Insta360 X3 Review
The Insta360 X3 not only takes the competition to GoPro as an excellent single-lens camera, but it also shines in 360-mode for folks who love to shoot VR-ready content. As an all-in-one device, the X3 is an essential piece of kit for any vlogger.
- New, larger touchscreen is a game changer
- Me Mode can obtain some really impressive shots
- Fast UI with easy to read menus and icons
- 360-degree and single lens footage looks incredible
- Single lens shooting still bested by GoPro, but only just
- Professionals will still want to use an external mic
- USARRP: $449.99
- New 1/2-inch sensor:Now capable of 72MP 360-degree photos
- All in one action camera:Two lens for either 360-degree filming or traditional single lens capture
- Me Mode:Recreate drone shots just with a selfie stick in tow
Insta360 isn’t relenting on its crusade to dethrone GoPro just yet, releasing its third mainline action camera this year with the Insta360 X3.
And, no, that isn’t a typo. Dropping the “One” from its all-in-one camera series, Insta360 has turned the successor to the Insta360 One X2 into simply the Insta360 X3, which is probably for the best; I’m still somewhat tongue-tied after the Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 Edition.
Jokes aside, the X3 stands as a more conventional action camera against the modular Insta360 One RS, and while the gap between the X and the One R series has seemed minimal in the past, the X3 represents a genuine shift, delivering some serious upgrades that could make some One RS users green with envy.
- Rubberised grip along the side is comfortable in the hand
- Slightly thicker and heavier than the One X2
- The USB-C cover has been redesigned so it’s easier to access
Aside from the obvious leap in screen size (which we’ll come to in a bit), the X3 looks strikingly similar to its predecessor. Just like the One X2, the X3 uses a black/grey colour scheme that’s more functional than fashionable, but the texturised material around the sides offers a good amount of grip for handheld filming.
If you’re an X2 user then you may have spotted that the X3 is just slightly thicker than the older camera, and a tad heavier in the hand as a result. However, this doesn’t diminish at all from how pocketable this device actually is. After all, the X series has always been marketed as a more slimline action camera as opposed to the One R line, and that still remains true here.
However, the physical inputs of the X3 have been redesigned, so you can jump between various modes and presets more quickly. Instead of just the the power and record buttons of the X2, the X3 now has a mode switch button that quickly cycles you through single-lens outer/inner recordings and the 360-mode, while a Q button on the side lets you jump into a list of customisable presets.
I’ll always prefer physical buttons on cameras, so the upgrade here is much appreciated, and it helped to avoid the screen being inundated with smudges in the way that touchscreens usually are.
As a minor note, Insta360 has also improved the cover of the USB-C port, so that it’s more easily accessible. Speaking from experience, trying to get into the charging port on the X2 was like breaking into Fort Knox. As such, it’s great to see that user feedback has been taken on board.
Screen and Performance
- New 2.29-inch touchscreen is much easier to use
- UI and menus are fluid and easy to read
- Slight delay on-screen with what’s being filmed
If there’s one area in which Insta360’s tech has seriously fallen behind its rival, it’s the display. The One X2 was blighted by a port-hole display that didn’t really serve its purpose particularly well, and the square display on the One RS is just a bit too small to be viewed comfortably. The X3 tells a completely different story.
This time around you have a large 2.29-inch vertical display that’s just shy of the 2.3-inch main display found on the GoPro Hero 10, and it’s a joy to use. The display itself is bright and easy to read outdoors, and the size ensured that I never found myself squinting to line up a shot correctly. This is exactly what’s been missing from Insta360’s cameras, and it’s enough to make me recommend the X3 over the One RS if you’re deciding between the two.
However, what’s slightly odd is that the X3 doesn’t have an auto-rotate feature in the same vein as a modern smartphone. So, if you want to turn the device on its side and film a landscape shot horizontally, you’ll need to change the aspect ratio to 9:16 before doing so. This means that the UI stays in place vertically, even though you’re holding the X3 like a traditional camera. It’s a slight faff; but, luckily, the Insta360 app recognises the footage as being shot in landscape, so there are no issues there. I just hope a fix is delivered some point down the line.
Speaking of the UI, that too has had a major facelift on the X3 to make use of the larger screen space. Menu icons are large and the on-camera UI is easy to read, something that I couldn’t really say about the One RS. It’s speedy, too, with general use reminding me of my experience of using the GoPro Hero 10, which was in receipt of a significant speed bump thanks to its GP2 processor.
There is still a slight delay between what’s happening on the screen and what you’re actually filming, so the GoPro still wins out in that regard, but the gap is certainly closing between these two companies.
Video and Image Quality
- New 1/2-inch sensor helps to create vibrant footage
- Me Mode recretates drone/camera crew shots with just a selfie stick
- 72MP 360-degree photos are punchy and eye-catching
In the upgrades department, the X2 has taken a few cues from the One RS. For starters, instead of a massive resolution bump (it’s still 5.7K 360-filming and 4K single-lens capture) Insta360 has added a larger 1/2-inch sensor to the X3 – whose ability to let in more light, should in theory allow for more vibrant and eye-catching shots than before.
