HTC RE Camera Review

The HTC RE Camera is a camera built from the ground up based on how we take photos and videos in the modern world. Don't judge it by the...

Jokes about the resemblance to periscopes and asthma inhalers aside, the HTC RE Camera is a solid camera. It’s extremely unique but in a really good way. I assume engineers at HTC decided to ignore everything we know about traditional cameras and design one from the ground up based on how we actually use these things.

At first I, admittedly, wasn’t impressed. It seemed small, simple and basic. It’s a tube with a lens and two buttons. In reality, it packs much more under the hood and is more rounded out by the un-seen details.

Test shot in Times Square at night

Test shot in Times Square at night

First and foremost, the RE Camera takes great shots. These are wide angle shots that are what we really want in a simple, throw-in-your-pocket-and-use-when-you-need camera. This is better than your smartphone, simpler than your DSLR and more convenient than any mirrorless pocket camera. This is a device from the future and people seemed to have judged it from the looks too quickly.

Taking this around and testing it out there were two reactions. One was curiosity since it looks so different than anything anyone has ever seen. It’s a tube, with a lens, and it takes pictures. To prove what it was I whipped out my smartphone, connected to the camera and showed the pictures or a live feed. It’s impressive once people understand it.

Test shot taken during the 2015 "Blizzard" in New York City

Test shot taken during the 2015 “Blizzard” in New York City

The other reaction was none. Using this camera in public people didn’t seem to notice. It’s discrete enough that you can take picture and nobody really seems to notice. Your arms aren’t extended, balancing a rectangle. Instead, you’re casually holding a grip and tapping the back with your thumb.

Looks aside, the RE Camera really impressed me. The wide aperture can handle low light situations with ease. Most of my shots were in the dark and it handled them much better than I expected (again, I underestimated it).

The market for the RE Camera seems confusing. I found using this was easier than taking out my phone. The RE Camera comes to life instantly when you hold it so it can take a picture or video once you pull it out. If you want to share your shots, pull up the app and share away. Everything is really easy to use.

That becomes a common thread using the RE, simplicity. It’s easy to use and bends to your will. If you want to take a picture, it’s ready. Want to a video selfie, just hold the button for a second. Want to stream live on YouTube, just open the app and tap two buttons.

That streaming feature was an early promised but only recently available addition. Streaming live video to YouTube was exciting but the video quality is limited to 4:3 and 420p so you’ll get “streaming” but not “quality streaming” which is still a great feature.

Live Streaming test video from HTC RE Camera

Live streaming was an exciting thought but I couldn’t see myself using it often, even if the quality was there. Quick videos and pictures were more my speed anyway, that’s what I already do, but the RE is just better at it than my other options.

There were other features that were included and great like time lapse and slo-mo mode. Both worked well but aren’t “daily” features.

The battery life on the RE has room for improvement. There were times the battery was fully charged and ready to go and others when it, for some reason, wasn’t. It may have been kept awake from inside my pocket but charging is fast enough that it doesn’t change the fact it’s a great little camera. HTC offers an extended battery if you feel you need the additional juice.

Based on how the majority of us use our photos and videos, the RE Camera brings everything you need. This is the ideal vacation camera or something to carry if you love selfies. The wide angle lens (Ultra Wide angle is also an option in the settings) brings in a ton of landscape into your shot. Since the camera lacks a screen to frame your shot, you don’t have to be worried you’ll miss something as long as you’re pointing at the general direction.

This is one of my favorite gadgets of the year. Carrying this in your pocket doesn’t get in the way, it’s easy to use and the quality is great. The freshman YouTube streaming feature can use some improvement but this is the device I hope to take on my next vacation because it’s all I’ll really need.

HTC RE Camera
HTC RE Camera
The Good
  • Strong build
  • Unique style
  • Easy-to-use design
The Bad
  • Video/photo quality
  • Build Quality
  • Picture
  • Video
  • Features

Pop culture geek, tech enthusiast, co-host of the Pop Center Podcast and on-air personality on SiriusXM.
5 Comments on this post.
  • Nathan Lewis
    11 February 2015 at 12:44 am
    Leave a Reply

    Hi, great review, I’m also enjoying the RE Camera but there’s one thing that’s quite annoying, the extended battery! HTC have been talking about the extended battery prior to the cameras release but 4 months on & still this extended battery is not available anywhere as its still to be released. I’ve contacted HTC but all I get told is that they don’t know anything! That’s pretty poor to advertise the extended battery for months but not actually release it anywhere or make it available to purchase!

  • Tommy West (@GothamTommy)
    14 February 2015 at 2:33 pm
    Leave a Reply

    I agree. I wasn’t aware of the extended battery not being available (I assumed it was, just as you probably did). I found that the RE lasted longer if I kept it someplace it wasn’t touching my skin. I had it in my jacket pocket and it was probably coming in and out of standby mode from being close to me. I’d go to use it and find the battery almost dead.

  • Nathan Lewis
    14 February 2015 at 3:12 pm
    Leave a Reply

    This week I was unfortunate enough to find my HTC Re Camera broke down. Whatever I tried, the only thing that kept happening was for the Orange light to come on & flash 8 times.

    I tried to connect it to my phone, tried to charge it & even went through doing a Master Reset (Hard Reset) following the HTC website instructions but to no avail. All that happened & kept on happening was that orange light & it’s 8 flashes.

    Contacted HTC as I’d only had the RE Camera 7 weeks & found to my disgust that they didn’t want to know! They refused to have it in for repair, they refused to replace it & refused to do anything! The reason for HTCs repeated refusals – I couldn’t give them an IMEI Number & with good reason. The only devices that have an IMEI number are mobile phones. My RE Camera isn’t a mobile phone so it doesn’t have any kind of IMEI number.

    I spoke to several HTC Staff only to arrive at the same result. I even pointed out to them that the RE Camera is not a mobile phone & they understood this but after speaking to a supervisor, no IMEI number no repair! I offered them the Serial Number but no that’s not good enough. I asked what am I supposed to do now? HTC answer – take it up with the retailer you bought it from, it’s nothing to do with us!

    Well according to the warranty paperwork that comes with the RE Camera it is to do with HTC.

    You can’t submit an email to HTC as their online form also insists on a non existent IMEI number.

    The RE Camera comes with a HTC 1year warranty. Why offer a warranty then refuse to honour that warranty. It’s ridiculous.

    If your HTC RE Camera goes wrong or develops a fault then your on your own. The HTC Warranty doesn’t exist. £129 ($199) for 7 weeks use of a RE Camera (no matter how good it is) just isn’t worth it!

    • Tommy West (@GothamTommy)
      25 February 2015 at 2:50 pm
      Leave a Reply

      Wow, Nathan, sorry to hear that. Nothing worse than customer service run-around.

      I had the RE do that to me once but charging and a hard reset cleared it all up.

      • Nathan
        26 February 2015 at 12:42 am
        Leave a Reply

        Tried the Hard Reset & checked I was following the instructions correctly but it was no good.

        It turns out others are in the same boat as me. They’re RE Cameras won’t respond to a Hard Reset or being put on to charge & it all began after their RE Cameras started to install Januarys software update onto their RE Cameras. It’s like its stuck in a cycle that cannot be broken.

        On another note, still no sign of the HTC RE Camera Extended Battery. From my perspective this has been an epic fail by HTC.

        I’ve received a survey to rate their Customer Service from when they refused to honour their own warranty. The form cannot be submitted if you put a one star rating due to some website error. Tried over the last few weeks but fails every time.

        if your RE Camera ever develops a fault or problem & the Hard Reset fails, you’ll see how HTC don’t help.

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