At launch, the $600 DxO One smartphone camera was out of reach for most consumers. However four years, a bankruptcy filing, and one giant price cut later, it may be time to give this soon-to-be-extinct, $140 add-on another look.
Here’s how it works, the DxO One attaches to iPads and iPhones running iOS 8 or later through the Lightning connector. There’s a USB-C option for Android users, too. But it hovers around $200. After it’s attached, the DxO One prompts you to download the accompanying app, which you’ll use to create images.
With a 32mm f/1.8 - f/11 prime lens and a 1-inch format 20.2MP sensor, the DxO One offers more robust optics than what’s found on any modern smartphone camera.
Nothing’s really changed since the camera launched in 2015. Images made on the DxO One are markedly better than the ones made from smartphones—even better than those made on my iPhone X. With the DxO One, the colors are more accurate and the images produced in low light retain more detail. In fact, it performs as well as most standalone point-and-shoots I’ve tested despite being so small.
The negatives, too, remain. It’s still a little awkward to use, the battery life isn’t great, and it can’t create photos in succession quickly.
The difference now is the price and lack of official support.
Since its bankruptcy announcement, DxO no longer supports DxO One. This means no firmware updates or improvements are on the horizon. (Luckily, an update squeaked by to make use of the entire screen of the iPhone X.) The company even removed all the references to the accessory from its website. Unfortunately, this means the app could, and probably one day will, stop working in future versions of iOS.
Despite this, it’s hard to ignore the massive price reduction and the shooting capability the DxO One brings to the table. I, for one, was skeptical at first, but now a mainstay of my gadget go-pack, for at least as long as it stays alive.
Photographers interested in improving their iPhone photography, especially those with a two-year-old smartphone like an iPhone 8 or a Pixel 2, should give it a shot.