Technology companies are rapidly improving camera functions and apps for smartphones, but one is focusing instead on how a smartphone case can improve photos.
The company, iZZi Gadgets, recently introduced the Orbit case, which it says will turn an iPhone into a professional-grade device for digital photographers.
The Orbit, designed for the iPhone 4 and 5, includes four optical lenses -- fish-eye, macro, telephoto and wide-angle -- on a rotating spindle attached to the case. Made of durable aluminum, the case has a grip that helps to steady your hand while taking a photo. For more stabilization, the case also has three 20-millimeter slots for tripod mounts.
There were no instructions included in the review sample that was sent to me, but the setup was pretty simple. I placed my iPhone in the Orbit's inner silicone case, then secured that in the outer metal case, making sure to align the phone's camera with the case's viewfinder. The spindle turned smoothly until one of three lenses clicked into place; the fourth, the macro lens, was accessible by removing the wide-angle lens.
The fish-eye lens offered a 180-degree view and the telephoto lens doubled the zoom, but the wide-angle is a mere 0.67 times wider. The macro lens, my favorite, captured detailed close-ups. Unfortunately, the spindle is not removable, so the iPhone's camera cannot be used in its normal setting.
It would be nice if the case came with an editing app, if for no other reason than to remove the shadow of the lens that appeared in the photo corners. The phone's other functions were still easy to use, but the bulky case was not built to slide easily into a pocket. In fact, the case could use its own case for travel. Fortunately, the case has a convenient thumb hole, making it easy to pop the phone out.
The Orbit case comes in black, blue, purple, red and silver, and costs $230 for the iPhone 4 version or $240 for the iPhone 5. That's expensive, but still cheaper than a new camera with four lenses.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.