GoPro Hero 11 Black vs Insta360 GO 3

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Author Marshall Abrams
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Reviewed by Richard Hargrave
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Reviewed by Richard Hargrave

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The tiny new Insta360 GO 3 has finally arrived!

This bite-sized action camera packs a punch when it comes to features and video quality. But how does it stack up against the mighty GoPro Hero 11 Black?

I’ve been testing out the Insta360 GO 3 extensively and in this in-depth review I’ll be comparing it directly to the GoPro Hero 11 to help you decide which one is right for your needs. From video and photo quality, to battery life and stabilization – I’ll cover it all!

TLDR: My Pick

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An Overview of the Insta360 GO 3

For those unfamiliar, the Insta360 GO 3 is the latest iteration in Insta360’s line of ultra-compact action cameras. Don’t let its tiny size fool you though, the GO 3 is packed with features including:

  • Shoots up to 2720p video and 12MP photos
  • New dual microphone design for improved audio
  • Built-in Horizon Steady stabilization
  • Voice control for hands-free operation
  • A fully articulating touch screen when used with the charging case
  • Waterproof design up to 4.88ft without a case

The coolest upgrade with the GO 3 is the new charging case, which Insta360 calls the “Action Pod”. The case adds a large touchscreen, extended battery life, and makes the camera much easier to control.

I’ll dive into the case more later on, but first let’s see how the GO 3 compares to the Hero 11 on paper.

Insta360 GO 3 vs GoPro Hero 11 Black: Key Specs

Looking at the specs, the Hero 11 has the upper hand when it comes to resolution and frame rates thanks to its larger 1/1.9” sensor. But the GO 3 holds its own considering its diminutive size and matches the GoPro’s ultra-wide 155 degree field of view.

When it comes to waterproofing, the naked GO 3 is only rated to 1.5m (4.88ft) while the Hero 11 can go 10m (33ft) without a case. However, the GO 3 is completely sealed while the Hero 11 still needs a case for full water protection.

Unboxing the Insta360 GO 3

I won’t bore you with a full unboxing, but let’s take a quick look at what comes in the box with the GO 3:

  • The GO 3 camera
  • The Action Pod charging case
  • Magnetic pendant and mount
  • Magnetic clip mount
  • Instant-Read user manual

The main attraction here is the Action Pod charging case. This case adds a large rear touchscreen, extended battery life, weather resistance, and easy camera control.

We’ll take an in-depth look at the case later on.

Comparison: Price

Comparison: Design & Build Quality

The Insta360 GO 3 retains the same ultra-compact, pill-shaped design of the previous GO 2 model. It looks nearly identical, with just a slight size increase to accomodate the upgraded hardware inside.

The naked GO 3 measures just 44.3mm x 45.2mm x 18.6mm and weighs only 15 grams. For comparison, the GoPro Hero 11 weighs 52 grams and is quite a bit larger at 71.8mm x 44.4mm x 33mm.

Despite its diminutive size, the GO 3 feels well built. The matte plastic exterior seems durable, the lens is made of scratch resistant Gorilla Glass, and the waterproofing membrane keeps out moisture and dust.

The only exterior parts are the power/shutter button, status light, and metal contacts for charging. The simplicity of the 2-button design makes the GO 3 extremely easy to operate.

Compared to the Hero 11’s complex multi-button interface and back screen, the streamlined GO 3 is a breeze to use on the go. However, it does lack a built in tripod mount which is an odd omission.

When paired with the Action Pod case, the GO 3 becomes far more functional for vlogging and travel. The swiveling screen makes it easy to frame shots and monitor footage. You also gain access to the touch interface for more granular control over settings.

Comparison: Video Quality & Resolutions

Let’s dive into the nitty gritty of how the Insta360 GO 3 performs in real world use, starting with video quality:

2720p Resolution

The GO 3 can shoot up to 2720p – a noticeable bump up from the 1440p max resolution of the older GO 2 model.

Footage looks crisp and detailed at 2720p with vivid colors and sharpness. The large sensor can resolve more fine details compared to the GO 2.

However, the Hero 11 pulls ahead more thanks to its 5.3K max resolution and larger sensor. Side by side, 5.3K just looks next-level in terms of clarity and detail.

But for its size, the GO 3 holds its own here and 2720p is perfectly usable for any social media. The extra resolution over 1440p is a welcome upgrade.

Slow Motion

The GO 3 gains the ability to shoot 1080p video at 120fps for smooth slow motion. This works quite well and slow motion footage shows good detail and clarity.

The Hero 11 goes even further with its insane 4K/120fps and 2.7K/240fps modes. So it has a lot more flexibility for super smooth slow motion at high resolutions.

