Like Samsung’s Gear 360
($168.55 at Amazon.com) and , the Nano lets you quickly snap 360-degree pictures or videos with its dual f2.0 fish-eye lenses. It takes video with up to 3K resolution (3,040×1,520 pixels) and supports livestreaming to Facebook, YouTube and Periscope. That means you can stream 360-degree video in full HD while you’re out and about — so long as you have the mobile data plan to support it, of course.
The Insta360 Nano is a much cheaper alternative to Samsung and LG’s offerings, retailing at $199, £209 or AU$299. Its specs don’t hold up as well against the newer Samsung Gear 360, which can shoot video in 4K. But do you really need to shoot in 4K? I didn’t and you may find that you don’t either.
One thing I liked about the Nano was its size — it’s a lot smaller, and fits right in my pocket alongside the iPhone. You’ll definitely have to keep it in its storage bag because its lenses are exposed and you really don’t want them to get scratched.
The Nano is easy to use. Plug it in into the iPhone — you’ll have to remove a case if you have one — and the the Insta360 app will load up. Because it’s plugged in at the bottom, you’ll have to flip the phone upside down to use as a viewfinder. Then, simply tap the onscreen shutter button and you can start snapping pictures. The Nano can also be used without a phone thanks to its dedicated shutter button. Tap it to take a shot blindly or double tap to record video.
The Nano’s image quality didn’t really impress me. You won’t be praising the clarity of the pictures and there’s a distinct lack of fine details. Depending on your lighting, expect to see chromatic aberrations and some moiré effects. But you’ll still capture everything just fine and the stitching seems pretty seamless.
Specs and features
- Dual f2.0 lens
- 3,040 x 1,520 pixel resolution
- microSD card slot
- 800mAh battery
Despite the poor image quality, video shot on the Nano turned out well. I noticed little noise (though that could be due to better lighting) and plenty of detail. A recent update adds a warning if your bandwidth isn’t capable of supporting your chosen bitrate, though my quick test runs with 360-degree live streaming was interrupted by repeated skips, probably due to the spotty office wi-fi.
360-degree cameras are still in its early days and the Insta360 Nano is certainly not perfect. But considering its small size and capabilities, it’s a fun toy if you own an iPhone and want to try shooting in 360 degrees.