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Add a 4K 360 camera with realtime stitching to your smartphone! Hands-on first impressions with samples of ION360 U

ION360 U 360 camera accessory for iPhone 7 and Samsung S8
ION360 U 360 camera accessory for iPhone 7 and Samsung S8

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.

ION360 U is a 360 camera phone accessory
ION360 U is a 360 camera phone accessory

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!

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Mic Ty

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  • Looks nice but for all those that will upgrade to the iPhone 8 in 30-60 days, the camera will be useless pretty quick….