Low Light Performance

Small sensors often struggle in low light, but the GO 3 can hold its own thanks to the relatively fast F2.2 aperture lens.

Footage remains very usable even indoors or at night. Noise and grain increases in very dark conditions, but overall low light performance is quite solid.

The Hero 11 unsurprisingly takes the lead here with its larger sensor and very sophisticated image processing. Footage stays clean and detailed even in extremely dark scenes with minimal noise.

Lens Quality

Both the Insta360 GO 3 and GoPro Hero 11 feature ultra wide-angle lenses with a 155 degree field of view. This immersive fisheye look captures a huge amount of the scene.

I think the Hero 11’s lens looks a bit sharper across the entire frame, but the GO 3’s optical quality holds up well. Flare resistance and chromatic aberration also seem excellent.

One advantage of the pinhole design on the GO 3 is the infinite depth of field. Everything stays in focus from centimeters away out to infinity.

Audio Quality

The Insta360 GO 3 gains a dual microphone design which improves audio over the single mic GO 2 model. Even in loud environments, the dual mics record clean audio that represents the ambient sound nicely.

Vocal audio is also more clear thanks to the noise canceling algorithms. Overall the GO 3 captures usable audio that syncs up well with the video.

That said, the Hero 11’s 3-mic setup and advanced wind/vibration reduction produces noticeably cleaner and more professional sounding audio. The Hero 11 remains the gold standard here.

Horizon Steady Stabilization

All footage on the GO 3 benefits from Insta360’s Horizon Steady digital stabilization technology. This results in incredibly smooth video even during fast motion and vibrations.

Stabilization can be toggled between 3 levels:

  • Level 1 – Suitable for casual use, offers the best stabilization but more warping
  • Level 2 – Better for fast action like cycling or skiing, less warping
  • Level 3 – Designed for extreme activities like mountain biking, minimizes warping but less stabilization

The GO 3’s stabilization compares well to GoPro’s HyperSmooth 4.0 when both are set at their highest setting. Very fast movements and vibrations are smoothed out excellently on both cameras.

That said, I give HyperSmooth the edge here. The Hero 11 exhibits less distortion when stabilizing fast pans and rotations. But both work fantastically to eliminate shake and create gimbal-smooth footage.

Comparison: Photo Quality

In terms of still images, the Insta360 GO 3 takes perfectly decent 12MP photos but can’t match the extra resolution of the Hero 11’s 23MP sensor.

However, thanks to the fixed focus lens, the GO 3 keeps everything in focus no matter how close. This allows cool macro-style shots and selfies that aren’t possible on the Hero 11.

Comparison: Shooting Modes

Aside from standard video and photo, here are some of the other helpful shooting modes on the Insta360 GO 3:

  • Slow Motion – Records 120fps footage for 4x slow motion
  • TimeShift – Creates hyperlapses by condensing long recordings into short videos
  • Starlapse – Captures timelapses of the night sky
  • MultiView – Uses the extra frame to create multiple social media edits from a single shot
  • PureShot – Applies HDR processing for vivid images and video
  • Smart Scene – Auto detects scenes like food, portraits, or night shots and adjusts settings accordingly

The Hero 11 offers its own set of shooting presets like TimeWarp hyperlapse, scheduled capture for timelapses, and SuperPhoto for processing.

Both cameras provide everything you’d expect for creative captures. But the Hero 11 pulls ahead with its Pro-level parameters that give full manual control over exposure, bitrate, flat color profiles, and more.

Comparison: Battery Life

On its own, the tiny GO 3 battery stores enough juice for about 30 minutes of 2720p recording. That’s not amazing, but decent given the size.

Where things get interesting is popping the camera into the Action Pod charging case. This powers up the GO 3 for a whopping 150 minutes of recording time at 2720p!

The 3350 mAh battery inside the case can recharge the camera multiple times. This lets you shoot all day without worrying about swapping batteries.

The Hero 11 is rated for 54 minutes of 5.3K recording. So while battery life is similar at top resolutions, the case gives the GO 3 a huge advantage for all-day shooting.

