GoPro Hero 11 Black review: the same but different

The GoPro Hero 11 Black is here – we've tested it, and this is what we think

T3 Platinum Award
GoPro Hero11
(Image credit: GoPro)
T3 Verdict

The GoPro Hero 11 Black is in many ways the ultimate in incremental evolution. It’s a better camera than the GoPro Hero 10 Black in several areas, especially with its brilliantly boosted colour palette and improved user options, but it's almost identical in most of the other ways you can measure.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    New sensor amps up the quality everywhere

  • +

    Better battery live

  • +

    Same physical dimensions

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Incremental improvement over older model

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The GoPro Hero 11 Black has hit the streets, following on from the powerful and broadly-well-received GoPro Hero 10 Black, which itself delivered an incremental upgrade to the previous model. The GoPro Hero 11 Black was launched as one of a trio of GoPro models, the HERO11 Black, HERO11 Black Creator Edition and HERO11 Black Mini. 

GoPro claims that the three cameras feature a new, larger sensor that delivers the highest resolution, highest 10-bit colour depth, highest level of video stabilisation and widest field of view ever featured natively in a HERO camera. Will it shoot effortlessly to the top of the best action camera available list? We've been putting the GoPro Hero 11 through its paces.  

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: price and availability

The HERO11 Black is available globally on September 14 2022, at $399.98/ £399.98 / AUS $649.95 for GoPro Subscribers and $499.99/ £499.99 / AUS $799.95 MSRP. Meanwhile, the HERO11 Black Creator Edition is also available globally today at $579.98/£579.98 / AUS $929.95 for GoPro Subscribers and $699.99/ £399.98 / AUS $649.95 MSRP, while the HERO11 Black Mini will be available at on Oct 25, 2022, for $299.98/£299.98 /AUS $499.95 for GoPro Subscribers and $399.99/£399.99 / AUS $649.95 MSRP, rolling out to retailers globally after that.

GoPro Hero11

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: design and build quality

The GoPro Hero 11 Black is immediately familiar to the eye, and when picked up and closely inspected, reveals itself to be very familiar indeed.

In fact, when you go to the official specs, you’ll find it’s exactly, to the half-millimetre, the same physical size as the GoPro Hero 10 Black. Indeed, apart from the new ‘11’ gracing the side of the unit, the two are indistinguishable - the only visual difference being that the GoPro Hero 11 Black’s rear LED appears to be white when off, rather than the darker grey/black of the GoPro Hero 10 Black - not much of a big deal.

To all intents and purposes, this is the exact same physical unit - even the batteries are interchangeable. Speaking of which, the new battery (which is rated identically), has a small change - sporting a white surround rather than the GoPro Hero 10 Black’s blue. 

Under the hood, the GP2 chip is unchanged over the previous model, and the weight 153 grams - is a single gram lighter than the older model - slim pickings indeed. "So, what’s the difference?" we hear you cry - well, visually, none; it’s all under the skin. The first key change is a new sensor, which is upgraded to a 1/1.9” Sensor. This opens up a whole new world of 'full-sensor video modes' in an 8:7 aspect ratio on top of the usual 16:9 or 9:16, as well as increasing the available photo resolution - now up to 27MP in 8:7. These full-sensor modes include 5.3K30 8:7 video and 4K60 8:7 video too. 

To the surprise of nobody, there’s a new iteration of HyperSmooth stabilisation in the GoPro Hero 11 Black, now up to HyperSmooth 5.0, and now ‘Emmy Award-Winning’, according to GoPro. In use, HyperSmooth 5.0 does offer an improvement over HyperSmooth 4.0, but it’s another incremental win - better, but not mind-blowing. 

GOPro Hero 11

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: battery performance

While the look and feel may be underwhelming, the performance is where GoPro’s tweaking pays dividends. Aside from the sensor and image quality, GoPro has clearly dedicated some time and effort to improving battery life, interestingly making some serious gains (when you look at it as percentage improvement) at the higher resolutions.

For example, you'll get an extra 7 minutes shooting at 5.3K30 (up to 80 minutes for HERO11 Black vs 73 minutes for HERO10 Black), an improvement of nearly 10%, but down in the lower resolutions 1080p60: 89 minutes for HERO11 Black vs 80 minutes for HERO10 Black. 

