The GoPro HERO5 Black launched back in 2016 with great success. No surprise since it had major improvements over the HERO4 in intuitiveness, design, battery life, and image stabilization. Just one year later, GoPro has upped the ante once more with the HERO6 Black. Adopting the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, GoPro has equipped the HERO6 with less, yet more focused improvements.

While they’re welcome and important, do these changes justify an upgrade? If you’re keen on getting a GoPro, is it better to spend more on the newest version, or is the older HERO still hero enough? Take a look at our in-depth HERO5 Black vs. HERO6 Black comparison and you’ll have all the answers you need to make an informed decision.

Quick Comparison

To start you off, here’s a comparison chart that highlights the two models’ similarities and differences:

 GoPro HERO5 BlackGoPro HERO6 Black
Dimensions1.76 x 2.4 x 1.29 in.1.76 x 2.4 x 1.29 in.
Weight4.13 oz.4.13 oz.
Stil size12MP12MP
Burst modeUp to 30 fpsUp to 30 fps
Max 4K fps3060
4:3 4K recordingNoYes
Max 1080p fps120240
Video stabilizationBasicAdvanced
HDR photo & video supportNoYes
ISO limit1,6003,200
Wake-on-voiceNoYes
Battery1220mAh1220mAh
Approximate Price$249$399

Appearance

Like so many of its other stats, the newer HERO model’s look hasn’t changed at all. Anyone who’s used the HERO5 will feel right at home with its rounded yet rugged appearance and comfortable grip. Since the HERO4 was slightly smaller than the HERO5, most accessories didn’t mesh well with the newer model. As there’s no difference in dimensions between the HERO5 and 6, every accessory you’ve bought for the previous model should still work well with the new one.

Both models are waterproof down to 33 feet and don’t require a case. An USB-C port charges both action cams and connects them to current-gen smartphones. Getting to the port is a bit of a nuisance though since you have to first remove a reinforced cover.

Draw

User Interface

You control the HERO-s either via their 2.1-inch LCD touchscreens, or by issuing voice commands. Although few, some changes have been made to improve the HERO6’s responsiveness and feel in this respect. Its touchscreen’s colors are slightly more vibrant, and the occasional failure to respond to your touch commands seen with the HERO5 is completely gone. Contrast on the newer model’s screen has been toned down slightly.

Given the dynamic settings you’ll be using them in, voice activation is one of GoPro’s products’ best features. Both models have no trouble picking up verbal commands and recording as soon as you tell them. On top of its great responsiveness, the HERO6 also has a wake-on-voice feature. This puts the device into sleep mode if you turn it off with a voice command. That way it can spring into action the moment you issue a command. This mode is active for up to 8 hours.

+1 for the HERO6 Black

Processor and Video Quality

Finally, an area where the HERO6 completely overshadows its predecessor! GoPro used the short timeframe between the two’s releases to seemingly concentrate almost exclusively on improving the processor. And what an improvement it is! Dubbed the G1, the processor inside the HERO6 is GoPro’s in-house solution, and by far the best processor to date.

Where the HERO5 could shoot videos in 4K at “only” 30 frames per second, the G1 ramps this up to a silky-smooth 60. The HERO6 supports a new 4:3 aspect ratio in 4K too, gaining access to the highest resolution ever on a GoPro – 4000×3000. 1080p has seen its share of improvements as well – the maximum of 120 frames per second has been doubled to 240, making for even more accurate slow-motion footage. Want to shoot in slow motion but in more detail than 1080p allows? The HERO6 has got you covered with a new 2.7K / 120 fps mode.

The videographer within you can rejoice at the HERO6’s improved dynamic range and color palette. With it you’ll be able to capture both darker and lighter scenes with fewer washed-out light spots and monotone dark ones in rich color.

+1 for the HERO6 Black

Image Stabilization

An action cam is only as good as its ability to transform rough & shaky footage of your exploits into something that’s less liable to make you sea sick when watching. The HERO5’s electronic image stabilization already did a decent job at this, but only for 1080p video at 60 fps or lower.

