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ZTE has a VR camera that works with most Android phones

Why it matters to you

ZTE's offering shows that the 360-degree camera space is heating up, with potential benefits for consumers.

Filming 360-degree video content for viewing on your virtual reality headset doesn’t need to cost you a lot of money anymore. There are a number of manufacturers out there making compatible cameras and now ZTE has joined that list, with the debut of its Nubia NeoAir VR camera alongside a new Nubia Z17 Mini smartphone.

Although not a household name in the U.S., ZTE is one of the top five smartphone manufacturers in China. This is its first entry in the virtual reality camera game, but it kicks things off with strong specifications.

The Nubia NeoAir VR 360-degree camera is a small sphere that attaches to the phone through its USB Type-C connector. It’s made up of two cameras with a 2:1 aspect ratio, each offering 210 degrees of coverage. GizChina reports (via PocketNow) that still images can be taken at a resolution of 3,008 x 1,504 pixels, while video is recorded at 2,560 x 1,280.

The only system requirements for the camera are that a compatible smart device have 2GB of RAM and support for USB On-The-Go (OTG). Although it’s only available in Chinese markets right now, priced at 700 yuan ($101), it may be importable or expand into international markets in the future.

If it does, it will have to face off with other established cameras, though the NeoAir may have a specifications advantage if it does. The Giroptic IO 360 camera we reviewed recently has some excellent features, but its resolution is limited to 1,920 x 960, which makes the NeoAir far more visually capable.

It won’t always lead the pack in that regard though. Although Samsung’s reputation in the smartphone market took a hit with the Note 7 fire debacle of 2016, it has its Gear 360 camera, which has a much heftier 4,096 x 2,048 resolution, and that aligns with dual 195-degree cameras.