Incipio’s Focal Camera Case Transforms the iPhone 5s into a Legitimate Camera: Review

The Incipio Focal Camera Case doesn’t just make your iPhone look like a real point and shoot camera, it makes it work like one too. The protective case comes with a removable wrist strap, a shutter button, a customizable function button, zoom buttons, and even a vegan leather grip.

The Incipio Focal case is certainly easy on the eyes. It almost looks like one of those cases that disguises iPhone as a camera, except this isn’t just for show. The case is two pieces that lock around iPhone. There’s a latch on the back to unlock the case. As far as protective iPhone cases go, this is just about as protective as they get. All sides, corners, and faces are well covered. It’s just about as usable as any other case too, there’s button overlays for volume and lock. There’s a small cutout for the headphone and lightning connector, which may be troublesome for some docks, cables, and headphones. The included wrist strap is a nice feature that butterfingers will be able to appreciate. It’s a bit heavier and bulkier than you’re average case, but it’s optimized for picture taking.

Focal was designed to make picture taking easy. You can effortlessly grasp your iPhone and snap a shot without dropping it or getting your hand in the way. The faux leather grip and extra surface area makes it even easier for one handed use. The shutter button is on the opposite side of iPhone than the lens and flash, this ensures your hand doesn’t get in the shot or reflect the flash.

The real question is: how does it work? Can I just tap the shutter button and a picture saves to my camera roll? Not quite. There is a catch. As with most iOS accessories, an app is required. The free Incipio InCamera app pairs the case to the phone (it uses bluetooth 4.0). It’s the only app that will understand Focal’s buttons; the buttons unfortunately do not work on iPhone’s camera app. The InCamera app has most of the same iOS camera features (and a couple extra, like timed photos). It does take a few extra seconds to open the app and start snapping. The shutter button works just like hitting the volume button in the camera app. It snaps a shot and saves it to the camera roll. The zoom rocker works well and the function button comes in handy. The function button (also the power button) can toggle flash mode, camera mode, display, or time delay. The case is powered by one of those coin shaped batteries and the low energy bluetooth will last it about 300 hours.

Incipio went all out with the focal; it’s available in 5 hip color schemes. There’s white with titanium or pink, and black with black, green, or gold. It’s a fun looking case with good protection and nice usability. It would be nice if it worked with iPhone’s native camera app, but it’s always a possibility down the line. The Incipio Focal Camera Case for iPhone 5/5S is currently available from Amazon.com for $69.99, or as low as $47.98 depending on the color.

The Good: Fun design, Camera functionality works well, Great grip, Included strap, Good usability, Protective

The Bad: Requires Incipio app to use camera buttons, Small cutouts for headphone and lightning port, Pricey

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