360 Camera Reviews

Insta360 X4 vs X3 comparison side by side: why it’s MIND-BOGGLING (FAQ + download sample files)

The new Insta360 X4 has 8K resolution so it’s not surprising that it’s more detailed than the X3. But what boggles my mind is how its video looks more three dimensional, even compared to the Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360.  Here’s my comparison: 

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been beta testing the Insta360 X4.  How much of an improvement is it over the Insta360 X3?  Is it worth the $100 price difference?  I compared them side by side on a selfie stick, not just a tripod so you can see the real world difference between them, the way that you normally shoot.

Insta360 X4 vs Insta360 X3 side by side comparison

Insta360 X4 has significantly more detail than X3
Insta360 X4 has significantly more detail than X3

Here is a screenshot from my review comparing the X4 and X3 side by side.  You can see that the X4 has significantly more detail.  It also has better dynamic range especially the shadow detail.  You can also see that the wrinkles on my jacket seem more three-dimensional, while the X3 looks more flat.  X4 also has more accurate white balance and colors.  On the X4, my jacket appears black and white whereas on the X3, there is a red tint.  If you view the review video, you’ll see several more examples that show the X4 video quality is clearly better than the X3.

Insta360 X4 vs GoPro Max side by side comparison

Insta360 X4 has far more detail than GoPro Max
Insta360 X4 has far more detail than GoPro Max

I also compared the X4 to the GoPro Max.  The difference between them is even more stark.  In the screenshot above, the text on the parking structure is illegible in the GoPro Max but is very clear on the X4. As for dynamic range, X4 has much more shadow detail such as in my unicycle’s tires.

This difference is not just due to the more advanced sensor and processor of the X4, but also because GoPro used a lens that is sharper and more detailed in the middle but sacrifices detail at the edges.  The problem for Max is that when shooting in third person view with a selfie stick, we are using primarily the periphery of the lens where the Max is weakest.  Max also has a very aggressive noise reduction that makes its video seem smoother but also less detailed.

Another example of the vast difference between the X4 and GoPro Max
Another example of the vast difference between the X4 and GoPro Max

Insta360 X4 vs Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360

X4 beats the 1-inch 360 for detail
X4 beats the 1-inch 360 for detail

Until now, the Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360 had the best video quality.  It appears the X4 has edged it out.  Not only does the X4 have slightly more detail, but it also has better shadow range (check out my EUC tires), despite having a sensor that is much smaller.

INSTA360 X4 ADVANTAGES vs Insta360 X3

  • X4 is much more detailed
  • has higher frame rates for slow motion
  • Has better image quality
  • More accurate colors
  • has a replaceable lens
  • has longer battery life
  • Can record more than 30 minutes with no gaps
  • has new in-camera stitching modes
  • And is easier and more convenient to use

I also compared the X4 to the GoPro MAX and Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360.  In my opinion, the X4 beats them all.  Does it have ANY drawbacks other than price? A few.

INSTA360 X4 DISADVANTAGES vs Insta360 X3

  • More color noise in low contrast areas, such as concrete or asphalt.
  • “standard” color profile saturation and contrast are too high in my opinion
  • 8K is noisier in low light but does have more detail.
  • Replaceable lens adds glare
  • Replaceable lens could be hard to remove while wearing gloves.
  • Replaceable lens is a dust magnet.

DOWNLOAD Insta360 X4 comparison sample files

You can download my comparison files for personal private viewing only.  Do not upload them anywhere (including the stitched files, reframed files, etc.) or I will file an action against you.

