The Insta360 ONE X2 recently turned one year old and, to celebrate, we took the reigning best 360 camera on a six-day sojourn through Morocco and Paris. While there, we put the ONE X2 through its paces to see whether the multi-cam was still the best in its class.
Spoiler Alert: Yep, still is.
The Insta360 ONE X2 is a worthy successor to the ONE X, which, at the time of its release, was one of our favorite 360 cameras. Although it maintains the same image sensor and general design of its predecessor, the ONE X2 represents a significant upgrade, one that includes a game-changing color touchscreen, longer battery life, better audio, IPX8 waterproof rating to 33', and somehow even more editing and image-processing tools than its predecessor.
Video and Image Performance
Although it features the same 1/2.3" CMOS sensor as its predecessor, the ONE X2 still produces some of the best-looking video and images you’ll see from any 360 camera on the market. Part of the reason the picture quality is so good is the aforementioned sensor, which, although slightly dated, can still record 5.7K50 360-degree video with H.265 encoding and capture 18MP stills. It also benefits from the ONE X2’s reworked color profiles, which heightens the contrast, and dark and bright colors really pop.
The other reason the picture quality looks so good is because of the ONE X2’s exhaustive list of shooting modes and AI-backed editing tools. I’m not kidding when I say there are literally too many features to write about, so I’ll spend time on some of my favorites.
Steady Cam: Although the whole point of the ONE X2 is to shoot and edit 360-degree video, it can also capture some truly stunning non-360 content. Steady Cam turns the ONE X2 into a wide-angle, single-lens shooter—à la GoPro or other similarly conventional action cam. Although your output resolution is lowered to a maximum of 1440p50 in Steady Cam Mode, picture quality remains exceptional—especially the video, which comes out super smooth, thanks to Insta360’s built-in FlowState stabilization and horizon-leveling tech.
Pro Tip: To active FlowState stabilization, you’ll need to switch to the Pro option while filming in Steady Cam mode. Steady Cam has two shooting options: Basic and Pro. The Basic option uses the default, in-camera stabilization to record. The Pro option uses the enhanced FlowState stabilization feature, which you can apply in post.
TimeShift: TimeShift is one of my favorite video modes. It’s also kind of hard to visualize based on description alone. When I explain it to people, I usually just talk about the Knight Bus scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s like that.
Bullet Time: If I could only mention one selling point about the ONE X2, it would probably be the Bullet Time effect. This mode lets you create some truly unique and mind-blowing visuals—the awesomeness of which words do not easily convey.
Pro Tip: When shooting in Bullet Time, be sure to clock your surroundings. You’ll be swinging the camera overhead, so make sure you have plenty of room to operate and can swing the camera freely without risk of hitting any innocent bystanders.
Extra Pro Tip: Bullet Time works best during the day, in well-lit areas. I tried to film a Bullet Time clip on the Pont Alexandre III bridge at dusk (le flex) but the footage wasn’t very sharp. For low-light photos, you want to use the PureShot mode, which does an admirable job of dialing up the dynamic range in your photos, so you get better contrast and details in your low-light shots.
MultiView: Currently, I am obsessed with this mode. MultiView is a vlogger-friendly feature that lets you split the screen into two different perspectives. I used it while filming from the back of my cousin’s motorcycle and it made the footage so much fun—almost intimate. You see Paris and my reaction to the marvelous city at the exact same time, almost as if we’re experiencing it together.
So. Many. Features.
TimeShift, Bullet Time, Multiview—these are just the tip of the Insta360 iceberg. From the incredible, AI-backed editing platform Shot Lab to the underwater auto-balancing AquaVision feature, the ONE X2 seemingly has a mode, calibration, or template that can serve your most outlandish or inventive idea. Although I didn’t get to use every mode or feature as thoroughly as I would have liked, I experimented with them enough to say that, with the exception of one or two outliers, the ONE X2 delivers on nearly all its promises.
As mentioned above, the ONE X2 packs a ton of new features and upgrades. It’s now more ruggedized and water resistant. The battery is bigger and beefier (we’ll talk more about that in minute). It’s got new latched compartments and a better overall grip, and so on. But of these updated features, none is more conspicuous than the all-new color touchscreen, which can be used to change settings, select modes, and for playback. It’s a welcome, highly responsive interface that, although I don’t recall wanting one when the original ONE X first debuted, I can’t imagine operating the ONE X2 without it. It’s not the feature I think of first when I’m discussing the ONE X2’s plethora of upgrades, but it is the one I’d likely miss most if it were gone.
The ONE X2’s 1630mAh battery is significantly larger than its predecessor’s 1200mAh, as is its alleged 80 minutes of run time. The ONE X could only claim 60 minutes of battery life.
However, the rider on that supposed 80 run time is that it only applies if you are shooting 5K30 video. The second you start using any of the ONE X2’s other power-intensive features, especially any of the AI automations, that run time drops. The good news, though, is that you can connect the ONE X2 to a compatible power source via USB-C and you’ll be able to keep shooting while charging.
Pro Tip: Not only does the ONE X2 require some extra juice to run its more power-intensive features, editing the footage from those features requires a modern mobile device. The more current, the better. For its app to run at peak performance, the ONE X2 needs to leverage the processing power found in the latest iOS and Android devices—so make sure the smartphone or tablet you’re planning to use with the ONE X2 is current. Older devices can likely still run the Insta360 app, but not optimally.
Ironically, the thing I love the most about the ONE X2 is also what often frustrates me: the endless possibilities. Every time I used the ONE X2 in Paris, I learned something new, something cool, something that inspired me to try a different approach to editing, or to cut a scene in a certain way. These inspirations led to new ideas, new clips and new adventures, until ultimately, time ran out and even though I brought back a trove of great footage, there are still so many shots I want to get. And the ideas keep coming. They never stop. Endless possibilities—that’s the ONE X2’s greatest strength and the reason it is and will likely remain the best 360 camera in the world.
If you’re a vlogger, an adventurer, an action enthusiast, or just someone who likes making really cool stuff, and you haven't already tried the Insta360 ONE X2, I recommend you give it a go. Already a fan? Let us know what feature you value most in this multi-cam. We look forward to engaging in conversation with you in the Comments section, below!