Approximately one hundred years ago, back when it was extremely novel and cool to have a mobile phone with a built-in camera, we would call such contraptions ‘cameraphones’.
Nowadays we live in the future and we expect everything we own to have some type of camera embedded in it, but the new Kodak Ektra feels like reason enough to resurrect the notion of a device that’s truly half-camera and half-phone. It runs a very stock version of Android Marshmallow and features a bold-as-brass bulge that contains a 21MP, Kodak-brand camera.
The leather-backed design and sharp case are aesthetic callbacks to the flagship Ektra camera from 1941, and a clue as to the kind of niche audience Kodak is expecting to want to use the category-straddling device.
Because, sadly, this isn’t a very good smartphone, and it’s a fairly poor camera to boot. The shots it takes are reasonably good, but still firmly in phone-quality territory. An iPhone 7 will snap better pictures in a broader range of conditions, as will a Google Pixel or a Samsung S7. As a phone it lacks a few features you’d expect, such as a fingerprint sensor, and a half-decent screen on which to view all those lovely photographs you’re supposed to be taking.
What sets the Kodak Ektra apart is its built-in suite of camera and video software, which faithfully imitates the settings of a point and shoot. Photo editing app Snapseed comes pre-installed too, though it’s free to download anyway, so there’s no real added benefit there.
Instead the Ektra is banking hard on its own cool factor. At £449, it’s an expensive conversation piece.