When Insta360 released the original Insta360 ONE X in 2018 (review here), it kind of shook things up for the pocket-sized 360 camera market. It shot 5.7K footage with pretty revolutionary, almost gimbal-like stabilisation with better dynamic range and more features through its smartphone app than just about any of its contemporaries at the time.
Well, today, Inta360 has announced an update with the launch of the new Insta360 ONE X2. I’ve been having a bit of play with one for the last couple of weeks, so let’s take a look at some of the changes, see how it differs from its predecessor and what I love about the new ONE X2.
The obvious visual differences
The ONE X2 and the ONE X share roughly the same dimensions. The ONE X2 is a little shorter and a hair thicker than the original. But gone is the smooth-edged curved body, replaced by a bumper-like textured band around the perimeter, which helps the camera feel much more secure in your hand when you’re holding it and less likely to slip from your grasp.
And when you hold it for the first time, it feels like it’s put a bit of weight on, too. And in weighing both cameras, it has. A little. With the battery and microSD card inserted, the original ONE X weighs 115g, while the ONE X2 comes in at a slightly heavier 150g.
But the biggest thing that immediately jumps out at you is just how huge the ONE X2 display has become relative to that of its predecessor. It’s also lost one of its buttons on the front. The reason for this loss will become obvious once you turn it on for the first time. Which you do with the relocated power button on the right-hand side of the camera (it’s the right-hand side when the OLED is facing towards you).
That’s because when you hit that power button, you see that the new larger OLED screen is not only full colour, but it’s also a touch screen interface, similar to that of the Insta360 ONE R – although, this feels much smoother to use and more refined.
As well as the touchscreen OLED allowing you to quickly and easily navigate through your menus, settings, start and stop recording, etc. it’s also a live preview window showing you exactly what your camera’s seeing in realtime. This was something that a lot of people wished the original ONE X had, but with the technology at the time, this was easier said than done.
The redesign of the case also comes with some advantages. The micro SD card slot has been related from its previously somewhat annoying position underneath the camera into a hidden slot in the battery compartment. This means that it’s less likely to fall out and become lost when you’re out and about using the camera.
But that’s not the only reason for the memory card slot’s relocation. The Insta360 ONE X2 is also waterproof for a depth of up to 10 metres without any kind of case or external housing. The new battery essentially seals the micro SD card inside the camera when you push it in.
Likewise, the USB socket, which has been upgraded from the ONE X’s micro USB to a shiny new Type-C USB socket, is also covered by a little door – similar to that of the Insta360 ONE R – preventing water ingress.
The not-so-obvious internal differences
One of the most prominent changes with regard to the video quality from the Insta360 ONE X2 is the fact that it now offers the option of shooting h.265 video. This allows you to capture higher quality footage at the same bit rate as h.264 (or the same quality with smaller file sizes).
You can still shoot h.264, as well, of course, but if you’ve got a system capable of editing h.265, the option is there for you. And speaking of editing, I’m using the Insta360 Studio desktop app at the moment as at the time of writing this review, an Android version of the app for the ONE X2 does not yet exist. There is an iPhone app, but I don’t have an iPhone so am unable to test it.
The Insta360 ONE X2 also receives the voice control introduced in the ONE R, allowing for hands-free operation. Naturally, I wouldn’t suggest testing this one when using it underwater.
Also, like the ONE R, you can pair the ONE X2 up to Apple AirPods or possibly another Bluetooth headset to use it as an external mic when recording your videos. Unlike the ONE R, though, the ONE X2 would not connect to my OnePlus Bullet Wireless 2 headset, so I couldn’t test that out, but the internal mics aren’t that terrible.
In fact, Insta360 says that the ONE X2 features an upgraded ambisonic audio system, with utilises four microphones. There is one below each lens on the front and back, and one at the top of each left and right side. Considering they’re also waterproof, they don’t do too badly, although you’re always going to get best results if you’re able to record your audio externally, separately and then sync in post.
One wonderful feature of the ONE X2 that you can access right from the camera’s OLED display is full manual exposure control over ISO, shutter speed and white balance. With the original ONE X, the only thing you could manually set was the white balance or dial in compensation for the automatic exposure, which would sometimes lead to frustration. You can still go auto mode and dial in compensation if you wish, but you also now get that full manual control, too.
