GoPro’s HERO3 Black Edition was first announced back in late 2012 and was widely praised for its strong feature set and great video quality. However, that didn’t stop strong competitors from pumping out some serious action cams this 2013. These cameras may not have dented the HERO3 Black Edition but they have some innovations of their own. GoPro responded naturally by announcing an improved version called HERO3+ featuring a slimmer waterproof housing and some minor improvements under the hood. However, not everyone is willing to spend $399 on an action camera. Fortunately, there is an improved GoPro HERO3+ Silver Edition as well.
GoPro claims that the new HERO3+ models are smaller and lighter but you won’t really notice it if you look at the pictures. Other than the obvious HERO3+ label, the camera’s dimensions, control layout and small monochrome LCD are all the same. But place the HERO3+ Silver Edition within the new waterproof housing and the size difference immediately becomes obvious. Thanks to the slim design, this waterproof casing doesn’t add any significant bulk to the device. Compared to the HERO3 Silver Edition with the older housing, the GoPro HERO3+ Silver Edition gets a cool 20% reduction in size and 15% reduction in weight. You can actually leave the camera within the housing to protect it from harsh conditions without sacrificing portability. Accessories and mounts remain convenient to use with the housing on. The waterproof capability is reduced to a maximum of 40 meters deep compared to 60 meters with the older model but the versatility advantages should impress the majority. Besides, the old housing will still be available as the “Diver Case” and it retains compatibility with the HERO3+ Silver Edition since the physical dimensions are the same as the older HERO3 model anyway.
At the time of writing, GoPro hasn’t announced a successor to the HERO3 White Edition so the GoPro HERO3+ Silver Edition will remain as a recommendation if you want the vertical quick release buckle and 3-way pivot arm. Also included in the package is a flat and curved adhesive mount along with the standard quick release buckle and USB charging cable.
The HERO3+ Silver Edition may be the midrange model of the HERO3 family but GoPro found it fitting to make some minor improvements to allow this camera to get a better lead on other $299 action cameras. Like the flagship GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition, it is now possible to record in full 1080p video at 60 fps so you don’t have to dial down to 720p for high-speed action. 720p remains as a compelling option as it now supports 120 fps as well. These improvements alone make the GoPro HERO3+ Silver Edition superior than the original HERO3 Black Edition. While the Silver Edition lacks the SuperView and Auto Low Light modes exclusively featured in the HERO3+ Black Edition, the HERO3+ Silver Edition remains strong with impressive low-light performance and sharp imagery.
The camera’s ability to take 10-megapixel photos is middling too but the various modes make this camera more fun to take still images. The burst function allows up to 10 frames per second to be captured. The Time Lapse mode remains as a useful function if you prefer to have the camera automatically snap shots as quick as every half second or as infrequent as every 60 seconds.
Audio quality has been improved as well and you should notice these improvements if you record in windy environments. The mic can capture very subtle noises while the advanced wind-noise reduction technology kicks in to improve the clarity of more important noises. Even the battery life has been improved which is pretty amazing since the physical dimensions of the camera hasn’t changed. Expect the GoPro HERO3+ Silver Edition to last about 30% longer than any of the HERO3 models.
Like the previous model, the HERO3+ Silver Edition features built-in Wi-Fi allowing the camera to pair with mobile devices or the Wi-Fi remote accessory. Since the Silver Edition doesn’t include the Wi-Fi remote (the Black Edition does), buyers will likely be more focused on the smartphone functionality. Pairing the camera with the device is simple after you downloaded the free GoPro app from Google Play or the iTunes App Store depending on the device you have. Once paired, you can launch the mobile app and your phone or tablet instantly becomes a remote viewfinder. It is also possible to adjust the settings of the camera or operate the controls without going through the unfriendly menus on the camera’s small screen. It is also possible to share images and videos on Facebook or Instagram.
The GoPro HERO3+ Silver Edition is a pretty minor improvement over the original HERO3 Silver Edition so owners of that model might want to pass and just get the new waterproof housing instead since it is compatible with any of the HERO3 models. But White Edition users and other people that have an older or cheaper product may find the new recording improvements and battery life boost rather tempting.
Update: There is a newer model > GoPro HERO6 Black