Introduction

Surf's up! The new GoPro Hero4 Session just dropped in and it's totally tubular. It is GoPro's first waterproof camera that doesn't require a case. Will the sealants on this Session keep it far from a 10 on our repairability scale? Grab your board and hit the waves because this teardown is about to hang 10!

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This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your GoPro Hero4 Session, use our service manual.

Image 1/2: Rugged waterproof design Image 2/2: 1030 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • After three years of development, GoPro takes the wraps off a radical new action cam with a fresh form factor. Here's what they have to say about it:

    • Rugged waterproof design

    • 1030 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery

    • Built in Wi-Fi, micro-USB, and microSD slot (expandable up to 64 GB)

    • Plenty of video capture modes, ranging from WVGA at 120 fps to 1440p at 30 fps

    • 8 MP wide field of view stills

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Image 1/3: [link|http://i.imgur.com/JVQ2Bjc.gif|Same|new_window=true] weight: 74 g. Image 2/3: Almost the [link|http://i.imgur.com/C8nWZej.gif|same|new_window=true] ports. Both feature microSD, but the Session moves up to micro-USB instead of mini-USB, and drops the accessory port of traditional GoPros. Image 3/3: The Session also hides its ports under a water-sealed hinged door, while the 3+ keeps its ports under a pop-out door that we took out and lost.
  • We grabbed a GoPro Hero3+ for comparison; here's what we found:

    • Same weight: 74 g.

    • Almost the same ports. Both feature microSD, but the Session moves up to micro-USB instead of mini-USB, and drops the accessory port of traditional GoPros.

      • The Session also hides its ports under a water-sealed hinged door, while the 3+ keeps its ports under a pop-out door that we took out and lost.

    • Very similar volume! By our rough understanding of geometry, both the Hero3+ and the Session are just over 50 cubic centimeters in volume.

      • So is it actually fair to call the Session smaller? Yes. Waterproofing the camera lets users ditch the bulky case, which more than triples the volume of traditional GoPros.

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Image 1/2: We were a little surprised by the inclusion of a backlit display—just another power drain for a device with an integrated battery. Image 2/2: We were a little surprised by the inclusion of a backlit display—just another power drain for a device with an integrated battery.
  • Stills or video—capture either with a single button! GoPro also included handy directions on the back for how to do either.

  • We were a little surprised by the inclusion of a backlit display—just another power drain for a device with an integrated battery.

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  • Before we begin, let's turn the tables on this GoPro and shoot some video of our own.

  • Our awesome friends at Creative Electron gave the Session a spin in the clothes dryer X-ray machine, revealing a radical 360-degree view of the internals.

  • It looks like we have our work cut out for us.

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Image 1/3: Manufacturers' first attempts at waterproofing usually result in completely glued devices, oftentimes without a non-destructive means of entry. Looks like things are going to be different here. Image 2/3: Screws out, and the lens cover comes free, revealing access to... an o-ring. Image 3/3: The glass lens cover is probably the most likely part to break on the Session, but it's also the easiest to replace. It's good to see that GoPro had repairability in mind for the lens cover, as they sell a complete [http://shop.gopro.com/accessories/lens-replacement-kit-for-hero4-session/ARLRK-001.html#/prefn1=compatibility&prefv1=HERO4+Session&start=1| lens cover replacement kit|new_window=true].
  • Hey look, a batch of T4 Torx screws on the front! You had us worried for a second there, GoPro.

    • Manufacturers' first attempts at waterproofing usually result in completely glued devices, oftentimes without a non-destructive means of entry. Looks like things are going to be different here.

  • Screws out, and the lens cover comes free, revealing access to... an o-ring.

  • The glass lens cover is probably the most likely part to break on the Session, but it's also the easiest to replace. It's good to see that GoPro had repairability in mind for the lens cover, as they sell a complete lens cover replacement kit.

