There are several challengers to the GoPro throne hoping to unseat the gold standard of action cameras through unique designs and features. A new one enters the arena today: The Insta360 GO 3, whose incredibly tiny camera can be separated and used all on its own, while still wirelessly streaming live video previews to an LCD display.
Although DJI is the company most turn to when looking for an alternative to GoPro’s offerings (the DJI Action 2 camera featured a clever modular design that assembled like electronic building blocks), Insta360 has been coming up with some unique video tools, including a webcam on a stabilised gimbal that can track and swivel to follow users as they move around a room. Although the small company first made a name for itself with 360-degree cameras (hence the name) more interesting for most consumers have been the company’s Insta360 GO action cameras, which, despite being about as small as your thumb, have gained more and more useful features over the years.
The original Insta360 GO arrived a few years ago with somewhat limited functionality compared to other well-established action cameras, including short recording times and low frame rates due to the camera’s small battery, but the biggest issue was an inability to compose shots or preview what you were capturing before hitting record, as it had no screen. The Insta360 GO 2 fixed many of the original’s most glaring issues, including boosting video frame rates to 50fps, adding the ability to live stream video to a smartphone app for framing shots, and an improved charging case (similar to what wireless earbuds rely on to improve their battery life), which itself doubled as both remote and tripod.
The new Insta360 GO 3 is even closer to being a legitimate GoPro competitor through several performance improvements, including a small bump in video resolution to 2,720×1,536. Recording at 2.7K has a limited frame rate of 30fps, but users can still reduce the resolution to 2,560×1,440 for capturing video at up to 50fps — and gone are any recording time limitations, as long as you’ve got enough power. Battery life has always been one of the biggest drawbacks of the Insta360 GO cameras because of their small and lightweight design, but the GO 3 manages to push recording times to up to 45 minutes on its own, or up to 170 minutes when connected to its included Pod accessory — which is the other notable upgrade here.
The Insta360 GO 3 is available for purchase in three different storage capacities: 32GB for $659, 64GB for $699, or 128GB for $739.
Not only does the Pod give the Insta360 GO 3 much improved battery life, it also finally brings video previews to the action cam, with a built-in 2.2-inch touchscreen that can flip 180-degrees for selfie videos, while also making it easier to make settings adjustments without having to wirelessly connect the camera to a smartphone app. That’s still an option, but the Insta360 GO 3’s Pod accessory can also be used as a wireless remote for when the camera is being used on its own, including a live-streamed real-time video preview.
The thumb-sized camera attaches to the Pod magnetically, which also makes it easy to connect it to other included accessories like a metal pendant, allowing the GO 3 camera to be worn on the chest for first-person views, a mount that can be connected to the brim of a hat, and one with a reusable adhesive for attaching the GO 3 camera to surfaces that aren’t magnet-friendly.