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Review: Is HTC's answer to GoPro the action camera you're looking for?

The periscope style camera may look like an oddity, but is there more to it than meets the eye?

WHEN YOU THINK of areas for a smartphone company to branch out to, a few were surprised when HTC announced it would be releasing an action camera.

Enter the RE Camera, HTC’s entry into the action camera market. It looks a bit strange, but the company has put thought and effort into making sure the first model would be a hit.

The idea is that instead of experiencing the moment viewed through your camera, the RE Camera allows you to focus on the important things, but how does it work in practice?

Look and feel

To put it bluntly, the Re Camera looks a bit odd. Anything that looks like a periscope will elicit that feel although there is certainly a logic to it.

While it might look odd, the actual design is much better. The device is always on standby, and is activated whenever you hold it through the grip sensor. It has two main buttons: the shutter button and another button underneath the lens which, when held down, switches the camera into slow-motion mode.

RE camera gif

To its credit, the device is rather easy to hold and light. You can tuck it into your pocket or on your wrist via the lanyard, and it’s small enough to put into your trouser pocket should you require it.

Pushing the camera button takes a photo, while holding it down starts recording. Snaps give off that traditional camera shutter sound you would associate with every smartphone camera while every other action is signaled with bleeps which is strangely nostalgic.

Camera quality

The RE Camera uses a 146-degree wide-angle lens and features a 16MP camera. It’s able to record full HD footage (1080p) footage and 720p slow-motion footage.

In reality, the quality is decent, if not amazing, although that’s not its problem. The obvious issue is you won’t know what the shot is like until you see it on your phone or computer.

This is fixed through trial and error, but there will be numerous shots taken before you get used to holding it properly and give it time to focus (the last photo in the slideshow below is a good example). Also the wide-angle lens makes objects appear further away then they are.

Once you learn the angle it needs to be propped and how long it will take to focus, you can get some decent shots from it. They’re not going to blow you away, but they’ll certainly look good on the small screen.

Video recording is decent if a little jagged. The image quality isn’t really the problem here. Instead, the video isn’t as smooth as you would hope it to be, and you would happily take a reduction in image quality for smoother footage. That said, slow-motion shots are quite nice and manages to be smooth.

Review: Is HTC's answer to GoPro the action camera you're looking for?
1 / 6
  • RE Camera - Photo 1

  • RE Camera - Photo 2

  • RE Camera - Photo 3

  • RE Camera - Photo 4

  • RE Camera - Photo 5

  • RE Camera - Photo 6


Smartphone integration

This is where things begin to fall apart. Using the accompanying RE app, you can connect to the camera via Bluetooth and use WiFi or mobile data to get a live stream of what’s happening on your phone.

That’s what supposed to happen in theory, but in reality, you’re normally left with moments where it’s trying to connect. When it does connect, there’s normally some lag before it loses its connection a second time, and this happens a little too frequently.

This is more annoying than anything else as there are some smartphone exclusive settings and modes like time lapse mode to take advantage of. Balancing it on a smooth surface and recording footage is nice, but chances are you’re more likely to use it without the app.

Camera and smartphone


In a way, the RE Camera feels like it doesn’t know what it wants to be. In one sense, it wants to be the camera that can go places your smartphone can’t, but it also wants to be the camera you rely on. It doesn’t quite achieve either one, but for a first effort, it’s a decent attempt.

Yet with the flaws it has, there’s little that would make you want to put your phone down and use this instead. It’s not without its merits, but you may want to try it out and get a feel for it first before you decide to spend.

- Small, light and easy to use.
- Grip sensor is a nice replacement for on/off button.
- Camera provides decent, if not amazing, photos and videos.

- Syncing with phone app can be a pain.
- Video footage can be a little jittery.
- Need to buy accessories first if you want to use it for action shots/videos like GoPro.

The RE Camera costs €169 and is available on HTC’s main site and Amazon. It will also be available in Vodafone in the near future.

Read: Review: Is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 the best phablet out there? >

Read: Happy 20th birthday Playstation! Here are some of the moments that helped shape it >

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