Kodak has just unveiled the Ektra. There’s no need to pinch yourself, you haven’t woken up in 1941. This is the 2016 Ektra, the company’s second Android smartphone.
Wait, there was one before this? You may well ask. Last year’s IM5 was kind of like a knock-off Doro. If it wasn’t for the Kodak branding, you wouldn’t have the foggiest that it had come from a camera specialist.
The Ektra is what the IM5 should have been.
It’s a funky-looking handset that screams out CAMERA! as soon as you lock eyes on it. It’s curvy, bumpy, retro, and I'd say Bullitt Group -- Kodak’s manufacturing partner -- has done a lovely job. With the majority of the smartphones on the market barely distinguishable from one another, the Ektra is genuinely different.
Though the faux leather rear panel isn’t up my street, it works nicely with the brushed metal-effect plastic frame. However, two wrongs don't make a right, and why Kodak decided to go cheap rather than real is beyond me.
Unfortunately, the unusual design decisions come with drawbacks. The rear camera lens and swollen bottom edge protrude. Significantly. While the Ektra’s frame measures 9.69mm, it’s 14.02mm thick at its chunkiest point. You could slide Smarties under it when it's laid out on a desk. Hours of fun.
On a serious note, while I had no issues holding the phone, the extra heft proved annoying when trying to slip it in and out of my pockets.
The power and volume keys sit just above a dedicated shutter button on the right-hand edge, while there’s also a USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack (hurrah). The handset feels sturdy too, though it’s a shame that Kodak has overlooked waterproofing.
There's a 5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 display and a deca-core MediaTek MT6797 Helio X20 processor and 3GB of RAM run the show. There’s also 32GB of internal storage on board, expandable by up to 128GB, and a 3,000mAh battery, one a Bullitt Group exec says will keep you going through a day of intensive shooting.
In terms of software, we’re looking at Android 6.0 Marshmallow with a sprinkle of Kodak. The company hasn’t messed with the operating system too much, pre-installing editing tools from the highly-rated Snapseed and a custom-built camera app with a 'haptic touch', SLR-style scene selection dial.
You can choose from a range of settings, including HDR, Landscape, Portrait, Macro, Sport, Night-time, Panorama and Bokeh, while there’s also Smart Auto and Manual modes.
The camera itself is a 21-megapixel Sony sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, OIS, phase detection autofocus and a dual LED flash. I wasn’t able to test its capabilities outside the dimly lit demo room, but example pictures unsurprisingly looked fantastic. Whether a painfully ordinary photographer like myself could replicate the results remains to be seen. On the front is a 13-megapixel sensor.
The handset comes to the UK in December, and will set you back £449. With top-spec models of the iPhone 7 and Pixel costing almost twice that, criticism of the Ektra's price feels slightly harsh, but the shadow of the fantastic and significantly cheaper OnePlus 3 looms large.