GoPros have never had particularly good battery life. I’ve found the HERO6 Black and HERO5 Black to have marginally improved battery life over the HERO4 Black, but you’re still lucky if you get two hours of shooting. Depending on what settings you’re using, it might end up being a lot less.
Save $170 on GoPro HERO9 Bundle
GoPro is currently running a deal on their latest flagship camera, the HERO9 Black. The deal includes a 1-year subscription to GoPro, an extra battery (in addition to the one that's usually included), and a 64GB SD card. The HERO9 also comes with a case. It's all for $349.98 and you can find more details here.
It is possible to attach a long-life battery. It’s also possible to connect an external battery pack or battery hand grip via USB and use that as external power. But those setups can become pretty unwieldy, and they aren’t waterproof because it means having one of the access doors open to reach the USB-C port.
It’s much easier to manage the GoPro’s battery life with spare batteries and external chargers. It means you can be charging one or more batteries while still using the camera rather than sitting around twiddling your thumbs waiting for it to charge.
Here’s a rundown of the options for picking up some spare batteries or external chargers for the HERO7 Black, HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, and HERO (2018).
Official GoPro Chargers and Batteries
GoPro has their own branded batteries and chargers. They work well, and they’re also higher priced than other options. But if you’re after the officially supported option, this is it.
The latest version of this, brought out at the same time as the HERO8 Black, has a pale blue baseplate. Older versions are all black. But this newer version can still be used in the previous models (NB: with the HERO5 Black and HERO (2018), make sure that the camera’s firmware is up-to-date first).
You can pick up batteries, and if you’re just looking to replace a battery that might be the way to go. But without an external charger you’ll have to charge it in the camera, which reduces somewhat the advantage of having a spare battery.
The batteries are made in several countries, including China and Vietnam.
Tip: GoPro offers 50% off many of their accessories through their online store with the PLUS subscription. The discount applies to batteries and the dual battery charger. There’s a 30-day free trial and then the subscription renews at $4.99 each month (a bit cheaper if you pay the year in advance). You also get some other neat perks with PLUS; you can more details here. But for me, I’ve found that just the discount on accessories has paid for the membership fee many times over.
Dual Charger with Battery
The current list of GoPro cameras and accessories compatible with its fast charging is: Fusion, HERO8 Black, HERO7 Black, HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black,HERO (2018),HERO5 Session, Dual Battery Charger (HERO8 Black, HERO7 Black/HERO6 Black/HERO5 Black/HERO 2018), and Karma Grip.
It makes use of the USB-C connection to beef up the charge. Note that it’s not a cradle–it’s just a charger—so it can’t charge a battery by itself. You can either plug it into the camera or into GoPro’s cradle charger. It comes with interchangeable AC plugs for US, Europe, and Australia as well as a 1.5ft (0.45m) 3A USB-C to USB-C Cable.
Third-Party After-Market Batteries and Chargers
There are many third-party after-market batteries available for GoPros. Some are better than others. I’ve consistently had good results with batteries from Wasabi and Smatree but have also found others to work well.
But there is an important consideration when using after-market batteries. That is that it’s technically possible for GoPro to make the camera reject batteries from other manufacturers. They do it through a firmware tweak, and they’ve done it before. For now, though, GoPro seems to be playing nice with many of the after-market manufacturers, but that’s not guaranteed.
release notes were extremely vague: “Includes bug fixes and usability improvements.” What they don’t say is that one of the unannounced changes was that the camera now did a check on the battery, and if it’s not a GoPro-branded one the camera wouldn’t power up. That instantly made all of the non-GoPro branded batteries that were then available paperweights–the camera simply wouldn’t accept those batteries and power up.
In February 2017, Wasabi Power came out with a new version of their batteries (model number BTR-HERO5-JWP-03) that includes a new chip. They claim—even “guarantee”–that they will continue to work “with all future firmware updates” that GoPro puts out for the HERO5 Black.
While I have found no problems using these batteries in HERO5 Black cameras with firmware versions v.01.57 and v.01.55, I can’t independently corroborate the basis for Wasabi’s assurance of future compatibility. GoPro has a program that is specifically designed to assure compatibility–it’s called “Works with GoPro.” These batteries are not currently listed as part of that program. So it’s not clear to me what kind of arrangement they might have (or not have, as the case may be) with GoPro and on what basis they can promise future compatibility. A saving grace is that they’re relatively inexpensive.
In my experience, these Wasabi batteries work well with the current firmware, provide essentially identical battery life, and are priced (MSRP) competitively. But do make sure that you’re getting the specific model BTR-HERO5-JWP-03 batteries. Older versions still won’t work with the newer camera firmware.
Other brands, like this one, are also starting to pop up with their own branded batteries that also promise ongoing compatibility with future updates. At the time of writing, Smatree, another third-party battery brand I’ve had very good experiences with in the past, hasn’t yet released a new version of their batteries for the HERO5 Black. So for now, I’ve only tried the Wasabi ones. They’re available in various bundles:
Batteries for the HERO4 Black and Silver vs HERO7/6/5 Black
If you’re upgrading from the HERO4 Black and wondering whether you can use batteries from the HERO4 Black or Silver in the HERO7 Black, HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, and HERO (2018), the answer is no. The HERO4 batteries are different and can’t be used interchangeably.
The new GoPro HERO5 Black uses a lithium-ion rechargeable battery that’s rated at 1220 mAh (3.85V / 4.70Wh), which is a slightly higher rated capacity than the previous model (1160 mAh). It looks very similar to the ones for the HERO4, but the contacts are more towards the center of one side rather than near a corner. Like this:
I have a separate post on batteries and chargers for the HERO4 Black and Silver.
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