At 26.5 grams and a thumb size, Insta360’s latest action camera, the Go 2 looks like a large Tic Tac with eyeballs. It’s not Insta360’s only 360-degree camera, it’s the second generation of the Go lineup. Especially where the image quality department needed a lot of the first-generation Go, the $299 Go 2 comes with a new charging case, a larger sensor, and improved image quality, making it a powerful example of a mobile-first action camera. .
The most notable changes to this little camera are made in the hardware department. The Go 2’s camera components feature a new removable lens cover and a less slippery matte plastic housing. The case played a more active role in the use of the camera, bringing the tripod, remote control, external battery, and charger into one. It’s slightly larger than the AirPods Pro case and has 1/4 inch threads for mounting support and a USB-C port for charging. The standalone camera can run for 30 minutes on a single charge or 150 minutes while in the case.
The case is not waterproof, but the Go 2’s camera is IPX8 waterproof, so it can be used underwater up to 13 feet. In the box, the Insta360 includes three camera mounts: a pivot stand, a visor clip, and a pendant for hanging around the neck. All of these mounts use magnets to attach the Go 2.
Using the case beyond space to store the camera is one of my favorite innovations on the Go 2. All mounts, remotes and other accessories you need to buy for your action camera are added up. So it’s nice to see essential features like tripods built into the camera’s hardware.
But more important than the hardware is the image quality. On many smartphone cameras that produce crisp, stable 4K 60fps video and powerful, sharp photos, a dedicated camera outside of the phone is absolutely necessary to enhance the game. The POV ultra-wide shape and unique mounting features of the Go 2 video allow you to create a video that is different enough to carry your Go 2 in addition to your phone. You cannot create the same viewing angle as the Go 2 with a smartphone camera.
On a mobile phone, the camera’s 9 megapixel photos are sharp, rich in contrast, look unrealistic, and saturated. When I put that image on the desktop it looks a bit rough where the sensor’s lower megapixel count starts to appear, but the image is definitely usable.
The Go 2’s video resolutions are up to 1440p and 50fps, but its 120-degree viewing angle and high saturation color science creates images that are far more unique than what you get from a phone camera. When viewed on a small screen, the video is sharp and smooth with bright colors and a lot of contrast. I was impressed with how realistic the footage looked in perfect lighting conditions, but when I brought it to the laptop’s large screen, the footage looked a bit noisy. Also, I want the video shot at night to have less grain and noise. The degree of smoothing applied to low-light images also doesn’t help. Insta360 is not alone here. This is also a problem with more expensive and rugged action cameras like the GoPro Hero 9. I would love to see these companies devoting more time to repairs. (I used pre-production units in my tests, but Insta360 didn’t tell me it would change anything about the functionality or performance of the final version.)
The Go 2’s Pro Video mode has four preset viewing angle options, ranging from narrow to ultra-wide. Despite the options, I usually use an ultra-wide view and reconfigured it in Go 2’s mobile app. The camera also utilizes Insta360’s built-in 6-axis gyroscope with Insta360’s FlowState stabilization algorithm for horizontal leveling, regardless of the camera’s orientation, producing a very stable video without cropping the image. We continue to be impressed with the stability the GoPro, DJI, and Insta360 have been able to achieve in action cameras, and the Go 2 is no exception.
Sample video of the Insta360 Go 2.
Operating the Go 2 is a unique experience that takes some time to get used to. Like the first generation, there are no visible buttons on the camera component. To operate the camera, pressing down on the Insta360 logo located under the lens from the outside of the case will cause a vibration to signal that it has been pressed. With the power off, press once to start basic video recording, press twice to take a picture, press 1 second to bring the camera to ready state. If the camera is already on, press once to start and stop FlowState stabilization video, press twice to start Hyperlapse timelapse video, and press 2 seconds to put the camera into sleep mode.
There is a learning curve like using touch controls on wireless earbuds or using screenless technology. It took about three sessions to get an idea of what the LED lights and various vibrations meant. With the small black and white screen showing camera mode, shooting resolution, and the remaining storage space on the 32GB internal memory, the Go 2 is much more comfortable to use.
You can also use Insta360’s mobile app to control the camera via Wi-Fi and display the camera’s live view. The app also has editing software that allows you to reorganize, trim and export clips. The Flashcut feature uses AI editing tools to trim and stitch clips on the Go 2 to create spectacular edits with punchy music and over-the-top transitions such as clear screen and quick zoom. It’s very fun to play with, but it’s a bit noisy for my taste. It can be very useful for anyone who is not familiar with video editing.
The Go 2 can be purchased starting today for $299. For companies that focus deeply on mobile-first editing to post to social accounts, Insta360 Go 2 is perfect. It’s a small handheld camera whose screen won’t fit on a larger screen than desktop editing software or a mobile phone. As far as I know, there are no smaller cameras on the market that can shoot 120 degrees with this level of stabilization or this quality. This looks great on phones, the devices you are most likely to see.
For mobile-first video bloggers or avid social media users, it’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t know exactly what to do because the image quality is good enough, the camera is small enough to fit anywhere, and there are no confusing controls. Anyway, there are many options. But for me, I’m most excited to see an improvement in image quality. Thanks to better image processing and larger sensors, this camera was able to make a big leap forward, even though the difference over species only goes from 1080p to 1440p. This started to feel like a camera where I could believe in more daring moments and feel comfortable with a size that wasn’t too big to carry with me.
Photo from Becca Farsace / The Verge