Polaroid iM1836 Interchangeable Lens Android Camera review: first look
The Polaroid's iM1836 Interchangeable Lens Android Camera follows the lead of Samsung's Galaxy Camera by running Android on a touchscreen-backed camera, giving the ability to edit and share photos instantly. The camera runs Jelly Bean, which was unveiled here at CES 2013, and will be upgradeable to newer versions of the mobile OS.
Android is accessed via a 3.5in LCD display on the back of the camera, which allows any app from Google Play to be installed. That makes it possible to use popular photography apps such as Instagram or Photoshop Touch for editing, or to easily share images via Twitter or Facebook -- or, if you're so inclined, to play Angry Birds.
Compared to the rival Galaxy Camera, Polaroid's iM1836 offers something different: interchangeable lenses.
The 18-megapixel device comes with a 10-30mm lens. While that's an odd zoom length, two other lenses will also be available, a zoom lens and a pancake lens. The company says other three-quarter lenses will work with the camera, but adapters may be required.
The sensor is built directly into each lens, making it less likely that dust will creep onto the sensor during a switch. Polaroid's thinking? That this makes it easier for beginner photographers to use, and minimise costly mistakes.
There are other differences between the Polaroid Android and Samsung's Galaxy Camera. The Samsung version comes with a SIM card for mobile broadband, while the Polaroid version doesn't, only supporting Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. (A spokesperson helpfully suggested we tether it to a smartphone, so don't leave your phone at home.) The Galaxy also has a larger, sharper touchscreen than the Polaroid.
In terms of tick-box features, the Polaroid Android camera can take 1080p video and features an HDMI output, as well as a pop-up flash, auto-blink detection, and auto-face exposure. It uses an SD card slot for on-device storage.
While it's clearly a compact camera compared to a high-end DSLR, we wouldn't describe the Polaroid iM1836 as a small device: with the bundled 10-30mm lens in place it has a chunky feel.
The camera goes on sale in the second quarter in the US for $399. A spokesman said he expected the device to head to Europe after that, but we're a long way from UK pricing and availability dates. If/when it does land in the UK, we'll take a closer look with a full review.