In this Akaso Brave 8 review we’ll dig into the latest action camera from the challenger brand. The Akaso Brave 8 is an interesting proposition. It aims to be one of the best GoPro alternatives, offering a nearly-as-powerful camera at a lower price, and pulling some GoPro-beating specs out of the bag too. So is it better, or bested?
This is the big brother to the Akaso Brave 7 camera, which has had reviewers singing its praises for some time (we were also impressed, as you'll see in our Akaso Brave 7 review). So is the newer model worthy of consideration amongst today's best action cameras? Read on for our in-depth Akaso Brave 8 review.
Akaso Brave 8 review: price and release date
The Akaso Brave 8 (opens in new tab) launched in autumn 2021 and is available now. At full price, it'll set you back USD $279.99, GBP £239.99, or AUD $369.99.
Akaso Brave 8 review: features and what's new
The Akaso Brave 8 is the latest flagship from the GoPro challenger brand, designed to be the natural upgrade from the older Akaso Brave 7, and a direct competitor to the GoPro Hero 9 Black (that's the second best GoPro at time of the Akaso 8 launch). The Akaso Brave 8 aims to equal the former flagship GoPro Hero 9 Black in most areas, and beat it in a couple, most notably in the sensor department.
Fronting a 1/2”48MP, 1.6um Quad Pixel sensor, the Akaso Brave 8 easily beats even the newest GoPro Hero 10 Black with ease in the photo department. Video wise, we’re talking a relatively lo-fi max resolution of 4K@60fps, compared to the Hero 9’s 5K@30fps, and the Hero 10’s relatively insane 5.3K@60, or 4K@120.
Elsewhere, the Akaso Brave 8 offers a front screen, rear touch screen, removable lens protector, 1550mAh battery, and is waterproof to 33ft (10m) without a case.
Akaso Brave 8 review: what's in the box
The Akaso Brave 8 is immediately likeable on several fronts. The box itself will be familiar to action camera fans of a couple of years ago, a clear window atop a branded box. Inside another welcome surprise awaits: a wide range of mounts, straps and adhesive pads, along with a steel lanyard makes this package ready to rock straight from the box, no extras required. Another welcome extra is a spare battery and a dual-battery charger, which is slimline, USB-C compatible and faff free, an excellent addition.
There is more than a little flavour of past GoPros throughout, the camera itself aping the GoPro 9 Black and 10 Back with a front selfie screen, rear touch screen and removable lens cover. The remote supplied is very reminiscent of the GoPro Hero 3 and 4, as is the outer case to a certain extent. The Akaso Brave 8 doesn’t have mounting lugs built in like the GoPros, so the case is an essential to attach it to mounts of any kind.
Although the case doesn’t add much bulk, it’s a brittle plastic that doesn’t feel very high end. There are cutouts for the buttons and the MicroSD access hatch, but the buttons don’t align centrally, and the hatch won’t open while the case is on as it doesn’t align entirely. The package includes a handy metal safety lanyard, which is great for more exposed use cases, and a host of mounts, including a bike bar clamp and a selection of sticky pads.
The remote (annoyingly) takes an older microUSB cable, while the camera and battery charger take the current USB-C, a hint that the remote is something of a hangover from an older model. The mounts are very similar to GoPro items, although the system isn’t quite as robust, allowing the camera to be twisted out with relatively little force, and a good fit needs two small sets of lugs to engage – something that could be easily overlooked in more extreme use.
Overall, it’s a good, complete package. The charger is excellent, and while the build quality isn’t entirely premium across the board, it’s perfectly serviceable, and the actual camera unit is OK.
Akaso Brave 8 action camera review: setup and use
The setup process is unusually intensive. The camera demands it be paired to a phone app, and bypassing this is only allowed three times, you are firmly warned. Once the app is downloaded, you are allowed to register your details – although linking a Facebook or Google account, while an option, doesn’t create an account, just loops you back to email registration, a frustrating bit of blatant data gathering.
Email registration complete, it’s time to link the camera to the app. Next a firmware update is required, which is downloaded to the phone app (via normal wifi). This knocks out the local wifi phone/app connection, requiring this to be reset once the download is complete.
Akaso Brave 8 review: performance
There is good news though, the Akaso Brave 8’s whopping sensor does indeed deliver the goods, especially in terms of photos, which are impressively good given the compact size of the camera. Even in the low light levels of UK winter the images still avoid looking too muddy, and the detail is clear in every shot. The 8K time lapse video has to be the standout here too, giving next-generation video quality to a popular shooting format.
Less impressive is the 4K 60fps video, which is perfectly adequate, let’s be clear, but not as strong as its rivals. One of the big challenges here is the interface with the app, which is relatively sketchy, and a necessity to use the ‘supersmooth’ setting, a key factor in getting decent action footage out of any action camera. In-camera stabilisation is pretty good, but doesn’t have the wow factor of competitors.
Connecting the camera to an app is a real lottery, often dropping out or crashing while in use, making the app itself pretty impractical to use in real life. The feedback is often confusing – after successfully connecting the app to the camera, the splash screen reads ‘Connect to camera’. Once connected to the phone app, the rear camera screen often still displays a ‘connecting’ splash in the centre, even when the phone app displays the feed and relevant buttons.
Wireless connections cause the battery to discharge very quickly indeed, making the whole camera hot to the touch, the front grille almost painfully so. While the theory is that you can use the app to set up shots, change settings and the like, in reality this isn’t a good idea, unless you want to be changing the battery almost immediately. Another challenge is that video and stills can be edited in app, but need to be downloaded from one device to the other, a multiple step process that makes it painfully clear just how big the files really are.
Although all the hardware parts of the recipe are here, it does feel like the software element is missing in action, a situation that will surely be rectified with an update or two down the line. In the meantime, the best option is to use the camera as a standalone unit as much as possible. The remote control makes this a breeze, once you’ve set up your video/still preferences.
Akaso Brave 8 review: alternatives to consider
The Akaso Brave 8 has painted itself into a bit of a corner in pricing terms. Coming in at quite a significant cost – £239.99 in the UK – which is perilously close to the excellent GoPro Hero 9 Black, and not much of a saving over the current GoPro Hero 10 Black flagship. While the Akaso Brave 8 is a strong contender on paper, the software glitches make it hard to claim that it is better than either model. This leaves its little brother, the Akaso Brave 7 LE, as an excellent alternative. One of the best cheap action cameras around, the 7 LE comes in at around £100 cheaper than the 8, putting it safely into a completely different price bracket to the dangerously accomplished GoPro duo.
Akaso Brave 8 review: verdict
The Akaso Brave 8 has a lot of positive hardware specs on its side, but terrible software makes it hard to take advantage of them, certainly to enjoy doing so. It’s the kind of package you need to work with to get the best out of, read the manuals exhaustively, and set up your shots carefully for the conditions. Against competition that simply delivers, this isn’t good enough at this price point. Unless you specifically need to shoot 8K timelapse video, there’s little standout here, and the bugginess makes the going pretty tough.