GoPro Hero5 Session review

A powerful miniature masterpiece, but it's fiddly to use

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Build quality and handling

  • Waterproof down to 10m (33ft)
  • Voice activation
  • Can be tethered to smartphone app

The fact that the GoPro Hero5 Session is essentially a small rubbery cube doesn't do much for its aesthetic appeal, but it does mean there's very little to go wrong.

One of the complaints we had about the Hero5 Black chiefly surrounded its interchangeable lens cover, which became damaged on our test model and started letting condensation in.

There are no worries with its smaller sibling, as the lens is neatly housed behind some reinforced glass that's secured by eight robust little screws.

In fact, the Hero5 Session feels like it can handle more punishment than its more expensive counterpart, and this is reflected in the fact that GoPro doesn't offer any additional housing.

Straight out of the box it's waterproof to 33ft (10m), which makes it perfectly suitable for most water sports, while the small and lightweight build means it can be easily mounted in unusual places to capture cool angles.

As previously mentioned, the lack of easily accessible settings can be a bit of a chore when you're out and about, while the simple task of flicking between video and stills capture is more time-consuming than it needs to be.

GoPro does throw in voice activation in this model, with the device responding to a list of commands such as "GoPro, take a picture" or "GoPro, turn off"; this makes switching between modes slightly easier, although if there are people around to hear you there's the risk that you'll appear to be muttering to yourself.

We found tethering the unit to GoPro's smartphone app to generally be the best way to tee up video and still imagery, and to adjust settings when out and about, but obviously this won't be practical in all circumstances – not many people take their iPhone surfing.

Unfortunately, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth tethering going full steam we did find that the already-poor battery time was reduced considerably, and with no option to swap-out the battery filming sessions can be brought to an abrupt halt. 

Leon Poultney

Leon has been navigating a world where automotive and tech collide for almost 20 years, reporting on everything from in-car entertainment to robotised manufacturing plants. Currently, EVs are the focus of his attentions, but give it a few years and it will be electric vertical take-off and landing craft. Outside of work hours, he can be found tinkering with distinctly analogue motorcycles, because electric motors are no replacement for an old Honda inline four.