HTC Just Launched RE, A Flip Camera For Your Smartphone

HTC is indeed launching a camera, as the rumors suggested. The new RE (just RE) resembles a tiny periscope, and it’s not quite a GoPro, but it’s not quite a Flip camera, either (but it really seems like one). Instead, it’s designed to be a solution not unlike a mobile smartphone camera, albeit without the screen attached.

HTC CEO said that today marks a “new milestone in the evolution of HTC,” and it’s likely he was talking mostly about this expansion of the company’s product focus. The company tried to position this camera as a GoPro “for the rest of us,” and also claimed it would help users better “stay in the moment.”

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The RE is like any camera, except it’s shaped like a little tube and it doesn’t have a screen on the back. So it’s like a camera from the nineties, but it also has no off switch and only a large silver button to control both still camera and video capture. A quick press snaps a 16 megapixel photo with a 1/2.3-inch Sony CMOS sensor, and a long press starts and stops video. There’s one more button on the front that captures slow motion video, too.

The lens is a 146-degree wide-angle lens, and it has software stabilization for video shooting. It’s waterproof, allowing for “underwater selfies” according to HTC. And while it’s aimed at the “rest of us,” it still has been designed to work in action camera scenarios, and with existing straps and mounts.

product-blueIt’s controlled by an app, like the GoPro, and the app works on both Android and iPhone. Just downloading the app will provide access to all the videos and photos you’ve captured with RE, and you can use your phone as a remote viewfinder and shutter trigger.

There’s an SDK for third-party app developers, and HTC is planning to introduce a live streaming feature coming soon, which will allow you to broadcast from it directly over the web.

The hardware comes in white, teal, orange and navy blue, and it’s going to be distributed directly through, as well as through HTC, Amazon, Best Buy and U.S. carriers, with a projected launch time frame of this holiday season. It costs $199, and is up for pre-order now at HTC’s dedicated website.

HTC is putting high hopes on this gadget as a way for it to expand its potential product portfolio, but this honestly seems like a tough sell based on what was revealed on stage. GoPro has recently begun efforts to expand beyond the professional market, especially with the basic $129 GoPro Hero it just announced, and smartphone cameras are still taking over, so HTC has its work cut out for it in igniting consumer interest in this $199 standalone camera.