This technical article written by Ron Barbish who manufactured Photographic Support Systems camera housings for more than 25 years and also worked as an electronics technician for DOD contractors. There is no affiliate advertising on watermanatwork.com. All reviewed items have been purchased at retail price.
It’s been a long time since we posted a technical article here on the watermanatwork.com blog but there is some information that should be made available to prevent other people from going through a lot of unnecessary problems should you own a GoPro Hero 7 camera or are considering purchasing one. We have used GoPro cameras in the past, one of the most popular articles on the watermanatwork.com blog is how to do a hard reset on a number of GoPro camera models.
Just about everyone knows who GoPro is. At the time of this blog post, April 2021, I purchased a GoPro Hero 7 Black camera at a local Walmart. After charging the camera for two hours, the camera was turned on, all the connections, voice control, etc. turned off, then the camera was turned off. Within thirty minutes, with the camera off, the battery was dead. After recharging the battery and using the QuikCapture feature to turn the camera on and off, the battery died just as quickly. The camera also had Card Errors on a new, camera formatted memory card. After wasting hours of time with GoPro Chat support, I was told to send in the camera, that had never been used, for warranty service. The camera was returned to Walmart.
I still needed a video camera, Walmart had one more Hero 7 for sale and the best return policy available, so I crossed my fingers and bought the second Hero 7 Black camera in six days, no video, no photos so far. This time around, I assumed I would be returning this camera also, so I took every precaution to make sure I would be able to return it.
This camera also had similar power/battery problems. The Hero 7 Black camera battery would die within thirty minutes with the camera on or off. The maximum the battery would charge would be 93%.
The camera would charge from 0% to 93% in twenty minutes. According to GoPro, it takes about two hours to charge the battery in the Hero 7 Black, so something is wrong there. When the camera shut down because of a low battery, I measured the battery with a digital multimeter. It read zero volts, completely dead. Electronic devices usually shut down with 3-5% of the battery left so the device can recognize the battery to recharge it. This battery was completely dead. A multimeter does not lie, however this GoPro seems to have problems. If the battery is at zero percent(0%), how can this camera be on?
After more wasted hours with GoPro Chat, who repeated the same worthless troubleshooting steps and proof of purchase questions, I asked for the manufacture date of the camera. This GoPro Hero 7 Black was manufactured in September 2018. That means that this camera and the battery that came with it is more than two and a half years old.
The Hero 7 Black camera that I purchased new at Walmart, is actually not new, just an unsold camera that has been sitting in a shipping container or warehouse under unknown environmental conditions for more than two and a half years. The shelf life of an unused lithium ion battery is about two to three years, depending on environmental conditions. The Hero 7 Black that I bought a couple days ago has a dead, or nearly dead battery. This $249 camera is actually more than two years old with a dead battery.
GoPro knows this is why these problems are happening and I certainly couldn’t have been the first with this issue. Not very honest of GoPro and I wasted hours and hours with GoPro support. I told them either send me a new battery within two weeks or the second camera goes back to Walmart. What kind of business policy is it to have a customer return $500 worth of electronics over $20 worth of batteries they know are dead?
To sum it up; GoPro Hero 7 cameras sold today can be more than two and a half years old, sold with batteries with a shelf life of two to three years. There is a very good chance your “new” GoPro Hero 7 has a dead battery.
GoPro sent a replacement battery and we were ready to try again about a week later. I opened the Hero 7 battery door and tried to pull the battery out when the little pull tab separated itself from the battery. It didn’t tear, it came unglued.
This is one of those little things you don’t think about, but without that pull tab, it is very difficult to remove the tight fitting battery from the Hero 7 without damaging the camera. I managed to gently pry the battery out without damaging the camera.
This battery configuration is also used on the current Hero 8, so a “new” battery is more likely to be manufactured more recently. In the photo below, the new battery(with the pull tab), has a blue plastic section. The 2018 battery that came with the camera is on the right.
With the new replacement battery installed, the GoPro Hero 7 camera performs more to expectations. GoPro cameras are not known for their long lasting batteries, but now the camera is functional for a reasonable amount of time. The battery charges to 100%.
It looks like we might actually have a working GoPro Hero 7. When I went back to the Walmart where I bought/returned the Hero 7 cameras, I noticed the Hero 7 slot was still empty. Either they have not reordered or restocked, or that may be it for the Hero 7. If you are interested in a GoPro Hero 7 and you know about this battery issue, you might want to buy one sooner rather than later.