The Xiaomi Mi Sphere (reviewed here) is still one of the best 360 cameras for photos. But if you go to Amazon or eBay, it’s only available from resellers for as much as $500+, which is around double its original price. Is it still available? Where can you buy it at more reasonable prices? Here’s an actual experience and an updated timeline.
The Mi Sphere has been around for 3 years now, which is three generations in the fast-moving 360 camera industry. Yet it is still one of the best 360 cameras for photography in 2020. The biggest problem is that it’s hard to find. I found some on Aliexpress for very low prices, but Aliexpress is a little bit iffy.
Aliexpress is somewhat like China’s version of Amazon Marketplace, where merchants offer a variety products, usually for far less than their cost in the US or Europe, and generally cheaper than even eBay.
I have ordered a monopod from Aliexpress in the past and my order did arrive after about 2 months. Aliexpress does offer a 90-day buyer protection if your product doesn’t arrive or if it is not as described. As for your credit card info, Aliexpress does not give your credit card information to the merchant. The risk is that the merchant may redirect you to their store, out of Aliexpress, where your purchase would not be protected, and they might get your credit card info. I also would suggest NOT saving your credit card information (uncheck that option).
Anyway, I ordered a Mi Sphere on Aliexpress, and will supposedly arrive on September 6. I’ll update this post on if or when I receive my order.
In the Mi Sphere Facebook group, one member reported that they ordered a camera from the same seller on May 1 and still has yet to receive their order:
Several members of the Mi Sphere Facebook group also shared their experience about buying a Mi Sphere from Aliexpress. The majority of the members said that they did receive their order, but that it took anywhere from 30 days to 90 days. One member paid $30 for DHL shipping and received it in 6 days. See the comments in this post.
Updates for my package:
8/14/20 Dispatched to overseas (Country code: US)
8/8/20 9:42am – package has been accepted by airline and has departed the warehouse in China.
8/7/20 4:46pm – the tracking information has been updated and now states that the package has been received in the warehouse in China.
8/5/20 4:30am – Got an email saying the seller has shipped the order. I got a tracking number, although it says that the tracking information will be available 5 to 7 days after shipping. It will ship through “Aliexpress Standard Shipping.” Arrival estimated in 33 days. It also says that if I don’t get it by November 3, 2020, then I can open a dispute to apply for a refund.
8/4/20 12pm – ordered the camera. Got an order confirmation immediately.