GoPro Hero 11 Black leak suggests action cams are running out of new ideas
The first leaked images of the GoPro Hero 11 Black have seemingly landed – and they suggest that action cam makers could be struggling to make big evolutionary leaps, at least from a design perspective.
The Hero 11 Black images come from WinFuture (opens in new tab), which has a strong history of reliable GoPro leaks. So while it’s tempting to dismiss the images as mock-ups based on the Hero 10 Black, it looks likely that this will indeed be the design of the action cam king’s next flagship.
And that’s certainly no bad thing. While the Hero 11 Black’s only real change from its predecessor appears to be its logo, our GoPro Hero 10 Black review praised that camera’s physical design. The latter has a useful 1.4-inch front LCD for vloggers, a 2.27-inch rear touchscreen with improved responsiveness over the Hero 9 Black, and the usual waterproofing down to 10 meters.
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It’s fair to say that nearly all of the Hero 10 Black’s improvements were also under the hood – the key one was a new GP2 processor, which unlocked some new shooting modes like 5K/60p video and 4K/120p slow-mo – although there was also a hardier lens cover with a water-repellant coating, which was handy for watersports fans.
Still, the leaked images do suggest that dramatic changes – like a much larger sensor, or an edge-to-edge display – are highly unlikely on the Hero 11 Black. And that could disappoint action cams fan who were hoping for a big reason to wait for the new flagship, which is expected (based on GoPro tradition) to launch in September.
The overall conclusions we can reach about the Hero 11 Black based on these images are pretty limited. Firstly, there’s a small chance they’re not the real deal, even if WinFuture’s previous history suggests this is unlikely. They also don’t give us any real idea of the Hero 11 Black’s internal or software changes.
What we can infer, though, is that GoPro and action cams in general have reached a kind of peak evolution when it comes to design. The last big physical change for GoPros was a front-facing LCD, which the Hero 9 Black introduced in response to the original DJI Osmo Action.
The Hero 9 Black was the biggest redesign of GoPro’s flagship since the Hero 5 Black in 2016, though, so big physical improvements – a slightly bigger battery and some built-in mounting fingers aside – have been increasingly rare.
Does this matter? After all, we don’t criticize smartphones for bringing only minor changes to notches or a screen’s bezel. Also, rather than change a winning formula with its Hero Black line, GoPro has instead introduced more dramatic changes on its 360-degree camera, the GoPro Max.
We would have loved to see the Hero 11 Black get features like a 1/4-inch threaded mounting point, edge-to-edge rear display and maybe even a second lens with a different focal length, like on smartphones. But perhaps a more fair criticism is that GoPro hasn’t (yet) updated its GoPro Max for almost three years.
Action cameras have certainly attempted some interesting new ideas in recent years. The DJI Action 2 delivered an intriguing modular design with a smaller main camera module, which had echoes of the old GoPro Hero 5 Session.
Insta360 has also been a GoPro-bothering innovator, introducing another modular system that came with a large 1-Inch sensor on the Insta360 One R 1-Inch Edition. We’ve also enjoyed the tiny Insta360 Go 2, which comes with a clever remote control charging case, and versatile 360-degree models like the Insta360 One X2.
Yet none of these has unseated the Hero 10 Black at the top of our guide to the best action cameras you can buy. This suggests that the Hero 11 Black’s apparently conservative design, assuming these leaked images are accurate, indicates that GoPro recognizes that it works for most people, so is best kept comfortably familiar.
It also suggests that we can expect to see some interesting internal changes on GoPro’s next flagship. GoPro doesn’t release new models without at least a couple of headline features, so we’re still expecting to see these arrive in software form.
While a new sensor looks unlikely based on previous GoPro history, we’re hoping that there’s a way that the current 23MP 1/2.3-inch chip can produce HDR video with some help from the GP2 processor, along with a 480fps 1080p slow-mo mode. Based on these leaks, it looks like we won’t have to wait long to find out.