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Why Kodak is Making the Ektra, their first smartphone

Now you can truly point and shoot with a phone.

“The best camera is the one that’s with you.”

In just nine words (the title of his first book), award-winning American photographer Chase Jarvis vindicated hordes of amateur photographers armed with nothing more than smartphones, to the chagrin of camera buffs who’d sunk thousands of dollars into the best equipment money could get them.

Seven years after the book’s publication and with entire generations born into the post-smartphone-revolution world, it’s hard to dispute Jarvis’ statement.

Special moments and terrific views go straight from the lens to social media within seconds, skipping post-editing and the darkroom. Quality photography lives on, but it’s competing for attention with terabytes of casually-taken snapshots that suffice in telling a story.

That’s probably why the folks at Kodak are throwing in the towel and building their own smartphone, the Ektra, which is heavily focused on photography. (The last time a camera company announced such a phone was for an April Fool’s prank.)

The combination of a shutter button, a prominent lens installation and a curved grip, plus a body wrapped in leatherette (faux leather), are some major smartphone redesigns that set the Ektra apart from the typical black slab and let it handle like a compact camera.

(RELATED: Kodak was on the verge of bankruptcy – here’s how they pulled back out of the red.)

The main camera itself packs a 21-megapixel (MP) Sony sensor (for comparison, the newly-launched iPhone 7 is 12MP) and a f/2.0 aperture lens; the front-facing (or ‘selfie’) camera comes in at 13MP (iPhone 7: 7 MP). Whether or not the processors churns out top-tier results remains to be seen.

The camera is set at a middling price point of US$550 (S$770), will run on an Android operating system, and will only be available in a few months’ time. Until then, our shutter fingers are crossed for this firm who’s trying to reignite the glory days.