The year has rolled around again, and with it comes a new flagship GoPro for 2021, the GoPro HERO 10 Black. Very much an iterative update to 2020’s well-received GoPro HERO 9 Black, a brand new, more powerful GP2 chipset takes top billing in the HERO 10, with performance being improved in many areas too, most notably in doubling the framerate.
However, the battery remains the same capacity as the HERO 9 Black, and the physical size and shape are all-but identical. So does this new offering take the best action camera crown? Read on for our full GoPro HERO 10 Black review, specs, pricing and a full breakdown of those new enhancements. Or to see exactly how it matches up against its predecessor, check out our GoPro HERO 9 Black vs GoPro HERO 10 Black showdown.
GoPro HERO 10 Black review: price and release date
The GoPro HERO 10 Black launched on 16 Sept 2021 – and is available to buy now across all territories. The RRP is as follows:
- UK: £379.98 with a one-year GoPro subscription / £479.99 MSRP without
- US: $399 with a one-year GoPro subscription / $499 MSRP without
- AUS: $599.95 with a one-year GoPro subscription / $749.95 MSRP without
Obviously as the flagship model, the HERO10 Black tops the GoPro bill in terms of price (alongside the GoPro’s dual-lens, 360 MAX camera at £379.98), pushing the HERO 9 Black into second place at £329.98 with an included one-year GoPro subscription or £379.99 MSRP without a subscription. Lagging behind is the HERO8 Black at £259.98 with an included one-year GoPro subscription or £279.99 MSRP without a subscription.
Too pricey? Head to our dedicated GoPro deals page for the best current prices, including any offers (we're hoping to see GoPros amongst 2021's best Black Friday deals). If you're on a tight budget, you're more likely to save by opting for an older model such as the GoPro HERO 9 Black or GoPro HERO 8 Black review, both of which are still absolutely excellent action cam (you can see how the different models in the current lineup compare to one another in our best GoPro guide). And if you're not set on a GoPro, explore alternatives in our best cheap action camera roundup.
GoPro HERO 10 Black review: design
The great news for followers of GoPro is that the new GoPro HERO 10 Black is visually identical to the groundbreaking GoPro HERO 9 Black, the only obvious difference being the GoPro logo under the front screen is a natty blue, as is the side ‘10 Black’ annotation. Side by side you'll notice the body of the GoPro HERO 10 Black is slightly darker than its older sibling, more actual black than dark graphite.
Elsewhere, the similarities continue, the battery compartment, USB-C charge port, 1720mAh Lithium battery and battery lid could be the same components as the HERO 9 Black - certainly the battery is interchangeable between the two, and the charge time similar (accounting for the variation between new and old batteries). The flip down ‘fingers’ to mount the camera are also identical to the HERO 9 Black, a good thing, and are backwards compatible with many years-worth of GoPro mounts.
The operation buttons are also identical to the HERO 9 Black, a side mode and power button, and a top-mounted record button, both rubberised and glove-compatible thanks to nice big surfaces. There is one major change to the exterior though: the removable main lens cover might be visually identical to the HERO 9 Black's, but the HERO 10 Black operates very differently.
The HERO 10 Black lens cover is equipped with hydrophobic, water-shedding glass and is more scratch-resistant with reduced ghosting, according to GoPro, and in testing this is particularly noticeable. Fingermarks can just be swiped away with another finger, and water beads up and runs off, rather than smearing. Finally, lens licking is no longer a thing – fortunate in many less savory situations.
GoPro HERO 10 Black review: features and usability
While the LCD screens are precisely the same size as the HERO 9 Black, there is good news for usability: the rear screen as much improved touch sensitivity baked in, which is immediately obvious flicking through the menus. How much this is due to the new-generation GP2 SoC ‘engine’, and how much an improved touchscreen, is a moot point; it’s much, much slicker than it used to be in the last generation.
Indeed, the GP2 chipset is the key big improvement to the HERO 10 overall, giving direct benefits like quicker boot, faster transfers and underpinning the new HyperSmooth 4.0, as well as indirect, namely the amped up image and video quality.
