XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE Review 2020 – Good Mavic Alternative?

✔️12MP photos with a 1/2.6” SONY CMOS sensor ✔️flight time of up to 35 minutes ✔️GPS+GLONASS+BEIDOU satellites positioning systerm ✔️Video transmission distance of up to 8 km

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For interesting landscape shots a drone is the best choice. It is easy to fly good camera drones these days and they deliver pin-sharp images in Full HD and 4K. Unfortunately, good drones are not exactly cheap, for example, the popular DJI drones by the market leader quickly cost times 1000 USD and more.

In this article, we will cover the most asked questions like is Fimi X8 SE a good Mavic Air alternative? Or how long can it really fly? At the end, we will give you our opinion on this new FIMI X8 drone.

An interesting, but cheaper alternative is now available from the Chinese brand manufacturer Xiaomi, namely the FIMI X8 SE, which has a surprising number of similar features. I have tested the new drone FIMI X8 SE a bit closer.

Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi Tech’s new camera drone X8 SE Drone has made its debut in 2019.

The X8 SE drone is marketed under the subsidiary brand FIMI. The Xiaomi FIMI X8 SE has a 4K camera and a three-axis gimbal and, thanks to its foldable design, resembles the DJI Mavic Pro or DJI Mavic 2 (Pro/Zoom).

Typical for Xiaomi is the low entry price of well under 500,- USD. With regard to the extensive equipment, the new 4K camera drone offers an extremely good price-performance ratio and can be seen as a serious alternative to the DJI camera drones from Mavic series.

First of all a personal advice for drone beginners, simply from my drone experience. If you are interested in a camera drone, then you should be aware that the price often makes a decisive difference. You really have to distinguish toy drones from real useful photo drones.

Drones that cost less than 400 Euro are often considered toy drones, you can have fun with them for a while, but permanent good pictures are rare. Very cheap drones often don’t even have GPS on board, which means they don’t know their current position and the flight behaviour is often poor. This means they often drift slightly and can hardly hold their position over one point. In addition, they cannot automatically return to the starting point.

If beginners lose sight of such a drone, which can happen due to the blinding sun, they often panic and lose control. It is not uncommon for such cheap drones without GPS to have a very limited life span, either because they have grazed a tree or missed something when landing. Spare parts for cheap drones are also often difficult or even impossible to get.

XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE
✔️12MP photos with a 1/2.6” SONY CMOS sensor ✔️flight time of up to 35 minutes ✔️GPS+GLONASS+BEIDOU satellites positioning systerm ✔️Video transmission distance of up to 8 km

Key Features

  • 4K Camera
  • 12MP 
  • 3 Axis Mechanical Gimbal
  • Intelligent Flight Modes
  • Dual GPS
  • Enhanced Safety Features
  • 33 Minute Flight Time
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FIMI X8 SE is very similar to the DJI Mavic drones

Let’s dive into the Xiaomi Fimi X8 SE 2020 review by looking at its appearance.

The FIMI X8 SE drone resembles the DJI Mavic Pro drone in app, functions and size.

Visually, the XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE is based on the DJI Mavic Pro or DJI Mavic 2 Pro and DJI Mavic 2 Zoom.

Both drones are very compact, the arms can be folded up. As you can see on the picture below, the FIMI X8 SE is already a whole lot bigger than the DJI Mavic Air when folded out. Nevertheless the FIMI X8 SE can be stored together with the remote control in a medium-sized photo bag.

mavic-air-vs-fimi-x8-1-1024x579

The consumer drone has very small dimensions of only 204 x 106 x 72.6 millimetres with the arms folded in. This makes the drone about the size of a conventional smartphone. By comparison, the DJI Mavic 2 measures 214 x 91 x 84 millimetres when folded. The take-off weight of the FIMI X8 SE is 790 grams. This is also due to the fact that the drone FIMI X8 SE has a much larger battery with a capacity of 4500 mAh (at 11.4V), the DJI Mavic Air has only 2575 mAh. This results in a significantly longer flight time of up to 32 minutes despite the high weight. This is already a remarkably long side for a drone, a real plus point for the FIMI X8 SE.

