VR is everywhere this CES. It’s not, though, on everything. We’ve already seen plenty of HMDs, accessories, and 360-degree cameras, but what we’ve not seen is a 360-degree camera combined with something else. Well, Yezz is looking to address this gap in the market and integrate a VR camera with something that makes perfect sense – a smartphone.
When it originally sent us information about its new Sfera smartphone a few weeks ago, we weren’t surprised by this combination. After all, it’s a natural fit, with the smartphone component allowing you to both capture and share your 360-degree video right from the phone. However, when we saw that Yezz was first out of the gate with this, we were taken aback a bit.
That's nothing against Yezz, which is a small but innovative OEM, who you might remember from our extensive coverage of its plans for a Project Ara modular phone, but we did expect to see a 360 camera-equipped smartphone to come from a bigger player first. After sending us preliminary information, Yezz has updated us with the full details of the Sfera.
|SoC||MediaTek Helio P10 MT6755|
|Camera Technology||Patented by 360 Lab|
|CPU||2.0 GHz Octa-Core Cortex A-53|
|Cellular Connectivity||3G HSPA+ (850/1700/1900/2100) or (850/900/1900/2100)4G LTE (B2/B4/B7/B17) or (B1/B3/B7/B20)|
|Sensors||Accelerometer / Gyro / Proximity / Compass / Light|
|Screen||5.5” IPS HD with Tempered Scratch Resistant Glass|
|Connectivity||GPS / AGPS / Glonass / Bluetooth 4.0 / Wi-Fi / Wi-Fi Hotspot|
|Memory & Storage||32 GB ROM + 3 GB RAM|
|Optional Memory||Up to 64 GB|
|OS||Android Marshmallow v.6.0|
|Camera||Front Camera: 360 Degree HD Fish Eye Camera with Special LensRear Camera: 360 Degree HD Fish Eye Camera with Special Lens|
|Dimensions (HxWxT)||169.4mm x 82.5mm x 12mm|
|Battery||3,000 mAh (Talk / Stand-By: 18 hrs / 500 hrs)|
As you can see, the phone specs themselves are only middle of the road, which is fine (especially when you see its price below). The 360-degree cameras are the stars of the show, and Yezz is partnering with the 360 Lab “technology innovation center” for the VR hardware and software of the Sfera. The footage captured by the two fisheye cameras is stitched on the phone and can be viewed on-device using a mobile HMD like Google Carboard, or shared to apps like Google’s Street View or YouTube.
Yezz also recognizes that as a 360-degree camera, the Sfera is also likely to be used differently than most smartphones, and its shape is designed to offer better grip. It also looks to have a more rugged design, and Yezz has made it compatible with standard action camera accessories so it can, for example, be mounted on your wingsuit’s helmet.
We mentioned earlier that the Sfera’s pricing is significant, and Yezz clearly agrees, because it sent us the handy price and specification chart above. The Sfera is both cheaper and better spec’d in some areas that two of the leading entry-level 360-degree camera offerings, yet it's also a full-blown smartphone. What's more, you’ll be able to get the Sfera for an even lower incredible $300 if you pre-order it from the Yezz store.
One thing Yezz did not share with us is availability information, so we'll acquire that information and update accordingly.
Alex Davies is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware and Tom's IT Pro, covering Smartphones, Tablets, and Virtual Reality. You can follow him on Twitter. Follow Tom's Hardware on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.