Garmin GoPro

Garmin Virb XE vs GoPro Hero 5

January 12, 2021

In this article, I take a look at the comparison between two of the better performing action cameras in the market –  the Garmin Virb XE vs the GoPro Hero 5 Session.

GoPro’s Hero series has been a major game changer in the company’s popularity over the years, and it’s not surprising to note the kind of rave reviews the Hero 5 Session has received because of its powerful specifications as an entry-level camera.

On the other hand, Garmin has successfully built its own set of followers over the years and decided to take on GoPro only recently. The Virb XE (the E stands for Elite) is an improvement over the entry-level Virb X, and although most of the features are similar, the XE ends up boasting a higher resolution and frame rate. Let’s compare these two action cam.


The Garmin Virb XE flaunts the very popular box style of the GoPro, but at 1.4 x 3 x 1.6 inches, it’s slightly bigger than the GoPro Hero 5. The monochrome LCD panel is a new addition, and is complimented by three buttons and a lever. Baca juga: Insta360 One R vs GoPro Max.

The two small push buttons are for menu and for powering the camera on and off. However, these buttons also double up as navigation buttons when the menus are active.

As for the GoPro Hero 5 Session, the design is smaller, more cubical than rectangular and weighing no more than 74 grams. The monochrome display is on top along with the Record button. There is a separate button for switching shooting modes at the back.

 Garmin Virb XEGoPro Hero 5
Shop now at Amazonclick hereclick here
Product Dimensions1.4 x 3 x 1.6 inches
1.75 x 2.44 x 1.26 inches
Item Weight5.3 ounces
4.2 ounces

The Hero 5 Session is waterproof up to a depth of 10 meters; so you do not need to use a waterproof case if you are simply going to the pool. The Garmin Virb XE is also waterproof up to a depth of 50 meters, but uses a unique technique to achieve that.

It has a lever catch on the side of the body, which when released, flips open a door to reveal the battery compartment, lens and memory card slot. This catch is secure enough to not get released accidentally, thereby rendering the camera waterproof.

The 980 mAH Lithium polymer battery on the Virb XE isn’t much of a disappointment when you take the price of the camera into consideration. It is removable, unlike the Hero 5 Session battery, which definitely comes as a relief.

Video and Photo 

One of the major areas where the Hero 5 Session stands out among its competitors is the 4K video recording capability. While the Garmin Virb XE tops out at 1440p at 30 fps and 1080p at 60 fps, the GoPro model can record 4K at 30 fps and 2.7K at 48 fps, besides capturing videos at 60 fps for 1440p, 90 fps for 1080p and 120 fps for 720p. Moreover, the Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) ensures you don’t have much trouble with camera shakes.

There should be no qualms about the footage quality if you are using the Virb XE. The colors are vibrant, well-saturated, and the details are clear-cut. Low light experience is fairly disappointing though, with a lot of noise creeping up especially at dusk.

The camera offers 12.4 megapixels which is slightly higher than the 10 MP offered by the Hero 5 Session. The good thing is that you can manually set the ISO and white balance in Pro mode. The Virb XE also features image stabilization, and further uses gyro-detection to enhance its capability.

The Hero 5 Session performs better in low light conditions than the Virb XE, but it’s still poorer than its Black counterpart. In addition to clicking 10 MP stills, you can now have 30 photos per second in burst mode. Colors are as vibrant as the Virb XE, but many users including myself have found the images to be lacking in finer details.

The sound quality is far better in the Hero 5 Session than in the Virb XE since the former has 3 microphones in contrast to 1 in the latter. It must be remembered that more microphones also help to filter out the background noise while capturing video footage.

Wi-Fi and App

The GPS feature offered by Garmin is a particularly useful one when you lose your camera or need to locate it. In fact, when the original Virb was released, it was the only company in the action camera market to offer this feature to customers.

The Virb Edit software makes it easy to pair the camera and stamp the information captured in the camera on the video footage. The software is available for desktop users, and the corresponding smartphone app, albeit functional, is noticeably slower and suffers from lag.

The Hero 5 Session also responds to voice commands, unlike the Virb XE. So if you need to go hands-free and access your camera without pushing any button, you’ll be hoping that you own a GoPro instead of a Garmin model.

Garmin Virb XE vs GoPro Hero 5

- ADVANCED VIDEO - Capture thrilling footage with high definition 1080p resolution at 60 frames-per-second, or capture up to 240 frames-per-second slow motion
- BURST CAPABILITY - The VIRB X and VIRB XE offer a burst shooting mode that will capture several photographs in quick succession so that you don’t miss the action.
- WATERPROOF - Waterproof to 50 meters without a case, allowing control of cleaner and clearer video and audio. Weather proof contacts allow for rugged charging and powering
- BLUETOOTH AUDIO - VIRB X and VIRB XE can connect directly to wireless Bluetooth headsets or microphones to capture audio in high definition
- Stunning 4k video and 12MP photos in single, burst and time lapse modes charger not included
- Durable by design, Hero5 black is waterproof to 33 feet (10 meter) without a housing
- Additional GoPro Hero5 black features + benefits below on item page time lapse photo intervals: 05, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 seconds
- Preview and playback your shots, change settings and trim your footage, all on your GoPro


Overall, it is quite clear that the Hero 5 Session fairs a lot better than the Garmin Virb XE.  If you are planning to shoot in 4K resolution, it’s quite clear which camera you need to buy.

But in case you are just an amateur photographer starting out, the Virb XE does look like an entry-level camera that will give you a taste of some elite level features.

While the GoPro camera is a clear favorite, it is ultimately up to you to decide which one to go for. Every individual has his unique needs, and when it comes to technology, there’s nothing more important than sticking to the device that suits you the most.

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