This makes the drone from the largest Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi even lighter than the DJI Mavic 2 (905 to 907 grams).

In addition to a rechargeable battery, spare propellers, charging cable and mains adapter, the package also includes a 370 gram remote control measuring 203.8 x 91 x 46.6 millimetres.

Using the 4,500 mAh battery, the XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE should achieve a flight time of about 33 minutes. The manufacturer specifies the maximum flight speed at 64.8 kilometers per hour (18 meters per second).

The maximum flight altitude is – as with DJI-cameradrones – limited on the software side to a maximum of 500 meters. The maximum flight distance of up to five kilometres is sufficiently dimensioned.

The integrated positioning system consists of a modern GPS and Glonass module. In addition, the XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE has a Vision Positioning System (VPS) on the underside of the housing.

GLONASS, short for Global Navigation Satellite System, is a Russian satellite-based navigation system that works together with GPS (Global Positioning System) to provide position information to compatible devices. With 24 additional satellites, GLONASS-compatible receivers can receive satellites up to 20% faster than devices that rely only on GPS.

With the aid of an optical camera and ultrasonic distance sensors on the underside, the drone is able to perform precise take-off and landing operations. In addition, the additional positioning system provides more stable flight characteristics with little or no GPS signal.

In case you are interested to read more on Fimi X8 SE and how it fares against DJI drones, check out our Xiaomi Fimi X8 SE vs Mavic Mini comparison article.

Also, have a look at our review of another Xiaomi product – Fimi Palm.

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Propellers

The propellers of the FIMI X8 SE can be removed and reinstalled very easily, just like the DJI Mavic Air. Just push the propeller down a little bit and you can take it off by a slight turn. Each drone has two different shaped propellers, but there is no risk of confusion, because only the correct propellers will engage with the respective engine. The propellers of the FIMI X8 SE drone are much larger in diameter than those of the DJI Mavic Air, but the FIMI X8 SE consists of two propeller halves that can be folded together.

When the drone is launched, they automatically fold apart, so there is no need to worry about that. The foldable propellers of the FIMI X8 SE have certainly also the advantage that they collapse quickly in front of an obstacle in case of an emergency landing in high grass or bushes, they do not take damage as fast as rigid propellers.

Fimi is also much quieter than Mavic Air which is also a plus.

At a distance of 50 to 100m it is hardly audible. Also, in terms of speed the FIMI X8 SE does not need to hide, it can go up to 65 km/h which is more than decent. In addition to a normal mode, there is a beginner mode with reduced speed and distance restrictions.

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FIMI X8 SE – Remote control and Return to Home

Just like the DJI Mavic Air, the FIMI X8 SE drone is controlled by an included remote control. Its left stick controls the height of the drone and the direction of rotation. By using the right stick you can move the drone in all four directions. The speed changes depending on how far you move the control stick.

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FIMI X8 SE with 4K camera and 3-axis gimbal

The XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE is equipped with a 4K camera and a 3-axis gimbal. The camera itself has a Sony IMX378 image sensor with a resolution of 12 megapixels.

The classic 1/2.3-inch image sensor is quite reputable and is used in high-end smartphones such as Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL.

The lens of the drone camera has a fixed aperture of f/2.2 and a natural field of view of 78.8°.

The maximum photo resolution of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels.

When in video mode, the camera can record 4K images at up to 30 fps or 1080p images at up to 60 fps.

The data is stored at a bit rate of 100 Mbps on a local microSD card with up to 64 Gigabyte storage capacity in the drone.

Like the DJI Mavic Air there are other control modes for the FIMI X8 SE, but I don’t want to go into detail here. Besides the joysticks there are two buttons on the bottom of the FIMI X8 SE remote control. With one of them you can start and stop video recording and with the other one you can take a picture.