An all new-wired data transfer mode for phones (GoPro claims 50% faster than wireless) is particularly handy, especially in conjunction with the revamped Quik app, and as a final hurrah, the HERO10 black uploads footage to the cloud while charging... but only if you're a GoPro subscriber.
GoPro HERO 10 Black review: video and stills
Both video and still quality have been significantly boosted, with video now topping out at a massive 5.3K, 60FPS, 4K at a blistering 120FPS, and 2.7K/240p, while stills are cranked up to 23MP. Broadly, HERO 10 Black frame rates are doubled over the HERO 9 Black, and frame grabs are also teased up a touch, 19.6MP from 5K video, and 15.8MP from 5.3K video.
The HERO 10 Black's 4K/120FPS is fantastic for slow-mo trickery, and the higher 5.3k resolution really does make a difference, especially when focusing in on backgrounds, there’s clear improvement there. However, it’s a ‘nice to have’ rather than a game changer. Similarly, now we’re used to HyperSmooth and TimeWarp stabilisation in the HERO 9 Black, the HERO 10 Black’s GP2-powered updates seem only incrementally better – impressive nonetheless.
Elsewhere weight is down to a mere 153 grams, although that feeling of top heaviness can still strike quite easily when helmet-mounted. On the bright side, you’ve got the new and improved HyperSmooth 4.0 in-camera stabilisation to offset any wobbling about, with new horizon leveling operating at up to 45 degrees, which is pretty impressive, and particularly useful for those taking on those more extreme stunts.
Battery life is obviously a moveable feast, but it’s clear that the 1720mAh battery is working hard: the unit gets warm to the touch when charging, and recording at full 5.3K/60FPS resolution makes it warm up quite a bit. That’s in relatively cool conditions with the camera in good airflow, so worth bearing in mind in more restrictive environments. Indeed, shooting about 30 minutes of 5.3K/60FPS made the camera cut out several times – either due to overheating or boredom at the sheer tedium of the footage – leaving us with three shorter clips. Easier to edit, but potentially missing key moments.
We found that shooting 30 mins of full-fat video ate about half the battery in one sitting, so you’re looking at about an hour per charge, but that is at a ludicrously high resolution for longer clips; 4K/120FPS or lower would be much more sensible, for storage, battery and editing reasons. As with the HERO 9 Black, audio capture is reasonable, but not excellent, with wind noise easily taking over, especially in our cycling-based testing runs. The media mod accessory should improve matters though, as would a separate mic if audio is an important factor for you.
Fortunately, given the battery life, it’s easy to swap out the battery for a fresh one, although the onboard charging setup means you’ll need to swap them back around again when charging. To be fair, most GoPro aficionados would have a spare battery as a matter of course, and the HERO 10 Black still makes that an essential pro tip.
GoPro HERO 10 Black review: verdict
Now to the crux of our GoPro HERO 10 Black review: is it worth buying? Well, the Apple of action cams has done it again, iterating enough to be certain that there is a perceptible improvement, but not enough to hinder sales of the older, now slightly cheaper model. We gave the HERO 9 Black five stars, and it’s still a fantastic camera, but the HERO 10 Black is slightly better in multiple ways.
While the appreciable bump in image quality is welcome, it’s the ability of the GP2 chip to flash through whatever task you set that’s the standout here, and as the GP2 is the first new GoPro chipset since 2017, it’s pretty certain we’ll be seeing a few more GoPros powered by it, as well as software-based improvements over the coming months. Indeed, the HERO 9 Black was considerably improved by software updates post-launch, so expecting something similar with the HERO 10 Black isn’t too far fetched.
Whether the battery life can be improved is another matter, and by keeping the same battery as the HERO 9 Black, the more powerful HERO 10 Black was always going to suffer when pushed to the limit.
The big question, of course, is whether you should rush out and buy one, something that’s slightly muddied by the GoPro subscription structure, but not too much. For GoPro subscribers, it’s easily worth £50 notes more than the GoPro HERO 9 Black. For anyone who doesn't want to sign up, or is already the proud owner of a HERO 9 Black, this will be a tougher decision.