Reports from across the Internet indicate that the visually similar GoPro HERO and HERO5 may actually be the same thing but with the HERO using reduced firmware.
Of course, given that there is also a $100 price differential the aesthetic similarity should be the only true tie between them, right? Image via GoPro. Apparently the HERO has a restricted, what PetaPixel quotes as “crippled,” version of the HERO5’s firmware that apparently can be unlocked to give your HERO action cam its full potential. The website Hypoxic believes it has confirmed that the HERO is a reduced version of the HERO5 in only software when it did test wherein the website tricked the HERO into loading the HERO5’s firmware, which it did. “It loaded properly and all the features were unlocked…Even GPS and 4K at 30fps work great! […] [T]here is no difference between a GoPro HERO and a GoPro HERO5 hardware-wise,” Hypoxic writes. This has apparently started a cascade of Internet users basically discovering the exact same thing about their device leading many to question what the point of this limited firmware might be. Typically lower priced devices have lesser components than their more expensive brethren. Hypoxic also has a theory relating to the switcheroo: We can surmise that GoPro created this cheaper version of the GoPro HERO5 to reduce component inventory without having to pay pricing reimbursements to their dealers…With very little firmware changes, and a two resistor Bill of Material change, they came up with a very sneaky way to reduce inventory before the launch of the [next generation of GoPros].” Not only does that totally make sense but it explains pretty much every outstanding mystery in this whole thing. Of course the whole process was leaked and discussed on Reddit and some users have even developed a patch to allow for the full firmware but have relented in publishing it for fear of legal ramifications. As of press GoPro has not made a comment on the situation.