With a rotary wheel on the left side you can control the gimbal, i.e. you can tilt the camera downwards and even shoot recordings from a bird’s eye view. Light exposure is usually automatic, but you can adjust the exposure up and down with a rotary wheel on the right side. This is often helpful if you have a lot of sky in the picture or the camera is blinded by the sun. Another button on the right side is used to start and land the drone.

While videos are recorded in MP4 format, both the conventional JPG file format and Adobe’s own DNG raw data format are available in photo mode.

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Remote control with smartphone app

The included remote control of the FIMI X8 SE drone is very similar to the remote control of the DJI Mavic Pro. The mechanism for plugging in the smartphone, however, is not located below the controller, but in the middle.

Just like DJI Mavic Air, you can also attach a smartphone to the remote control to follow the live image from the camera and use other functions. The FIMI X8 SE has a different mounting solution, you can pull the remote control apart, the smartphone is clamped in the middle by a spring mechanism.

X8_9

You can use not only smartphones of different manufacturers and sizes, but also smaller tablets. You can detach the joysticks of the remote control for easy transport. Compared to the DJI Mavic Pro or DJI Mavic 2 (Pro/Zoom), the XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE Quadcopter therefore does without an independent telemetry display in the remote control.

FIMI offers the newly developed app FIMI NAVI for use with a smartphone. The FIMI NAVI app is available for both iOS and Android and allows not only the display of the FPV display in HD resolution (720p), but also the display of all kinds of telemetry data and flight parameters.

Unfortunately you have to register with the manufacturer again after the installation, you can do all this via app. Only an e-mail and a password is requested for data, which is why the installation is quite fast. After starting the app you start the remote control and the drone by pressing the power button once short and once long. This should be the first step to couple both.

If the pairing is correct, the live image of the camera should appear on the smartphone immediately. But before you start, you should make sure that the GPS is on top. Only then the drone has found its position and only then the RTH function (Return To Home) will work, which you will need for the first flights.

Of course, Xiaomi and the Xiaomi brand FIMI did not do without intelligent flight modes either. Worth mentioning are the Cine Shots called Rocket, Dronie, Circle or Spiral, which are similar to the already known DJI flight modes.

In addition, the XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE supports so-called Smart Tracking with the sub-modes Trace, Lock and Profile – similar to DJI’s ActiveTrack function.

FollowMe, all kinds of Return To Home functions as well as panorama or motion lapse modes are of course also available. Here, too, the XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE gives the impression of an affordable alternative to DJI Mavic Pro and DJI Mavic 2.

X8_14
XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE
✔️12MP photos with a 1/2.6” SONY CMOS sensor ✔️flight time of up to 35 minutes ✔️GPS+GLONASS+BEIDOU satellites positioning systerm ✔️Video transmission distance of up to 8 km
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Xiaomi FIMI X8 SE 2020 review: Accessories & Gear

We also recommend the following accessories for the Xiaomi Fimi X8 SE 4k drone with camera:

  • Replacement batteries / additional batteries for the Xiaomi FIMI X8 SE
  • Replacement propeller for the Xiaomi FIMI X8 SE
  • Carrying bag / case for the Xiaomi FIMI X8 SE
  • Backpack / Hardcase for the Xiaomi FIMI X8 SE
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FIMI X8 SE – Automatic flight modes and motion tracking

One feature that has made the DJI Mavic drones so popular is certainly the motion tracking and automatic flight modes or quickshot functions. Exactly the same is also available on the FIMI X8 SE, actually plenty of them. There are even some flight modes on the FIMI X8 SE which are not available on DJI Mavic Air. If you click on an icon in the lower right corner of the live image, all flight modes are available.

Waypoint – In this mode you can set points on the Google-Map map, which the drone can fly off automatically. You can also specify what the drone should do at each point, for example rotate a photo or a 10 second video. The function also works in the satellite view of the map. An interesting feature that is not available with DJI Mavic Air.

Dronie – The drone flies exactly and fast over a definable point upwards, which can look quite impressive. The same function is also available on DJI Mavic Air.

