Let’s face it: No mobile operating system is perfect. Apple’s iOS has awesome features that Google’s Android doesn’t, and Android boasts some sweet apps and tools that iOS can’t match. Since the dawn of the modern smartphone, though, it’s been impossible to get the best of both worlds — you’ve had to settle for an Android phone or an iPhone. But the Eye wants to change that.
The Eye, which launched Monday on Kickstarter, is ostensibly an iPhone case with a rear-facing 5-inch display. In reality, it’s a fully functional Android smartphone replete with two SIM card slots, 3GB of memory, an octa-core MediaTek Helio P20 processor, a 2,800mAh battery, and up to 256GB of storage (via MicroSD slot). And it’s just as bulky as you’d expect.
Size aside, though, the Eye’s creators make an interesting pitch. The 5-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) AMOLED screen is reportedly the “best […] on the market,” and the Eye’s MicroSD cards double as storage for your iPhone via a Lightning connector. Its battery extends your phone’s battery life, too, and enables wireless charging via Qi — you can stick the Eye on a compatible pad and it’ll charge your iPhone.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. The Eye can mirror the connected iPhone’s camera preview screen so that you can take selfies with the rear-facing camera. Its dual SIM card slots deliver 4G LTE speeds up to 300Mbps, and its 3.5mm jack and dedicated DAC (digital to analog converter) let you use a conventional pair of headphones with the otherwise port-free iPhone 7.
And there’s more. An NFC (Near Field Communication) radio allows you to program NFC stickers, and send files and pictures to another NFC-support phone. And an infrared blaster lets you control home appliances like TVs, set-top boxes, and stereo systems with a compatible app.
And the Eye runs Android 7.1 Nougat.
If that all sounds too good to be true, it very well might be. The startup behind the Eye, Israel-based ESTI, is a newcomer to the smartphone accessory business. That’s not a reason to dismiss the project out of hand, but certainly cause to be wary.
Even if the Eye delivers on its promises, though, it inherently involves compromises — at the end of the day, you’re slapping an Android phone on the back of your iPhone. NFC, IR, and a beefy external battery sound like great features in theory, but when you have to contend with the extra weight and bulk that come along with them, they’ll undoubtedly lose their luster.
If none of that dissuades you, the Eye starts $100 on Kickstarter (with an estimated later retail price of $190). It comes in black and white, and fits the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, and 7 Plus.