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Image 1/3: Prying at the front and back covers didn't get us anywhere either. So, we gave our new camera a hot iOpener hug to soften up the adhesive on its rubber cover—and then started cutting and peeling. Image 2/3: At the top of the camera, the shutter button is integrated into the rubber cover, with a hole in the plastic case underneath exposing the microswitch. Image 3/3: At the top of the camera, the shutter button is integrated into the rubber cover, with a hole in the plastic case underneath exposing the microswitch.
  • Okay, so the screws were a bit of a red herring. They'll come in handy for replacing a cracked lens cover or o-ring, but they didn't get us inside.

  • Prying at the front and back covers didn't get us anywhere either. So, we gave our new camera a hot iOpener hug to soften up the adhesive on its rubber cover—and then started cutting and peeling.

  • At the top of the camera, the shutter button is integrated into the rubber cover, with a hole in the plastic case underneath exposing the microswitch.

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  • With the rubber cover peeled off, we get a look at what lies beneath—a clear plastic cube, tantalizing us with exciting innards like one of those sweet see-through phones.

  • We're so close! There are boards right there! But seeing inside doesn't mean we can get inside.

  • Unfortunately we didn't find any external screws or clips—looks like this puppy is all sealed up. Time to attack the Borg cube with some flush cutters.

Would the plastic part hold up against water pressure if it were exposed by a crack in the back metal panel?

Lawrence Boney - Reply

Image 1/2: ...and this metal plate... Image 2/2: ...and nope. No way in. Back to clipping.
  • There has to be a better way to get inside that we're just not seeing, right? Let's peel up this end cap.

  • ...and this metal plate...

  • ...and nope. No way in. Back to clipping.

  • Seriously though, we're hoping we got this wrong. Maybe with some free, publicly available repair documentation, this stuff would be easier...

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Image 1/2: ''Sigh.'' Image 2/2: Impatience gets the best of us and we bust out the rotary tool for the last stretch.
  • Houston, we have liftoff—of one portion of the outer case. The interior components are a tetris'd tangle of parts with no obvious way to extract the battery.

    • Sigh.

  • Impatience gets the best of us and we bust out the rotary tool for the last stretch.

    • We can practically taste the interior components. Then again, maybe that's just the plastic dust.

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Image 1/3: The first component out is the wireless communications daughterboard, featuring some Qualcomm hardware: Image 2/3: Qualcomm [https://www.ioeday.com/sites/default/files/2-IOEDay_2014_WearableUpdate1024Final.pdf|QCA6134X-AM2D|new_window=true] Wi-Fi/Bluetooth SiP Image 3/3: Qualcomm [https://www.ioeday.com/sites/default/files/2-IOEDay_2014_WearableUpdate1024Final.pdf|QCA6134X-AM2D|new_window=true] Wi-Fi/Bluetooth SiP
  • Success! Time to actually do some analysis.

  • The first component out is the wireless communications daughterboard, featuring some Qualcomm hardware:

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Image 1/3: No more [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/GoPro+Hero3+Teardown/12457#s43132|removable batteries|new_window=true]—presumably in the interest of waterproofing. Image 2/3: The Hero4 Session packs a 3.8 V, 1000 mAh, 3.8 Wh battery, just about on par with the Hero 3+, and smaller than the 1160 mAh battery in the Hero4. Image 3/3: With an estimated two-hour battery life, you're going to be recharging often—increasing the number of charge cycles on your camera, and decreasing its life before you need to, ''but can't'', replace the battery.
  • After savaging most of the exterior, we aren't surprised to find the GoPro's battery soldered to the motherboard and glued into a bracket.

  • No more removable batteries—presumably in the interest of waterproofing.

  • The Hero4 Session packs a 3.8 V, 1000 mAh, 3.8 Wh battery, just about on par with the Hero 3+, and smaller than the 1160 mAh battery in the Hero4.

  • With an estimated two-hour battery life, you're going to be recharging often—increasing the number of charge cycles on your camera, and decreasing its life before you need to, but can't, replace the battery.

what is the battery weight?

