The GoPro Hero 8 black and GoPro Max 360 released last October make up the current GoPro’s lineup. However, people are anticipating the next-gen GoPro Hero 9 this fall. Now it’s almost inevitable that we will welcome a new version pretty soon.
GoPro Hero 9 release date
GoPro Hero 9 is expected to release by the fall period, all things being equal. The Hero 8 Black debuted on October 1 last year. Eager fans should expect the Hero 9 to debut sometime in October this year. GoPro likes to keep quiet until a few weeks before the launch.
Many users will be highly disappointed if the trend doesn’t continue this year, with the current Coronavirus situation. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to cut their production and delay the launch of their products. GoPro could also be forced to delay the Hero 9 release to November or later.
Coronavirus impact on sales and launch
Oppenheimer analyst Andrew Uerkwitz said in a research note to investors that the COVID-19 pandemic will have an “unprecedented” effect on GoPro and its upcoming products. Most people who purchased the Hero 8 only a few months ago are unable to use it for action, adventure or outdoor activities.
Considering the massive job losses due to the pandemic, consumers would prioritize their purchases after the lockdown ends. They will be more inclined to spend money on essential items rather than buying things that can be avoided. Andrew Uerkwitz said GoPro has to work out the supply chain and inventory if it wants to launch the Hero 9 later this year.
The analyst’s concerns are not unwarranted. The action camera maker has officially confirmed that it is laying off 20% of its workforce. More than 200 employees are getting pink slips due to the pandemic. GoPro aims to reduce its operating expenses by $100 million this year. It will also bring down the non-headcount related operating expenses to $250 million next year.
GoPro CEO Nick Woodman will be taking zero salary for the remainder of the year. The company is also shifting its sales to a direct-to-consumer model to cut expenses and boost profit margins. Even though GoPro has assured investors that the layoffs and cost-cutting won’t affect its 2020 product roadmap, the writing is clear on the wall.
GoPro chief operating officer Brian McGee recently told investors that the action camera sales hit the bottom in late-March and early-April. But consumer demand has picked up significantly since May. It indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has had only limited effect on GoPro’s market viability. The action camera maker could register strong sales in the post-COVID era, driven by the pent-up demand.
GoPro launches ‘Lifestyle Gear’ merchandise
As we inch closer to the holiday shopping season, GoPro has made a surprise announcement. The company has launched “Lifestyle Gear” merchandise on its online store. Priced between $25 and $100, these products include a variety of bags, backpack, water bottles, camera case, and caps. All of the lifestyle gear is designed to go with your action cam.
GoPro has also told fans that it will launch more products on August 19th. If you are a GoPro Plus subscriber, the company will give you a 30% discount on Lifestyle Gear products. However, the company didn’t mention anything about the upcoming Hero 9.
GoPro Hero 9 appears on FCC
GoPro has registered a new action camera code-named SPBL1 with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The camera that recently appeared on the FCC website is most likely the GoPro Hero 9. The SPBL1 was tested by the FCC in March, according to the screenshots. The US regulator released the listing on its website only recently.
As per the FCC listing, there is a new item in preferences called Displays instead of Touch Display in previous models. It indicates that the Hero 9 could feature dual displays, allowing users to see what the action cam sees from the front display. The menu icon also has a front and rear display.
The icon for the GoPro Plus subscription has a new color. On the Hero 9, it appears at the top of the preferences menu. The California company also appears to have increased the size of icons. What’s more, the main dropdown menu gets a new button that appears to have a person on it. It could probably be used to select the front display or go to selfie mode.
Speculations after FCC listing
The FCC listing has sparked speculations that GoPro could launch only one model this year. Typically, GoPro has followed the release of one action camera with another model in the following weeks. Last year, the GoPro Max appeared in the FCC database on June 11, followed by the GoPro Hero 8 Black on June 22.
This time, only one action camera – most like the Hero 9 – has appeared in the FCC database. Last year’s GoPro Max had combined three cameras into one, giving adventure enthusiasts a strong reason to pick it up. Whether GoPro launches one or two cameras this year, it will likely stick to the marketing theme of GoPro Max.
