Kodak Ektra Is a Camera First and Smartphone Second, But Will It Succeed?

Kodak made a strong statement when it announced its Ektra smartphone; essentially the first smartphone developed primarily with photographers in mind.

While the specs sheet runs long and touts multiple techie features, it was the ergonomic charm of the Ektra that got us talking. Unlike the Hasselblad MotoMod, the Ektra wasn’t an add-on component. Unlike the iPhone 7 and Google Pixel, the Ektra didn’t abide by sleek smartphone conventions. It’s a camera first and a smartphone second, which is what makes the Ektra is so exciting.

It comes with physical camera buttons, a curved handgrip, and DSLR-style dial to accentuate the compact camera element. Even the accompanying accessories are fashioned around a tactile camera experience.

Built to generate nostalgia, the smartphone comes packed with classic Kodak film grain filters, Super 8 film filters, and a photo prints app which allows you to order physical prints to the door – just like in the old days. The Ektra camera experience is made even more complete by Kodak’s naming of the smartphone harkening back to the classic rangefinder of the same name.

We must admit, the ‘photography-first smartphone’ is a bold step for Kodak. It certainly doesn’t appear to be the most pocketable smartphone on the market which may deter casual consumers. The US$550 price point is also questionably expensive for a smartphone that has yet to prove itself.

But Kodak are seemingly all in on this high stakes bet because if it pays off, they will have successfully found a way into the smartphone market and also made its prints service relevant once again.

Not since the failure of Nokia’s N-Gage has a smartphone taken such a transformative leap. The Nokia Lumia 1020 enjoyed mild success but innovated well ahead of its time and ultimately fell by the wayside. But this is what the Ektra smartphone is all about and we’ll be interested in seeing what lasting impact it will have on Kodak’s legacy – good or bad.

Images via Kodak