Entertainment GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini: release date, specs and our early thoughts
GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini: release date, specs and our early thoughts
The GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini is a small action camera made for mounting, particularly on bike and motorbike helmets.
This is a classic use case for GoPro’s action cameras, but they’e arguably become less well suited for this very scenario over the last few generations. Sure, image quality, stabilization and performance have improved, but these cameras also got a whole lot bigger in 2020 with the GoPro Hero 9 Black.
They’ve become a little bulky, and the GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini is here to bring back a dinky style without compromising on performance. It’s also cheaper than the standard Hero 11 Black, although we wouldn’t recommend buying this model just for the drop in price – the dual screens and greater flexibility of the normal Hero 11 Black are easily worth the extra $100/£100/AU$150 for many.
Go Pro Hero 11 Black Mini price and availability
The GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini was announced in September 2022 with its sibling the Hero 11 Black. There is no direct predecessor. Back in 2021 when the Hero 10 Black emerged, there was no Mini model.
It’s a little cheaper than the Hero 11 Black as well as being smaller. It costs $299 / £299 / AU$499 when bought with a GoPro subscription, or $399 / £399 / AU$639 without a subscription. This subscription offers a replacement if you damage your camera, unlimited cloud storage, and money off accessories bought direct from GoPro.
By comparison, the standard Hero 11 Black will set you back $399.98 / £399.98 / AU$649.95 with a GoPro subscription, or $499.99 / £499.99 / AU$799.95 without one.
GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini design
You can think of the GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini as a GoPro Hero 11 Black minus the two screens. There is a small display up top, but there’s image preview on offer here without using the Quik app on your phone.
We’ve seen other display-less action cameras, such as the original Insta360 Go. But this one is higher-end, as it has the same core hardware as the Hero 11 Black. That includes a relatively large 1/1.9-inch sensor and GoPro’s GP2 processor.
The Hero 11 Black Mini weighs 133g, making the standard GoPro Hero 11 Black 15% heavier. And it’s notably narrow at 52.4mm.
Sacrifices made are probably worth it if you will use your GoPro almost exclusively mounted to something like a bike handlebars or a helmet. In these situations a preview image of your footage is going to be of limited use anyway.
If you plan on using the GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini with a selfie stick, we think you’ll miss the screens too much. Get the standard Hero 11 Black instead.
There are other compromises too. The GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini has a non-removable battery, which will be a massive turn-off if you typically carry two or three spares around with you to extend your shooting time.
GoPro calls it an Enduro battery, but its 1500mAh battery capacity is actually less than that of GoPros since the Hero 8 Black. There are no big and bright displays to power, of course, but the battery-saving effect isn’t going to be all that apparent in ‘set it and forget it’ situations where the Mini thrives, as display of a normal GoPro would time out fairly quickly anyway.
You’ll have to recharge the GoPro 11 Black Mini using an external battery pack while out on a shoot, and GoPro makes no unusual claims about its charging speed.
The lack of a hot-swappable battery may limit the appeal here more than the lack of proper screen, for the intended audience. But you are going to get a super-streamlined and simple experience here.
A tiny display on top of the GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini shows you basic parameters. You’ll see battery life, the amount of space left on your memory card and the mode currently engaged.
A side button lets you switch between the three presets — 5.3K, 4K and 1080p — all shooting using the SuperView FOV at 60fps. GoPro suggests you should choose between them based on the battery life you’ll get, over anything else. You’ll probably see at least 50% greater run time shooting at 1080p rather than 5.3K. Of course, 5.3K does offer much better scope for editing, and better image quality.
To use any other modes, of which there are many, you’ll have to wirelessly control the GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini through the Quik app on your phone.
GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini features
In most other areas the GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini matches the standard Hero 11 Black. It can shoot 4K video at up to 120fps, 2.7K at 240fps, and 5.3K at up to 60fps.
There are also advanced low-light video modes, which leverage longer exposure times to take high-quality timelapses. You can paint in thin air using a light source like a torch, turn car headlamps into streaks of light and shoot at night to see the path of stars as they cross the sky.
However, there’s no dedicated stills mode. GoPro instead lets you grab high-resolution snaps out of 5.3K footage. There’s no obvious technical reason GoPro couldn’t add stills capture. It’s more likely it felt such modes would dilute the direction of the Mini, and that the camera wouldn’t offer an up-to-par stills experience. 24.7MP still images are mined from the high-res video capture, though, so you’re arguably not missing out on much bar the Hero 11 Black’s HDR photo mode.
The Hero 11 Black Mini has GoPro’s latest Hypersmooth 5.0 stabilization tech, and this allows for horizon locking at up to 27 degrees camera rotation in top modes. And a full 360 degrees of rotation in modes below the top frame rate in each resolution. In all cases you have to use the Linear field of view, because otherwise there’s not enough spare image information around the frame to make this possible.
Either way, you can expect excellent stabilization from the GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini. You can thank the unusual 8:7 sensor shape.
GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini early thoughts
To some the GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini is not going to make much sense. It strips back the GoPro Hero 11 Black to its essentials, forcing you to control the camera with a phone app if you want more than the basics.
However, it makes perfect sense if you mount your action camera to a helmet 95% of the time, making the standard GoPro design’s dual screens dead weight.
You don’t lose any core video modes. And while anything beyond the fundamentals has to be accessed through the phone app, the stripped-back style ensures you won’t end up with 30 minutes of footage in the wrong mode thanks to an ill-timed screen swipe.
The biggest issue here, for the right type of action camera user, is the battery. It is non-removable, meaning you’ll be restricted to the run time of the Enduro cell — and many current GoPro users carry a couple of spare batteries to let them shoot for longer.