Why it matters to you

The ION360 U makes 360 photos accessible as a smartphone accessory, but without the smartphone battery drain.

Shooting 360 photos and videos with a mobile accessory makes the format easily accessible — and now that 360 camera can also recharge your smartphone. Today, October 12, startup ION360 launched the ION360 U, a 360 camera and case that snaps onto iPhone and Galaxy smartphones — and charges them, too.

The ION360U has two 7.4-megapixel cameras built into a camera case. The two cameras sit at the top of the smartphone, with a 200-degree lens on each side to capture the immersive perspective. The battery inside the case powers the camera while shooting, which means the camera doesn’t drain the smartphone battery. ION360 says the feature is unique to the U camera. When the camera isn’t in use, the battery can be used to recharge the camera as well.

The case design allows the camera to connect directly to the smartphone, which means no Wi-Fi linking in order to get the camera and the app to communicate, preventing slowdowns and offering quick access to shooting. Launching the app automatically launches the camera, the company says.

The ION360 U is capable of shooting 4K quality video for up to around 100 minutes on a fully charged battery. The company says the camera is also live-stream capable for both Facebook and YouTube and is ready to go live in a matter of seconds, thanks to quick-stitching software. Facebook has already granted the Live 360 Ready designation to the new camera.

The case and camera weighs only about 4.3 ounces, with models available for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+. The ION360 U app is available from both the App Store and Google Play. The camera is launching with exclusive availability through Sprint stores and the ION360 website.

“Through our Sprint partnership, the ION360 U is very well positioned to give customers an opportunity to see for themselves how easy to use and integrated the camera, case, and app are,” said Giovanni Tomaselli, founder and president of ION360. “Instead of taking a still image from a static viewpoint — which traditional standalone or smartphone cameras provide — the ION360 U allows you to bring your family and friends into your experiences, from all perspectives, instantaneously, without changing the smartphone experience. Just snap it onto its case, and go.”

The ION360 U retails for $300.