The Insta360 ONE X2 also comes with a larger 1,630mAh battery, which Insta360 says should let you keep shooting for up to 80 minutes, with is a nice boost over the 60 or so minutes of the ONE X. It means you can record for longer between charges and you don’t need to carry as many spares around with you – although those ONE X2 batteries are significantly larger than the ONE X’s little 1,200mAh batteries.
The Desktop and Smartphone Apps
The Desktop app is the same Insta360 Studio that we’re familiar with from the original ONE X, the EVO and the ONE R. We get access to all the features that are available to footage from those other cameras, too. The update I’m running (which is v3.5.3 at the time of writing) primarily just adds compatibility for the ONE X2 files. But the app as a whole has received significant upgrades over the past two years.
There is no Android app yet (again, at the time of writing), although one is supposed to be getting launched today (or soon?) along with the announcement of the camera itself. The Android app is expected to largely have the same feature set as the iOS version, which it seems will afford the ONE X2 pretty much the same capabilities as the ONE R.
So, you get 360 Reframing, Freeze Frame, Steady Cam action camera mode, FlowState Stabilisation with Horizon Levelling and the AI-powered Shot Lab, offering Fly Lapse, Bullet Time 2.0, Shadow Clone, Clone Trail, Auto TimeShift and Stop Motion.
You also get PureShot to enhance the dynamic range of your DNG raw image data while preserving the detail and reducing the noise. Insta360 says that it provides the same sort of high dynamic range effect as shooting HDR, but from a single file.
Deep Track 2.0 tracking, which came to the ONE R fairly recently, is also available on the ONE X2. I haven’t been allowed to congregate with other humans since receiving the ONE X2 (Scotland’s pretty much on lockdown) so I haven’t been able to try this, but Insta360 claims it should be able to track humans, animals and other moving objects, and can handle subjects that briefly disappear from line of sight, picking them back up again when they reappear.
For the vloggers amongst us, it features MultiView, which I have to say is pretty cool. So, basically, you’re walking around with your 360 camera, and you want to film yourself, but also show what’s going on around you. Well, it gives you a picture-in-picture view of yourself, inset into the view from the other side, allowing your viewer to watch you and see where you’re going at the same time. And you can also preview this picture-in-picture mode on the camera while you’re shooting (with facial tracking!), too.
One brand new mode that’s come with the ONE X2 is InstaPano, which allows you to extract a nice, corrected, wide-panoramic image of your scene from your 360 photos. I haven’t been told either way, but I hope this feature also becomes available to ONE R shooters as well.
Using the ONE X2 – What I loved
You know, it’s funny how you have no issues with a product, and then suddenly its successor comes along and makes you start to really dislike the way some of the features worked in the previous model. That’s kind of what the ONE X2 has done to me for the original ONE X. On the surface, using it is very similar to the ONE X. You mount it to the invisible selfie stick, hit record and go. But once you get used to that touchscreen OLED interface, you really start to despise the 2-button “easy no-nonsense UI” (yup, I’m quoting myself) of the ONE X and how inefficient it is by comparison.
In practice, the ONE X2 has been a dream to use, and probably the most hassle-free experience I’ve had with any 360 camera – if I don’t count the occasional camera lockup due to using a pre-production beta firmware. I expect these lockup bugs will be ironed out in the final release firmware. But I will be checking once that becomes available!
Surprisingly, to me at least, the ONE X2 actually felt even easier to use than the Insta360 ONE R. Both share a similar interface, but It feels less fiddly on the ONE X2, somehow. In fairness, the ONE X2 screen is just very slightly larger than that on the ONE R, but it’s not just the size. The ONE X2 menu just feels slicker, smoother and more responsive, too.
It was fantastic to use in comparison to just about every other pocketable 360 camera I’ve ever tried. I can operate just about everything from the camera itself very quickly and easily through the touchscreen UI without ever having to load the smartphone app – which is fortunate because there isn’t one for Android right now (there might be by the time you read this).
This is a new experience for me with 360 cameras. With every other one I’ve used, I’ve invariably had to load up the app at some point to perform some task or change some setting that was a pain to do in-camera (or fix some setting I accidentally screwed up on the camera with no idea what I did or how to change it back). Not this time, though.