Luckily, that promise rings true in real-world use, with the X3 doing a tremendous job when I took it for a spin around London’s South Bank. Granted, it did run into a bit of trouble with cloudy skies, sometimes portraying them as a bit overblown; but, otherwise it was able to capture impressive amounts of colour from nearby buildings and landmarks.
Previously, the One X2 worked better as a 360 camera. However, Insta360 has made more of an effort this time to bolster the single-lens capabilities of the X3, to the one point where it feels like an essential tool for any vlogger.
You can jump between standard capture at up to 4K 30fps, stills photography and Loop Recording, which allows the X3 to operate much like a dash cam. There’s even a new feature called Me Mode, which sees the user place the X3 in front of them at a distance, and the device will merge the image from both cameras together to give the impression that you’re being followed around by your own personal camera crew.
So long as you’re courteous and don’t go using Me Mode in a crowd, you can get some incredible shots from it – I was able to create the feeling of a drone on the TR rooftop, extending the camera over the building’s edge to get a truly cinematic feel. There were no signs of stitching, either, which might give away the illusion.
The 1/2-inch sensor has also given stills photography a shot in the arm, with the X3 now capable of shooting 72-megapixel 360-photos – outperforming the 21-megapixel cap on the pricier One RS 1-inch 360 Edition. The pictures I’ve taken in this mode look fantastic, offering plenty of detail so long as you don’t zoom in too far. Luckily, the X3 doesn’t suffer from the tearing issues seen with the 360 Edition, so I can safely say that the X3 will be my go-to when it comes to 360-photography.
From what I can tell, the four mics from the One X2 remain unchanged on the X3, but there’s the addition of Stereo sound recording on top of the Wind Reduction and Stereo Focus modes. The audio quality isn’t high enough to do away with a need for an external mic, but it still gets the job done – and Wind Reduction, in particular, has performed quite admirably in picking up my voice during one of London’s more blustery days.
Stabilisation and Battery Life
- FlowState Stabilisation is working at its best here
- Battery jump from 1630mAh to 1800mAh
In the space of just a few months, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly impressed by Insta360’s FlowState Stabilisation software. On the One RS, the tech performed admirably but failed to live up to the high standards set by GoPro’s HyperSmooth alternative. However, when returning to it for the 360 Edition, I found FlowState to perform better than ever – and it’s a similar story now with the X3.
I’m convinced that either one of two things has happened: either Insta360 has been quietly tinkering away at FlowState in the background; or the company’s hardware has just become better at using the tech with each new release. In both 360 and single-lens filming, the X3 did an outstanding job of keeping everything stable and dispelling any sense of wobble from my footage.
And FlowState was easily at its best when shooting HyperLapse segments, creating an excellent, fast-paced journey throughout south London that was easy to follow for the viewer. This is the closest that Insta360’s ever come to matching GoPro’s stabilisation capabilities.
With all of the updated internals, the X3 has been given a slight boost in battery capacity to keep up. There’s now a 1800mAh unit included, trumping the 1630mAh battery packaged with the One X2.
Insta360 claims that you can get about 81 minutes on a full charge filming at 5.7K 360, which I found to be accurate in my own tests – although I will say that just like the other Insta360 cameras before it, the X3 can be prone to overheating if you film a continuous shot for too long, so that’s worth bearing in mind when you take it for a spin.
Should you buy it?
You want a terrific all-in-one camera The X3 is the closest that Insta360 has come to knocking GoPro from its perch. It may not beat the Hero 10 for traditional single-lens filming, but it’s no slouch, either. Factor in high-quality 360-recording and a bunch of unique modes that can recreate some tremendous drone-style shots, and it’s hard to argue with what’s on offer.
You’re only interested in single-lens shooting The only instance in which I’d recommend the GoPro Hero 10 over the X3 is for single-lens filming, so if 360 content doesn’t hold your interest, then it’s best to move along.
As the third action camera that Insta360 has released this year (if you count the 1-inch 360 edition), the Insta360 X3 rekindles that old adage that the third time’s a charm. I’ve been completely blown away by the X3, and as an all-in-one device that lets users jump between high-quality 360-degree and single-lens filming in an instant, it succeeds on almost every level.
The new display makes the camera far easier to use than the Insta360 One X2, and even the more recent Insta360 One RS – so much so that I’d recommend the X3 over the RS for most users. At present, GoPro still rules the roost in terms of single-lens filming and audio quality, but the gap has been reduced so much elsewhere that it finally feels like GoPro has a true competitor to its mainline cameras.
How we test
We thoroughly test every action camera we review. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Tested over a one week period
Compared against existing action cameras for a comprehensive verdict
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The Insta360 X3 comes with a default battery of 1800mAh.
The Insta360 X3 works with both iPhones and Android handsets.
Yes, the Insta360 X3 can be used as webcam over a wired connection to your laptop or PC.
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