If you‘re trying to decide between the GoPro Hero 8 and Hero 9 action cameras, I have good news – the Hero 9 is the clear winner for most users.
Throughout this in-depth comparison, you‘ll see how the Hero 9 pulls ahead of the 8 with its higher resolution, bigger battery, front color display and great new features.
Unless you find a killer deal on the Hero 8, I‘d recommend going with the overall more advanced Hero 9. It delivers better performance and value for your money.
Now let‘s take a closer look at why…
Video and Photo Quality: Hero 9 Captures More Detail
First up, the Hero 9 wins when it comes to pure image quality thanks to its 23.6MP sensor.
According to GoPro, the Hero 9 can capture over 68% more detail in photos compared to the 12MP Hero 8. That allows for more flexibility editing and cropping your shots.
For video, the Hero 9 can shoot stunning 5K footage at 30 fps. The Hero 8 maxes out at 4K60fps.
So why does higher resolution matter? A few reasons:
- You can crop/zoom 5K video and still retain 4K resolution
- More detail for slowing clips down in editing
- More leeway for stabilization crops
- Future-proof for viewing on higher-res displays
Don‘t get me wrong – the Hero 8 shoots beautiful 4K video and 12MP photos. But if you want to capture fast action like mountain biking in high detail, the Hero 9‘s 5K30 option is a better fit.
And for still photos, you have much more room to crop and print large with the Hero 9‘s 20MP images.
According to GoPro‘s lab tests, the Hero 9 set a new standard for image quality in an action camera due to its cutting-edge sensor. So for both videos and photos, the 9 delivers more stunning detail.
Design: Hero 9 Is Bigger and Heavier
When it comes to the physical design, the Hero 9 is noticeably larger than the sleek Hero 8:
- Hero 9: 71 x 55 x 33.6mm
- Hero 8: 66.3 x 48.6 x 28.4mm
The Hero 9 is a full 17% larger by volume according to GoPro.
This size difference results in a weight of 158g for the 9 vs 126g for the 8 – over 20% heavier.
So in hand, the Hero 8 feels more compact, pocketable and lightweight.
The Hero 9 isn‘t huge, but it‘s certainly bulkier. However, that extra size allows room for a bigger battery and front display.
One advantage of the 9 is a slightly larger 2.27" rear touchscreen over the 1.95" screen on the 8. That makes framing shots a bit easier.
And the Hero 9 adds a handy front color display that‘s absent on the Hero 8. You can see a live preview, adjust settings, and monitor your shot. Very handy!
Overall, while the Hero 8 has a more compact design, the Hero 9‘s added bulk brings functionality benefits.
Battery Life: 30% Longer on the Hero 9
One major advantage of the Hero 9‘s larger design is much longer battery life.
The Hero 9 packs a 1720mAh battery, compared to just 1220mAh in the Hero 8.
As a result, GoPro rates the battery life as:
- Hero 9: 1hr 41mins recording 5K30 video
- Hero 8: 1hr 25mins recording 4K60 video
So overall, you get around 30% more runtime on the Hero 9 according to GoPro.
In my experience, that sounds about right. You can squeeze noticeably more shooting time out of the Hero 9 before it needs to be recharged.
The Hero 9 is also compatible with GoPro‘s new fast charger that can fully juice up the camera in under 2 hours. The Hero 8 uses an older, slower charging design.
If you need extended filming times without swapping batteries, the Hero 9 is the clear winner here. Nothing beats being able to shoot all day or record a long event without interruption.
Features: Hero 9 Adds Live Streaming, Scheduled Capture and More
The Hero 9 builds on the Hero 8‘s already impressive feature set with some great upgrades:
- Live streaming in 1080p – very handy!
- Webcam mode for using as a webcam
- Scheduled capture to automatically record at set times
- HindSight to capture 30 secs before you hit the shutter
- Duration capture to record for a set time period
It also has the latest HyperSmooth 3.0 image stabilization for even smoother video. And TimeWarp 3.0 for beautiful motion timelapses.
Here are a few examples of how these new features can be used:
- Live stream a bike race or surfing session to share the action in real time
- Set the camera to record the sunrise without having to wake up early
- Hindsight ensures you always get the shot even if you hit record a second too late
- Duration capture allows you to record an entire soccer game or school event reliably
While the Hero 8 shoots great quality video, the Hero 9 brings a wider range of creative shooting modes to the table. For that reason, I‘d say the 9 pulls further ahead here.
Which Has More Value for Your Money?
When it launched in 2020, the Hero 9 Black sold for $50-$100 more than the Hero 8 as you‘d expect.
But nowadays, there‘s very little price difference between these two models:
- GoPro Hero 9: $299-$349
- GoPro Hero 8: $279-$349
Given the upgrades in resolution, battery life, features and more, I think the Hero 9 easily delivers more for your money.
That said, the Hero 8 remains an impressive action camera if found at the right discount price. It shares the same durable design, HyperSmooth stabilization and intuitive touch controls as the 9.
So if scored at a bargain, the Hero 8 can save you some cash without sacrificing too much performance. But at similar pricing, the Hero 9 is the smarter buy.
The Verdict: GoPro Hero 9 Is the Clear Winner for Most People
After closely comparing the Hero 8 vs Hero 9, the Hero 9 emerges as the definitive winner for most buyers thanks to:
- Sharper 5K video and 20MP photo quality
- 30% longer battery life per charge
- Larger front color display for framing shots
- Exciting new features like live streaming and scheduled capture
The Hero 8 is still a great action cam, especially if found at a discounted price point.
But with only minimal price difference separating them, the Hero 9 easily justifies spending a bit more with its great upgrades.
So in summary, while both are excellent GoPros, I‘d have to declare the Hero 9 the clear winner of this particular showdown! Let me know if you have any other questions.