Tom's Guide Verdict
With a great image sensor and even better software, the Insta360 X3 looks to be one of the best 360 cameras around, but its size and weight make it bulky as an action camera.
Easier to use than older models
Larger image sensor
Too bulky to mount on helmet
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Size: 4.5 x 1.8 x 1.3 inches
Image sensor: 1/2 inch
Max video resolution: 5.6K/30 fps (360), 4K/30 fps (single lens)
Max photo resolution: 72MP
Water resistance: 33 feet
Weight: 6.3 ounces (180g)
Battery life: 81 minutes (5.6k/30 fps)
The Insta360 X3 is going to make it a lot harder to decide which action camera you should buy. This new 360 camera is much easier to use than the previous model, has a larger 1/2-inch image sensor — which lets you take 72MP 360-degree photos and HDR video — and comes with a few new tricks to let you share video to just about any social media platform via the Insta360 app.
I’m still in the process of finalizing this Insta360 X3 review, but here are my hands-on impressions thus far. It’s more than likely it will earn the top spot on our list of the best 360 cameras.
Insta360 X3 review: Design
What’s new: A larger touchscreen makes using the camera a lot easier
The biggest change to the X3 over the Insta360 One X2 is its much larger touchscreen display; instead of a small circular screen, it’s a spacious 2.29 inches in size, which makes it a lot easier to access all the camera’s features. It’s also a lot easier to see what you’re recording.
Below the touchscreen are two buttons: One to start and stop recording, next to which is a multipurpose button that lets you switch between using both the camera’s lenses at once, or just the front or just the rear.
On one of the long edges is a power button and also a Quick settings button that lets you swiftly change between shooting modes. On the opposite side are two latches — one to protect a USB-C port and another that covers the battery and microSD card slot. A standard tripod screw mount is on the bottom.
The Insta360 X3 has the same rectangular shape as previous models, which makes it more convenient to hold in one hand than a GoPro if you don’t want to connect it to a selfie stick.
However, at 4.5 x 1.8 x 1.3 inches, it’s a bit too large to mount to a helmet if you’re using it as an action cam. And, at 6.3 ounces, it’s an ounce heavier than the GoPro Hero10 Black. Still, I like that the sides have a ridged, rubbery texture, so you don’t have to worry about losing your grip.
Insta360 X3 review: Price and availability
Insta360 will also sell a few accessories, including a microSD card quick reader that has both a USB-C and a Lightning adapter, so you can use it with both Android and iPhones. It’s a lot faster than transferring files from the camera to your phone via Wi-Fi.
Insta360 X3 review: Video quality
What’s new: 1/2-inch image sensor, Active HDR for video, 72MP 360 photos
The biggest improvement inside the Insta360 X3 is the camera’s new 1/2-inch image sensor (the One X2 has a 1/2.3-inch sensor), which enables things such as 72MP 360-degree photos and 8K 360 timelapse videos.
As with Insta360’s previous cameras, the X3’s image stabilization is excellent. To test the quality of its six-axis gyroscope, I mounted the camera to the back of my dog using a GoPro harness, and took him for a run in our local park. Despite my pup bouncing all around, there was little to no jitteriness in the finished video.
The Insta360 X3’s Active HDR mode worked pretty well on a sunny day, but it turned my face into a shadowy blur when I was in the shadows with the Sun directly behind me.
I plan to test the camera more in the coming days; stay tuned for more analysis of its new features such as 8K 360 timelapse, a 4K single-lens mode, 4K 120 fps Bullet time, and Me Mode, where the camera will fix its focus on you while you’re recording video.
Insta360 X3 review: App
What’s new: Vertical and square video modes
As I’ve mentioned in other Insta360 reviews, it’s the ingenuity of the company’s software that’s as important as the hardware.
One of the advantages of shooting with a 360-degree camera is that you can record video, then decide later how you want to frame things. Admittedly, Insta360’s app offers a dizzying number of editing options, so it’ll take you a while to learn how to properly use all of its features. But there’s no shortage of clever features on offer.
For instance, one allows you to select a subject, and the camera’s view will automatically stay fixed on that person until you turn the tracking off.
Just in time for the TikTok generation, you can also select the aspect ratio of the video you want to share — including 9:16 vertical and 1:1 square videos. Older folks will like that 16:9 and 2.35:1 options are also available.
Insta360 X3 review: Verdict
I still have a lot to unpack in the Insta360 X3 camera, but I like what I see so far. It’s easier than ever to use, and its app has even more features to make the video you want — and share it anywhere you like.
I’m very curious to fully test all the features of the app and the camera, so stay tuned for our full review of the Insta360 X3.
Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.