Insta360 X4 FAQ

  1. Why does anyone need 8k?  I don’t have an 8k TV!
    The resolution of a 360 camera is spread around over 360 degrees, and on a VR headset, phone or laptop screen, the viewer typically sees only a part of the 360 video at any given time.  Accordingly, the amount of detail that you’ll see is much lower than on a non-360 camera of the same nominal resolution.  A 5.7k 360 video will look somewhat like 1080p non-360 video, depending on how zoomed in the video is.  An 8K 360 video would look similar to a 2.7K non-360 video.
  2. Can I use the Insta360 X3 battery on the X4?  Can I use any Insta360 X3 accessories on the X4?
    The X4’s battery is physically larger than the X3 battery.  Their batteries are not interchangeable.  The X4 also has a taller and slightly thicker body than the X3 therefore X3 accessories such as cages would probably not fit the X4.
  3. What is the Insta360 X4’s sensor size?
    X4 has two 1/2.0 inch sensors.  This is the same size sensor as the X3.
  4. Does Insta360 X4 have better image quality than Insta360 X3?
    For video, yes.  For photo, not really.  For video, the Insta360 X4 is not only more detailed but also has better dynamic range (both highlight and shadow detail), lower video compression, and arguably more accurate colors.
  5. Does Insta360 X4 have better image quality than Insta360 One RS 1-inch 360?
    For video, yes, the X4 appears to be more detailed and has better dynamic range than the 1-inch 360 (both highlight detail and shadow detail) despite having a much smaller sensor.
  6. Does Insta360 X4 overheat?
    Yes, Insta360 X4 can overheat under some circumstances.  It is most susceptible to overheating when shooting in 8k at 30fps.  Insta360 recommends to keep the camera moving while shooting in 8K (such as by attaching it to a selfie stick while walking around) so that the air flow can cool down the X4.  When I shot indoors without air conditioning, on a tripod, the Insta360 X4 was able to record in 8K 30fps for 54 mins. and 58 seconds before overheating.
  7. Are X4 files larger?  How much larger are they?
    Yes. An X4 file that is 1 min 22 secs was 2.1GB. An X3 file of the same scene with 1 min. 25 secs was 1.2GB.  Note that X4 uses only one file per video (plus a low resolution preview file), compared with two files per 5.7k video (plus a low resolution preview file) for the X3 and older Insta360 cameras.
  8. Does X4 have USB 2.0 or USB 3.0?
    X4 uses USB 3.0 type C.
  9. How long can Insta360 X4 record a video?
    When shooting at 5.7k 30fps, I was able to record for 2 hours, 11 mins and 2 seconds (131 minutes) before it ran out of battery, close to the 135 minute battery life claimed by the manufacturer.
  10. Are there gaps in the video when the Insta360 X4 records more than 30 minutes?
    No.  When the X4 records more than 30 minutes, it creates multiple video files that are each up to 30 minutes long.  However, when you open all the files in Insta360 Studio, the software recognizes that they are part of the same recording and merges them into one video with no gaps.  This is a major improvement from previous Insta360 360 cameras which had gaps of 10 to 15 seconds every 30 minutes because the camera had to empty its memory cache.
  11. Is the Insta360 X4 better in low light compared to Insta360 X3?
    The X4’s low light video quality is not substantially different from that of the X3.
  12. What is the Insta360 X4’s video bitrate?
    When shooting an 8K video, Insta360 X4’s bitrate is around 210 mbps in H.265 HEVC.
  13. Does the Insta360 X4 have 10-bit video?
    No.  Insta360 X4 shoots in 8-bit video.
  14. Is the Insta360 X4 better than the Insta360 X3 for photos?
    Not really.  Insta360 X4 has similar image quality to the Insta360 X3 for photos, except that Insta360 X4 can shoot 11k timelapses (instead of 8k for Insta360 X3).
  15. Is the Insta360 X4 waterproof?  Is it better than Insta360 X3 for water sports?
    The Insta360 X4 is waterproof up to 10 meters without any housing.
  16. What’s so important about shooting a comparison on a selfie stick instead of a stationary tripod?
    The performance of a 360 camera can vary significantly depending on whether you shoot from a selfie stick or vertically on a tripod.  On a tripod, the primary area for the video is the center of the lens, whereas when shooting from a selfie stick, the primary area being used is the periphery of the lens.  A 360 camera that seems to be detailed while shot vertically might appear much less detailed when shooting with a selfie stick, which is usually almost horizontal.
    If you typically shoot with your 360 camera on a stationary tripod, then tests with cameras mounted vertically will be more useful.  But if you typically shoot with your 360 camera on a selfie stick, then tests with cameras on a selfie stick will be more representative of the image quality that you can expect to capture for your style of shooting.

