Relonch camera case brings an APS-C sensor, f/2 lens to your iPhone

"It would be really hard to make a trashy photo." That's the actual tagline for a company called Relonch, which just launched (correct spelling) a camera case for iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 at Photokina today. Normally we'd dismiss such a product as vaporware, but this could end up being a pretty nifty gadget, if it ever makes it to market. Once you slide your iPhone into the $499 jacket, you'll have access (via the Lightning port) to an APS-C sensor and a permanently affixed f/2 (or better) lens. The version above is just a mock-up -- we did see a working prototype (it performed very well), which is simply a hodgepodge of "parts from different cameras." The final version will also serve as an external battery for your smartphone, enabling more than four hours of use.

That all sounds great, but there are two major challenges here. First, the company is targeting "late 2015" for orders to ship, which means your iPhone 6 will probably be a year old by the time you get this case. Given that each version is designed to fit only one phone, you'll need to buy a new case whenever you upgrade your phone, unless the next iPhone has an identical footprint to the current model. Additionally, Relonch will charge your credit card for $499 as soon as you place an order, and given that you're sending funds to a company with no track record of delivering products, handing over half a grand is risky at best.

Fortunately, there are other solutions on the market. Sony's lens cameras, which, while not quite as seamless and elegant, work with just about any smartphone, and they're available today. The QX1, which ships in November, even includes an APS-C sensor, which should get you comparable results depending on which lens you attach. You could also consider Panasonic's CM1 smartphone, which includes an integrated one-inch sensor and an f/2.8 lens.

Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.