Let’s get it out of the way now: the Insta360 Go 3 is the best small action camera around. There have been action cams of similar size and weight before (the original Go and Go 2 for instance) but the Go 3’s image quality, versatility and clever Action Pod remote control/docking station put it clear ahead of everything else we’ve seen.
It’s not perfect by any means – there’s definitely a little room for improvement in future iterations – but let’s get into the reasons we’d recommend to anybody looking for a diminutive device to capture their outdoor adventures.
Design: Pod save us
The Insta360 Go 3 comes in two main parts: the Go 3 camera itself and the Action Pod. The camera looks fairly familiar, being the same tiny Wall-E-esque white ovoid as the original Go and Go 2. It weighs just 35g and fits easily inside a closed palm; we’ve even seen people filming from inside their mouths using it, although we wouldn’t recommend it.
The camera is pretty clean design-wise, but does feature a couple of visible microphone ports and an LED on the front to indicate its current status: blue if it’s connected to the Action Pod; flashing red if it’s filming; solid red if it’s charging. The lower portion of its front acts as a button, too: just click it to start and stop recording.
For the first time, it also comes with two clips which (with the aid of a magnet) allow it to be securely mounted on some accessories. Brilliantly, it’s also magnetic itself, which allows it to be fixed directly to lamp posts, bus stops, fridge doors, car bodies and similar surfaces.
The camera’s petite size and the plethora of mounting options – sticky pad, magnet, clip and even a magnetic pendant you can wear around your neck – make it a video creator’s dream. It can achieve angles and perspectives larger cameras can’t, and it’s light enough that you’ll barely feel it when mounted on you or anything you’re holding. It’s also IPX8 waterproof, meaning you can take it underwater to a depth of 5m – just make sure you use the (included) screw-on lens guard when doing so.
The Action Pod is an all-new addition to the Go series, and a transformative one. Dock the camera unit inside (it thunks in satisfyingly via its magnet) and the two combine to a become a more traditional GoPro-type action camera with physical power, shutter and quick menu controls and a 2.2in flip-up touchscreen on the rear. On its base, the Action Pod has the same clip-assisted magnetic clamp as the camera, so it can be mounted on many of the same accessories. Whack it on a handle, flip up the screen to face forwards and it becomes a brilliant lightweight vlog camera, for instance. It also works as a charging case in this instance, topping up the camera’s 310mAh battery from its far larger 1270mAh power plant.
Separate the two and the Action Pod becomes a wireless remote control for the camera, offering a live view video feed and a range of a few feet. While we’d have liked the range to be a little more generous, this remote aspect is a killer feature, and saves you having to use a smartphone running the Insta360 app for the job (although that remains an option).
The Action Pod is water resistant, but irritatingly not to the same level as the camera; its IPX4 rating makes it rain- and splash-proof rather than dive-ready, but the company does offer an optional dive case (around £60) that allows you to take the combined kit 60m below sea level.
Features, battery life and performance: Charging the light brigade
The Insta360 Go 3 offers three storage options: 32GB, 64GB or 128GB, all built-in. Choose carefully, because with no MicroSD card slot there’s no way to expand whatever you start with. A single USB-C port handles charging and data transfers, but aside from that connectivity is wireless: there’s Bluetooth 5.0 and 5GHz Wi-Fi.
Battery life isn’t the Go 3’s most impressive attribute. The camera itself offers only around 45 minutes of 1080p recording time when flying solo; things get a lot better when embedded in the Action Pod, with 170 minutes available.
The Insta360 Go 3 offers FlowState electronic image stabilisation and horizon levelling, and it’s extremely effective – able to transform shaky handheld sequences into smooth scenes that almost look like they could have been shot using a gimbal. There are three levels available, but you can also just shoot in the camera’s FreeFrame video setting and subsequently add either horizon-levelled or FPV-style image stabilisation in post-processing.
Two additional (and optional) performance features worth mentioning are pre-recording (which will capture the 10, 15 or 30 seconds of footage before you hit the record button) and QuickCapture, which will immediately start recording when you hit the button, even if the camera is turned off at the time. We think both can be very useful in certain situations.
Image quality: 2.7K all the way
We suppose some people might be disappointed by the lack of a 4K recording option, but it doesn’t really detract much from the camera’s impressive showing. It can record in 2.7K (at 30/25/24fps), 1440p and 1080p (both at 50/30/25/24fps), and the first two look generally excellent in terms of detail and colour.
There are 13 preset picture profiles (or filters, if you like), three fields of view (although if you shoot in FreeFrame, you can select the one you like best in post-production) and some manual settings for would-be tweakers. No, the options here aren’t as rich as you’d see from a mirrorless camera, but for a teeny tiny action cam we’re more than happy with what’s on offer.
With the exception of slow-motion video clips (all shot at 1080p/120fps), which are always shot in 9:16 ratio, you can flip between 9:16 portrait and 16:9 landscape framing at will, without having to physically rotate the camera. It’s pretty much a must-have feature for a camera like this these days, what with the popularity of 9:16 content on social media, but not all manufacturers have cottoned on; Insta360 certainly has.
You can also take stills photos of course, and while this isn’t a standout feature here (resolution is 3.6MP, so you’ll almost certainly get better results with your smartphone), it works fairly well; you can even capture in DNG RAW if you wish, and HDR shots are available.
Insta360 Go 3 verdict
As we said in the start of this review, the Insta360 Go 3 is the best small action camera around.
It crams good image quality and performance into an incredibly compact, lightweight and versatile product that will almost certainly transform the way you capture video content – simply by virtue of being able to go almost anywhere.
The best little action cam on the planet. Fantastically small but still fully featured.
Tiny and lightweight
Action Pod remote control
Good all-round performance
No 4K video capture
Battery life of camera is short
Insta360 Go 3 technical specifications
|Bluetooth LE 5.0, Wi-Fi, USB-C
|25.6 x 54.4 x 23.2mm (Go 3 camera)
63.5 x 47.6 x 29.5mm (Action Pod)
|35g (Go 3 camera)
96.3g (Action Pod)