GoPros have never had particularly good battery life. And while I’ve found the new HERO5 Black to have marginally improved battery life over its predecessor, 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.
With many of the previous models it was possible to attach an extended battery on the back. But there’s no way to do that with the new model–it doesn’t have the connection for it. It is still possible to connect an external battery pack or battery hand grip via USB and use that as external power, but that setup becomes pretty unwieldy, and it isn’t waterproof because it means having one of the access doors open.
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 GoPro HERO5 Black. These are for the GoPro HERO5 Black only. The other two models in the current range, the HERO5 Session and HERO Session, have built-in batteries that can’t be removed from the camera.
Batteries for the HERO4 Black and Silver vs HERO5 Black
First, though, the obvious question: Can you use batteries from the HERO4 Black or Silver in the HERO5 Black?
No. The batteries for the HERO5 Black are different from previous models and can’t be used interchangeably.
The new GoPro HERO5 Black uses a lithium-ion rechargeable battery that’s rated at 1220 mAh (4.40V), 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.
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.
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 Vietnam.
Dual Charger with Battery
This is GoPro’s cradle for charging one or two batteries at a time. You can find it bundled with a battery or as just the charger alone. It has an input for a USB-C cable. It’s also fully compatible with GoPro’s new rapid charger.
This is GoPro’s new rapid charger, and GoPro claims that it will charge the HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session up to 20% faster than using a conventional charger. If you plug it into the GoPro Dual Battery Charger, you’ll reportedly get up to 45% faster. And it will also charge the Karma Grip stabilizer.
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
The short version: These new Wasabi Power batteries (model number BTR-HERO5-JWP-03) work with firmware versions v.01.57 and v.01.55, and the manufacturer claims they “guarantee” that they will remain compatible with “all future firmware updates.” I’ve been using them without issues on cameras with both of those firmware versions without issues but can’t independently vouch for ongoing compatibility with future firmware updates that GoPro puts out.
The longer version: On November 26, 2016, GoPro released firmware update v.01.55 for the HERO5 Black. The 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 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: