Insta360 X4 review: Is this the best 360-degree action camera you can buy?

With the Insta360 X4, Insta360 has taken a good device and refined it to a point where it becomes a dependable action camera both for serious content creators and everyday users

Tushar Kanwar
First Published15 Jun 2024, 08:00 AM IST
If you’ve seen the candy bar design of the Insta360 X3, the X4 follows the same tried and tested design.
If you’ve seen the candy bar design of the Insta360 X3, the X4 follows the same tried and tested design.(Insta360)

“Shoot first, frame later” – that’s the promise on which Insta360 has taken on established players like GoPro and DJI and clawed its way to the top of the consumer 360-degree camera market, not to mention into the hands of vacationers and influencers alike trying to document their adventures with a unique perspective.

Ever since I picked the Insta360 X3 up in late 2022, the ‘tiny little camera that can’ has accompanied me on vacations, tech events and even meetups with friends, and it has similarly found favor with many friends who swear by it for their biking trips, treks and vacation vlogs.

The recently launched Insta360 X4 (available on amazon.in) has some mighty big shoes to fill, not only for X3 owners like me, but also for creators and adventure junkies alike curious to dabble in this somewhat still emerging segment. The 54,990 question is – does it?

Design and build

If you’ve seen the candy bar design of the X3, the X4 follows the same tried and tested design, with two fisheye style ultra-wide-angle cameras on opposite sides that combine their footage to shoot 360-degree videos. X3 owners will immediately notice the added heft and slightly larger dimensions - about half an inch taller and a shade thicker but noticeably heavier (231g vs 180g, about the difference between an iPhone 15 Pro and a 15 Pro Max).

It’s still very much pocketable, though, and as before, it’s still unwieldy to mount atop a motorcycle helmet (Insta360 sells a motorcycle mount to clamp the X4 onto a handlebar or bumper).

Also read: Is it time to get your child a smartwatch?

The vertically oriented design still works well, as does the rubbery, ruggedized finish, as there’s plenty of space to grip it in one hand while having access to all the keys and the bigger 2.5-inch Gorilla Glass-protected touchscreen.

Build quality is fantastic, as one has come to expect from the brand. It maintains its waterproof housing, allowing you to take it into 10-meter-deep water just like the GoPro Hero 12 Black, and all the internals are protected by sliding locks behind which the battery, USB-C port and memory card sit. Aiding its action camera creds is the new clip-on removable lens guard, a much more practical alternative to the stick-on lens guards with the X3.

Big-ticket upgrades

Now, while you can handhold the X4 or stand it on a flat surface, the threaded quarter inch screw mount lets you mount a bunch of first party accessories, like the bullet time accessory which lets you shoot videos swooping around your head, or the 3-meter-long selfie stick, which gives you the perfect overhead drone shot look without any of the permissions you’d typically need to fly a drone.

Insta360’s 360-degree software smarts automatically remove the selfie stick from the final video. It’s touches like these that firmly put Insta360’s cameras well above its peers.

The companion app is the secret sauce, allowing you to control the camera from a distance, edit the 360-degree video into a reframed normal video, insert a bunch of effects and share the result on social media.

The big-ticket upgrade is the bump up in resolution for 360-degree videos, from the X3’s 5.7K/30 frames per second resolution to 8K/30fps on the X4. Now, this 8K resolution is across the entire 360-degree field of view, which equates to 2.7K/30fps footage when you reframe the video into 16:9 aspect ratio for YouTube or 9:16 for Instagram, a significant upgrade from the 1080p exported video on the X3. And if 2.7K/30fps video sounds low compared to a 4K/60 frames per second video you’re getting from your smartphone, well, that is true.

But the sheer convenience of being able to shoot both the primary subject and the environment/b-roll all the same time without a second camera is a real win. You can, of course, shoot in single lens mode for 4K/60fps footage, should you need to. In addition to 8K footage, you can choose to drop the resolution down to 5.7K and shoot at 60fps, or 4K resolution at 100fps, with the bump up in frame rate letting you slow the footage down later for slow motion videos.

There’s voice and gesture controls baked in as well, particularly handy when the Insta360 X4 is mounted atop a tall selfie stick and out of reach.

Boost in image quality

These aren’t mere numbers – the boost in image quality when comparing the output from the X3 with the X4 will give at least some creators (or folks who earn from their content) pause. Coupled with the ½ inch sensor and the faster 5-nanometer chip used previously in the Insta360 Ace Pro, the X4 not only pushes out great image quality but also is a breeze to use, switching between menus and modes significantly faster than the X3 ever did. I particularly liked the ‘Me Mode’, which uses a single lens to lock onto you and keep tracking you to keep you in the center of the frame. I’m no everyday vlogger, but if that sounds like you, this is perfect for your use case.

Low light/indoor shooting is respectable as well, although there were times when the camera prompted us to lower the video resolution from 8K to 5.7K when light levels dropped. All the video modes are aided by Insta360’s excellent FlowState image stabilization that smooths out the shakes in your action footage. Of course, the X4 isn't just for videos, and it can record 360-degree photos up to 72 megapixels and 18-megapixel HDR photos, or a 36 megapixel on any of the single lenses.

There’s voice and gesture controls baked in as well, particularly handy when the X4 is mounted atop a tall selfie stick and out of reach.

The larger frame affords the X4 a bigger battery as well, so you get a whole 70+ minutes of shoot time at full tilt (8K/30fps), from about 75-80 minutes on 5.7K on the X3, a sizeable leap in resolution without a big drop in battery. Drop it down to 4K/30fps on a single lens, and you can go all the way past two hours on the X4 (the X3 managed 1.5 hours at best). This is better than the GoPro Hero 12 Black I had on hand to test, which gives the X4 a decent edge if you’re counting on it even as a traditional action camera.

Verdict

So there you have it - the Insta360 X4 rightfully stakes its claim to being the best 360-degree camera around. For most folks, this can well be the only action camera most people will need too.

Insta360 has taken a good device and refined it to the point where even serious creators can depend on its footage, without taking any of the fun elements away that everyday users have come to enjoy from the X series lineup. It’s the camera equivalent of “fill it, shut it, forget it” when it comes to spontaneous filming. If there is one camera that can capture all your exploits while never missing a beat of the world around you, this is it.

Tushar Kanwar, a tech columnist and commentator, posts @2shar.

Also read: Apple iPad Pro M4 review: Can the iPad finally replace your laptop?

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.MoreLess
First Published:15 Jun 2024, 08:00 AM IST
HomeLoungeBusiness of LifeInsta360 X4 review: Is this the best 360-degree action camera you can buy?

Most Active Stocks

Tata Steel

172.30
03:59 PM | 8 JUL 2024
-2.45 (-1.4%)

Oil & Natural Gas Corporation

299.25
03:59 PM | 8 JUL 2024
11.05 (3.83%)

Bharat Electronics

334.15
03:48 PM | 8 JUL 2024
10.15 (3.13%)

Indian Oil Corporation

170.15
03:59 PM | 8 JUL 2024
-1 (-0.58%)
More Active Stocks

Market Snapshot

  • Top Gainers
  • Top Losers
  • 52 Week High

Fertilizers & Chemicals Travan

1,115.80
03:51 PM | 8 JUL 2024
98.65 (9.7%)

One 97 Communications

472.05
03:59 PM | 8 JUL 2024
35.45 (8.12%)

Indian Railway Finance Corporation

202.10
03:58 PM | 8 JUL 2024
13.8 (7.33%)

IRCON International

326.90
03:56 PM | 8 JUL 2024
19.15 (6.22%)
More from Top Gainers

Recommended For You

    More Recommendations

    Gold Prices

    • 24K
    • 22K
    Bangalore
    74,093.0073.00
    Chennai
    74,819.000.00
    Delhi
    74,819.00290.00
    Kolkata
    74,674.00-145.00

    Fuel Price

    • Petrol
    • Diesel
    Bangalore
    102.86/L0.00
    Chennai
    100.75/L-0.17
    Kolkata
    104.95/L0.00
    New Delhi
    94.72/L0.00
    OPEN IN APP
    HomeMarketsPremiumInstant LoanMint Shorts