GoPro Hero5: The Gizmodo Review

We use a lot of GoPros here at Gizmodo. We use them to shoot timelapse battery tests for phones and 360 degree videos of multibillion dollar transit hubs and test runs of quarter million dollar cars on a dirt track. So a new GoPro action camera with a lower price tag and badass features has us pumped. We'd love for this to be the camera we choose to update our own fleet of GoPros -- more on that in a second -- but the Hero5 is definitely the one we'd recommend to a bike nut friend who wants to get into the action cam game.

What Is It?

GoPro has become the de facto action camera because it's simple enough for anyone to use and small enough to go anywhere. It's just a supremely good value for the price. Sony, Olympus, and even Xioami have been nipping at GoPro's heels with cheaper cameras that often have more features. But now, two years after the last big Hero camera, GoPro is back with a significant update that packs in more features, retails for cheaper, and sacrifices only a minute amount of battery in the process.

GoPro Hero5 Review: A More Perfect Action Camera

We had a lot of fun testing it...but it did get dinged in the process. The GoPro Hero5 is the second action camera from GoPro, after the Hero4 Silver, to feature a touch screen on the back. The Hero4 came in two variants, Silver and Black. The Silver had fewer cool video modes but included that user-friendly touchscreen. The Black had all the great video modes, like shooting at 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 120fps, but lacked a touchscreen.

The Hero5 merges the best features of both variants and adds-on a few more like image stabilisation, which is useful when trying to get a smooth shot on the back of a dune buggy or a sick tracking shot while perched on your CitiBike. The Hero5 is also the first GoPro with GPS built in, which is great if you're travelling a lot and want to know where exactly you shot that last great video.

GoPro Hero5 Review: A More Perfect Action Camera

The other big change between the Hero4 and Hero5 is the introduction of voice commands. You can tell the Hero5 to start and stop recording, which is useful for anyone engaged in some extreme sporting. Bombing down a hill on a mountain bike looks cool on a GoPro, but you do not look cool when you stop the epic run to press a record button.

A "secret" feature is the Hero5's ability to instantly bookmark choice moments in your video when you shout "oh shit" or "that's sick." Unfortunately, you can only utilise the bookmarked moments when you're editing with the GoPro editing suite. If you're using Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro or other video editing software you'll miss out, as we learned when we got back to the office to edit the video above

Adding these new features also provides additional drain on the Hero5's battery and when we pitted it against a Hero4 Black we use daily we found that it actually died 15 minutes faster. But it still lasted two hours and fifteen minutes. So it's not exactly like a 15 minute loss of battery life is a deal breaker. And if you turn off the GPS and use the touch screen infrequently, you should be able to get even better battery life. Which is fantastic, because any old Hero4 batteries you have lying around won't work with the Hero5. (Luckily, the new batteries are just $US20 ($26) a pop.)

GoPro Hero5 Review: A More Perfect Action Camera

While the Hero4 and Hero5 largely look similar, the new action cam features a significant durability improvement: it's completely waterproof. GoPro had to adjust the gadget's design to make way for all the seals necessary for this waterproofing. That's why the battery isn't the same, and why the USB-C and micro HDMI ports are hidden behind a finicky little door that's extremely difficult to open. It's a wonderful trade-off, though, because the Hero4 required a case to be waterproof, which made the camera bulky and obnoxious to interact with. The Hero5 can take a dunk as deep as 10.06m without a case, so fiddling with little doors is a small price to pay for less heft.

Should You Buy It?

The best feature of the Hero5, however, is its price. All the other features seem like natural upgrades that have existed, in some form or fashion, on devices from nearly all of GoPro's competitors and even GoPro's own Hero4 line. But the Hero5 is the first to combine all those features with a really nice price: $US400 ($528). The Hero4 retailed for $US500 ($660), when it launched back in 2014.

If you have the Hero4 Black and want a touchscreen or the Hero4 Silver and want expanded shooting modes -- or if you're still clinging to your old Hero3 and feel the need to upgrade -- then the Hero5 is a no brainer. It's everything that was great about the Hero4 Black and Silver, but bundled up into one tiny, waterproof device.

As for us: We've got a fleet of Hero4 Blacks that suit us just fine. The new features are fantastic, and we'll be suggesting the Hero5 to all our friends. But the new features are not enough to warrant the upgrade of an entire fleet of cameras that already shoot gorgeous video. For now we're waiting for the eventual Hero6 to wow the hell out of us.

GoPro Hero5 Review: A More Perfect Action Camera


  • Built-in GPS and image stabilisation drain the battery faster but add features many videographers will find crucial
  • Shoots in 4K up to 30fps
  • Lasts about two hours and fifteen minutes on a charge. The Hero4 Black lasted thirty minutes longer.
  • Waterproof up to 10.06m without the need of additional housing
  • Tiny


    Never going to wow me again until they address the short-life battery issue.

    GoPro4, is the worst item I have ever come across! I took it over seas, downloaded the photos on the app in my apple phone, after deleting it from GoPro4, thinking it was safe, it deleted ALL my Europe holiday photos! What made it worse, the company had no explanation of recovery measures in place! Its your problem!! If that wasn't enough, i get home with the rest of my photos in my app, on my laptop and as i was preparing to save and edit, a update pops up for GoPro and i clicked it, thinking nothing of it. What happened next was detrimental to us all! IT DELETED ALL MY PHOTOS NEVER TO RETURN!!They don't care, when i called, they said nothing could be done!!! What a shit device!

    Don't buy the shit GoPro4 device!

      maybe try reading the user manual first. its kinda like buying a car then ramming it into a tree and then blaming the car manufacturer because you didn't obey the street signs.

    Thanks for the review I was going to buy their hero5 session as I'm a quadriplegic I have three of the hero4 session cameras and hero4 silver. I find the session cameras and invaluable to me for safety and for my trips around the city it was only going to upgrade to the 5 for the voice recognition capability turning on and off instead of having to use the stylus I currently use. At the moment I currently get 2.5 hours of recording time 1080p 30 frames per second which I currently need the recording time as it is very handy on long trips. Click submit Anyway thanks for the review very interesting. Regards Mark

    Well after the Hero5 latest update 1.55, all third party battery support has been removed. You may want to rethink the purchase as official GoPro batteries cost a bit. Not sure why the company did this without any announcement or changelog in the firmware. But if you have wasabi or smartree batteries which can be purchased for fraction of the cost, these will no longer work with Hero5.

    I purchased a GoPro Session 5 , planning to use it for all-day weekend rides, shooting short clips ; however if Giz digs a little deeper into power consumption it seems the GP5s (and the GP5) have unpublished power drain issues in various sleep (for rapid start) modes, like voice and wifi remote modes (drain way more than you expect) and even drain in 2-3 days to 0%, when all connections are OFF, as well as the cam off - the lack hard-off fuctionality, in my recent user experience, means the GP5S user must charge it every 2-3 days (GP5 users can remove the battery to save it draining) - As i frequently found mine flat at the start of a ride. It's hard to research this in advance as it's un-published (or redacted). Both products desperately need an aftermarket "door with charge seal" to allow tethered-charge bike riding which can feed this power-need when supposedly OFF. My firmware version is v1.5. Hopefully it's only a software bug that can be fixed. Would be great if Giz does power analysis on Action Cams.

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