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By now, I'm sure most of you know that I'm a sucker for a smartphone with a decent camera.

I swooned over the Nokia Lumia 920 and how awesome the camera would be when I was at the announcement event in New York. I later learned that it's not all that amazing. In fact, it's just okay in general usage and only excels in low-light situations thanks to the optical image stabilization and slower shutter speed.

And the camera is essentially the only reason I still carry an iPhone. It feels dated and old despite only having it for two months and some change. The stellar camera and a bevy of post-processing applications are what keep the iPhone in my arsenal.

Well, that and the never-ending launch of new accessories that extend the capability of the iPhone. For example, my favorite accessory for the iPhone 4S is one I first caught a glimpse of at CES in January, the olloclip. In short, the olloclip is just an interchangeable lens fixture, a 3-in-1, if you will. Unlike other interchangeable lenses that may work with any phone with a camera, the olloclip is specifically built for the iPhone 4 and 4S and packs three lenses in one package: wide angle, macro and fisheye.

During my 11 month stint with the iPhone 4S, I only had the olloclip for six or seven months. But it was easily the one accessory I used more than others. And ever since, I've been on the lookout for an olloclip for the iPhone 5 and any other camera attachments. When I read last week that Will.i.am was launching (he apparently "made" it) of a new iPhone camera accessory, my interests were successfully piqued.

The accessory was said to magically turn your iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 camera into a 14-megapixel shooter. Yesterday, The Telegraph reported that Will.i.am's product is for real, it's called the i.am+ and will be launching one week from today. Will.i.am told The Telegraph:

"You dock you phone into our device and it turns you smartphone into a genius-phone. We take over the camera."

Using its own sensor, the i.am+ does magically allow your iPhone to take higher resolution pictures (though nothing can be said of a bump in quality). It also comes with a built-in flash, interchangeable lenses and a slide-out physical keyboard – that's right … a keyboard for your iPhone.

Doesn't sound so bad, right? There's a catch, of course.

Four models of the i.am+ will launch. The two iPhone 4/4S models, C.4 and V.4, are inked for next week. The C.5 and V.5 for the iPhone 5 will launch in 2013. The bottom-end C.4 model will sell for £199 (roughly $318 USD) and the more flashy, white and gold V.4 model with the physical keyboard will set buyers back a £299 (or $477 USD).

The accessory comes with a companion iPhone app from App Store and an online account at www.i.am to create what Will.i.am tells The Telegraph is "a social photo experience."

When I first read the news last week, I thought there might be something to this accessory, something I would want to check out myself. That quickly changed yesterday when I read the whole story. Any normal person would be mad to invest over $300 in an iPhone accessory that claims to improve the camera. Even if it's cheaper when it launches stateside, I can't imagine it improves the camera too terribly much. At best, it's flashy and the lower-end models look cool, disguising the iPhone as a Franken-point and shoot.

For the money you would invest in this iPhone accessory, you could pick up some of the more high-end point and shoot cameras, like the Canon PowerShot S100, which sells for roughly $299. Factor in the price of the iPhone and this accessory together and you could purchase a nice micro four-thirds camera or low-end DSLR.

As much as I love nice accessories and as cool as the C.4 looks, I will gladly pass, Mr. Will.i.am.

What do you think about the i.am+, ladies and gents? If it were, say, $200 cheaper, would you consider picking one up? Or is it gimmicky all-around? What's the most you would spend on an iPhone accessory that "improves the camera"?

Images via The Telegraph


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