Last week Will.i.am teased us with his “genius phone” i.am+ camera accessory, today the device was launched in London and will be available December 6th—if you have an iPhone 4/4S. The device (it’s more than just a “case”) sports its own flash, interchangeable lenses, and a slide out keyboard.
Will.i.am’s goal was to take a great phone, and really good camera, and push it to “genius phone” levels. From the Daily Telegraph article:
Speaking The Daily Telegraph last week, the Black-Eyed Peas star said the first product from his new consumer electronics and app venture i.am+ clips onto an iPhone and transforms the eight megapixel smartphone camera into a 14 megapixel camera, which it is claimed dramatically enhances the clarity and definition of your photographs. ‘We have our own sensor and a better flash,” he said. “You dock you phone into our device and it turns you smartphone into a genius-phone. We take over the camera.’
The device will come with it’s own app—maybe the app will work without the i.am+ on, which would be a nice touch I think—and turns your iPhone into a respectable, internet-connected, point-n-shoot camera:
Under the brand foto.sosho, the models have interchangeable lenses and a built-in flash, with photo editing, filters and sharing also built in. Versions for the iPhone 4 will be available from 6 December, but an iPhone 5 model, which replaces the entire iPhone camera with a new sensor an flash, will not ship until next year.
There will be two or three models (there are three pictures, but only mention of Contemporary and Vintage as styles) the Contemporary and Vintage and each comes with standard, fish eye, and telephoto lenses.
So, now the bad news.
Beyond the fact that the device won’t be available for the iPhone 5 until next year, right now the i.am+ will only be sold through Selfridges in the U.K. Then there is the price tag. The basic “Modern Look” version (no slide out keyboard) is priced at £199 (about $320) and the Vintage at £299 ($479). This puts the device solidly in the “advanced camera” area on Best Buy price range. Which leads to an important question:
Will it offer something better than just getting a really good point-n-shoot camera?
I think it’s too early to tell, but the device will have to offer a lot more than Will.i.am’s name, lenses, flash, and an app to win over iPhone photographers. When you can pick up an Olloclip now that gives you a macro, wide angle, and fish eye lens for less than $100, plus telephoto lenses for similar prices. I’m not sure about this offering.
Check out the hands-on video of the accessory posted by Engadget below:
Would you trade in your mid-range point-n-shoot for a device like this?
You can sign up for info on the launch of i.am+ and the photo service on the companion website.
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