Sony has introduced a pair of digital cameras which are designed to attach directly to your smartphone. The QX10 and QX100 are 18- and 20-megapixel cameras (respectively) that clip onto your smartphone, which is used to operate the camera and view photos. The compact QX10 has a 1/2.3" 18-megapixel sensor and 10X zoom lens, while the QX100 has a large 1-inch-type sensor and fast 3.6X zoom lens. The QX100 is essentially a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II without an LCD. The cameras are priced at $250 and $500, respectively.

The camera and smartphone are linked via Wi-Fi (with NFC capability), and everything is controlled with Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app for iOS and Android. If you want, you can take photos without a smartphone (as the cameras have physical controls) and transfer the photos later.

The QX10 and QX100 can be attached to a smartphone via an adjustable clamp.
You can also put the camera on a tripod, or just hand-hold it.

While the two cameras are different in terms of their lens, sensor and features, the user experience on your mobile device is nearly identical. 

Smartphone photography has shown dramatic gains in popularity, at the expense of compact camera sales. By releasing the QX10 and QX100, Sony hopes to bring people back into the fold by essentially integrating these cameras with a user's smartphone.


The QX10 and QX100 come in two parts. There's the camera unit itself along with a bayonet that clamps onto your camera.  The clamp is adjustable, so virtually every smartphone is compatible (tablets are another story).

Something to watch out for is where the clamp rests. On some smartphones it can be pretty easy to have it sit on the volume or wake/sleep button, so you may need to slide it around a bit.

Under the plastic door on the back of the camera unit is the battery, with the memory card slot and tripod mount further below. The SSID and password are printed on the inside of the plastic cover.

By separating the camera and clamp you'll have access to the battery and memory card compartments. Under the battery cover is the SSID and password, which you'll need for smartphones that don't use NFC. There's also a QR code here, but scanning it doesn't do anything useful. To our dismay, there's no way to change the password, which makes a quick share with friends difficult.

The NP-BN(1) lithium-ion battery that powers the two cameras allows for up to 220 shots on a single charge (using the CIPA standard). On the side of each camera is a small LCD that displays the current battery level. The batteries are charged internally, over a USB connection.

This in-hand photo gives you an example of the enormity of the QX100.

There's a considerable difference in size and weight between the QX10 and QX100.  The QX100 is twice as long and 70% heavier than the QX10. Both cameras are too bulky to put in all but the largest pockets, though they will fit in a purse or camera bag.

Smartphone Connectivity

The first thing you need to do in order to connect the smartphone, aside from installing the aforementioned app, is to pair the QX10 or QX100 with the camera unit. This can be really easy, or slightly more difficult.

If your phone supports NFC, connecting a lens is a remarkably easy task: just hold the back of your phone to the NFC logo (shown at left) on the top of the camera until they begin to pair.

Once the two are paired, you can repeat this to open up the app on the smartphone automatically.

Pairing your phone 'the old fashioned way' takes a bit more time, but it's still not terribly difficult.  Under the camera's battery cover is the SSID and password that you'll need in order to connect. Select the network on your mobile device, punch in the password (and save it!) and you're ready to go. The actual connection takes 10-20 seconds.

The photo composition screen in PlayMemories Mobile has buttons for shutter release, shooting mode, the setup menu and image playback.

The PlayMemories App itself is fairly basic. There's a shutter release button, a zoom controller (that's too small) and a button for entering the setup menu. Seeing how your smartphone has a touchscreen, it should come as no surprise that you can tap the area in the frame on which to focus. One thing you cannot do - for obvious reasons - is halfway-press the virtual shutter release to lock focus. You'll need to do that with the physical button on the camera instead.

App performance varies from smartphone to smartphone. On the latest and greatest, such as the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5, there's virtually no lag. On older phones there may be more significant lag.

When a photo is taken it is automatically transferred to your smartphone. You can choose from downsized (2MP) or full-size images. You can also transfer photos at a later date by choosing the 'copy from connected device' option the settings menu. Do note that whenever you go to review photos in the gallery, the connection between the camera and smartphone will be severed.