The Good Eh … can you expand its storage with microSD cards?
The Bad The camera is disappointing. Made of cheap materials. Poor battery life and sluggish work. Plus it’s too expensive.
The Bottom Line Ektra is trying to be a great camera and high-end phone right away, but it’s not great either.
Editors’ note: Since our initial review, Kodak has made major software updates and reduced the price to $ 400 in the United States and £ 370 in the UK (the price is converted to $ 540). We have revised our original review to reflect the price and minor improvements to the camera, and have replaced our test images with new ones taken with the latest software. The original review was posted on January 20, 2017 and updated on July 5, 2017.
Kodak Ektra is my first disappointment in 2017. As an experienced photographer, I was really pleased to see this phone. Wow, that failed me.
The combination of Ektra with its flashy plastic design, clunky camera interface, and poor battery life (even after software updates) were quite disappointing. But the worst part is that this photo-oriented phone, despite upgrading the software to improve it, still doesn’t take great photos.
Kodak says he wanted to make “Extra” for people with “artistically oriented hobbies, interests, passions.” The way some people get into Lomography or Holga cameras, Kodak wants to take advantage of demographics that enjoy the aesthetic look and experience of using a modern, reversing camera (if not more) than creating an image. I understand it, and I even like the concept, but this nostalgia for holding one of Kodak’s classic metal film cameras will quickly get lost when you pick up this plastic thing.
The problem is that you can get the same photos or better on better devices that also have more spectacular features. If you are not truly committed to the Kodak vision, you will be happier with the new OnePlus 5 or Samsung Galaxy S7 ($ 318 on Amazon) . You can get the S7 for about £ 455 ($ 503, $ 949) on Amazon, while the stellar OnePlus 5 with its stunning dual-camera setup is £ 449 ($ 479, $ 750).
Kodak is not the only wine company here. His partner Bullitt actually made the phone. The price has been reduced since its initial launch, but at £ 370 it is still inexpensive. It went on sale in the US for $ 400 earlier this year, though there is no word on availability in Australia. The US price is around $ 527.
The Ektra still struggles with colors
A number of Ektra software updates have made some improvements when I first tried the phone last December.
My biggest issues with camera work are the often inaccurate white balance and autofocus, which often can’t be captured on stage. Updates have done a lot to address both of these issues, but none have been completely fixed. I took some new test photos on the phone, as did my CNET colleagues Patrick Holland and Mariana Marcaletti – all three came to the same conclusion.
This exterior landscape overlooking London has a yellowish tint that looks unnatural and shows that the white balance is still not perfect.
Whether it’s white balance, exposure, or just a common image processing problem, this shot of a basketball stuck in a tree is almost devoid of color.
In this park scene, it goes a little better, although you can see the color variations in the sky, with the right and left edges appear more purple-blue, while the central part is more greenish-blue. Software updates have improved it since I checked it for the original review – now it is apparently “hit and miss” rather than constantly inaccurate.
At least this shot of a beautiful espresso is, at least, a place.
Extra continues to struggle even in low light.
In this scene of San Francisco there is a huge amount of noise images and a total lack of detail in front of our failed model, as shown in the detailed scale below.
I thought the focus was much more accurate – not to mention much faster – after the software upgrade, but the different scenes still proved to be problematic.
Ektra’s autofocus didn’t completely get to the picture outdoors, and CNET editor Patrick Holland reported similar results from his test rig, especially in low-light environments.
I still find the Ektra camera app clunky to use. Although it loads faster, you change modes by using the tiny wheel in the bottom right corner, which you can safely do in a hurry. HDR mode is also a standalone mode, not a quick setup to turn it on in the normal auto mode – like the iPhone or Galaxy S8 ($ 500 on best purchase) . On top, Kodak finally added an extraordinary snapshot to the phone, which, although great, really should have been there from the beginning, especially since the raw support is supported by Android.
Inexpensive design, sophisticated software, short battery life
Aside from camera issues, there are many things I don’t like about Ektra:
- It is designed to look like leather and metal, but is actually made of cheap plastic that feels easy to hold.
- The beautiful ring around the camera lens does not perform any function (it is purely aesthetic).
- It works with the latest Android Marshmallow software, even after several software updates.
- Despite the deca-core processor, its interface can be sluggish for navigation.
- Graphically intense games are playable, but often at a low frame rate, which doesn’t look great.
- There’s no fingerprint scanner for Android Pay or quick unlocking.
- The thick bezel makes the display look squashed.
- Battery life is 9 hours 50 minutes when we tested it. It does not match 16 hours of S7. You will need to avoid using too much camera if you want it to last the whole day.
There are only a few things I can say: it has a microSD card slot for memory expansion. The interface is an unrestrained, hands-on Android experience. It charges with the updated USB-C standard, and it can stand on its own, horizontally, which can be handy for selfie shooting.
What to buy instead of Estra
Despite improvements to the camera software, the Kodak Ektra is still an incomprehensible phone. A phone aimed at photography lovers really needs perfection with their camera skills, and Ektra just doesn’t. The plastic construction quickly erases any excitement over the retro design. Even at a slightly lower price, there is no doubt that your money is better spent elsewhere.
If you want a genius camera phone for the same money, get involved with the Galaxy S7. Or splash a little more and hit the OnePlus 5 – an ingenious all-rounder with a stunning camera and sophisticated metallic design. Both of these phones will allow you to take better photos, and the beautiful designs mean that you won’t have to be embarrassed to knock them out to start shooting.