Smart Track – This function allows the drone to track any object, such as a walker or cyclist. The object being tracked is framed and the drone then tracks the object and never loses sight of it. There are several options, for example, you can circle around the person to be tracked while the drone is still following. In my test this function didn’t work in 4k mode, but in Full HD mode it worked very well, although not as perfect as with the DJI Mavic Air.

Tap-Fly – With this function you can send the drone to a certain place on the map or in the picture

Orbit – With this function, the function orbits around any object while keeping the object in view. Alternatively, the camera angle can be changed freely. One of my favourite modes because it always looks impressive and works very well with both drones.

Spiral – Similar to Orbit, except that here the drone moves spirally away from the object you want to observe, giving you a better view of the surroundings. This mode also works wonderfully and looks good.

Cinematic Mode – This mode is also known from the Mavic Air drones. The movements, acceleration, braking and changes of the camera angle are smoother, making the shots look even more cinematic.

Tripod – A kind of tripod mode, the drone moves very slowly in all directions, so you can shoot like on a tripod. This mode is also available under the same name from DJI Mavic Air.

Course Lock – In this mode the drone flies constantly in one direction. Even if you turn the complete drone and look with the camera in a completely different direction, the flight direction remains the same.

Fixed-wing – In this flight mode, the camera’s flicks look as if they were taken from a glider. The gimbal, which normally always stands completely horizontal, is apparently moved by the centrifugal force in the turns in this mode, resulting in a different feeling of flight. A similar mode is not yet available with DJI Mavic Air.

SAR – in this flight mode, the GPS coordinates are also displayed at the top of the screen, and the camera can be digitally zoomed using a slider. This mode is probably mainly used to explore or search for something.

All in all, the drone offers very similar flight modes as the more expensive DJI drones. The quality of the result is also close to that of the more expensive DJI drones, but if you look very closely you will notice that the DJI Mavic Air is a little smoother, probably because it is a little more stable in the air. Many of the functions are also similar in terms of operation, although some functions are a bit easier to use with DJI Mavic Air.

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FIMI X8 SE – Flight behaviour and sensor technology

When the drones are launched, both remain in the air at a height of about 1.5m. Neither of them drifts off by a meter, as cheap drones like to do. So both hold their position exactly, but it must be said that the FIMI X8 SE swings a bit more than the DJI Mavic Air.

The DJI Mavic Air stands almost like nailed in the air, with the FIMI X8 SE it can be that it leaves the position sometimes by 5 to 30 cm. Similar behaviour can be noticed during the flight maneuvers or even the landing. Although the FIMI X8 SE can also be controlled very well and cleanly, but smaller fluctuations can occur.

Usually the fluctuations are not troublesome, from the camera’s point of view the wide angle with the gimbal always compensates this, it can only make a precise landing sometimes a bit difficult. I have already written that the automatic return function works wonderfully with both drones.

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Conclusion of the Fimi X8 SE 2020 review: a decent competitor to Mavic Air and Pro

All in all I was really impressed by the FIMI X8 SE*, it’s just fun to fly with the drone and take pictures. The drone is easy to fly and is suitable for beginners and professionals alike.

Handling as well as the app are well thought out and offer many features and flight modes. Although the FIMI X8 SE comes very close to the more expensive DJI Mavic Air (from the market leader) in terms of possibilities and results, one has to admit that the DJI Mavic Air* is overall still ahead. The difference may not be great, but in terms of flight characteristics, sensor technology, software and the stable live image, the DJI Mavic is always just a bit ahead. The price difference is in my opinion quite understandable and justified. You also have to take into account that DJI Mavic Air is easy to get spare parts for and the drones can be repaired without any problems. This is a little bit more difficult with the FIMI X8 SE at the moment.

XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE
✔️12MP photos with a 1/2.6” SONY CMOS sensor ✔️flight time of up to 35 minutes ✔️GPS+GLONASS+BEIDOU satellites positioning systerm ✔️Video transmission distance of up to 8 km

XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE Review 2020 – Good Mavic Alternative?
XIAOMI FIMI X8 SE Review 2020 – Good Mavic Alternative?

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