GoPro Hero 10 Black review: The powerful new GP2 processor is held back by Quik and a poor battery

GoPro Hero 10 Black 4

GoPro hasn’t tried to reinvent its action camera with the Hero 10 Black. It looks the same as the Hero 9 Black, it’s as durable as GoPro’s of the past and it films at very high resolution.

Instead, GoPro has focussed on improving and enhancing what was already good about its action camera, and the results are impressive. However, areas that needed addressing like poor battery life haven’t seen these improvements and that holds the Hero 10 back.

Inside the Hero 10 Black is the new GP2 processor that GoPro claims will produce double the amount of performance that the Hero 9 Black’s GP1 processer could produce. And as soon as I started using the Hero 10, I noticed the improvements. The UI is faster, touch inputs are more responsive, the preview screens framerates have doubled, file offloading is quicker, you can capture 23MP photos and HyperSmooth 4.0 has been introduced. 

For footage, quite simply, the Hero 10 Black is a beast and its improvements are welcome ones. But the poor battery and the unintuitive Quik app remain disappointing and they’re issues that are hard to look past. 

Pros

  • Same sturdy design
  • Hydrophobic lens, that repels water
  • Compatible with previous accessories and mods
  • Fantastic video and photo quality
  • HyperSmooth 4.0 and Horizon Levelling!!!
  • Faster transfer speeds

Cons

  • Bad battery life
  • Harder to get footage onto my PC than it should be
  • Quik app is unnecessarily complicated
  • Expensive
  • Repeated transferring disconnections and issues.

Price

The Hero 10 Black costs $849 on its own and $699.99 if you have a GoPro subscription.

GoPro Hero 10 Black 4

Design

The Hero 10’s design is very familiar. If you put it next to the Hero 9 you won’t be able to tell the difference (other than the blue “10 Black” written on the side)

It has the same front-facing screen, the removable camera lens, the start/stop button on top, the mode button on the left side and the compartment where the battery, USB-C port and SD card are kept, on the right.

It boasts the same sturdy and robust design that GoPros are known for. Allowing you to throw it around without worry and take it in up to 10m of water. And it works as well as ever.

There are some design changes that are a little less noticeable. The Hero 10 Black is slightly lighter than the Hero 9 weighing 153g and the lens has been improved. The Hero 10’s lens is now “hydrophobic”, meaning it repels water. This was great for recording videos on rainy days and coming out of water, as the fluid would slide off the lens not obstructing the shot. It’s also more scratch resistant and has been enhanced to reduce ghosting. Again, welcome improvements for taking action shots.

The Hero 10 has maintained the foldable arms, at the bottom of the device, for attaching to mods and accessories. And I was very pleased that it was compatible with the previous generation accessories and Hero 9 mods.

Video/Photo

The video capabilities of the Hero 10 Black have also been improved. Thanks to the GP2 processor, video framerates in all resolutions have been doubled. You can now film in 5.3K at 60fps, 4K at 120fps, 2.7K at 240fps and everything in between, it’s massive. However, don’t get sucked in by that too much. In order to see the benefits of these high resolutions, you’ll need a monitor or phone compatible with these, and 5.3K isn’t very common.

GoPro’s in-camera electronic stabilisation, HyperSmooth, has also been improved. HyperSmooth 4.0 can be used in two modes, standard and high.

The high mode can now be used in 5.3K resolution at 30fps, 4K resolution at 60fps, 2.7K at 120fps, and everything below that. Filming in 2.7k with Hypersmooth 4.0 on high mode works very well. The footage I recorded holding the GoPro in my hand looked like I had used a gimbal or stabiliser.

The horizon levelling feature, which makes bumpy videos level with the horizon, has also been improved. The maximum tilt for horizon levelling has been increased to 45° from 27°.

This increase means the camera can tilt a lot more when you’re filming and it will still manage to level footage out to match the horizon. I tested this while sprinting with the Hero 10 in my outstretched hand and the results were amazing. At full sprint, my hand was moving all over the place and the footage came out smooth. It looked like I was on a skateboard rather than sprinting my hardest.

The Hero 10 brings a new Webcam mode which can film in 1080p with a 132° wide field of view and live streaming has been improved as well, as it now supports HyperSmooth 4.0.

All the other video modes are still here, TimeWarp, Hindsight, Scheduled Capture, Duration Capture and Live Burst. I didn’t find myself using these modes often however they’re all easily accessible and they work even better with the speed of the GP2 processor.

Taking photos with the Hero 10 Black is a faster process than previous GoPros. There’s significantly less processing time when taking shots using SuperPhoto mode (which automatically selects the best image processing for the shot) and similarly with HRD mode.

The Hero 10 Black’s 23MP camera produces more vibrant, and clearer images when compared to the Hero 9 Black’s 20MP lens. Which is great.

GoPro has also improved the Frame Grab feature with the Hero 10 Black. Frame grabbing is where you select a frame from a video and export it as an image. The Hero 10 Black allows for 19.6MP frame grabs from 5K 4:3 videos and 15.8MP grabs from 5.3K video and every resolution below that. You can easily Frame Grab on GoPro’s Quik app and you can do it online in the GoPro media library as well. It’s simple and the images look great.

