Polaroid, surprisingly, fared quite a bit better. The company (or rather, the Brooklyn-based distributor that basically tweaks existing white-label Chinese devices) brought a trio of low-cost smartphones into the gaping maw that is Central Hall.
I found myself gravitating toward two in particular. The slim, slab-like Flip packs an unknown quad-core chip and 1GB of RAM, and seemed plenty responsive while I tried to suss out what its deal was. It, like the IM5, is pretty low-key in terms of design, but a pair of speaker grilles machined into the top and bottom of the phone's plastic shell added just a touch of life to the mix. The other -- called the Selfie, ugh -- tickled my fancy because it uses the exact same swiveling-camera gimmick we loved when Oppo tried it. Being the more premium gadget, the Selfie has an octa-core chip and 2GB of RAM thrumming away inside, and the 5.5-inch, 720p display seemed brighter and more pleasant that the Kodak's panel.
Polaroid logos and wallpapers aside, both devices also come preloaded with a Polaroid photo app -- it's a ridiculous and somehow charming thing that tries to replicate the act of peering through a retro Polaroid's viewfinder. Once you snap your shot, you've even got the option to shake or blow on the "photo" to coax it into developing. Sure, it's basically paying lip service to Polaroid's retro roots, but there's something to be said for even small amounts of effort and ingenuity.
The signs strewn around the booth claimed that the devices ran stock versions of Android 5.0 Lollipop, and they were wrong on both counts. The phones, in fact, ran lightly skinned builds of Android 4.4.2, but at least the spokesperson was quick with assurances that the final units would come laden with Google's latest and greatest software. Not a single one of these phones will elevate the company that made them into anything more than a mobile also-ran. With all that said though, round 1 goes to Polaroid -- its phones still aren't out-and-out great, but the companies involved haven't completely failed capturing a once-great camera company's legacy.