Comparison: Shooting Experience

Here’s an overview of what it’s actually like using the Insta360 GO 3 for filming:

  • Having a camera this small lets you capture unique perspectives and discreetly shoot in public
  • The lack of display makes it tough to frame up shots – you’re shooting blind!
  • You can monitor footage by connecting to the app, but that’s cumbersome
  • The quick and simple controls work well for fast operation while skiing, biking, etc
  • Audio can lack detail and richness without an external mic connected
  • Stabilization helps smooth out footage but eliminates the “action cam” vibe

And here are my thoughts on the shooting experience with the Hero 11:

  • Front screen makes framing simple but still small to see details
  • Much easier to monitor and play back footage
  • Richer audio with crisper detail
  • Rugged, grippy design and built-in mount for securing to gear
  • Greater protection from drops, dust, sand, and debris during extreme sports
  • More control over manual settings for advanced shooting
  • Overcapture allows reframing 360 footage into traditional video

Overall, the pocketable design of the GO 3 makes it super fun and convenient for casual shooting and selfies. But the Hero 11 provides a better fully-featured shooting experience for hardcore action sports and cinematic filming.

Comparison: Editing & App

The Insta360 app provides full control over playback and editing. Editing highlights include:

  • MultiView – Change aspect ratio and reframe shots
  • Color Grading – Apply filters and color adjustments
  • Speed Control – Adjust speed, direction, and smooth ramps
  • Stabilization – Fine tune smoothness and straighten horizon
  • Smart Cut – Auto edit based on AI algorithms

The app makes editing intuitive on your phone, but lacks some of the polish and precision of desktop editing programs. Exporting footage also takes quite a while.

For GoPro, their Quik app offers quick edits and social sharing similar to Insta360. But most Hero 11 users will edit on professional software like Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro. This offers full creative control for top notch edits.

Comparison: Accessories

A major benefit of the Insta360 GO 3 is compatibility with GoPro-style accessories using an included mount adapter. This allows you to use the GO 3 with any existing GoPro mounts.

There are also some cool proprietary accessories like the Bullet Time cord for orbiting shots and mini selfie stick for vlogging.

For the Hero 11, GoPro’s vast ecosystem of mounts, grips, filters, lights, mics, batteries, and more ensure you can kit it out for any filming scenario. The Hero 11 is also modular to extend functionality.

So while the GO 3 works with lots of common action camera mounts, the Hero 11 offers a much wider range of add-ons and mods for customization.

Setting Up the Insta360 GO 3

Getting set up and connected with the Insta360 GO 3 is quick and painless:

  1. Download the Insta360 app on your phone (Android or iOS)
  2. Power on the GO 3 and connect to its WiFi signal
  3. Follow the in-app prompts to update firmware and sync with your phone
  4. You can now control the camera fully from your phone and view/export footage

The entire process only takes about 2-3 minutes. The Insta360 app provides intuitive control over all the GO 3’s modes and settings. You can start and stop recording, monitor battery level, switch stabilization modes, and more.

Having a touchscreen on the Action Pod makes things easier, but it’s great not having to rely on your phone to tweak settings before shooting.

Who Should Get the Insta360 GO 3?

The Insta360 GO 3 is perfect for:

  • Vloggers and selfie-oriented users
  • Travel and adventure footage for social media
  • Action sports and activities like skiing, cycling, etc
  • Underwater use thanks to the waterproof design (up to 4.88ft)
  • Shooting discreetly in public or getting unique angles

The killer features are pocketability, convenience, and simplicity. Casual users will appreciate the streamlined operation versus the advanced controls on the Hero 11.

Who Should Get the GoPro Hero 11?

The Hero 11 Black is better suited for:

  • Professional content creators and filmmakers
  • Users wanting maximum resolution and frame rates
  • Underwater filming and scuba diving
  • Extreme sports enthusiasts wanting pro-grade ruggedness
  • Advanced creative control and editing
  • Vloggers wanting high end production value

Its larger size houses more powerful specs and expandability. Hardcore users will appreciate the comprehensive manual controls and tuning options missing on the simplified GO 3.

Final Verdict – Which Camera is For You?

The Insta360 GO 3 packs impressive specs and performance into the tiniest action camera design out there. It’s an easy to use and fun option for selfies, casual adventures, and travel shooting.

But when it comes to maximum image quality and professional creative control, the GoPro Hero 11 remains the gold standard. Its larger size enables top-of-the-line video specs, pro-tuned audio, incredible stabilization, and versatile creative options.

So choosing comes down to portability vs power. The Insta360 GO 3 offers stunning performance from an ultra-compact camera. But the Hero 11 delivers no-compromise quality and control in a still palm-sized package.

Either camera will capture amazing footage in the right hands. So think about your needs and shooting goals to decide if the streamlined GO 3 or unlimited potential of the Hero 11 is the best fit for you!

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Written By Marshall Abrams

My name is Marshall Abrams, and I am a filmmaker and FPV pilot who's been flying professionally for about four years now. Thanks to FPV, I get to travel to so many amazing places, and it's honestly completely changed how I run my business.

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