Insta360 Air Review – The Tiny but Impressive 360 Camera for Android Phones

The 360 Camera Accessory for Android Phones

If you have an android phone and want to take 360 photo or videos, the Insta360 Air is the best 360 camera out there. The tiny sphere shaped camera plugs right into the charging port of your phone and turns it into a powerful 360 camera, able to shoot 3K quality full 360 video. Want to know the best part? It costs a mere $129, making it the cheapest 360 camera available right now.

I recently wrote an overview of the Insta360 Air, but now the camera has been out for a few weeks it’s time to have an in depth look at what the camera is capable of. By the end of this review you should know whether the Insta360 Air is the right camera for you.

PROS:
  • 3K Resolution
  • Extremely portable
  • 360 stabilization
  • Cheap
  • 360 video livestream
  • Easy to use
  • Can be used as desktop webcam

CONS:
  • Only compatible with Android phones
  • Uses phone battery and memory
  • No tripod mount

Features and Specifications

Specs Insta360 Air
Number of Lenses 2
Field of View Full 360°
Video Resolution 3K @ 30fps
Photo Resolution 3008 x 1504
Aperture f/2.0
Stitching Instant
Waterproof No
Shockproof No
Memory Uses phone memory
Battery Uses phone battery
Compatibility Android Smartphones
Livestream Yes

As you can see, the Insta360 Air is packed full of features, which is astounding for such a tiny camera (it only weighs 25 grams!). Most intriguing is the ability to live-stream 360 video straight to YouTube and Facebook, a feature not found in many other 360 cameras. I’ll go into more detail about the video and photo quality later on in this review.

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Insta360 Air Review

Design

I’ve already mentioned the tiny size of the Insta360 Air, but I’m going to mention it again because it really is very small! The camera easily fits in the palm of your hand and it’s so light you’ll barely notice it. This is important because it’s going to spend most of its time attached to your phone, so you want it to be light and manoeuvrable. The camera achieves such a compact design by having no battery or memory of its own, instead, it uses the phone it’s attached to for power and to store imagery.

The camera achieves such a compact design by having no battery or memory of its own, instead, it uses the phone it’s attached to for power and to store imagery. You’ll need to make sure you have enough memory on your phone to accommodate the large 360 files and be aware that your battery will drain faster when you use the camera.

The materials used to build the insta360 don’t feel cheap and the spherical design is a common one among 360 cameras. One niggling issue is that the connector can be slightly flimsy, but as long as you don’t throw your phone while the Air is attached to it you should be fine.

360 Photo Example

The Insta360 Air can shoot still 360 degree images at a resolution of 3008 x 1504 pixels. This is less than more expensive cameras such as the Insta360 4K or Samsung Gear 360 but matches up to similarly priced 360 cameras. The Insta360 Air is definitely built to shoot 360 images for social media rather than a large screen. The 360 images taken on the Air look great on smaller mobile or tablet screens, but not so great on a desktop where a higher resolution is required.

The good news is that photos are generally bright, colourful and sharp. The stitching line (the point where the two images taken to create the 360 image meet) is barely noticeable, however, you’ll want to keep and objects at least a metre away from the camera to avoid any errors).

The Insta360 Air does its best work outside during the day, however, there is surprisingly little quality lost when shooting indoors. Low light is a struggle for the Air but for its size and price still does a reasonable job.

I’m actually very impresses with the overall quality of the 360 photos produced by the Air, outshining older, more expensive 360 cameras.

360 Video Performance

The Insta360 Air can shoot full 360° video at 3K resolution, which is pretty decent and includes enough pixels to look good on a smaller mobile screen. Watching video shot with the Air on a VR headset or larger screen will not look that great, the minimal for this is 4K video resolution.

Compared to other 360 cameras the Insta360 Air performs above average. The most popular 360 camera, the Ricoh theta S, can only shoot 1080p video which is way less than the Air. The f2.0 lenses produce a shallow depth of fend which can sometimes look blurry, but most of the time results in attractive and colorful imagery. Stitching is pretty accurate with a hardly visible line where the two images that form the 360 video meet.

You may notice some saturation difference between the two lenses, but this is largely avoidable by ensuring that both lenses of the camera receive similar amounts of light.

I have very little complaints about the video quality of the Insta360 Air. While the quality isn’t mind blowing, for such a small, cheap accessory it shoots excellent video that a causal user will be more than happy with.

App

The Insta360 air in controlled by a dedicated app that you can download from the Play Store on your android phone. The app is free and activates when you plug in the camera to your phones usb port.

Remember that in order to use the camera properly you need to hold your camera upside down, so when the app is activates it is automatically orientated into this position.

The Insta360 app allows you to preview what the camera is seeing, control settings such as HDR, ISO and timer, as well as controlling the shutter of course. The app is very intuitive and easy to use, will connect to the camera automatically and has no latency issues.

Livestream

The app is also where you will be able set up and shoot live streamed 360 video. The Insta360 air is once of only  few 360 camera that can live stream full 360 video, although more and more 360 cameras are being released with this feature. Setting up live-stream is easy, particularly if you want to live-stream to Facebook, and only required a few taps on the screen. The quality of live-stream video is much the same so you should probably only use this feature when connected to Wifi, unless you have a huge data package.

Even if you are not shooting live stream video, the app allows seamless integration with a variety of social media sites allowing you to easily share your 360 media.

Insta360 air review

The app also enables you to change the shooting mode of your camera; one mode lets you take tiny planet images and videos, which look great and are very popular on Instagram.

Stabilization

The most important thing to consider when shooting video in 360 degrees is keeping the video stable. This is important for all video, but particularly for 360 video because a shaky 360 video can cause the viewer to become disorientated. Mercifully the Insta360 Air comes backed with internal stabilization software which ensures your 360 video is smooth and pleasant to watch.

Final Verdict

The Insta360 Air is the best 360 camera phone accessory out right now. It’s cheap, easy to use, shoots perfectly good 360 video for social media and takes great pictures. Anyone with an Android phone who wants to start shooting in 360 should get this camera. If you are looking for a camera that shoots the highest quality 360 video, then you’ll need to spend a bit more money and look elsewhere, but for the casual user who just wants to shoot their vacations and days out, then The Insta360 Air is pretty much the perfect 360 camera.

 

360 camera expert, 360 photographer and lover of banoffee pie. Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for awesome 360 content.

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360 camera expert, 360 photographer and lover of banoffee pie. Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for awesome 360 content.

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