Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) Review

We review the new Kodak Ektra Smartphone - a 21mp camera phone, with 4K video, designed for photographers with manual controls and numerous shooting modes.

| Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) in Camera Phones
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Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) Review: Kodak Ektra Smartphone (5)

In a move that sees the original Kodak (Eastman) re-entering the photography market, Kodak has announced a new camera focused smartphone designed for those who are serious about photography. Developed by the Bullitt Group, who are based in Reading, and make tough mobile phones for CAT (including one with thermal imaging), the new Android smartphone has been created in partnership with Kodak.

Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) Features

Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) Review: Kodak Ektra (3)

Kodak's slogan for the new Kodak Ektra Smartphone is "Don't just capture, create." 

Kodak say the mid-tier 2016 Kodak Ektra Smartphone is targeted at creative people who care about photography. People who they say are “Selective about what they share on-line”, and people who are likely to already own a Digital SLR or high-end compact camera. The design takes cues from the original Kodak Ektra from 1941.

Founder George Eastman trademarked "you press the button, we do the rest."

Kodak say this camera covers all aspects of photography, with a custom built camera interface and application suite. The process starts with taking the photo using the 21-megapixel camera, image editing is taken care of by Snapseed which is built-in as the default editing app, and you can then create photos with a Kodak printing app, which will let you have photos delivered to you. There is also an app for creative video making, recreating the retro look of Kodak Super 8 film. 

Written on the lens is "6-axis OIS" - Optical Image Stabilisation - which is 1 more axis than Sony's Xperia XZ range. Kodak say this is a combination of optical and electronic stabilisation, and image stabilisation is also available for 4K and FullHD video.

Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) Review: Kodak Ektra Smartphone 2016 In Hand

2016 Kodak Ektra Smartphone Key Features

  • 21mp f/2.0 AF PDAF Sony 1/2.4inch sensor* with 6-axis Image Stabilisation 
  • 26.5mm (equivalent) f/2.0 6P lens with anti-reflective coated Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Two stage shutter release button
  • Dual LED flash
  • 4K video / Full HD / 720p
  • 13mp f/2.2 24mm wide-angle selfie camera with PDAF
  • 5inch Full HD display, 1920x1080, 441ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass
  • MediaTek HELIO X-20 2.3ghz deca-core** processor
  • 3GB ram, 32GB storage 
  • With MicroSD slot (up to 128GB)
  • 3000mah (non-removable) battery
  • “Pump Express” ready for high-speed charging
  • USB C, Headphone socket
  • AF Object Tracking
  • Android V6 (Marshmallow)
  • 147.8 x 73.35 x 9.69mm (14.02mm at camera lens)

* Sensor is the Sony IMX230 – 21mp BSI CMOS sensor 1/2.4 inch with 192 PDAF points, 4K video and HDR. 
** MediaTek MT6797 features 10 Processor cores: 2 x Cortex A72 @2.3ghz, 4 x Cortex A53 @2.0ghz, 4 x Cortex A53 @1.4ghz

Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) Handling

Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) Review: Kodak Ektra Smartphone (8)

The Kodak Ektra Smartphone is quite chunky, with the grip on one side adding to the size of the smartphone, and the lens protrudes from the phone. What I think may disappoint some is the size of the screen compared to the size of the phone, with a 5inch screen seeming quite small in the large frame. Shown next to another premium smartphone such as the HTC 11, or Samsung Galaxy S8, you can quickly notice how large the Ektra looks, and how much thinner other phones are, as well as how much more screen there is.

The larger size of the Ektra Smartphone will, however, be much more appealing if you've ever found your smartphone too slippery when trying to take photos, and the dedicated shutter button makes it feel much more like a real camera, with the two-stage shutter release button being a great addition, particularly if you want to confirm your focus is correct before taking the photo, and this should reduce the number of out of focus shots. 

Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) Review: Kodak Ektra HTC U11 Samsung S8 (2)
Kodak Ektra, HTC U11, Samsung Galaxy S8 

Kodak has used ArcSoft as image processing partners to help produce better low-light images. ArcSoft is used by a number of other companies, including Nikon, Sony, Olympus, and is also used in up to 1.5 billion smartphones. ArcSoft has technologies to help with not only low-light but also image stabilisation, stitching, facial recognition, HDR, and more. The camera's default photo size is 21 megapixels, and 4:3 aspect ratio. 

There is no tripod socket, so if you want to use the phone with a tripod, you'll need to use an adapter, and the square design of the smartphone will help with this.

Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) Review: Kodak Ektra Updated Manual Mode
Kodak Ektra - Updated Manual Mode

The photography app has a number of different shooting modes, that can be accessed by using a virtual mode dial, which has haptic feedback. The Mode dial has numerous shooting modes:

  • Smart Auto
  • HDR
  • Manual mode - shutter, iso, focus, WB, exposure comp
  • Bokeh mode (simulation mode)  takes 2 shots and stitches them together (slider to adjust level)
  • Panorama
  • Night / low light mode
  • Scene modes: Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Macro
  • Film / Video

The camera app has been updated since the smartphone was first released, and the latest updated gives raw support within the camera. Smart auto can also be switched off to speed up performance, as users complained of there being a delay when using this feature. There's a quick guide built-in as well. 

The manual mode is a little awkward to use, for example, when changing the ISO speed manually, the shutter speed would often not adjust automatically, and I'd have to select the shutter speed either manually or select Auto again to reset it. The camera also wouldn't let me choose ISO3200, instead every photo taken with this ISO speed selected, was taken at an automatic ISO speed that the camera chose!

The smartphone comes with Snapseed (from Google) for photo editing, and this is pre-loaded, as the default image editor. 

The phone has a soft-touch leather effect, with a metal effect frame, and metal lens surround. The smartphone feels fairly solid, and the sim tray is made out of metal, with space for a MicroSD card as well. There's also a wrist strap connection on the side of the smartphone, something that's quite rare on a smartphone. 

The screen is reasonably bright, on maximum brightness, but is not as bright as other smartphones we had to hand. 

The shutter release button can be used to quickly access the camera app when the phone is locked. It's a two-stage shutter release button, with a half-press focusing the lens, and a full press takes the photo. You can use the button on the screen to take photos if you’d prefer. When you're in the camera app, you need to use the (X) button to exit the app, and you can't use the Android home, back or menu buttons, which can make using the camera a little non-intuitive. 

On one of the home screens is a Kodak Photo Widget, to give help with the smartphone. It's also going to be used as a space to recommend photo apps. You don't have to use this if you don't want to, as it's not intrusive, but it could help with the phone and could recommend potentially useful photo apps, such as Gallery Doctor - an album management app designed to reduce duplicate photos or bad photos from your collection.

Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) Review: Kodak Ektra Smartphone (1)

A leather slip case is available for £29, and a leather camera case is also available which includes a strap £59. Both of these are available in brown or black. 

We tested the Kodak Ektra's performance, and got the following scores, using the following benchmarking software:

84189 AnTuTu Benchmark (v6.2.7)
1626 Single-Core Geekbench score (v4.1.0)
4181 multi-core Geekbench score

So whilst not a match for top-end smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8, it does beat other mid-range smartphones like the HTC U Play, and matches the Sony Xperia XZ in Geekbench scores.

Battery life was quite good, and the 3000mAh battery should provide a day's use. 

Kodak Ektra Smartphone (2016) Review: Kodak Ektra (1)

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