Aesthetically, the Hero5 Black is noticeably different from its predecessor, the Hero4 Black. Gone are the sharp corners as they are replaced by smoother, rounded edges. Moreover, the Hero5 Black is slimmer compared with the Hero4 Black with the LCD display mounted to its back. The difference is further amplified when the Hero4 Black gets fitted with its waterproof housing.
Note that the Hero5 Black doesn't need a bulky waterproof case, for basic water sports at least, since it's already waterproof. Moreover, it has a built-in touchscreen just like the Hero4 Silver. Think of the Hero5 as a combination of the the Hero4 Silver, Hero4 Black and Hero4 Session.
Design-wise the Hero5 Session looks almost identical to the Hero4/Hero Session and maintains the rugged 1.5-inch cube form factor. Just like its older brother, the new minimalist compact action camera has the one-touch-recording button, which, when pressed, turns on the camera and starts recording. Likewise, it also only requires a single press to stop recording and turn off the camera in order to conserve the battery.
Being waterproof is perhaps the biggest feature of both the Hero5 Black and the Hero5 Session. Just like the Hero4 Session, both action cams do not require a separate housing, at least for depths down to 33 feet (10 meters).
Note that both cameras have mics that are designed to clear themselves of water.
For depths that go beyond 33 feet, a waterproof housing will be needed.
The Hero5 Black sports a 12-megapixel camera while the smaller Hero5 Session has a 10-megapixel one. Both can shoot 4K and 2.7k videos at 30 fps, but the Black manages 80 fps at 1440p while the Session gets to 60 fps on the same resolution. This extends down to the 1080p where the Hero5 Black manages 120 fps with the Hero5 Session at 90.
Both the Hero5 Black and Hero5 sessions sport five field of view options — SuperView, Wide, Medium, Linear and Narrow — and will do 30 fps for Burst Time Lapse.
Video stabilization is another feature that both the Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session headline. It's a software solution that smooths out jerkiness found in unstabilized captured videos.
Bear in mind that with video stabilization turned on, the captured footage gets cropped a bit. Moreover, video stabilization cannot be used when capturing 4K.
There are about 10 commands that the GoPro Hero5 Black and Session will accept, such as "take a photo" and "record video." Voice control encourages less interaction with the camera and eliminates the need to physically press the record button to start the capture. This can be great for capturing intense moments that require the use of both hands.
GoPro's voice control for both the Hero5 Black and Session supports seven languages.
The Hero5 Black has a 1,220 mAh battery while the Hero5 Session sports a 1,000 mAh one — the same battery capacity as the Hero4 Session. However, it's important to note that the Hero5 Black's battery is completely different from its predecessors' and thereby, not interchangeable with them. Moreover, GoPro designed its camera with a chip that will only allow official GoPro batteries.