You can see that the Hero 10 Black’s 23MP camera takes a more detailed image. The colours of the plant, grass and trees are more natural and more vibrant.

Again the Hero 10 Black is able to show more detail. Looking at the plant underneath the birdhouse, you can easily see the yellow leaves whereas they’re much harder to see on the picture taken by the GoPro Hero 9 Black.

In darker lighting the Hero 10 Black produces a more realistic image. It’s also able to produce noticeably more detail. Looking at the water drops on the plant on the right, you’re able to see many more drops in the image produced by the Hero 10 Black when compared to the Hero 9 Black’s image.

Features

If you’re familiar with GoPros the first thing you’ll notice is how much more responsive the Hero 10 Black is. The touch input is much better. There are no delays between inputs and it feels more like a top of the range phone when navigating through menus.

A big issue with previous GoPros was how hard it was, and how long it took to transfer content from the GoPro to your phone or computer. The Hero 10 Black’s GP2 processor is significantly faster for this, but I still ran into some issues.

GoPro claims that Wi-Fi transfers are 30% faster and the Hero 10 Black is now compatible with wired transfers from the GoPro to your phone via the USB-C port. GoPro claims that wired transfers are 50% faster than the GP2’s Wi-Fi transfers which is a massive increase and it quickly became my preferred way to get footage off my GoPro.  

GoPro subscribers will also be able to take advantage of the auto-upload feature that will automatically upload the videos and photos to the cloud when the GoPro is put on charge. And of course, the subscription still comes with unlimited cloud storage at full resolution.

Frustratingly, there were numerous occasions where I had trouble transferring my footage using both the wired and Wi-Fi methods. Watching footage on the Quik app, that had been uploaded from the Hero 10 was laggy and slow. Also, if I wanted footage that I’d transferred using the wired method in the cloud, I would have to transfer it again using the Wi-Fi method, or create a mural. This was frustrating when I wanted to get the footage onto my PC and use it outside the Quik app for something like YouTube or this review.

Edited footage would also prove troublesome. If I edited footage in the Quik app on my phone, it wouldn’t automatically upload that edited footage to the cloud. Trying to get a frame grab of a slow-motion shot I took into my media library, so I could download it on my laptop, was more complicated than it should’ve been. Yes, I could’ve taken the SD card out, put it in an SD reader and then into my PC, however that goes against the whole point of subscribing to GoPro and having access to unlimited cloud storage.

GoPro Hero 10 Black 2

The Quik app

Initially, when I reviewed the GoPro Hero 9 I liked the Quik app. I was impressed by the range of tools at my disposal to make quick edits, add music, transitions and more. As an easy-to-use editor, the Quik app is great. But after a more extensive period of use, I came to dislike it. It makes it much more difficult to use your footage on a more powerful device like a MacBook or a PC than it should be. Those wanting to edit with more powerful software like Adobe Premiere Pro will get frustrated by this. 

Trying to get footage from my GoPro to my computer was a nightmare. The app consistently lost connection with the Hero 10 when trying to download footage. Everything is poorly explained and it’s disappointing that fantastic footage captured by a very powerful camera like the Hero 10 Black is so difficult to manage and use due to a poor app. It makes you not want to use the Hero 10 to avoid the rigmarole.

Battery

The Hero 10 Black’s battery is bad. The upgraded GP2 processor is working harder than the GP1 to make the Hero 10 more responsive and streamlined. However, all that processing eats up battery life, quickly. 

Although the GP2 is more powerful, it isn’t more efficient. The Hero10 Black has the same size 1720mAh battery as the Hero 9 Black which isn’t enough. 

Simply having the Hero 10 Black turned on, not recording or taking pictures, I was able to watch the battery go down from 80% to 50% in about 25 minutes. The estimated battery life filming at 1080p at 60fps is 90 minutes. This is significantly less if you want to film at higher resolutions and frame rates. 

Even for only one hour’s worth of filming, extra batteries are a must. It means you need to pre-plan the day before if you’re not going to be near a charger, and you’ll probably need a dual-battery charger which costs $30 and two extra batteries which cost $20 each, just to use your GoPro on a single outing. It’s bad.

GoPro Hero 10 Black 1

Verdict

GoPro is the market leader when it comes to action cameras. Nowadays though, they aren’t just competing with other action cameras, they’re also competing with phones like Apple’s iPhone 12 or the Samsung Galaxy S21. 

With that in mind, the GoPro needs to be as user friendly as these devices. Footage needs to be accessible and easy to upload and unfortunately, GoPros just aren’t as streamlined as the latest phones.

Yes, the Hero 10 Black can take much better footage than my phone, it’s more durable and it has amazing features like HyperSmooth 4.0 and Horizon levelling. However, constant issues transferring footage to my phone and PC, a terrible battery that limits the ability for spontaneous filming and the unnecessarily vague and complicated Quik app all leave a sour taste in my mouth. I ended up using my phone rather than the Hero 10 Black.

But, if you can look past these issues and your phone isn’t strong enough to keep up with your extreme lifestyle, the Hero 10 Black is easily the best GoPro to date and you’ll love it. The improvements in the touch responsiveness, the speed of the processor, the quality of the footage you can capture and the new ways to transfer your footage (when it works) are all great improvements. Once you use the Hero 10 Black, you won’t want to go back to any model before it.   

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