Kodak Ektra review: Great design and concept, but the photos need to be better
The quest for a stellar smartphone camera is as old as the segment itself. However, we don’t seem to be anywhere near clicking that perfect mobile photograph. So when a camera company like Kodak lends its name to a smartphone, it is hard not to take notice. The Kodak Ektra is in fact more a camera, than a smartphone, at least it looks so. But is this an idea whose time has come? Well, I used the Kodak Ektra for well over a week to figure out if this was the best camera phone, or should we say phone camera?
Kodak Ektra specifications: 5-inch FullHD(1920×1080) | MediaTek MT6797 Helio X20 Deca-core (2x Cortex-A72 @ 2.3GHz) | 3GB RAM | 32GB storage expandable up to 128GB | 21MP fast focus camera sensor with F2.0, PDAF, OIS, Dual LED Flash + 13MP phase detection auto focus front-facing camera with F2.2 PDAF | Android 6 | 3000mAh, with USB 3.0 Type C fast charger
Kodak Ektra price in India: Rs 19,990
Kodak Ektra design and display
Kodak Ektra has a standout design. So much so that this looks more like a slim point and shoot camera than a smartphone. At the bottom end of the phone is a grip akin to what you would find on a DSLR or Bridge camera. It helps you hold the phone better when you are using it as a camera and, as I discovered, enables it to stand up on a table if you are using a timer to click.
I would have expected this bit to also hold the shutter button, but Kodak has put it further up the body. At the rear there is a large camera bump with Kodak branding and a dominant, but stationary, lens ring. This also makes it a very distinct looking smartphone. Overall, the phone gives you a good feeling in the hand and I loved the faux leather finish at the back. The Ektra has a Full HD display that is good for regular use and works pretty well in sunlight. However, there is nothing spectacular about this display.
Kodak Ektra performance and UI
The Kodak Ektra, powered by a Mediatek Helio X-20 Decacore Processor with 3GB RAM is almost mid-range in its capabilities as a smartphone. But then if you look at the price, this is a mid-range phone and it would be wrong to expect anything else. The phone can tackle day to day stuff really well without stuttering or crashing. However, I was a bit disappointed that the phone does heat up when you are shooting 4K video as my understanding was that this was a very 2016 problem. Thankfully, the temperature does not rise to the level of the phone shutting down, like we have seen with some devices in the past.
The phone has a slightly tweaked Android UI with circular icons which takes some getting used to. However, at the end of the day you realise this is a just a skin and nothing really new. Kodak has added a bunch of apps and UI features that aid the use of this phone as a camera. For instance, you can open a photo editing app like Snapseed right from inside the gallery which I thought was a good feature to include.
Kodal Ektra camera review
Now, this is clearly why you are buying the Ektra for. Frankly this looks like a camera that can make calls. Jokes apart, this phone has clearly been made to impress the photographers and it does manage to do that with the external looks, barring the fact that it would have been nice to see a zoom lens pop up from that lens ring.
However, the UI has add-ons to bring in some Kodak nostalgia for those who understand what a Super 8 camera was. I, on the other hand, did not find any use for a Super 8 video app that recreated old film styles, at least not when you have tonnes of other apps that can do similar stuff.
Anyway, the camera app itself is very unique DSLR like dial with haptic feedback to switch the modes. There are enough settings to keep you busy and thinking before each click. There is even a bokeh mode though this is not dual lens camera and a decent HDR. However, most of this is driven by software and that shows.
In fact, in the Bokeh mode you have to wait a few seconds for the camera to process and while you can tweak the bokeh effect, you have to wait again for that to render. The manual mode offers everything you would expect on a DSLR and for anyone used to a manual camera there is a lot you can do.
But that does not mean, I love this camera. I have issues with it. To start with, the results are not consistent when it comes to the sheer picture quality. At times the images reminds me of the old Canon A400, though that was a 3.2MP camera and this has 21MP. The image quality, resolution and detail leaves you wanting more than often.
Thankfully, the last software update did improve it to an extent, but it is still not quite there. Remember, this is a phone you are buying for is camera and this is the least it should be able to do. Also, the phone and its metal frame heats up if you have been using the camera for over a few minutes. Another big disappointment.
Still this camera has lot of scope if the company is able to get it right. It is a good camera in low light and offers better macro than most other phones in this range. Also, the Kodak camera app and editing software does add value for the pro-consumer.
Kodak Ektra Vrdict
This is at the moment a novelty phone. Whoever buy this a primary phone will have to live with the weird design when they are not using it as a camera and that will be hard to justify. For the camera lovers, maybe this is a second phone they would like to carry around on their travels. But won’t camera lovers prefer using a better point-and-shoot or even a GoPro, is what I have been thinking. The Kodak Ektra is a good idea that fails with its execution. I’m waiting for the Kodak Ektra 2.