We've tested three of GoPro's flagship action cameras. GoPro has become practically synonymous with action cameras, and they've continued to refine their offerings each year. You can typically rely on GoPro cameras to have excellent build quality, high resolution and frame rates, and a solid companion app. We haven't tested the GoPro Max due to limitations with our current test methodology since it's advertised as a 360-degree camera, and this isn't something we currently test.
The best GoPro we've tested is the GoPro HERO9 Black. It's the latest flagship model from GoPro, and it improves upon its predecessors in a few ways. It sports a handy front-facing screen that gives you a live view of the recording, which is great for action cam enthusiasts who do a lot of self-recording. It also supports video recording up to 5k at 30 fps, although we don't currently test 5k video capability. It can shoot up to 240 fps in FHD, great for generating smooth slow-motion video, and up to 60 fps in 4k, giving you a ton of flexibility to capture smooth action or use a lower frame rate for more cinematic or natural-looking video. It has an improved sensor compared to other GoPros that can capture photos in up to 20 megapixels. Also, the build quality is fantastic, and its sturdy body is advertised to be waterproof up to 10m, although this isn't something we currently test.
Unfortunately, its low light performance is poor, with noticeable grain and visual noise creeping in when shooting in darker environments. Video quality overall is okay, although limited by the smaller sensor size. Still, its wide-angle lens and narrow aperture are ideal for action videos, ensuring a wide field of view with a very deep depth of field, so all the action stays in focus. On top of that, its 'HyperSmooth' image stabilization feature is impressive, reducing camera shake incredibly well, although it does incur a significant crop. All in all, if you want one of the best GoPro cameras out there, with advanced features like 5k video and a dual screen, the GoPro HERO9 Black is the way to go.
The GoPro HERO8 Black is the predecessor to the GoPro HERO9 Black, and it performs very similar overall, making it a great option if you want to save a bit of money and prefer an even more compact action cam. Its biggest difference is in design. It's a little bit smaller and lighter than the HERO9, making it just a tad more portable, but it also lacks the dual-screen design that lets you monitor yourself on the front-facing screen as you record. It feels incredibly well-built and, like its successor, is advertised to be waterproof, although we don't currently test this. It can also output video up to 100 Mbps for higher-quality video files.
Unfortunately, its image quality is noticeably worse than the other GoPros on this list, as it introduces more visual noise at higher ISO levels. Its video quality, however, is roughly on par with other GoPro cameras in both 4k and FHD. It has a great video stabilization feature that works well to reduce camera shake when moving, but enabling it crops the video to a greater degree than the other cameras on this list. It also has a decent battery life, although not as good as the HERO9. That said, battery life can vary depending on settings and usage. If you want the smallest and lightest GoPro and don't need 5k resolution or a front-facing screen, this is a great choice.
The best GoPro camera to get if you're on a budget is the GoPro HERO7 Black. It's an older model, so it may be a bit harder to find now, but it offers great value for the price. Like its successors, it has a compact, portable design and is rated to be waterproof up to 10m, although we don't currently test this. It lacks a front-facing screen like the GoPro HERO9 Black, but unlike that model or the GoPro HERO8 Black, it includes a micro HDMI port, making it easier to playback video on an external display like a TV or monitor. It also has the same great 'HyperSmooth' image stabilization as its successors but actually scores better in our video stabilization tests because it incurs a less severe crop.
That said, its battery life is noticeably worse than the other GoPro models, with shorter tested battery life for video at approximately 60 minutes of recording time. However, battery life can vary based on your choice of settings and usage habits. Like other GoPros, it also performs poorly in low light, with noticeable grain and visual noise when shooting in darker conditions. The video quality overall is passable, although that's fairly typical of action cameras. It's still a great choice for capturing fast action and generating smooth slow-motion video thanks to its frame rate options, allowing for FHD recording up to 240 fps and 4k recording up to 60 fps. All things considered, if you want to save some money and don't mind missing out on some of the latest features of newer models, this is a great option.
GoPro cameras tend to have much better video quality, support higher frame rates, and feel better built than AKASO action cameras. If you're looking for a basic action camera that delivers lots of value for the price, AKASO cameras typically come with a wide array of accessories in the box. This includes various mounts, cables, and even zip ties, so you can get out there and start shooting right away.
DJI is one of GoPro's biggest competitors, offering a solid alternative that competes with GoPro in build quality and affordability. That said, GoPro cameras tend to deliver higher-quality photos and video and better stabilization.
GoPro cameras deliver when it comes to features and performance, but brand recognition also comes with a premium price to match. While there are alternatives that can save you some money or come with more accessories right off the bat, GoPro cameras stand out due to their typically higher-quality video, greater photo capability, and impressive video stabilization.
Jul 16, 2021: Updated text for accuracy and clarity.
GoPro originated the action camera, and the brand reliably delivers features like impressive video stabilization and fantastic build quality. While the video quality still leaves something to be desired, especially in low light, you can't really go wrong with a GoPro if you're looking for a high-quality action camera.