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This weird phone’s got a 360-degree camera built right in

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Written by Kamil Arli

Smartphones don’t get weirder than this one that’s got a built-in 360-degree camera. 

Weird doesn’t even begin to describe the Protruly Darling.

Billed as the world’s first “VR mobile phone”, the Darling and its built-in 360-degree “VR” camera is the type of phone you’ll only find from some obscure Shenzhen-based company you’ve never heard of before.

I DISCOVERED THE PROTRULY DARLING AT MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS

Everything about the Protruly Darling is just bizarre and it’s apparent the very second you hold it in your hand.

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

The phone’s unusually long because of the dual 13-megapixel fisheye lenses connected to the phone’s top bezel.

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THE CHAMPAGNE GOLD METAL BODY IS APPARENTLY MADE OF 3.08 GRAMS

The champagne gold metal body is apparently made of 3.08 grams “pure gold”, according to the company. And there are four diamonds (of no specified carats) affixed to what the company claims is “full-grain leather from Italy.” The design is the kind of hideousness only Vertu would be able to make decent.

The 5.5-inch full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080) screen is as standard as it gets. It’s not Super AMOLED great, but it’s not total garbage like on budget phones.

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

On top of the two fisheye lenses, the phone’s also got a regular 13-megapixel camera on the back and an 8-megapixel selfie camera.

Under the hood, you’ll find a skinned version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow powered by a 2.5GHz deca-core Helio X20 MT6797 processor and 4GB of RAM. The Darling comes with 64GB of internal storage and a huge 3,560 mAh battery that other Android phones could only dream of.

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YOU HAVE GOT YOUR HEADPHONE JACK

And of course, you’ve got your headphone jack, USB-C and fingerprint sensor embedded into the home button below the screen.

There’s another model (below) without any of the gold/jewels/leather that has a fingerprint sensor-located on the back instead of the front. There’s also an additional hole on the back that looks like a fifth camera at first, but is actually a thermal sensor for taking taking the temperature of things its pointed at.

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

It’s undeniable that the phone packs in a boatload of features and checks off a lot of spec boxes, but its marquee feature is obviously its 360-degree camera.

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Using it is pretty straightforward — just toggle the VR camera mode within the default camera app — and the 360-degree videos and photos look comparable to what you’d get from a budget 360-camera. That said, I only shot with it at the company’s tiny booth under crappy lightning conditions so it’s not clear how well it shoots outdoors. It could be total crap or really great.

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Videos can be shared easily to platforms like Facebook and YouTube, so at least it’s more seamless than connecting a 360-camera attachment like the Insta360 and firing up a separate camera app.

Through and through, the Protruly Darling is a strange phone. It’s a Frankenstein device that no sensible smartphone maker like Apple or Samsung would ever bother making. It goes against all ergonomics and it’s pretty damn ugly. Plus, they’re kinda pricey at $800 (with the jewels) and $500 (for the one with the thermal IR sensor).

But you gotta admire a company like Shenzhen Darling Intelligence Technology, Co., LTD, for trying, even if they know it’ll never take off.

About the author

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Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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