Review by Sunetra Chakravati,10/20/2016 1:45:10 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Camera | Distinctive looks | Expandable memory | Fast charge
No fingerprint sensor | Leatherette look might not please all |
The Kodak Ektra in 1941 was more than a flagship. With rugged good-looks, it packed a punch and was easily the best back then. The 35mm rangefinder camera had steel and leather aplenty with interchangable lenses and the focal plane shutter that went up to 1/1000 sec.
So when Bullitt group wanted to revive the Kodak brand and bring it into the realms of consumer technology, it was the Ektra they turned to. Not just for inspiration on what to call it but also to inform their choice of materials that go on the actual smartphone and the feedback and experience it affords consumers who use it.
The 1941 Ektra weighed over 2 lbs and the 2016 Ektra is no fether-weight either. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla glass and the back is leatherette-clad with a massive protruding lens. There is also a grippable edge on one of the sides which perfectly counter-balances the lens.
The sides are all-metal and include the power button, volume toggles, a dedicated camera shutter button and a little loop so the user is able to hang the phone off a lanyard. the phone feels solid in hand and in a sea of glass/metal and plastic numbers, quite reassuring different in a self-assured way.
The audio grille sits on the inside of the little bump on one end and although the perforated leatherette section is easy to miss, but it does a good job of lifting it up when the phone is stationary on a table.
Although it doesnt quite pack the punch of the HTC 10, it does the job just fine.
Bullitt and Kodak extolled what George Eastman said and trademarked about Kodak: 'You press a button, we do the rest.' Industrial design aside, the say the Ektra is tailored and for specific customer creative and passionate about photography and (probably) has a high-end DSLR or compact camera already. They have stated that this is NOT a smartphone for those who take lots of pictures for the sole purpose of uploading to Facebook.
There is a custom-built camera UI and application suite which Bullitt/Kodak have roped in software partner Arcsoft to sort out for them, and especially their Night Shot technology.
The primary camera is a 21-MP jobber and the ginormous Kodak certified lens makes sure a huge amount of light gets to the sensor. In principal this should mean fantastic low-light photography but we will only be able to say if it is good enough to beat the low-light king Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and the point and shoot star Huawei P9 when we have had more time with the Kodak. In principal, the f1.9 aperture should be okay in low-light and for bright photos but it is by no means better than the likes of the LG G5 or the HTC 10
The camera characteristics I did like were th fact that Kodak have put a dial on the screen so you just need to turn it to switch between modes. In a throwback to the 1941 Ektra, there is a haptic feedback when you move the on-screen dial as well as a 2-stage button press on the physical camera shutter button on the side making the experience quite interesting.
Camera smarts on the 2016 Ektra include: Dynamic Focus and Object Tracking as well as automatic Image Noise Reduction features, so you can spend more time taking pictures and less time post-editing.
Kodak say that the low light mode for the Ektra has been inspired by the ones on Tier 1 vendor smartphones tech and the manual mode is another feature they thought would play out well with the discerning customers. There is the fantastic Snapseed on-board for impactful editing too. Having been a long teime user of Snapseed, I can confidently say there is no better photo editing software than that with the number of layers and options it provides.
And keeping with the flashbacks and retro theme, there is a Super 8 Colouration app on video as well as pictures so you can overlay your videos with filters gving them similar highlights as you would your pictures. There is the ability to record 720 as well as 4K video on the Kodak Ektra and at set up, the user is given options on Kodak approved photo editing apps including VSCO, prisma, light room etc.
There is a Mediatek Helio X-20 Decacore Processor on-board with 3GB RAM which should be enough for most high intensity smartphone use. there is Android 6 on-board with promises of ramping up to Android Nougat imminently. The battery is a 3000mAH number, is non removable and is charged via a USB-C cable and is fast chare capable.
While Kodak haven't tried to reprogram the basic Android structure, there are some apps that come pre-loaded, including one to send off your photos for printing, using Kodak's services.
The on-board memory is 32GB and the phone comes with expandable microSD slots so you have enough space for all your fantastic pictures.
Kodak Ektra goes on sale in Europe in early December 2016 and will be priced at £449. According to Bullitt and Kodak, it will go on sale in other territories depending on demand.
This smartphone is for the stylish and discerning customer who wants to be seen with a fantastic looking product encased in a leather carrying case. It also happens to be a phone.
During hands-on time, it came across as a good product but how good the camera really is, will only emerge once we have had longer with the Ektra.
Price: £449 (32GB) Available early Dec-2016
Operating System: Android 6.0
Dimensions:147.80 x 73.35 x 9.69 mm
Resolution: 441 ppi. 1920 x 1080
Display: 5-inch full HD
Processor: MediaTek Helio X20 2.3GHz Decacore processor with 3GB RAM
Camera: 21-MP fast focus camera sensor with F2.0, PDAF, OIS, Dual LED Flash, 13-MP phase detection auto focus front-facing camera with F2.2 PDAF. 4k video recording capabilities
Memory: 32GB memory, expandable with MicroSD cards
Fingerprint sensor: No
Misc: USB 3.0 Type C fast charger, Integrated high quality printing app; Bluetooth 4.2; Super 8 Video Recorder. Corning Gorilla Glass Screen & Lens protection