GoPro literally loses its way as it removes GPS from new GoPro Hero12 Black

GoPro El Grande
(Image credit: GoPro)

The new GoPro Hero 12 Black was introduced yesterday, and boasts an impressive range of new features for the 2023 action cam. But despite the additions, there is one significant feature that has been taken away - and that's GPS. 

GPS has been a feature that has been on all of GoPro's flagship since the introduction of the GoPro Hero5 back in 2016 - and has therefore been one of our top recommendations for the best cameras with GPS. But the GoPro Hero 12 Black no longer offers this useful facility, which records your coordinates alongside your videos and stills.

So why on earth has GoPro now decided to get rid of GPS? When we asked, we were told the reason why is that it has allowed them to vastly increase the battery running times on the new model - and that GoPro reckons not many people were actually using the GPS facility anyway…

"In GoPro's quest to provide the best battery runtimes possible, they found that a surprisingly low amount of GoPro users were actually applying GPS stickers to content," we were told. "GPS was also a feature that GoPro encouraged users to turn off to achieve the best battery runtimes possible. So, it was eliminated from HERO12 Black as one of the many steps they took to increase runtimes across the highest speeds and feeds".

The decision makes some sort of sense as anyone who has used a handheld GPS device will know that battery times are a real issue. And similarly, we all know that everyone wishes that their cameras could shoot for longer without the need between charges. Impressively, the GoPro Hero12 Black can shoot 5.3K video at 60fps for 70 minutes - double that possible with the GoPro Hero11 Black.

There was a time, of course, when GoPro gave you a choice of whether you had GPS or not. With the GoPro Hero7 series, launched in 2018, you had the choice between the Hero 7 Black, Hero 7 Silver and Hero 7 White - with only the first two of this trio offering GPS.

The GoPro Hero12 will not be able to record your speed, altitude and location as you ski down the slope (Image credit: GoPro)

Which GoPro cameras do have GPS?

If you want a GoPro which does offer GPS, you can simply buy last year's GoPro Hero 11 Black, which remains on sale (and will be $50 less than the Hero12). But there are a number of models that do offer this facility. The full list of the ones that do offer GPS is:

DJI has just added capability to its latest action camera the DJI Osmo Action 4 - but to get it you do need to buy the optional GPS Bluetooth Remote Controller to access this. Insta360 also makes you to spend extra to get GPS - either by buying the GPS Action Remote.

There is always a possibility, as has been rumored in some places before, that GoPro will at some point add a GPS Mod - to go alongside its existing add-ons such as the Media Mod and Light Mod.

What can you use GPS on a GoPro for?

GPS data can used to add a speedometer, a compass and route map to video footage. See full video from Telemetry  (Image credit: Telemetry)

Reddit users are already jumping in to explain the various uses they put to the GPS data that they get from their existing GPS cameras: 

@scrollingbyagain comments: "I use the GPS in my 11 too put up a overlay of my speed and duration etc while longboarding."

@Bigb49 uses the GPS in a similar way for a different sport: "No GPS is a big deal to motorsports. I use mine on track with the motorcycle. 3rd party software for speed overlay. When I didn't need GPS, I used the Action 4, as it was just dependable and never stopped recording like the H11 did. Shame."

Some of the best implementations of GoPro GPS data came when using third-party specialist software such as Telemetry Overlay, allowing you to add speedometer graphics, route maps, and more to your video edits.

Video (above): watch footage of an Olympic skier with altimeter and speedometer overlays, created from the embedded GPS data

See also
Best GoPro cameras
Best GoPro alternatives
Best GoPro accessories
Best cameras with GPS

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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 

His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.

He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.