GoPro are calling this extended battery life ‘Enduro’, and as it has been achieved without physically increasing the battery capacity, there must have been some significant optimisations possible over the older software, unless it’s all down to underclocking that new sensor. To be fair, the older model did suffer from overheating, and the new version is far less susceptible to that flaw.

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: sensor performance

There are a host of benefits to having a new sensor under the hood, not least that the colour palette is considerably boosted - up to 10-bit. 10-bit colour provides over 1 billion shades of colour vs 16.7 million in 8-bit. The 10-bit HEVC encoding delivers smoother gradients and improved detail in many situations, most noticeable when viewing horizons or banks of cloud, etc. This is a noticeable improvement over the older model and a genuine plus point. Indeed, it's arguably the biggest selling point of the new model.

GoPro Hero 11

(Image credit: GoPro)

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: ease of use

It's been said many times before, but the real superpower of GoPros isn’t their technical wizardry, or the specs, although these are at worst competitive, but the ease of use. It’s always been easy to fire up a GoPro and grab some footage that’s not awful straight out of the box, and after a few tweaks, you’ll feel like a pro, with results to match.

GoPro have taken this fact a logical step further in the GoPro Hero 11 Black, grading the settings into ‘easy’ (the default when you power the unit on), and ‘Pro’, which allows you to unlock presets that let you choose the best settings for your shot (Standard, Activity, Cinematic, Slo-Mo and more), plus the ability to fine-tune all modes, settings and features. 

This achieves a neat balance for GoPro - no compromise of the ‘idiot mode’ that we’ve come to know and love, but also the more granular control that the ‘pros’ demand. 

Another key plank in the GoPro Hero 11 Black’s armoury of easy-to-use tools is the new auto-highlight video (see the video below), which takes a maximum of 75 photos + videos, no limit on length, captured within a 12hr window and automatically creates a highlights video from them in the cloud.

There are some limits on the tool at the moment (no burst or 360, for example), but as an easy way to enjoy an algorithmically-curated set of video moments, it’s no bad idea - indeed, Google’s Photos already does a similar job on Android devices, as does Apple with the iPhone’s Memories feature.  

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: verdict

The GoPro Hero 11 Black is, in many ways, the ultimate in incremental evolution. It’s a better camera than the GoPro Hero 10 Black in several areas and identical in most of the others you can measure. As an upgrade for existing GoPro Hero 10 Black owners, it’s an unlikely shout - it’s not that much better - but as an upgrade for earlier model owners, it’s a good one to go for.

There’s certainly an argument that gentle upgrades ruffle fewer feathers, and ease of use has - if anything - been improved to widen the GoPro Hero 11 Black’s appeal - it’s easy enough for anyone to use, tech-savvy or not. Overall, the GoPro Hero 11 Black is an impressive action camera, only marred by the impressiveness of the GoPro Hero 10 Black - a familiar issue for GoPro admirers…

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: also consider

The GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini is the ideal action camera option for anyone who wants to create a video while skiing, cycling, or in any scenario where rear and front displays are not required. The built-in battery is restrictive, but with exceptional video quality, it’s hard to argue with this streamlined sensation. Read Jamie's full GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini review.

Although the DJI OSMO Action 3 cuts a few corners, only a few users will notice these shortcomings. The compact yet rugged body and the wider-than-usual field of view offer opportunities for people to create unique footage both under and over the water line. Unless you're keen on shooting in low-light conditions, the OSMO Action 3 is one of the best value-for-money action cams you can buy. Read Matt's full DJI OSMO Action 3 review.

With excellent image stabilisation, ease of use and a brilliant magnetic mounting system for accessories, the DJI Osmo Action 4 is an excellent rugged action camera that loses out to the GoPro Hero 11 Black only in its lack of 5.7K video resolution. If that’s not important to you, then you’ll love DJI's latest action cam. Read Jamie's full DJI Osmo Action 4 review.

Mark Mayne

Mark Mayne has been covering tech, gadgets and outdoor innovation for longer than he can remember. A keen climber, mountaineer and scuba diver, he is also a dedicated weather enthusiast and flapjack consumption expert.