WHERE TO BUY; LIMITED TIME PROMO

Insta360 X4 is now available direct from Insta360 or through Amazon, for $499 in the US (local prices may vary):

Thank you for using these affiliate links at no additional cost to you so I can do more tests and reviews.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

About the author

Mic Ty

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  • Hey Mic,

    How does the video look in a VR headset? I have a Insta 360 1inch and while the footage looks great on my phone, it almost looks like a 360p youtube video when exported and viewed on my Quest 3

    Does the 8K make a difference in that aspect? If not, can you suggest any other cameras even 180vr as long as the footage looks sharp when viewing in the headset.

    • Hi Karthik. The X4 will look more detailed than 1 inch 360 but if you are not satisfied with 1-inch 360, then you might not be satisifed with x4 either. You can download the sample files to see. If you are not satisfied, then another option is to use Qoocam Ego. It’s not 360 but it’s stereoscopic and should be pretty detailed when viewed in VR.

    • Which export setting did you use ? When I see my X3 360 video’s (shot in full daylight) on my old Quest 1, it looks file full HD.

      • Hi. I exported in Prores 422 for this video comparison. The amount of detail you see depends on how you’re viewing it. When viewing a 360 video on a VR headset, the field of view you can see at any given time is smaller and the video is more zoomed in, so yes an 8k video will look more like 1080p and not 4k or 2.7k. When the 8k 360 video is reframed for non-360 viewing, then you have more options for the viewing angle and if you choose a wide one similar to an action cam, then the resolution is more like 2.7k. If you go even wider, then it looks even more detailed.

  • I want a Backup-Camera for Indoor next to my XPhase Pro. That the X4 has also video is excellent but 72MP for photos … are there examples for 360-photos?

  • Great summary Mic, would you say existing X3 users should upgrade? I guess anyone new to 360, would not make sense to get the X3 now?

    • Hi Rod. For photo, I would not upgrade. For video, the X4 is better so you’ll have to decide if the cost of selling your X3 and buying the X4 is worth it. I suggest downloading the sample files so you can draw your conclusions.

  • Looks awesome! Thanks for the comparison of the x3 and x4. Would love to get one because I use my x3 on travels all the time. I would need to sell my x3 first.

  • Also a big THANKS from me to Mic.
    So, when I understand, I have to keep my 360RS1 for low-light stills and should think about the X4 for all kind of video (8k), cause it´s also better in low-light as the video out of the RS1.

    But what would you say, for shooting 360tours in typical indoor lowlight (but high contrast – due to the views out of the windows)?
    Is x4 the better choice than RS1?

    • In indoor low light, you can use the X4 in 8k which will be more detailed but also more noisy. If the light is very low, then the amount of extra detail will be low and the extra noise will be high. So for low light (like on the street at night), 1-inch 360 is better.

  • Thank you for this review and the downloadable files. It seems that, as you said, the X4 offers a better image than the 1inch (but noisier).

  • Hi Mic,

    So resuming, I was right since for taking photos there’s absolutly no differences between X3 and X4.

    I was hopping, at least, for a 72MP HDR mode!

    So yes, I’ll wait two more years for the X5, unless they release something via a firmware update in a near future… :-/

    Thanks for your review. 😉

    • It varies by region. The $499 price is for US. But if you can get it for $499 in NZ, that sounds like a great deal compared to $598. 😀

  • Thx for sharing the sample files. Does the X4 really have that much noise? I’m using the One X2 and did not experience such strong noise outdoors. When looking at the trees, for example, the noise in the X4 sample files totally destroys the gained detail from the (slightly) better resolution.

  • We shoot 8K 360 video for YouTube with our X3 to day and it plays well so are there any reason to upgrade ❓the batteries and charger do not fit from the X3 🤢

    • I confirm that I didn’t find the live streaming on my camera, but I suppose it is just a matter of firmware update which will follow, same as apple watch connectivity which is advertised but not working.

