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Kodak Ektra Smartphone
Written by: Darren Zygadlo | Twitter: @darrenzygadlo | Instagram: @onecutreviews
The new Ektra smartphone by Kodak could be best described as perplexing. In the world of cheap smartphones getting better and premium smartphones becoming more affordable (except you Apple), this latest offering manages to occupy that unfortunate “just average” space across many facets in the smartphone world, offering an average build, average hardware, average battery life and surprisingly an average camera experience.
Call us critics, but we expected more from Kodak. A company that built its reputation on its imaging prowess, processing power and attention to detail when it came to hardware. Now, we are aware that the Kodak of old is no more and that the name, in this instance, is licenced to Bullitt Mobile Limited, however, if you are going to sell a smartphone with DSLR capability, the camera better be darn good in this space and more importantly be matched by equally affable hardware.
Speaking of hardware, the phone itself falls steadily into the midrange smartphone category, the Ektra features a build that looks like a digital camera and a smartphone had a baby with ergonomics and a look-and-feel like that of a DSLR camera including a wrist-strap, a dedicated dual-press shutter button, and a large glass cover on the 21 megapixel/f2.0 aperture lens. In fact, in 2016, the Ektra won the Silver Award at the New York Design Awards for its classic style and iconic design. In our opinion though, we will say it does feel well built and utilitarian but beauty is in the eye of the beholder on this one.
Internally, the phone is powered by an equally underwhelming Helio X20 2.3GHz Decacore processor with 3GB RAM, 32GB memory which is expandable with MicroSD card. The outdated Android 6.0 operating system is powered by a sufficient 3000mAh battery but does come with the welcome addition of a USB 3.0 Type C fast charger.
Day to day, this phone felt like any other midrange device we have reviewed in the last 12 months. Phone calls sounded clear, the speakerphone was predictably quite and if you open many apps or try to do multitasking, the phone noticeably begins to lag but still manages to get the job done. The battery will get you through a day with moderate use and the measly 32gb storage is just sufficient. We will give props to Kodak though for including the ability to add more storage via MicroSD.
The real selling feature of this phone is its cameras. The Ektra features a 21MP fast focus camera sensor with F2.0, PDAF, OIS, Dual LED Flash coupled with a 13MP phase detection autofocus front-facing camera with F2.2 PDAF. Now on paper, these are some good offerings and rightly so from Kodak. The primary camera does offer a lot of functionality with scene selection modes including HDR, Landscape, Portrait, Macro, Sport, Night-time, Panorama and Bokeh. As well, a proficient Manual mode gives access to additional advanced settings and sophisticated controls, allowing adjustments to exposure, ISO, focus, white balance and shutter speed, and enabling considered photography. The hardware is also coupled with some strong software with curated apps including the SNAPSEED photo-editing tool, prints, and the Super 8 app featuring filters and vignettes including EKTACHROME and KODACHROME Films.
We will admit that a primary reason to buy this phone would be the camera offerings, the front-facing camera with its high pixel count and phase detection autofocus produces some quite nice selfies, perfect for sharing with the world. The primary camera to offers a lot to someone who wants true control over all aspects of their photograph prior to taking and produces some, at times, above average shots. However, this is the problem with this smartphone, for the average user they don’t need all these extra modes and it could be overwhelming. Equally disappointing was the fact the camera app does take some time to load and process photographs, most likely caused by Kodak not using a processor with more power.
At the end of the day, if you are someone that is seeking more of a camera and less of a smartphone than perhaps the Ektra is the perfect device for you. It does have a powerful camera, if you are patient, and does all that is necessary for a smartphone in 2018. We do hope that the next iteration offers up more powerful hardware to make the phone a contender in the mobile photography world but as it stands right now, it is just mediocre. At $399 USD, the phone is suitably priced but there are better offerings out there.