Doug Hines - Reply

Image 1/3: Ambarella [http://www.ambarella.com/uploads/docs/A7LS-Brief-121713.pdf|A7LS] Video and Image Processing SoC Image 2/3: Micron JWB25 NAND Flash + LPDDR2 MCP Image 3/3: AMS AG [http://ams.com/eng/Products/Power-Management/Power-Management-Units/AS3715|AS3715|new_window=true] Power Management Unit
  • We've finally extracted the motherboard. Let's see what it's packing:

    • Ambarella A7LS Video and Image Processing SoC

    • Micron JWB25 NAND Flash + LPDDR2 MCP

    • AMS AG AS3715 Power Management Unit

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Image 1/1: Like everything else on the Session, these components are smaller, and feature more complex, intertwined flex cables than in models past.
  • With a flick of the wrist goes the display and the power/capture button—everything a user needs to operate the GoPro on one confusing bracket.

  • Like everything else on the Session, these components are smaller, and feature more complex, intertwined flex cables than in models past.

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Image 1/2: Just like the Hero4 cameras that came before it, the Session features an ƒ/2.8 glass lens with an "Ultra wide-angle field of view with reduced distortion". Image 2/2: Let's hope the waterproofing and structural protection really work—it'll be pretty much impossible to replace this lens without destroying your camera.
  • Finally! The heart—er, eye of the GoPro is free!

  • Just like the Hero4 cameras that came before it, the Session features an ƒ/2.8 glass lens with an "Ultra wide-angle field of view with reduced distortion".

  • Let's hope the waterproofing and structural protection really work—it'll be pretty much impossible to replace this lens without destroying your camera.

Are the holes in the bottom right and bottom left of the left component microphone ports? It looks like a material is covering them, any idea what that material is? Is it porous? Could you provide a microscope image of it?

Nick Morrill - Reply

Image 1/3: Alas, those days are long gone. A ring of glue is the only thing that adheres the lens to the image sensor in the Session. Image 2/3: The 8 MP sensor in the Session drops the 4K capability found in the Hero4 Black/Silver 12 MP sensors, instead supporting resolutions up to 1440p at 30 fps. Image 3/3: After some quick measurements, we found the image sensor in the Session to be roughly 4.5 mm x 3.4 mm, which would mean a 1/3.2" sensor format (which appears to be the [http://electronics360.globalspec.com/article/5190/exclusive-video-teardown-gopro-hero|same format found in the cheaper GoPro Hero|new_window=true]).
  • Remember back when you could unscrew the image sensor board from the back of the lens assembly? iFixit remembers.

  • Alas, those days are long gone. A ring of glue is the only thing that adheres the lens to the image sensor in the Session.

  • The 8 MP sensor in the Session drops the 4K capability found in the Hero4 Black/Silver 12 MP sensors, instead supporting resolutions up to 1440p at 30 fps.

    • After some quick measurements, we found the image sensor in the Session to be roughly 4.5 mm x 3.4 mm, which would mean a 1/3.2" sensor format (which appears to be the same format found in the cheaper GoPro Hero).

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Image 1/2: Unlike its [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/GoPro+Hero3+Teardown/12457#s43141|bigger, more expensive brothers|new_window=true], the Session lacks an accessory port. This means that you won't be able to mount things, such as an LCD screen or secondary battery, to your GoPro. Image 2/2: While it's the last component out of the camera, this teardown's not quite over...
  • The last tetris block is the tricky, angled microSD card slot. Also part of this assembly: the micro-USB port.

  • Unlike its bigger, more expensive brothers, the Session lacks an accessory port. This means that you won't be able to mount things, such as an LCD screen or secondary battery, to your GoPro.

  • While it's the last component out of the camera, this teardown's not quite over...

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Image 1/3: If there's room to pack anything more into this little cube, it's news to us. Look how the little microSD card slot has to angle its way in there. Image 2/3: That multi-stage mushroom cloud is actually the lens assembly! Image 3/3: The oblong, noodley oval is the battery, composed ([https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bMcXVe8zIs |like an onion|new_window=true]) of layers.
  • That's right—it's X-ray time! With the GoPro magically reassembled and re-compactified, we can get a closer look at how it all fits together.

  • If there's room to pack anything more into this little cube, it's news to us. Look how the little microSD card slot has to angle its way in there.

  • That multi-stage mushroom cloud is actually the lens assembly!

