In order to provide a product that is going to attract iPhone users, a company needs to innovate and offer something we haven’t seen yet on the market. This is not an easy job, and that is why many companies turn to designers whose main mission is to create a new product category. For example, we have seen numerous odd-looking accessories that are trying to offer some new functionality. In most cases, these products were novelties that were forgotten rather quickly.
Incipio is one of the latest companies that managed to produce an iPhone-compatible product that captured everyone’s attention. This product was first unveiled at CES 2014, but now we got a chance to test it for ourselves. This is the Focal Camera Case for the iPhone 5/5S, priced at $70. This case is designed to transform your phone into something that resembles a traditional point and shoot camera, which seemed very interesting and intriguing while being presented at CES. Now let’s see how this case behaves in real life, and if it’s worth the asking price.
In contrast to numerous iPhone cases, Focal splits into two pieces through its vertical axis. This way we get a smaller piece that is designed to imitate brushed metal, and a larger piece that comes with a rough plastic texture. This larger piece also holds rather bulky hand grip, covered by a faux leather. This hand grip adds about 0.15” to the overall thickness, which means that it’s noticeable but won’t get in your way. Inside the case, you will see a coin cell battery that provides by to 300 hours or photo taking fun.
Once you place the phone inside the case, you will see that it resembles a traditional digital camera, which is something that many will appreciate. On the other hand, I am sure that some potential buyers will negatively react to its skeuomorphic design. However, if we look at how functional and protective this case is, we will see that it’s very nicely designed. It provides plenty of protection from all sides, and all the buttons and ports are easily accessible. The microphone and speakers are partially covered by a series of small holes.
The main functionality of this case is to provide you a convenient way to shoot photos and videos. This can be done only by using Incipio’s free inCAMERA App that is designed to be paired with this case. The case brings four physical buttons along the bottom of the iPhone’s right edge. You will need to hold the power button for a few seconds in order for pairing to be done, and then you can start taking pictures. Incipio’s inCAMERA App offers different flash modes, photo timers and a burst mode. It can’t be said that it’s better than Apple’s Camera app, since it simply packs a few more interesting features, but that’s about it.
Even though the Focal case seems like a very interesting iPhone accessory, I need to ask myself if I would be willing to pay $70 for something that is already present on my phone. Apple’s Camera app is good enough, and I can take pictures using the iPhone’s volume button. This product doesn’t solve any particular issue that I have with my phone, nor does it add some great or unique functionality. I am disappointed to say that the Focal case is just another novelty that will be forgotten in just a couple of months.
PROS: Very interesting concept. Quality made. Provides proper protection.
CONS: Does not bring anything new or innovative. Works only with Incipio’s iOS app. High priced.