EIS pushes the HERO6’s G1 chip to its limits with perfectly stabilized 4K footage at 30 fps. Now even your slow-motion videos can be stabilized at 1080p up to 120 fps. The added processing power and improvements to the EIS’s algorithms have had a positive impact on the feature’s overall quality. If you compare stabilized footage from both action cams shot with the same settings side by side, you’ll notice a big step up in performance when shaking needs to be toned down. The HERO6 has better results when stabilizing video filmed in bright areas as well as in settings like forest bike trails where the light shifts constantly.

+1 for the HERO6 Black

Photography Performance

The GoPro started out as a highly portable camera, and retains this functionality to this day. You’d be better off with a professional-grade mirrorless or DSLR device for more serious shooting sessions, but either HERO model will do just fine for on-the-spot action photography.

Both have a 12MP sensor capable of shooting 4000×3000 images in either JPEG or RAW formats and can shoot up to 30 images per second in burst mode. The HERO6 is the slightly better option since it has a higher max ISO setting of 3,200, supports HDR for more lifelike stils, and has a milder default contrast setting which brings out more detail throughout the spectrum.

+1 for the HERO6 Black (barely)

Field of View and Digital Zoom

Wide and SuperView are the most commonly-used action cam FOV settings, and both make a comeback as part of the HERO6’s repertoire. Narrow and Medium have been scrapped and replaced with a digital pinch zoom instead. On one hand, this gives you much greater and more responsive control over the scene you want recorded. On the other, digital zoom brings with it a noticeable decline in picture quality which is a point that goes in the favor of the HERO5.

+1 for the HERO5 Black

Wi-Fi

Either device can connect to your Wi-Fi network using either the 5GHz or 2.4GHz band. There’s no prioritization when connecting the HERO5 while you can select the band yourself on the HERO6. An increase in file transfer speed is noticeable on the newer model.

GoPro claims that it takes three times less time to transfer your files from the HERO6 to another device in the network. The process really does take less time – whether or not it’s as fast as the manufacturer claims will be up to the strength of your network and the individual devices downloading the files.

+1 for the HERO6 Black

Battery Life

We really liked that GoPro recognized how crucial better battery life is when designing the HERO5, and were sad to see that the trend didn’t continue. Both devices have an identical 1220mAh battery. Provided you turn all the frills like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS off, you can expect to get up to two hours of footage per charge, half as much if you’re filming exlcusively in 4K.

You’ll want to split that up into shorter takes though when using the HERO6 as it tends to get hotter, faster. The newer model actually drains its battery slightly faster since its more capable chip puts a bigger strain on power consumption.

+1 for the HERO5 Black

Price

Upon release, GoPro opted to price the HERO6 at $499, which was a marked increase from the more affordable starting price point of the HERO5. However, they’ve soon realized that a lower cost will incentivize more people to give the new model a shot. The HERO6 is now $100 cheaper! On the other hand, the HERO5 has received an even more drastic price cut. Sitting at a comfortable $250, the HERO5 is a fantastic investment now if the new video modes and stabilization technology of its successor don’t impress you. Prices change, so be sure to check Amazon for the latest information.

+1 for the HERO5 Black

Conclusion

Here’s a quick summary of each GoPro’s (dis)advantages.

Why choose:
The HERO5 Black (3 points)The HERO6 Black (5 points)
· Similar specs as the HERO6 at a lower price

· Narrow and medium field of view settings

· Similar photo quality as the HERO6

· Slightly better battery life

· Much more powerful processor

· Better image stabilization

· Increased framerates in 4K and 1080p

· Better overall video quality

· More responsive voice commands

· Better transfer speeds

The HERO6 black is the better-performing device. Even though most of its improvements apart from the powerful processor and upgraded image stabilization are subtle, they add up. Since the adjusted price is more in line with what you’re getting now, the HERO6 Black is a great choice as your first ever GoPro device. If you’ve got a HERO4 or 3, the time is right for an upgrade too! As for upgrading from the HERO5 Black, you’ll have to weigh the increased framerate and better EIS against spending another $400.

Although it is clear that the HERO6 Black is the overall winner, its predecessor is by no means out of the race. There’s a lot of overlap between the two, possibly enough to sway many people who’ve never had a GoPro before but did do their homework to pick the HERO5 Black. It is a less expensive model that’s still capable of making remarkable recordings of every fun moment you experience from up close. Unless you insist on those moments being recorded in the best possible quality, that’s more than enough of a reason to get one.