A few weeks ago, I reviewed the Ztylus Revolver RV-3 Camera Lens Case for the iPhone 7 Plus. I have had that case since the Spring, but got my best look at it during a recent vacation in New Orleans with my wife. I also had the Ztylus Switch 6 with me on that same New Orleans trip and posted a collection of photos with it, along with the Revolver while I was there. I ran into a bit of trouble with my first set of lenses for the Switch 7, so I waited until I got my warranty replacement set to write this final review.
Comparisons with the Revolver are natural, since both it and the Switch 6 come from the same manufacturer, but this is actually more difficult than it might appear because both cases are actually very different products. The Revolver is a general purpose lens set that works with multiple iPhone models, while the Switch 6 is designed specifically for the dual lenses of the iPhone 7 Plus. The Revolver has a very creative and interesting design with large lenses, while the Switch 6’s design is lighter and more compact, and uses glass that is the same size as the iPhone’s lenses. I’ll touch on this again later, but for now, let’s take a look at how the Switch 6 stands on its own.
The Ztylus Switch 6 is unique in that it is a dual lens system designed specifically for the iPhone 7 Plus. With six total lenses covering five different types, there is a lot of versatility here. The reason there are only 5 different lens types for six lenses is because the 2X Telephoto lens is added twice on the iPhone 7 Plus’ Zoom Lens side. This is actually a benefit that I will touch on later when we get into performance.
The lenses are installed on a single piece of molded plastic with a tab at one end for manipulating their position.
The lenses can be removed from the case at any time, allowing you to use the case on its own.
Once installed, the lenses simply slide back and forth on indented rails in the case. The indentions lock the lenses into place in the correct position in front of the iPhone 7 Plus’ own lenses. The lenses can also be moved under the iPhone’s lenses, meaning that nothing has to be removed to take a standard shot. The case also has a cutout for the iPhone’s flash, meaning that all lenses are compatible.
One of the most unique design aspects of the Switch 6 is how portable it is in comparison with most competing camera cases. Usually you either have a large lens permanently attached, or you have an extra lens accessory that must be removed and carried around separately. Even with the lens array attached, the Switch 6 is still very portable and is still pocketable. Design-wise, this is the strongest feature of the Switch 6
Speaking of pockets, one of the small issues that I had with the Switch 6 is that there is no way to lock the lenses onto the case. It is possible for the lens section to slide off, which most often happened to me when taking the case out of my pocket. This is less likely to happen during use, but it is possible for the lenses to be pushed too far and fall out, so the user will need to take care when sliding to the last set of lenses.
One curious thing I noticed after Ztylus sent me a replacement set of lenses was that the original set did not come with any kind of cover for protection or storage. It really seems necessary, as the design of the lenses means that both sides of the glass are exposed when removed from the case. When I got my replacement set of lenses, one of the first things I noticed was that they came with a cover that even has labels that identify each lens.
I’m not sure why this didn’t come with my original package, but I’m glad to see Ztylus providing enough protection for the lenses when they are installed on the case. If you buy the Switch 6, you may want to consider finding a small protective bag to store the lens section when not installed. Even with the cover that came with my replacement set, the back side of the lens glass is still exposed when not installed.
The Revolver case came with such a storage bag, but the Switch 6 unfortunately did not.
As for the case, this is one area where I will compare the Switch 6 directly to the Ztylus Revolver. While the Revolver’s case felt substantial and was designed well enough to be used on its own without the lenses, I can’t really say the same for the Switch 6’s case. It is much lighter and less rigid, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own. However, I usually prefer a little extra protection than what I personally feel this case provides. It is perfectly fine for when using the lenses, but I wouldn’t want to keep it on for long periods when leaving the lenses behind.
Also, the cutout for the Lightning Adapter could be better. First of all, some cables are a bit of a snug fit when charging. I’ve had a couple of third party cables fall out, so your mileage may vary. Secondly, the plastic is a bit rough around the cutout, and this is the place where an iPhone often rests on your hand when using it in Portrait orientation. This has been enough of an annoyance to notice.
There is definitely a stark contrast between the designs of the Switch 6 and Revolver cases. The Revolver’s case is flat black, and while it has a little bit of branding, it is very subtle. In contrast, the Switch 6 has VERY obvious branding, and has a much more complicated design. Visually, there are diagonal inset lines over 3/4 of the case. They certainly don’t look bad, but it definitely makes the design feel “busy.”
