Insta360 has been busy challenging GoPro on all fronts in recent years and the Insta360 GO 3 in some ways looks like the epitome of that effort. Although based upon the thumb-size secret shooter we’ve seen before (such as the Insta360 GO and Insta360 GO 2), this new iteration morphs into a regular-sized action camera akin to what GoPro and others produce.
It comes with a host of accessories, but also as three separate variants according to built-in storage: 32GB ($379.99/£379.99/AU$661.99), 64GB ($399.99/£399.99/AU$701.99), and 128GB ($429.99/£429.99/AU$741.99). The new (as of December 2023) version is only offered in 64GB and 128GB variants).
Can it retain its novelty value and versatility while challenging the best action cameras? There are some convincing arguments, but ultimately the Insta360 GO 3 is a letdown in its ambitions by a lack of ultimate resolution.
Insta360 GO 3: Specifications
35mm Equivalent Focal Length: 11.24 mm
Weight: 1.2 oz/35.5g (camera)/ 3.4 oz/96.3g (ActionPod)
Measurements: 25.6 x 54.4 x 23.2 mm/1x21x0.9-inches
Waterproof: 16.4 feet / 5.0 m
2.7K video: 24fps, 25fps and 30fps
1440p (2K) video: up to 50fps (4x slo-mo)
1080p video: up to 120fps (4x slo-mo)
Stills resolution: 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (3.7MP)
Photo Format: INSP, DNG (raw)
Video Format: MP4 (H.264)
Battery life: 170 mins (45 mins camera/125 mins ActionPod)
Insta360 GO 3: Key Features
The Insta360 GO 3 is magnetic and can be worn around the neck on a magnetic pendant, positioned on a cap, or attached to a tripod. The wearable proposition behind the Insta360 GO 3 may be unique, but given that’s a small niche, the maker has sought to give this thumb-sized shooter a much wider appeal by overhauling its form factor. Key to this is its new Action Pod, an IPX4 water-resistant housing that the Insta360 GO 3 nestles in thanks to its magnetic design. Action Pod doubles as a battery – much like a battery case that ships with ‘true wireless’ earbuds, so you can refuel the camera as required. While GO 3’s 310mAh battery last 45 minutes, Action Pod’s 1,270mAh battery refuels the camera and goes for a further 125 minutes.
Action Pod itself recharges via USB-C, includes up to 128GB storage, and comes complete with a 2.2-inch flip touch screen. The latter is specifically vloggers, as is Freeframe mode, which shoots in wide-angle and allows a 16:9 video for YouTube to be re-framed in 9:16 for an Instagram Reel (and vice versa).
Since Action Pod also works as a remote control via Bluetooth 5.5, it means you can use Insta360 GO 3 as a normal action camera and de-attach the tiny camera housing as and when required. Action Pod immediately makes the camera look like a ‘proper’ action camera, but there’s a caveat. Insta360 GO 3 shoots in up to 2.7K at up to 30fps, which is only a slight upgrade on the Insta360 GO 2’s 2k at up to 50fps, and immediately puts it way behind the likes of GoPro and Insta360’s own Insta360 ONE RS Twin Edition and Insta360 X3. Freeframe only deals in 2K Its lack of ultimate resolution is going to limit its appeal, which is a shame because the rest of the Insta360 GO 3’s features are highly impressive.
The Insta360 GO 3 shoots in UltraWide (for selfie vlogs), ActionView (for bike rides and in-vehicle), Linear (for all-around scenarios), and Narrow (close-ups) in a plethora of video modes: Video, Freeframe Video, Timelapse, TimeShift (hyperlapse) and a Slow Motion mode (1440p at 120 fps). Also on board are Pre-recording, Loop Recording, and Timed Capture. The latter – an auto-start at a scheduled time – will be handy for those wanting to shoot a sunrise while they stay in bed.
The presence of FlowState image stabilization (only for Video and Freeframe Video modes) and 360 Horizon Lock (though only for FreeFrame Video mode) further add to the impression that this is a feature-packed, pro-level action camera – but its lack of 4K and 5.7K video is limiting.
