Yi Smart Dashcam Tested

Published Mar 31, 2017 11:31 AM

Mega Chinese manufacturer Yi Technology is following up on its Yi 2 'Intelligent Camera' with a dash cam. This 'Smart Dash Camera', for ~$50, claims full HD video and "ADAS, which analyzes the speed, distance and other data, allows to determine the hazards arising from the surrounding objects while driving, and to warn the driver about them."

We bought one and tested it to see how it works.

The image below shows the camera mounted for testing, moderately visible through the windshield.


In our tests, the Yi Smart Dash Camera's major "smart" features were unreliable, making them effectively unusable.

  • Forward Collision Warning failed to detect actual approaching vehicles while falsely activating on numerous other scenarios (approaching vehicles, parked cars, nothing at all, etc.).
  • Lane Departure Warning frequently triggered even when staying centered in the lane, despite showing proper calibration on the camera.

However, as a standard (not smart) dash cam, the Yi camera provided solid image quality day, night, and in rain, and is priced lower than many wifi/mobile app accessible models. Additionally, mobile app features worked well, making clip retrieval more convenient than many cameras and settings changes simpler than using the camera's on board controls.


The Yi Smart Dash can be bought online for ~$50 USD. Lower priced 1080p dash cameras can be found online, however when looking for a camera with with WiFi / mobile app access the camera is aggressively priced.

Physical Overview

In the video below we take a look at the physical characteristics and features of the Dashcam.

Forward Collision Warning - Not Reliable

In our test forward collision warning was wildly inaccurate, triggering false warnings for numerous situations, including:

  • Open road with no other vehicles in sight
  • Oncoming vehicles
  • Disabled vehicles in the shoulder
  • Passing slower traffic
  • Stopped at a red light/in a parking lot, parked

For example, the image below shows the warning being triggered when passing another car:

As much as the camera over-reported forward collision warnings, it also failed to report them as expected.  When approaching other vehicles at a high rate of speed, there were no warnings.

Lane Departure Warning - Not Reliable

The lane departure warning feature is designed to dynamically calibrate to the lane traveled in, then alert the driver when the vehicle drifts. Shown on the camera's display, a cross-hair is intended to align with the center of your lane and the horizon. When calibrating, the cross-hair shows as red and will move about the screen while attempting to track the lane/horizon, then change to blue when calibrated.

In our tests, the calibration process was inaccurate/ineffective most of the time with the cross-hair errantly moving to the sky, the shoulder of the road, or other lanes than the one being traveled in rather than maintaining the lane/horizon position. Below we show the the calibration screen alongside a calibrated image.

Below is an example of the lane departure warning false alarming. The vehicle is parked, the cross-hair shows that the camera is calibrated yet it displays a lane departure warning with no movement from the vehicle.

Image Quality

The camera's image quality was sufficient to read the license plates of vehicle directly in front of ours during the day, ~10-15' in front of the camera. When the camera is ~20' or more from a license plate directly in front of it it is unable to be read.  The camera will not be able to provide license plates at safe traveling distances.  It is only able to provide clear license plate characters when approaching a vehicle from at stop sign, traffic light,  parking lot, or other close proximity situation.

At night, images were dim outside of areas illuminated by headlights or streetlights, with plates overexposed or blurred (below). Video was acceptable for vehicles directly in front of the camera, but objects in the periphery were difficult to see, if possible at all.

When used on unlit streets the area that can be seen is decreased greatly and is limited to less than the throw of the headlights, as illustrated below.

Mobile App - Improved Usability

The camera includes WiFi which accommodates connecting via mobile app, which improves usability compared to the camera's on board controls as well as many dash cams.

The mobile app has three key functions:

  • Clip offload: The mobile app made it more convenient and quicker to offload content, as clips may be saved to a user's mobile phone instead of requiring the SD card to be removed, typical of many/most low cost dash cams.
  • Settings changes: Users may also change configuration settings on the device without using the typically clunky on screen menus in conjunction with hardware buttons. 
  • Live view: Though live view is displayed on the camera itself, its screen is small (~2.7"), making camera positioning/aiming easier on a mobile device.

These functions are shown in the examples below: 

Mobile App Setup

Setup of the mobile app took under a minute, with only three steps:

  • Scan the QR code to download the app
  • Connect to the Yi WiFi network, as prompted by the app
  • Enter the password / change SSID and password if desired

Test Parameters

The most up to date firmware was used at the time of our test:

Yi Technology Smart Dash Camera: V-1.03.026-US

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