Kraken Smart Housing
Review written by: Louis Deslauriers
I’ve decided to write this review because when came the time to find information about this product, it was really hard. There are only a few reviews out there and most of them are pretty basic… So here is my take on the good and the bad about this smart housing (SH). But before, just a little background about myself. I’m a recreational diver who like to dive while traveling. But above all, I love to share with others what is hidden underneath the sea. Before buying this SH, I had tried to capture photos with a GoPro and I was quite deceived with the lack of focus when it comes to macro and I had some stability issues.
So, I was looking for something better than a GoPro, that would last through time and would not cost me thousands of dollars. This SH came under my radar quite rapidly since it can fit virtually any smartphones and you can also add lenses such as a macro or a wide-angle. The versatility of this SH is what sold me. If you change your smartphone every 2-3 years, you always get a better camera and you don’t need to buy a specific camera for diving.
Sure, you don’t get DSLR quality pictures, but recently, have stepped up their games and the quality of the pictures is amazing. This is more than enough for an amateur photographer. So let’s go through some of the good points I enjoy about this SH.
As I mentioned above, this is a great SH that works with almost every smartphones (Android or IOS). If you change your smartphone, the case will still work and you will still enjoy the functionality of this SH
I was a bit skeptic about the build quality since this is produced in China (known as Weefine in Asia). I must say I am really impressed! The SH feels sturdy (all metal) and has a good grip. The housing comes in a nice travel box which makes it easy for transport. A nice touch to the sealing is the addition of a vacuum system that helps secure the sealing. The first time I used the camera, I tried to open it without reseting the vacuum and it was a total failure. The seal was so strong, I couldn’t open the SH. This vacuum system really does the job at reassuring me that my smartphone won’t get flooded (you do need to check the integrity of the seal/O-ring, otherwise the vacuum system won’t protect your phone).
There’s a nice big window at the rear of the SH which is really nice; you get a good view of your shot every time. There are also 5 buttons on the back to activate different options while diving and there is the shutter button on top. My only complain about those is I would like them to feel a bit more “clicky”. Sometimes, I did not press hard enough and did not take the picture 🙁
In front of the SH, you can add a mount to add different lenses. It is quite easy to install, and works with 52-67mm lenses. At the bottom, you will find the holes to attach to a tray. Overall, great quality.
Easy to use
At first, I was a bit puzzled by the lack of explanations on how to use the SH, but I found it quite easy and intuitive to use. You just need to activate the bluetooth on your smartphone, open the app, scan the QR code inside the SH, connect to the SH, put your phone in the SH, close the SH and use the vacuum system to secure the seal. That’s it!
Good battery life
I used the SH on a liveaboard in Egypt. I took the SH on approximately on 10 dives. I did not had to change the batteries a single time. You need two AAA batteries to power-up the SH. So, I would say you have at least 10 hours of battery life with two AAA batteries. After each dive, I would take the batteries off the SH to make them last longer.
As for my phone, on a 1 hour dive, the app uses around 50% of my battery (I use a Google Pixel). Between each dive, the IST was 2 hours, so plenty to charge my phone to 100% with fast charging.
It is not all rainbows and butterflies with this SH; these are the things I disliked about it.
This is by far the weakest point of this product. It is still a relatively new app and I do believe this point can be improved, but as of right now, I would say the app looks more like a beta phase app then a fully functional app. There are some bugs where the app shutdowns for no reasons. Fortunately, this did not happen during a dive. I noticed this happened most of the time when the wi-fi was turned on. So I just switched the wi-fi to off and it seemed to decrease the number of shutdowns.
The app doesn’t let you choose the parameters for photo (photo quality) or video mode (HD, 4K). This is a shame, because I think the quality of photo/video could be even better if the app did let you the choice to use the full power of your smartphone camera. This could be fix by an update. Finally, when I was diving the first times, the SH kept buzzing and beeping even if I had muted my smartphone. I noticed that you need to mute your phone once you are connected to the SH, because if you do it before, the app puts back volume to max and you are stuck with this annoying sound/buzz during your dive. So, it looks more like an unpolished app right now. I do hope that the app (Dive+) will be updated and will fix those problems.
The app offers a really good color correction for underwater photos. Unfortunately, every time you retouch a photo with it, the app adds a stamp (watermark) at the bottom of the photos…So, I don’t use the app for color retouch anymore. It is a shame, because the app did a fairly good job at it.
Overall, I think this is a great product with plenty of potential. I give it 3.5 stars. The app is the real drawback and the company needs to fix it before this can become a truly exceptional product. Finally, you can get beautiful photos without having to pay thousands of dollars and with the great built quality, this should last a long time!
Review by: Louis Deslauriers
NOTE – Kraken have notified us that they are working hard on an app update which should resolve all the issues and deliver a much better user experience and much more stable app overall. The update is expected late March / early April.
May 2019 Update – The app has been updated and working much better now! Most issues have been resolved and user experience has improved significantly.