For stills, the Insta360 GO 3 offers PureShot HDR Photo, a raw mode for which it manages 3.7 megapixels, as well as Night Shot (low light) and StarLapse (an instant star trail, as featured on the GoPro Hero 11 Black and Mini).
Insta360 GO 3: Build & Handling
With a magnetic body measuring 25.6 x 54.4 x 23.2 mm/1x21x0.9-inches and weighing just 1.2 oz/35.5g, the Insta360 GO 3 is a little heavier than its forbear but is still virtually weightless when in use. It’s also waterproof up to 16 feet/5 meters, which means it can go underwater – though not while housed within Action Pod, which is merely water-resistant.
The magnetic attachment on the rear of the camera is very strong, so you’re not going to have it falling off shirts, caps or from within the Action Pod, which itself is also magnetic so can be used with all the same accessories.
As well as Action Pod, Insta360 GO 3 comes with a Magnet Pendant for hanging around the neck, a manual Easy Clip for attaching to bags, hats, and headbands, a Pivot Stand with a sticky pad (and a 1/4-inch tripod thread) and a Lens Guard.
There are a few other optional accessories available for the Insta360 GO 3 that underscore its POV-style possibilities, including a Fetch Stick stick for dogs, but also a Monkey Tail Mount (a flexible selfie stick that can be wound around anything) and a Mini 2-in-1 Tripod (a stubby selfie stick with fold-out legs).
Insta360 GO 3: Performance
It may not be capable of 5.7K video, but the Insta360 GO 3 still produces good quality in 2.7K. During our test, we were constantly impressed with Insta360’s FlowState Stabilization, which is equal to GoPro’s HyperSmooth and means everything is smooth and steady enough to watch comfortably. However, its motion compensation isn’t up to much, with any horizontal movement – such as pans across landscapes – appearing rather jumpy.
Above: Insta360 GO 3 (1080p @ 50fps)
The camera itself is very easy to use, with a strong magnetic connection to Magnetic Pendant, though we’re not convinced that hanging something around the neck is everyone’s favorite way of recording footage. In practice, the most comfortable way to shoot first-person POV is to house it in the Easy Clip, which attaches incredibly strongly if you get it the right way up. Something we really liked about using Insta360 GO 3 was that the orientation and aspect ratio are largely irrelevant since everything can be tweaked in editing, though the Freeframe mode – the most versatile – is a little low resolution.
Above: Insta360 GO 3 (2.7k @ 24fps)
The Pivot Stand is impressive, firmly gripping Action Pod and well-engineered to pivot in all directions. Ideal for attaching to a tripod, Pivot Stand makes the Insta360 GO 3 useable for time-lapses and long-form video, but again, the lack of resolution is noticeable if you’re used to 4K or more. The audio on the Insta360 GO 3 was mostly clear, with the dual microphones giving a sense of stereo during a walkabout, though we did find that even a slight breeze registered.
Insta 360 GO 3 isn’t a difficult product to operate, but it does take a little getting to know largely because there are so many options. For example, as well as on-device buttons to begin recording, there’s an excellent app that can control every aspect of video and photos, from settings and live previews to actually taking video and photos. However, if you want to go hands-free then there are also voice commands (“Start/stop recording” and “Take a photo” being the most important).
Insta360 GO 3: Sample Images
Insta360 GO 3: Verdict
Accomplished and arguably over-specified in all areas aside from resolution, the point of the Insta360 GO 3 is that it can be used to capture moments no other action can solely because of its tiny size. On that score, it impresses and the Insta360 GO 3 will appeal to anyone prioritizing ‘secret’ footage and creativity. Able to be clipped onto clothes and caps, bikes and cars, and even taken underwater, the Insta360 GO 3 on its own is versatile enough to fuel creative video not possible with most action cameras.
Attached to Action Pod it transforms into an action camera like any other – and the flip-style screen for vloggers is hugely welcome. However, with a lack of ultimate resolution and a high price, we’re wondering if serious users will want to sacrifice pixels for versatility. Either way, it’s a very significant upgrade on Insta360 GO 2.
It's also worth noting that in the camera's first 6 months firmware updates improved the already good image stabilization in low light and created the option of using the camera as a webcam, and an Apple Watch as a remote – it's reassuring to know that Insta360 are keeping things alive in terms of updates.