It’s entirely possible that the COVID-19 pandemic could have hurt GoPro’s production and supply chain, forcing the company to submit only one product to the FCC database. It could submit the other product in the next few weeks or months.
GoPro Hero 9 specs
While past GoPro Hero models featured a lot of improvements, people still believe the Hero 8 lacks a few features. They want the next version to come with a great new design and other features.
This is the best time for GoPro to come up with an entirely different design and new features to entice its users
GoPro is always giving their best when it comes to adding new features. Apart from its frame rates and resolutions that have remained static over the years, other features are up to date. These include the full-color touch screen, HyperSmooth, voice control, GPS, and motion sensors.
And without a doubt, no action camera can presently catch-up with the above-listed features of GoPro. Even as that, I do believe nothing should stop GoPro Hero 9 from being released with a better resolution and other new features.
Here are some of the specs and features coming with the new camera
- new GoPro body design
- should adopt a ¼-inch thread
- a new chip
- improved lens options
- feature a to-the-edge screen
Now, let’s take a look at them one by one and see how the above features can get incorporated into GoPro Hero 9.
The New Design
The current GoPro design has lasted up to 4 generations. Most users have expressed their unsatisfactory mind as to why it hasn’t been changed yet. Although Hero 8 has a slightly different design than older versions, it looks identical to them on the first look. Apart from its mount and waterproof feature that looks a lot more different, other features are alike.
So, for GoPro to introduce a new body design with Hero 9, they need to look at three areas, including the cage, touchscreen, and lens, and make necessary adjustments.
A Reddit user named chrswnd has shared a leaked image of the GoPro Hero 9’s outer front shell. The front digital screen appears to be bigger than the Hero 8. It could allow users to frame selfies with the action camera. In the same thread, one user added that the Media Mod screen attachment could be dead. A local distributor in Taiwan told the Reddit user that the Media Mod has been cancelled for good.
Adoption of a ¼-Inch Thread
Small changes can sometimes make significant contributions. While most people don’t see the addition of folding fingers at the base of the camera as vital, it can serve as a traditional GoPro mount, replacing the cage. However, the fold-down can easily be removed and replaced with some other types of fixing, including a standard.
The essence of adopting a ¼-inch thread for GoPro Hero 9 is to enable users to have direct mounting for several uses. Apart from that, it also enables backward compatibility while connecting a GoPro mount.
A New Camera Chip
It’s also suggested that GoPro Hero 9 will come with a new GP chip embedded. However, to introduce a GP2 chip, there must be an improvement while shooting in low light. Other things that need improvement include having better slow motion and effective manual control.
The new chip could help it achieve a higher frame rate of 480fps for Full-HD and 120fps for 4k.
A major software upgrade
The GoPro app will get a major upgrade later this year with Hero 9 launch. According to Cinema 5D, GoPro recently acquired ReelSteady, which develops software for post-production stabilization. Image and video stabilization is one of the most important things for adventure enthusiasts.
The ReelSteadyGO software is currently available for $399 as an add-on for Adobe After Effects. The company also sells a different version of the app for GoPro cameras. The acquisition indicates that GoPro is keen to bring the post-production stabilization editing capabilities in-house. It could become a default feature in the GoPro app.
The ReelSteady deal is one more step in GoPro’s quest to improve stabilization. Last year, the company introduced TimeWarp 2.0 and an improved HyperSmooth tech with the Hero8 Black for better stabilization.
Other expected improvements
Many GoPro users in the past have complained about the audio quality of their action cameras. Fans expect GoPro to integrate the mic adapter into the Hero 9 instead of letting it dangle off the side of the camera. The integrated mic adapter will allow users to record pro-grade audio while shooting videos.
It’s too early to predict what the GoPro Hero 9 is going to cost. However, the past product launches suggest that it would cost at least $400 at launch. Folks at Fstoppers speculate that GoPro could also introduce a subscription model to boost its revenue, just like Adobe Creative Cloud. Many car manufacturers have also started offering “car as a service.”
There is a huge potential user base that doesn’t want to own an action camera. But they would happily pay $50 to rent an action camera for their next trip. It makes sense for GoPro to start offering its cameras as a subscription service.
This post has been updated with latest information and news on August 13, 2020.