Here are my first impressions and samples from the ION360 U, a 360 camera accessory for smartphones, including 4K video samples clips, 4K live stream samples, and a sample 360 photo!
One of the hottest segments among 360 cameras is 360 camera phone accessories that attach directly to your smartphones. Many 360 camera phone accessories have been entry-level 360 cameras that capture 1920 x 960 video. The ION360 U, however, is part of the next generation of 360 camera phone accessories that can shoot at 4K with realtime in-camera stitching — videos are automatically stitched. It can also stream in 4K.
The ION360 U also has a unique 2-part design. One part is a battery charger case that serves not only as a battery for the camera component but it can also charge your phone, while also providing some protection. The second part is a removable camera (the camera can’t attach to the phone unless you use the battery case). It’s available for iPhone 7, iPhone 7 plus, Samsung S8, Samsung S8 plus.
When I first saw the ION360 U, I thought it was a cool concept, but there were no photo or video samples at that time and I didn’t know what to expect in terms of image quality. ION360 U sent me a preproduction unit for testing and I will post a full review but my first impression is that the image quality is actually very good – among the best I’ve seen for 360 smartphone accessories. Not only is the video detailed, with a pleasant exposure and contrast, but the quality of the realtime stitching was quite impressive. Here is a short video clip:
The ION360 U can also live stream in 4K, and is one of the 360 cameras certified by Facebook for 360 Live. Besides Facebook, you can also stream to YouTube. I tested the live streaming capability using only my phone’s LTE signal (as opposed to Wi-Fi). I didn’t know if it would work because my phone’s internet service isn’t that good. Surprisingly, the live stream worked, and it was actually quite detailed for a live stream:
The 360 photo resolution is only 3840 x 1920, but at least you can specify the ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation (+/- 2 EV). Here is a sample 360 photo:
Besides the image quality, I really like the convenience of the workflow — photos and videos are stitched in-camera in realtime (no need to wait for stitching), and are stored into your phone’s memory. The ION360 U app has a button for sharing to YouTube or Facebook.
As I mentioned, these are just my first impressions and I will be posting a full review with more samples. Meanwhile, however, there’s a promo — ION360 U will be $349, but if you preorder on or before August 31, you can get $100 off — at just $249!