Adding any lens system to a smartphone takes some of the spontaneity out of the shooting experience but as Olloclip’s long-standing lineage of adaptable camera glass demonstrates, they also afford you a level of adaptability otherwise unobtainable from those naked smartphone sensors.
Olloclip Connect X review: The hardware
Olloclip’s Connect system, which launched for both the iPhone 7 and 8 series, was a notable shift in the company’s key proposition; not least because it let users swap out lenses even faster than before and could flex to accommodate glass screen protectors, something previously impossible.
The iPhone X’s vertically-aligned primary camera meant that Olloclip’s existing mounting system wouldn’t play nice with the hardware at hand, so instead the company has developed a new spring-loaded L-shaped bracket that slots over the corner of your iPhone X.
Read next: Apple iPhone X Camera Review
Despite the design change, the new Connect X system is no harder to set up. It comes attached to a pendant which itself features a small carabiner, so you can attach it to your belt loops or bag, provided you don’t mind running the risk of sporting a fashion faux pas. As for the pendant itself, it splits open on a hinge, transforming into a stand to support your new lens-laden iPhone, should you which to capture some long-exposure or time-lapse photography hands-free.
Olloclip Connect X review: Compatibility and ease of use
Frustratingly, although the lenses pop-out with spring-loaded ease, as existing Connect lenses do, this new system adheres to a new Olloclip standard called Connect X (go figure). This means that if you’ve already invested in Olloclip’s iPhone 7 or 8-series Connect lenses, they won’t work with the camera setup and mounting system that’s been purpose-built for the iPhone X.
Hats off to Olloclip for its upfront transparency on Connect X’s incompatibility with phone cases, that is unless you pick up the company’s own £30 slim case, which features a sizeable cut-out around the X’s rear camera.
The Connect X mounting bracket only attaches to the phone in one orientation, so instead of flipping the entire thing around to swap lenses as on previous Olloclip mounts, you have to pop out each lens individually and pop them back in on their opposing sides. It’s arguably more fiddly and time-consuming than the company’s older mounting solutions but primarily a caveat dictated by the layout of the iPhone X’s hardware, rather than complacency on Olloclip’s part.
The first thing you’ll notice when you attach the new mount to your iPhone X is how much it encroaches on the display. You can’t readily swipe around the top right corner whilst it’s attached, so features like Control Centre have to be summoned by other means, such as the phone’s accessibility tools. Slap a lens over the front-facer and you can’t use Face ID either, whilst buttons and controls within some apps, including the native camera app, will be obscured too.
Olloclip’s sizeable lenses make seamless use of the iPhone X’s dual camera array impossible, but you can still use your new glass on that secondary telephoto sensor if you really want. All you need to do is pop out the Connect X lens you’re using, flip it 180 degrees and pop it back in so that it lines up over the main camera’s lower sensor.
On the software side, if using the iPhone’s native camera app you then have to rely on Portrait mode (which can’t detect depth when a lens is attached). Whilst it’s good that Olloclip’s system supports this, the only real benefit comes from using the company’s telephoto lens, which combined with the phone’s existing 2x zoom grants you a total 4x zoom overall.
Olloclip Connect X review: Functionality and image quality
We tested the Mobile Photography Box Set for iPhone X, which includes a Connect X super-wide and fisheye lens, the latter of which unscrews to reveal a 15x macro lens too. All three lenses will add plenty of variety to your photographic outings with the iPhone X and paired with the company’s growing focus on equipping videographers through products like its Filmer’s Kit, will also add flare to everything from time-lapse to skate footage.
As expected, you’ll see notable distortion towards the edge of frame when using the fisheye and macro lenses, whilst the super-wide impresses by retaining image fidelity throughout. The super-wide is also great when set across the phone’s front camera for squeezing more faces into shot for group selfies.
Olloclip Connect X review: Price and verdict
Olloclip has already promised to release a full range of Connect X lenses imminently (as it has with its standard Connect range) priced between £49.99 and £79.99 depending on the lens in question.
There are a fair few sacrifices and caveats that come with embracing Olloclip’s new Connect X lens system and paired with £99 price tag for the kit we reviewed, you need to be sure that you’ll make use of the creative perspectives all this new glass facilitates if you’re planning to pony up the dough.