      • Along these lines, do you have recommendations regarding with 360 cameras might be best if live streaming content from a tripod was a priority? (the setting is a classroom)

        I hear the Insta360 Pro 2 is designed for the purpose but showing its age and not a simple push-a-button and walk-away type experience.

        Thanks for any ideas you have from your experience.

    • Hi Doug. I didn’t see a live stream option in the current app version. I’ll ask them if they plan to add it.

  • Hey Mic,

    thanks for the excellent report and working out the detailed differences between the camera. You’re writing that concerning picture quality there is not a big difference between the X3 and the X4. Maybe you could also offer a sample file for this case. Where I can see a big difference is when you take a snapshot of the framed video and export it. While the pictures of the X3 have only a resolution of around 2 MP, the X4 pictures have a resolution between 8 MP and 12 MP depending on the aspect ratio. That’s a huge difference for everybody that is using this workflow. That was one reason why I had chosen the GoPro Max over the X3. I just ordered a X4. Thanks a lot.

  • Hi Mic!
    Thank you for sharing samples. I am evaluating the insta360 system to decide if it is for me – so your samples are super helpful. Unfortunately my early findings are making the camera not usable for me – the problem of direction lock. I am testing it with Mac Studio and your X4 sample. Whatever I do – either Direction Lock or setting keyframes – the resulting video does not keep the direction, it is “wandering” around when you change the direction of movement. My use case is recording of entire routes – bicycle, walking etc. I cannot correct the keyframe every time I change a direction of movement.
    BTW would it be possible for you to share the sample with GPS data and recorded as timeshift?
    I really appreciate your work, thank you!

    • I hear you about direction lock. That’s actually one of the strengths of insta360 cameras. There are two options: First, you can use Deep Track. Just Deep Track yourself and you’ll stay in the middle the whole shot. The second option is to use Me Mode. In Me Mode, the shot will stay focused on you. See this video for some creative ways to use Me Mode: https://360rumors.com/x3-no-keyframing/

      As for GPS, let me try.

  • I purchased the x4 on Tuesday the 16th. It is now the 25th. I have no x4 camera. If I had ordered it from BH I would have had it delivered within 2 days. I strongly recommend that you purchase the camera from a reseller rather than from insta360. They use FedEx and they require you be at your home and have proper ID to sign for their package. I have a job. If you don’t, buy it from insta360.

    Since I am not receiving the item I purchased I decided to buy a Sony FX30 and a TT Artisan 10 MM lens for a different approach to immersive video.

    I look forward to Kandao releasing their 8K Qoocam 3 camera.

    Insta360 makes great cameras. Too bad they don’t deliver.

    • I have used the affiliate links from Mic and I have had great experiences on both of my cameras. Additionally, Mick has always been willing to answer any questions I have had when setting up my camera trying to figure something out. he is also personally given me purchase advice and I will continue to use his links in the future when ordering products.

      • I was delivered yesterday. Luckily I opened the door and saw the Fed Ex truck before it drove off. A sticker had been put on my door indicating a failed delivery, funny, there was no knock. Two weeks from order to delivery. I ordered the Sony FX30 and got it the next day. Dealing with Fed Ex was a real turn off. I recommend using a reseller.

  • Hi Mic. The X4 has been around a few months now, but I cannot find any decent samples of the photos comparing the X4 to earlier models. I have an X2, and have always been underwhelmed by the photo quality, even more so when trying to use the HDR options. Will the X4 produce any better results? I also note that all the early reviews were done in spectacularly sunny locations. It’s as if Insta360 gave folks the X4 to review and stipulated it must be done in blazing sunshine. Even the usual UK based reviewers, all went on sunny holidays to do their first reviews. And this could be why I’ve been disappointed so far, because I have mostly used the X2 for photos in gloomy London and overcast England 🙂

  • Hi Mic,
    did you use the standard protection covers during recording for your test or did you compare it without it? I read a bit about , that it reduce the IQ noteable. what is your conclusion?

    thanks

  • Hi Mic,
    did you use the standard protection covers during recording for your test or did you compare it without it? I read a bit about , that it reduce the IQ noteable. what is your conclusion?

    thanks