High-quality video and night vision
Pan, tilt, and zoom features
Motion and sound detection
Optional PIN protection
Doesn’t tilt downward
Lags on cellular network
We purchased the YI Dome Camera so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
The YI Dome Camera is a best-selling smart security camera that syncs to your phone, allowing you to tap into its video stream remotely and monitor your home, baby, and pets, no matter where you are. At such a low price point—especially compared to other home security cameras that retail for thousands—you might be wondering how it performs. To get an idea of how it works, I used the YI Camera to monitor my apartment for a few weeks, watching my 7-month-old golden retriever puppy and cat. Here’s what I found to be the best features of this camera.
The YI Dome Camera arrived in a small box, and it includes everything you need to get started. It comes with the power cable and mounting hardware, in case you want to put it up on the wall. It will need to be plugged into an outlet if you mount it, so mount it near one; the power cable is only 6-feet long.
It was effortless to set up this security camera. All I had to do was plug it in, create an account on the YI app, and then pair the camera with my phone. The whole process went off without a hitch, taking two or three minutes total. Then, it was time to start spying on my pets!
Design: Awesome pan and tilt features
This little camera is small and lightweight, making it easy to find a spot for it around the house. It’s made of plastic, and I honestly thought it felt somewhat cheap, but that’s probably to be expected considering the low price point.
The most compelling features of the YI Dome Camera are definitely its remote pan and tilt abilities. When I opened the app, I immediately saw the control pad for the camera, and with the swipe of a finger, I was able to look all around the room—it turns nearly 360 degrees. I could also look up at the ceiling, though if you tilt it too far upward, you end up looking into the top of the camera’s case. (If you want to get technical, the camera provides 345-degree horizontal and 115-degree vertical rotation.)
This feature proved to be quite useful in monitoring my pets. Sometimes I could hear the puppy rustling around in something but couldn’t see it on camera. With the panning ability, I was able to look around the apartment to see what it was getting into—usually, the puppy was pulling the stuffing out of a toy, but as long as it’s not my furniture, that’s fine by me. I could zoom in to get a closer look at the mischief the pup was causing.
I do wish the camera could tilt down a little further, though. I placed the camera up on a bookcase, and it doesn’t tilt far enough to see the floor immediately below it.
Video: Good footage day and night
The YI Dome Camera offers impressively clear 1080p video footage, just like many other high-end security cameras. I could see plenty of detail in the live video, but if you zoom in, it gets a little pixelated.
The camera performs best when your phone is connected to Wi-Fi, showing you clear, real-time video with virtually no lag. However, I did notice it has a little trouble when my phone is using my cellular service. It often takes a while to load, and there’s also a bit of lag between real life and the live footage. It’s a few seconds at most, but it’s definitely there.
The YI Dome Camera offers impressively clear 1080p video footage, just like many other high-end security cameras.
This security camera has unbeatable night vision tested thanks to its infrared sensor. I made out quite a bit of detail, which helped monitor the cat’s nighttime antics.
Audio: On the quiet side
The camera boasts “supercharged” two-way audio, but I found this to be a bit of an exaggeration. While you could talk and listen through the camera, the camera-to-phone audio tended to have background interference, and the phone-to-camera audio was often hard to hear. I tried to talk to my boyfriend through the camera when I was outside the building, and I had to shout before he could hear me—I’m sure my neighbors thought I was nuts.
For pet-monitoring purposes, the audio works just fine, however. I was able to hear the puppy as it protested crate training, and I could grab the animals’ attention if I spoke loudly enough.
One of the best special features is its motion-activated alerts, which send push notifications if it senses movement
Another one of this camera's key features is its baby cry detection, which will prove useful if you place the camera in your baby’s nursery. I couldn’t test this out since I don't have a baby, but many reviewers say this feature works wonderfully.
The App: Functional but complicated menus
I’ve used the YI app before, and it seems like the company has recently done work to improve the overall user experience. The updated app works quickly and efficiently, and I never had any issues with it crashing or not connecting to the cameras. I tested two YI models at the time, and I was able to sync both of them with the app and switch between their feeds easily.
My only complaint about the app is that the menus are a bit tricky to navigate. Certain features aren’t where I expected them to be—for instance, the “motion tracking” option is under "Camera Settings" when I expected it to be in the “Motion Detection” section. Even after using the app for a few weeks, I still found myself fumbling to find certain settings and features.
Special Features: Motion alerts and tracking, PIN protection, and more
Unlike previous versions of this product, the YI Dome Camera has several useful features beyond the standard pan, tilt, and zoom.
One of the best special features is its motion-activated alerts, which send push notifications if it senses movement. These alerts worked really well in my testing. I aimed the camera at my front door when I wasn’t home, and anytime the door was opened or one of the pets walked by, I received a push notification on my phone. When I opened the app, I watched a six-second clip of what triggered the sensor.
What’s nice is that you can choose the sensitivity, frequency, and schedule for these alerts. You can program it only to send alerts while you’re at work and stop it from sending you six different notifications if your cat walks by the camera six times in succession. The camera has a cool motion-tracking feature that makes the camera follow the person or animal who triggered the motion sensor. The only downside with this feature is that clips are only stored for a week unless you purchase a YI Cloud subscription, which starts at $5.99 a month.
Other features include auto-cruise scheduling. When I enabled this feature, the camera continuously panned back and forth, surveying the whole apartment and stopping at “bookmarked” locations. I didn't need this feature, but it could be useful to use this as a security camera for a business.
Finally, to increase the camera’s security, there’s an option to protect your feed with PIN protection. When enabled, this option asks me to enter a PIN before I could log onto the camera’s video stream. It provides peace of mind that unwanted viewers can't hack into the feed.
Most security cameras are quite pricey, retailing for $100 or more, which is why the YI Dome Camera is a steal at $39.99. It’s a clear and reliable camera that will let you keep tabs on your home, fur babies, or real babies. It’s worth noting that a newer version of this product, the YI Dome Camera X, has a few more features for $59.99.
Competition: You’ll spend more on advanced features
YI Dome Camera X: The YI Dome Camera X is the latest version of this product, and it offers a few additional features, including human detection, optional emergency response abilities, and optional local video storage on an SD card. However, it has a smaller pan/tilt range than the 1080p model, and overall, there wasn’t a discernible difference in functionality. You can’t really go wrong either way!
YI 720p Dome Camera: The 720p model of the YI Dome Camera is the older version; 720p refers to standard HD resolution. The casing looks nearly identical to the full HD, 1080p model I tested—the only difference is the newer model has a silver strip around the base. A few strategic upgrades to the newer camera, including noticeably improved video quality, the PIN protection option, baby-cry monitoring, and motion tracking. If you’re deciding between the two, I’d definitely recommend the updated 1080p option.
It’s an ideal budget pick!
If you’re on the hunt for a security camera but don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars, you should definitely consider the YI Dome Camera. The video quality is surprisingly good, especially for the price, and the motion detection, panning, and security features make this camera incredibly useful for keeping an eye on your home.
- Product Name Dome Camera
- Product Brand YI
- Price $39.99
- Product Dimensions 4.5 x 4.25 x 5.75 in.
- Color White
- Warranty 1-year