GoPro announces Hero 12 Black with AirPods support and better battery life

There's a speckly new redesign, too.

Photo by James Trew / Engadget

Today, GoPro unveils its latest camera: The Hero 12 Black. This time around, the updates are mostly on the user experience, with a slight focus on pro users and creators. Perhaps the most exciting new “feature” for regular GoPro users will be the claimed extended battery life. The company says “Up to two times” the runtime of previous cameras. Battery life has long been a pain point, so we’ll be keen to see what that looks like in real terms.

There are some new shooting modes, with 8:7 (full sensor) recording now available across the board, including TimeWarp and the Night Effect modes for the first time. Recording in 8:7 allows you to “punch out” different aspect ratio content from the same source material while maintaining a high resolution. The camera’s HDR mode has also been tuned for even better handling of mixed lighting conditions. Hypersmooth, GoPro’s in-camera stabilization is now on its sixth iteration —- but it’s been solid right from the start, so we’re interested to see what difference this makes in practice.

For the pros (or the aspiring ones) two new additions will be of particular interest. First there’s “GP-Log” which is GoPro’s take on logarithmic shooting mode — which makes color grading in post much more flexible. Secondly, there’s the addition of Timecode Sync, so if you’re recording with multiple GoPro Hero 12’s, they can easily be synchronized for airtight edits in post.

As for creators, again there’s a brace of updates that will be of interest. Interestingly, the Hero 12 Black now works with Bluetooth headsets for both playback and recording — including AirPods. Now, videos can use Bluetooth headphone microphones which can be blended with the in-camera mic recordings as you wish. You can even use your headset to use GoPro’s voice activation, opening the door for more creative shots taken without having to be near the camera or use the app/remote accessory.

The underside of the new GoPro Hero 12 Black shows the new built-in  tripod mount.
Photo by James Trew / Engadget

The second creator-friendly feature is vertical capture. You’ve always been able to hold a GoPro at 90 degrees, and on later models the menus would also rotate for ease of use. This time around, you can simply activate vertical mode even while the camera is mounted horizontally. It takes advantage of the new sensor introduced with the Hero 11 that’s big enough to punch out a full 9:16 vertical video at 4K/30FPS without having to re-mount or re-orient the camera.

If it’s important to you for other people to know you have the newest camera, this year that’ll be a little easier as the Hero 12 Black has a speckled faceplate in a break from the usual monochrome design. But there’s one other physical change that will elicit a small peep of joy from long-time users: The camera now has a regular tripod mount (1/4 inch 20 thread ) built-in on the bottom, nestled right between the fold out mounting fingers. No more adapters needed for all those other camera accessories you might have lying around.

One last change this time around is that GoPro seems to have dropped the need to sign up for its cloud subscription service to get a better price on the camera — the Hero 12 Black will simply cost $400 for everyone. Pre-orders open today and the camera lands in retail September 13.