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8 Reasons to Think Twice Before Buying a GoPro HERO11 in 2023

The GoPro HERO11 Black is a marvel of action camera technology, packing a larger sensor, 5.3K video, 27MP photos, and HyperSmooth 5.0 stabilization into a rugged and waterproof body. It‘s easily the most capable GoPro ever made. But having tested every GoPro model since the HERO3, I believe the HERO11 is a harder sell for most consumers than the marketing hype would have you believe. Here‘s why:

1. Incremental upgrades over HERO10

Let‘s start with the obvious: the HERO11 Black is an iterative upgrade over the HERO10 Black. Yes, the new 1/1.9" sensor allows for 10-bit color and slightly improved low-light performance, but the real-world difference in image quality will be negligible for most users. The same goes for HyperSmooth 5.0 vs 4.0 (already best-in-class) and the niche 8:7 aspect ratio.

To quantify this, here‘s how the key specs compare:

Spec HERO11 Black HERO10 Black
Video 5.3K/60p, 4K/120p 5.3K/60p, 4K/120p
Photo 27MP 23MP
Sensor 1/1.9" 1/2.3"
ISO Range 100-6400 100-6400
Battery 1720mAh Enduro 1720mAh
Stabilization HyperSmooth 5.0 HyperSmooth 4.0
Horizon Lock 360° 45°

The HERO11 has the edge on paper, but not by much. For current HERO10 owners, the new features alone aren‘t compelling enough to warrant an upgrade.

2. Overheating issues

Early HERO11 buyers have reported issues with the camera overheating and shutting down unexpectedly, even in normal operating conditions. A thread on r/GoPro has over 100 comments from owners experiencing shutdowns after 20-30 minutes of recording.

While GoPro has acknowledged the issue and promised a firmware fix, it‘s not a great look for a flagship camera. Overheating was also a problem with older GoPro models, which doesn‘t inspire confidence that it‘s been fully resolved.

3. High price point

The HERO11 starts at $399 for the Black edition, while the Creator Edition (which includes extras like an Volta battery grip and Media Mod) will set you back $699. That‘s a lot of money for an action camera, especially considering that the HERO10 debuted at the same prices just one year ago.

GoPro does offer subscriber-only discounts ($349/$549) which take some of the sting out. But you‘re still looking at a significant investment, especially compared to alternative brands. Which brings us to…

4. Strong competition

While GoPro is still the biggest name in action cameras, rivals like DJI, Insta360, and Akaso have been nipping at its heels.

The DJI Osmo Action 3 ($329) is a particularly strong HERO11 alternative, matching it in most key specs while adding a front-facing touchscreen and 16m waterproofing (vs. 10m). It also uses a standard 1/4" mount, opening up a wider range of affordable accessories vs. GoPro‘s proprietary ecosystem.

In the 360 space, the Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition ($549.99) lets you capture 6K 360° footage and 5.3K widescreen video with a 1" sensor co-engineered with Leica. Its interchangeable lens design also provides more flexibility vs. the HERO11‘s fixed setup.

Budget-minded buyers should consider the AKASO Brave 7 LE ($149.99), which records 4K/30p video and 20MP stills in a compact body. No, it can‘t match the GoPro or DJI flagships, but it offers incredible value.

5. Short battery life

The Achilles‘ heel of action cameras has always been short battery life. The HERO11 is rated for 137 minutes of continuous recording at 1080p, dropping to 80 minutes at 5.3K. In the real world, expect even less.

While GoPro has introduced the long-lasting Enduro battery ($24.99), it‘s an optional upgrade. The included 1720mAh battery is only a modest bump from the HERO10‘s 1720mAh cell. For comparison, the DJI Osmo Action 3 offers 160 minutes at 1080p with its standard battery.

6. Subscription required for best experience

To fully realize its potential, the HERO11 all but requires a GoPro subscription ($49.99/year). Subscribers get benefits like unlimited cloud backup, uncompressed video, steep accessory discounts, and no-questions-asked replacements.

But many users are understandably suffering from subscription fatigue. With more of our lives being sold back to us as-a-service, another $50+/year for an action camera feels like a tough sell. While you can use a HERO11 without a sub, the experience is compromised.

In contrast, DJI and Insta360 offer many similar benefits through free mobile and desktop apps. Akaso takes a more traditional approach, including all accessories in the box.

7. Sunset risk for older cameras

GoPro‘s financial troubles are no secret. While the HERO11 launch has provided a much-needed boost, the long-term outlook remains murky. That raises uncomfortable questions about ongoing software support for the HERO11 and older models.

While GoPro has a good track record of post-launch updates (the HERO7 got a substantial upgrade more than two years after release), you have to wonder how many development resources will be available as belts tighten.

The counterargument is that strong HERO11 sales will drive the R&D investment needed to preserve the GoPro ecosystem for years to come. But there‘s an element of speculation involved. With DJI and Insta360 backed by larger parent companies, they have more runway to support products over the long haul.

8. Next GoPro coming soon

Finally, it‘s worth noting that GoPro typically refreshes its lineup every year. That means the HERO12—or whatever comes next—is likely just months away. While the HERO11 will remain perfectly usable, it puts a definite expiration date on your new purchase.

Of course, you can play this waiting game forever. There‘s always something newer and better on the horizon. But for those considering a HERO11 right now, it‘s worth weighing whether the inevitable HERO12 will meet your needs at a similar or lower price. At the very least, the HERO11 should see substantial discounts once its successor drops.

Conclusion

None of this is to say that the GoPro HERO11 is a bad camera—quite the contrary. It‘s the most powerful and feature-rich GoPro to date, a true flagship for the action camera pioneer. If you‘re a professional content creator, hardcore athlete, or just someone who appreciates the very best image quality, the HERO11 could be worth the investment.

But for more casual users, the value proposition isn‘t as clear. The upgrades over the HERO10 are incremental, the competition is fierce, and the cost of ownership is higher than ever with the push toward subscriptions. Unless you need the latest and greatest at any cost, there are compelling alternatives that will get the job done for less.

Ultimately, the best action camera is the one that helps you capture your adventures reliably, affordably, and without fuss. The GoPro HERO11 Black can certainly do that—but so can many of its rivals. As always, the right choice depends on your unique needs, preferences, and budget. With strong options at every price point, there‘s never been a better time to dive into the exciting world of action cameras.