I also really liked that I don’t have to worry about my memory card falling out, with them being trapped inside the unit alongside the battery – although, I never had the memory card fall out of the ONE X or the EVO, so perhaps that fear says more about me than it does about the camera. But peace of mind is an important factor when using any camera. It’s why so many photographers want dual card slots in their DSLR and mirrorless cameras – even though the risks of card failure are slim if you take care of them properly.
One thing that is slightly annoying, though, is that the Insta360 ONE X2 doesn’t seem to support the USB Microphone adapter for the Insta360 ONE R. There is a new microphone adapter coming for the ONE X2, however, which should work, and features a locking mechanism to help ensure it stays in place – which is a nice feature.
That being said, for existing ONE R owners, it would’ve been nice if the current USB to 3.5mm adapter for the ONE R also worked on the ONE X, even if it didn’t fit as securely in the USB socket. If you’re live streaming or something and the camera’s fixed in a static spot, it doesn’t really need the durability of a locking adapter that you might need when shooting outside while moving around.
As with the ONE R, the ONE X2 doesn’t seem to be compatible with the standard Type-C USB microphone adapters designed for smartphones, either – or at least, not any of the ones I have here.
The extra bits
As with many of Insta360’s other cameras, there is an array of optional accessories to go along with it, which I’m sure will expand in the future.
You can get replacement batteries. Yes, that’s right, despite the rumours they are removable, and you can buy spares so that when you’re out filming and one gets low, you can just swap out for a fresh one. There’s also a Fast Charge Hub, which allows you to charge up to three batteries simultaneously.
You’ve got the usual bullet-time cord, invisible selfie stick and bullet-time handle/mini-tripod. There is a silicone lens cap, for when it’s packed away and rolling around inside your bag or pocket, but there are also lens guards to protect those lenses when you’re actually filming with it.
There is actually a neoprene pouch included with the camera, so depending on your preference, you might choose not to get the silicone lens cap – but I still find it quite handy for slipping on between shots when I don’t want to have to risk getting fingerprints on the lenses by trying to shove it into the pouch.
And finally, there’s the new microphone adapter I mentioned earlier. I don’t have this, but you can see from the images that it features a locking mechanism on top to help ensure it stays locked to the camera and doesn’t fall out under its own weight. Another benefit it offers is that unlike the microphone adapter for the ONE R, this one appears to have USB power passthrough. So, you can supply power to the ONE X2 and plug in a microphone at the same time!
I’d be curious to pick this up at some point and see how it sounds with various external microphones. I’d also be interested to see if there’s a similar adapter coming for the ONE R that offers both audio input and simultaneous USB power passthrough.
I already knew I was going to like the ONE X2 before I even powered it up for the first time. After all, I liked the ONE X, despite a few downfalls, and the ONE X2 was going to be at least as good as the original in just about every way. And, well, it is. Some elements are the same, such as the resolution and the lack of microphone input, but there’s nothing that seems to be objectively worse about the ONE X2 over the ONE X.
- H.265 compression – You can still do h.264 as well, but it’s nice to have the newer, better compression available
- Waterproof to 10 metres without a separate underwater housing
- That big OLED display to be able to see what your camera sees and spin around the field of view
- That big OLED display also being touchscreen!
- The new menu system
- Longer battery life
- A triple-charger accessory
- A Type-C USB socket (it sucks that this is still a “Pro” and isn’t just standard for every company already)
- It doesn’t seem to be compatible with the USB Microphone adapter for the Insta360 ONE R
Yeah, that’s pretty much my only real negative so far. Although that might change once the Android app is finally released and I can get my hands on it to have a good play. The ONE X2 actually uses the same new combined mega-app as the ONE X and ONE R, but it just needs the features enabling to support the ONE X2. So, I expect it will perform with the new camera at least as well as it has with the others.
Even though the resolution of the ONE X2 hasn’t changed over the ONE X, the addition of h.265 compression, the IPX8 rated waterproofing, the much cleaner and faster workflow on the OLED and the extended battery life make it the clear choice for anybody who had been considering buying the ONE X.
For those who already own the Insta360 ONE X and are wondering if you should upgrade… If you depend on it for work, I’d say almost certainly. The features I mentioned above, along with increased dynamic range mean you’re going to be able to produce better results for your clients. If your ONE X is just a personal toy for grabbing snaps on vacation or when you’re out with friends (next year), then I’ll leave it up to you to decide, but it’s definitely worth considering.
The Insta360 ONE X2 is available to buy now for $429.99 and is shipping worldwide.