Polaroid iM1836 Android interchangeable lens camera review
Polaroid became the first manufacturer to combine Google's Android operating system with an interchangeable lens camera this week at CES, with the announcement of the iM1836. The cameras are still very much in the prototype stages, but we've been able to bring you our first impressions of both the hardware and software from the show floor.
With an 18-megapixel sensor and a 10-30mm kit lens, the iM1836 has all the hallmarks of a mid-range point and shoot. Polaroid is pricing it accordingly, so it shouldn't be compared to Micro four thirds cameras from the likes of Panasonic and Olympus, but holds up well against fixed lens compacts. The option to swap out lenses gives it a real advantage over Samsung's Galaxy Camera, which is the main competition for Android-powered cameras.
Unusually, the image sensor is built into the lens - Polaroid claims this is to make it easier for beginner users to swap them out for others without trapping dust. Currently two other lenses are planned; a zoom and a pancake, but there was no mention of possible focal lengths. We don't yet know about pricing, but with a sensor inside each one they could end up being costly.
Running Android 4.1, and with full access to the Google Play store, you'll be able to add apps like Flickr and Photoshop touch to upload and edit photos using the interchangeable lenses. The camera has a pop-up flash for low light shooting, automatic face detection and auto face exposure, but we expect its main appeal will be the ability to apply filters with Instagram and upload them in higher quality than is possible with an iPhone or Android smartphone. You'll also be able to record Full HD 1080p video.
The 3.5in touchscreen display is nowhere near as expansive as the 4.8in one found in Samsung's Galaxy Camera, nor is it as sharp or bright. It's still usable, but it feels somewhat lacking when the two devices are compared side-by-side. All the standard Android buttons, including Home, Back, Menu and recent Apps, are placed to the side of the display, and the operating system hasn't been skinned like Samsung's device.
The Galaxy camera also has the benefit of an integrated 3G/4G modem, letting you upload photos on the move. Polaroid's iM1836 only has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, although you'll be able to tether the camera to your phone if you want to post a shot straight to Instagram or Facebook.
Expected to launch some time before the summer, the iM1836 will cost $399 in the US. It's planned to reach Europe some point after that, but we won't know about UK pricing or availability.