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GoPro Hero 9 Black gets fancy new Remote and long-awaited firmware boost

GoPro Hero 9 Black
(Image credit: GoPro)

The GoPro Hero 9 Black has just been given two last-minute Christmas gifts in the form of a much-needed firmware update and an accessory called The Remote.

While the pre-Christmas timing might sound festive, the two arrivals are actually long-awaited updates that help fix some of the GoPro Hero 9 Black's early teething problems.

GoPro's current Smart Remote isn't actually compatible with the Hero 9 Black, so its successor – simply called The Remote – is here to fix that. Like before, it's a waterproof, smartwatch-sized accessory that can be strapped to your wrist, handlebar or gear, and helps you control your GoPro from up to 200 feet away.

The Remote brings a slightly different design to its predecessor, with one big raised record button in the center, and the mode and settings buttons pushed to the side of the device. But the concept is the same – it lets you change most functions from afar, including the shooting mode, so you can safely record the action without being in the thick of it.

Right now, The Remote is only available in North America for $79.99 (around £59 / AU$105), but will get a worldwide release in February 2021. It's only compatible with the GoPro Hero 9 Black, GoPro Hero 8 Black and GoPro Max.

While The Remote certainly looks like a handy accessory, the bigger news for Hero 9 Black owners may well be that v1.5 firmware update, which is available to download from today. Rather than bringing lots of brand-new treats, it delivers fixes to some of the frustrations that have been raised in GoPro's forums – including the return of support for the Pro 3.5mm Mic Adaptor.

GoPro The Remote

(Image credit: GoPro)

Festive polish

The Hero 9 Black mysteriously lost support for GoPro's Pro 3.5mm Mic Adaptor, which lets you connect an external mic to your action cam for superior audio. But that has now returned in the v1.5 firmware update, alongside a list of other much-needed improvements.

GoPro says the update brings "improved GPS accuracy", up to 30% faster wireless transfer speeds of content between the Hero 9 Black and GoPro app, and better HyperSmooth 3.0 performance in cold temperatures. The latter has previously been unavailable in particularly chilly conditions, because it's a power-hungry mode that can demand too much of the camera's lithium ion battery in the cold.

Elsewhere, the Hero 9 Black has been given a new slo-mo shortcut slider button and support for live streaming with the new Max Lens Mod. Vloggers can also now get in-camera horizon lock when live streaming.

Along with the previous firmware update on October 20, which promised to improve the Hero 9 Black's laggy touchscreen and over-sharpening in 4K video mode, these improvements should finally give GoPro's flagship the polish it deserves. 

It's a shame some Hero 9 Black owners have had to wait a few months for the addition of functionality that arguably should have been there from the start, but we'll now be revisiting our review to see if the camera deserves to jump ahead of the GoPro Hero 8 Black as the best action cam for most people.

Not that the Hero 8 Black or Max have been entirely left out of the firmware updates party – both cameras will also today receive updates that will apparently improve transfer speeds by up to 15% and 20%, along with support for The Remote.

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Mark Wilson

Mark is the Cameras Editor at TechRadar. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won the Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.