GoPro HERO9 Black: Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary Upgrades

The new GoPro HERO9 Black turns the volume to 11 on all the things we loved about the HERO8 Black and adds in some new riffs. While not a game-changing new camera, the HERO9 Black continues to improve an already great camera system.

We got our hands on an early review sample of the GoPro HERO9 Black and got a chance to play with this new pro-level camera. We’re impressed and can’t wait to get it out for some thorough testing on some big outdoor adventures soon.

GoPro is touting this as the “more everything” camera, and that’s pretty accurate. This is a HERO8 on steroids. Of course, big gains across the board don’t come without a price. In this case, that means a bit more size, a bit more weight, and a good bit more money. The GoPro HERO9 Black retails for $450.

GoPro HERO9: First Take

The first thing you’ll notice when you grab a new GoPro off the shelf or find one at your doorstep is the plastic-free packaging. It now comes in a reusable carrying case that not only helps protect the environment but also protects your camera. It’s a nice little case and adds value to your purchase right off the bat.

This new GoPro is packed with new hardware and software features. It’s packed so full that it gained some weight (32 g) and size over the HERO8 Black. It now weighs in at 158 g and measures 71 x 55 x 33.6 mm. The big reasons for those gains are a new full-color front display and a bigger battery.

To top it off, we also got a bigger sensor, bigger touchscreen, removable and replaceable lens, and even more impressive in-camera stabilization.


New GoPro Hardware

A 2.27-inch color LCD screen with live view now adorns the front of the GoPro HERO9 Black. Perfectly framing those epic selfies and vlogging should be easier than ever. The rear touchscreen is also 16% bigger, making it that much easier for our fat thumbs to operate. Even the mode and record buttons got a bit bigger and more pronounced, making them easier to use with gloves.

A new 1720mAh lithium battery offers 30% more battery life. It’s also designed to hold up in cold conditions even better. Long backcountry ski missions will now require fewer spare batteries.

The real meaningful hardware upgrade, especially for still photographers, is the new 23.6MP sensor. This new sensor captures stunning 5K video. From that video, you can now pull 14.7MP 16:9 frame grabs. If that’s not enough for you, the HERO9 Black lets you capture 20MP still images.

With just a pull and twist, you can now remove the Gorilla Glass lens protector from the GoPro, something not possible on the HERO8 Black. This new lens setup allows for replacement lenses when you crack or scratch the original as well as lens upgrades.

First up from GoPro, starting in October, is the Max Lens Mod ($100). The Max Lens Mod offers a massive 155-degree field of view, the widest ever offered on a GoPro. The lens also has a host of features like horizon lock and even more stabilization, both through in-camera software.


Digital GoPro Magic

As usual, the latest GoPro is packed with digital wizardry that makes this little camera produce pro-level video with ease. The first and biggest enhancement is even better in-camera stabilization, with HyperSmooth 3.0+ Boost. No need for an expensive and cumbersome gimble to stabilize your GoPro any longer.

Stabilized footage even in timelapse mode while moving is now also even better, with Timewarp 3.0. While recording a timelapse, you can now slow the video to real speed and enable audio.

Say you wanted to record a moving timelapse of a big hike. You could stop along the way and, with just a touch of a button, interview yourself vlog-style and explain your surroundings before tapping a button again to resume the timelapse.

More GoPro wizardry comes in the form of horizon leveling. No matter how crooked you hold or mount your GoPro camera, the footage will come out level with the horizon.


GoPro App

To really get the most out of your GoPro HERO9 Black, connect it to the GoPro app on your smartphone. The app adds quite a few features and usability options. It’s also constantly evolving, with GoPro poised to offer some big app upgrades later this year that are sure to unlock the potential of this new camera and make editing content even easier.

GoPro Power Tools

GoPro has created a suite of powerful tools that allow you to get creative with your captures. With the HERO9 Black, we get GoPro’s Power Tools: HindSight, Scheduled Capture, LiveBurst, and Duration Capture.

Hindsight allows the camera to capture 30 seconds of video even before you hit record. Never miss the footage of that passing bear on the trail again.

Scheduled Capture should just be called “the sunrise assistant.” It allows you to schedule a timelapse up to 24 hours in advance. Just schedule the capture, set up the camera, leave it off, and it wakes itself up and captures the magic. Gone are the days of getting out of that warm sleeping bag at camp to capture that epic sunrise over the mountains.

The LiveBurst Power Tool feature records 1.5 seconds of photo frames before and after you click the digital shutter on your GoPro. This offers you a 3-second 4K video and the ability to choose the best frame from the sequence captured. Again, this ensures you miss much fewer of those moments you wish you had your camera on for.

Duration Capture lets you choose the length of time the GoPro records, from 15 seconds up to 3 hours.


GoPro Subscription

A great way to save some money on a GoPro camera system is to sign up for a GoPro subscription. By subscribing to this paid service, you get big savings on camera purchases (up to $100 off), discounts on GoPro accessories (30-50%), unlimited cloud storage for your GoPro content, enhanced live streaming, and no-questions-asked camera damage replacement.

If you’re as hard on your camera gear as I am, that last benefit alone will pay for itself quickly! The GoPro subscription service costs $50 per year or $5 a month.


2020 GoPro Hero9 Pricing

The GoPro HERO9 Black will set you back $450 at retail, or $350 if you sign up for a one-year GoPro subscription. The HERO8 Black remains at $350 but can be purchased for $300 with a one-year GoPro subscription. The GoPro MAX is similar, with the price staying at $500 and a discount on offer at $400 with a subscription. The GoPro HERO7 Black hangs on as well, now at $250.

The best deal on the latest GoPro, and what we got to try out, is the HERO9 Black Bundle. This bundle will set you back $500, or $400 with a one-year GoPro subscription. It’s value-packed and includes everything you need to get out and use this camera on your next adventure. It includes the HERO9 Black, The Handler floating grip, a magnetic swivel clip, an extra battery, an SD card, and a travel case.


GoPro HERO9 Black: $1 Million Challenge

If you’re good at capturing beautiful video with a GoPro, you should grab one of these new cameras fast and get shooting. GoPro is once again offering up equal shares of $1,000,000 for video clips to use in its new camera marketing film.

The deadline for footage, which must be captured on a GoPro HERO9 Black, is December 4, 2020. We should all get to enjoy the compiled video before the year’s end. To submit your footage, go to

Bryon Dorr

Bryon Dorr is the Motors Editor of GearJunkie and EIC of AutoWise. He has been writing about overland travel, off-road vehicles, whitewater kayaks, and outdoor and travel gear for 11+ years, with over 2-years of that at Lola Digital Media. Prior to his current role, he freelanced across a wide range of outdoor, automotive, and travel media outlets, both online and in print, as well as with wide range of commercial clients as a photographer, social media marketer, and copy editor. Based in Portland, Oregon, Dorr is an avid kayaker, cyclist, skier/snowboarder, runner, and photographer. When not outdoors doing human powered adventures you’ll find him behind the wheel or bars of something with a motor and wheels or enjoying a dark caft beer with friends.