras attached to a three-axis gimbal to capture photos in both JPEG and RAW with a Sony 12-megapixel CMOS sensor.

Xiaomi claims its 4K drone is able to fly up to 2km away while the 1080p version owns a range of 1km. The drones are designated for a flight time up to 27 minutes on a single charge powered by its 5,100mAh replaceable battery, according to the company.

The products will be tested via an open beta program with the public from July, the company added.

Like Xiaomi's primary smartphone products, the pricing of its new drones remain highly cost-effective, as the market leader DJI sells its latest Phantom 4 at a starting price of 8,999 yuan ($1,372).

DJI's Phantom 3's 4K, equipped with similar features to Xiaomi's Mi Drones, is also priced at 4,999 yuan ($762), almost 70 percent more expensive than the Mi Drone 4K version.

Mi Drones' friendly pricetags have made them much obtainable for entry-level users to have a drone of their own, many Chinese reports commented. But for safety reasons, the drones have a built-in auto-hover function in no-fly zones. For instance, Mi Drones are unable to take off within the central areas of Beijing, according to the Sina news report.

Despite the launch receiving relatively positive responses, during the debut demonstration of Mi Drones broadcast live on Wednesday through various online platforms, the drone had a sudden straight fall, sparking public concerns of its safety, according to Chinese reports.

Xiaomi later responded that the accident was due to the negligence of the drone's low battery level before taking off, which triggered auto-landing when it eventually powered off during the demonstration.