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Kodak Ektra: Genuine camera-smartphone blend or merely selling nostalgia?

At Rs 14,999, the Ektra comes across as a decent camera-first smartphone

Khalid Anzar  |  New Delhi 


Known for its stellar film-based cameras in the 1980s and 90s, the name brings a certain sense of nostalgia to people born in those decades. The brand has lost much of its sheen with digital cameras becoming more popular and smartphones sporting advanced camera features.

But now, to cater to millennials’ growing demand for digital content and smart features, has decided to reinvent itself by blending its expertise in making cameras with new-age smartphones. The latest product, the Ektra, is a camera-first named after the classic 35mm cutting-edge film-based camera introduced in the 1940s.

Does the Ektra live up to its branding as a camera-first Or is it just nostalgia that is trying to sell? Business Standard takes a look:

In terms of its operability as a smartphone, the Ektra seems below par. It runs the rather outdated Android Marshmallow operating system with camera-based bloatware apps added by The Mediatek X20 processor works fine during regular use but fails to deliver on heavy usage. Also, the graphic processing unit (GPU) appears to be on the weaker side, so the phone skips frames, lags and warms up while playing heavy games like Asphalt 8 and Need for Speed.

As for the selling point, the camera, the Ektra houses a 21-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, assisted by phase detection auto-focus (PDAF) and 6-axis optical image stabilisation (OIS). The rear camera’s potential is marred by hardware-based optimisation and software algorithms. 

The rear camera at times captures stunning shots, so it seems it is not the camera module but post-processing that ruins the show. Focus is another weak area for Ektra; the misses the focus most of the times. In low light, the performance degrades further. However, the manual mode allows taking better shots and saves the day for the Ektra.

The phone has an improved camera interface with Kodak-enhanced software-based scene selection dial. This is placed at the lower right corner and is backed by haptic feedback for an experience as close as operating a hand-held camera.

The leathered curved bottom of the phone doubles up as the camera grip and the locked navigation keys in the camera interface make it convenient to click in the horizontal mode.

In terms of design, the leathered back feels premium and the thick frame works in the smartphone’s favour. On the front, the device has a 5-inch screen with 1920x1080 pixel resolution. The full-HD panel sits below the flat glass, with no protection. The screen throws punchy colours and is bright enough to remain readable under direct sunlight. The screen is set to render cool colours by default and look pale at times.

Verdict: The Ektra is Kodak's average attempt at transitioning from a camera maker to a manufacturer. While the product is not poor for its price tag of Rs 14,999, there are several areas where the Ektra could have done better to carve up the segment of budget smartphones and build for itself a niche. 
This review has been updated to change the product's price, revised by the company after launch

First Published: Sat, September 09 2017. 00:55 IST