  • The oblong, noodley oval is the battery, composed (like an onion) of layers.

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Image 1/3: The front bezel is held in place with eight T4 Torx screws and is easily replaceable. Image 2/3: Accessing the device for internal repairs means ripping, tearing, and dremeling through a rubber band, plastic casing, and copious amounts of glue, making reassembly infeasible. Image 3/3: The inner components are assembled together in a web of circuitry and adhesive.
  • GoPro Hero4 Session Repairability Score: 1 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)

    • The front bezel is held in place with eight T4 Torx screws and is easily replaceable.

    • Accessing the device for internal repairs means ripping, tearing, and dremeling through a rubber band, plastic casing, and copious amounts of glue, making reassembly infeasible.

    • The inner components are assembled together in a web of circuitry and adhesive.

    • The "integrated" battery is soldered and glued to the rest of the device, meaning battery replacement is next to impossible.

  • As always, a hearty thanks to our friends at Creative Electron for their eye-popping images and expertise!

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16 Comments

The Hero 3+, 4, etc, all have a Mini USB port, not Micro USB. The Session is the first GoPro device to finally use MicroUSB.

Tony Goncalves - Reply

Actually the Hero+ LCD is the first

nloke96 -

Hey Tony, thanks for the heads up! We've updated the teardown.

Evan Noronha -

Aside from the difference in how easy they are to work on, this camera really reminds me of the G4 Cube. If only it was as easy as a Cube to work on!

Owen Cunneely - Reply

Does the waterproof door come off? That is the first thing that i would want to have removed! For simultaneous recording while charging the camera. Or dedicated dashcam video use.

oldslobro - Reply

I heard you can't charge and use the session at the same time. I may be wrong though.

DarkIllusion -

It would be great if you could give us an exact position of the + and - terminals on the PCB relevant to the outside case. So i can cut or drill some holes and insert thin brass pins.. heat with iron and hopefully melt the solder to form a connection. worse case cut small hole in case to manually do same thing... fill with hot glue or baking soda/superglue combo .... so i can run external 18650 or 26650 batteries as i do for my GP3 .... Price has come down a lot to be interesting to use, but small batt life is a pain in the GP4, let alone in this thing with non replaceable battery. I prefer to hook up the external batt direct , not a 5v power bank through the usb as its less efficient .

I get 7hrs + out of a GP3 silver with no wifi. I ride enduro (dirt bikes ) , and like to just set and forget the cam..... and just edit out the crap later on..... best way to make sure you never miss a cool shot.

Gary John - Reply

Gary, look at step 7, you can clearly and precisely see where to cut/drill to have access to the + and -

https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/ig...

robomaniac -

The sensor is an "former Aptina" now OnSemi AR0835HS. The Hero 3 was an Aptina AR0834HS.

Ron T - Reply

I wish I had seen this before purchasing. Obsolete is one thing, but a blatant un use ability is another!

dgrizz100 - Reply

un use? what do you mean? you cant use it or what? i use it on my racing drones almost everyday and it does a great job. dont understand what your talking about.

Scott Ream -

Hello! I need to understand, does that back metal cover (step 8) give any waterproof skill to this camera? On the step 8, I can see that it is clipped, but is it covered by any waterproof material on the edges or not. The reason why I am asking is that, my back metal cover was damaged, and now it is not properly fixed. I need to understand whether "waterproofness" was damaged or not, due to this damage of back metal cover. Thank you for your reply!

ddoskhozhayev - Reply

Hello gies can u help with some source where i can order ams 3715 power controller for hero 4 black...thanks

ysatuj - Reply

And is that possible to change it???

ysatuj -

So my friend shot my GoPro with a paintball gun and it broke, so I ordered the glass took it off only to find that it's the internal lens that's broken, not the outside glass. So pretty much it's no good because in order to fix it, I have to literally destroy it to get inside?

Bran - Reply

After you took it apart, could you reassemble it and make it work? Specifically, I am interested in using the sensor to write video to a microSD card. I would like the power button to work and to connect to the camera with WiFi. Basically, use the camera without the case and lens attached. Thoughts?

Dan Griffiths - Reply

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