GoPro Karma drone: what you need to know

Redesigned battery latch said to solve previous issues

Good news, drone fans – the GoPro Karma drone is back on sale from today, for the same price as before (£719 / US$799). It gets a redesigned battery latch to solve previously reported issues that batteries disconnected during flight, forcing GoPro to recall all its units in November 2016.

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Article updated 1 February 2016

Initial sales of the GoPro Karma will be limited to and select US retailers, though production is promised to ramp up quickly, and the drone will become available in other international markets, including the UK and Australia, in the first three months of the year.

The GoPro Karma drone features a compact, fits-in-a-backpack design and includes an image-stabilisation grip that can be handheld or worn. It’s designed to make it easy for anyone to capture smooth, stabilised video during nearly any activity. The device first launched in September 2016 to great interest, but was recalled just two months later due to issues related to the battery latch mechanism.

The news follows a recall of all units from the market last November following a “small number of instances of power loss due to a mechanical issue related to securing the drone’s battery”. GoPro says it is now completing its testing of the device, which was one of the most heavily anticipated gadgets of 2016.

GoPro Karma drone price

GoPro: introducing Karma

The new GoPro Karma drone costs £719 / US$799, and comes without an in-built camera. If you want to buy the GoPro Karma together with a camera as a bundle, you can get it with a GoPro Session for US$999 or the new GoPro Hero5 Black for US$1,099.

GoPro Karma drone design

The GoPro Karma drone has been relaunched
The GoPro Karma drone is being relaunched in 2017

The GoPro Karma has four arms (one rotor on each) that can be folded flat against the drone’s body for easy transport in a backpack. It also features a three-axis gimbal for stabilising video, and the camera is suspended in front of the drone so that the propellors aren’t in view.

The stabilisation gimbal can be detached from the drone for attaching to a handheld grip
The stabilisation gimbal can be detached from the drone for attaching to a handheld grip

Excitingly, the gimbal can also be removed for attachment to the included handheld Karma Grip, which features camera control buttons (shutter, filming modes and angle of gimbal) and delivers stabilised footage when used with the gimbal. You can attach the gimbal rig to other mounts too, which is handy.

GoPro: introducing Karma controller

The GoPro Karma also comes with a remote controller, which looks a bit like a video game controller. It can be controlled with two joysticks, plus a take-off/land button. There’s also a built-in touchscreen, so you don’t need to plug in your smartphone or tablet. You can however pair the remote with a smartphone, so you can concentrate on flying while a buddy works the camera.

Finally, the Karma is also said to be repairable, with replaceable arms and propellors. Users can also specify “no-fly zones” to keep their new drone out of trouble.

GoPro Karma drone battery life

GoPro: Sneak Peek of GoPro Quadcopter Footage

The GoPro Karma drone is said to have around 20 minutes of battery life from a one hour charge.

GoPro Karma drone alternatives

The Karma is more expensive than the DJI Phantom 3 ( £440 / US$500 / AU$850), which has a stabilised 2.7K HD camera included. It’s cheaper however than the 3DR Solo “smart drone”, which costs around £1,000 / US$1,000 for the drone plus gimbal.
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