Turtleback’s iPhone Lens Dial (available through Photojojo for $249.00) offers three lenses in one package that we found worth a closer look. To test out the capabilities of the case, I took the iPhone Lens Dial out for a day in Yosemite National Park in California.
I reviewed the iPhone 4S version of the iPhone Lens Dial — this version has a x.33 Fisheye, x1.5 teleconverter and x.7 wide angle. The iPhone 5 version (available for the same price) also includes a macro lens.
The overall feel of the case is solid, but is also little cumbersome. It’s “aircraft-grade” aluminum body is very heavy. At 10 ounces, it's more than twice as heavy as the iPhone 4S that I put inside it. Additionally, the lens dial made it way too bulky for everyday use. I went on a short, 5-mile hike with the case in my jacket pocket and I was definitely aware of its weight the whole time.
If you’re spending $249.00 on the iPhone Lens Dial, odds are that you are concerned about the optics, maybe even more than the overall functionality of the gadget as a case. Made out of coated glass, the lenses on the iPhone Lens Dial are nice, but you'll have to deal with all the shortcomings you would expect from this type of accessory - extreme corner softness, heavy vignetting and distortion on all three lenses, not just the fisheye-variant. Essentially, the Olloclip which is $179 less than the Lens Dial, offers similar optics at a much cheaper rate.
That said, I did not take a single photo and look back thinking, “oh man, that dial really messed up my image.” On the contrary, the iPhone Lens Dial allowed me to take some great shots that I would have never been able to take without it.
The case allows for access to most major button except for one glaring omission: the iPhone Lens Dial makes it almost impossible to touch the hold button on the top of the device. My mobile photography routine relies heavily on stopping what I’m doing in my phone by pressing the hold button and opening my camera from the lock page. By doing this, I keep my current app open and active while quickly taking a photo. After I press the hold button once more and slide to open, I’m back where I left off. The iPhone Lens Dial made it really hard for me to do this — even my tiny fingers could not easily reach.
Home button access aside, the iPhone Lens Dial is a good option for folks who want a solid case with multiple lens options. It’s a lot easier to switch lenses than the twisty-turny Olloclip and it will protect your phone while providing access to the dock connector port and side buttons. However, the premium price tag won't get you any better quality optics than the Olloclip or even cheaper similar accessories.
What we like: The iPhone Lens Dial provide three different perspectives that add a unique look to iPhone images. The wide-angle lens does a great job of including more information in the scene without overly distorting subjects.
What we don't like: If it were made of a lighter material, I would figure out a way to carry around the iPhone lens dial all the time, but because it is so heavy, I can't see it as an everyday accessory. And while most buttons and ports are available, the hold button is way too hard to press. The distortion and vignetting -- and $249 price tag -- may be a deal-breaker for some photographers.