There is a raised area on the bottom-right of the case if you are holding it. I assume that this is supposed to help with gripping the case while taking photos, but I found it to be of very limited usefulness. Maybe it would be of assistance to someone with smaller hands, but there is no way I could grip this and also contort my fingers to hit the shutter button on the iOS stock camera app.
It just seems like a superfluous feature in search of a real use.
In my review of the Revolver, I raved about the case and lens attachment design. I actually don’t dislike the Switch 6’s design as much as it may seem reading above, but it frankly just isn’t in the same class as the Revolver in this respect. However, when you consider that the Switch 6 normally costs $49.95 (it is currently discounted to $39.95), half what the Revolver retails for, the stark contrast makes more sense. The fact is, considering the price, the design is good enough. The value of the Switch 6 will hinge on its performance. On that note…
As already discussed, the Switch 6 gets its name from the six individual lenses on its lens attachment. There are three lenses each that match up with the iPhone 7 Plus’ Wide Angle and Zoom lenses. The iPhone’s Wide Angle lens gets a 120 degree Wide Angle lens, a 10X Macro lens, and a 180 degree Fisheye lens. The iPhone’s Zoom lens gets 2X Telephoto Lens, a 20X Macro lens, and another 2X Telephoto lens.
The Switch 6 having two 2X Telephoto lenses may seem like a waste, but I actually found it to be a smart design decision. Whether you are using the Wide Angle or Fisheye, getting a quick switch to a Telephoto shot with a tighter zoom is as easy as tapping the iPhone Camera app’s 2X button. Extra zoom is the effect you will want paired the Zoom lens, so this was a good choice. And, pairing up the Macro lenses together was also smart, since you will be more likely to want to instantly switch between those lenses when in that mode of shooting.
120 Degree Wide Angle Lens
I love taking landscape and architectural shots, so the Wide Angle lens of any iPhone lens set is usually going to be the one I like the most and get the most mileage from. This is why I was so very disappointed when I ran into major focus issues with the Wide Angle on my original Switch 6 lens set. Many of the shots I took with it in New Orleans were basically unusable because of poor focus and blur. Here are a couple of shots to illustrate my initial experience. You can see more from my Switch 6 Photo Set from New Orleans.
However, I can say after receiving my replacement set that my initial experience isn’t indicative of all experience with the Switch 6’s Wide Angle lens. My shots with the new one are in focus across the shot and are the caliber that I would expect from a Ztylus product based on my experience with the Revolver. Below are some pictures to illustrate my point.
iPhone Wide Angle Lens Alone
Switch 6 Wide Angle Lens
One area where the Switch 6 has it over the Revolver’s Wide Angle lens is in barrel distortion. While the Revolver’s lens takes great looking pictures, that distortion is very noticeable, often to the point of needing correction in software. The Switch 6’s Wide Angle does not suffer from this issue at all, making it much easier to shoot with and get usable pictures instantly. Here is a picture from from the Revolver below:
You can see the significant bowing at the edges of the building here in the shot above. Below we have more recent shots with the iPhone alone and then the Switch 6 Wide Angle. The Switch 6 shot shows SIGNIFICANTLY less barrel distortion.
iPhone Wide Angle Lens Alone
Switch 6 Wide Angle Lens
As you can see above, other than a little softness at the edges, which isn’t unexpected using a lens of this caliber, the Switch 6’s Wide Angle lens delivers a noticeably wider field of view over the iPhone lens alone, and a very good shot with minimal barrel distortion.
Since I had problems with this lens originally, I did get a warranty replacement from Ztylus. The process was smooth, and I got my replacement lens set just two days after my request. I do have to send the original ones back, which I will be handling soon. However, the lens sets alone are very small, and re-using the package they sent me and going with USPS First Class means that the return shipment won’t set me back more than a couple of dollars.
180 Degree Fisheye Lens
While the Revolver’s Fisheye lens felt more like an Ultra Wide Angle to me, as it just upped the level of barrel and edge distortion from the Wide Angle lens, the Switch 6’s Fisheye lens produces a far more extreme effect. It produces a circular image with a very wide field of view.
This effect takes time to get used to shooting with, but it really does make for some unique and interesting shots that really stand out, once you do.
After using this lens in New Orleans for a day (especially since the Wide Angle I had at the time wasn’t producing good shots), I grew quite comfortable using it and really liking the circular shots it produced.
10X Macro Lens and 20X Super Macro Lens
The 10X Macro lens is paired with the iPhone 7 Plus’s Wide Angle lens, while the 20X is its counterpart in the middle of the Switch 6 lens set is paired up with the 7 Plus’ Telephoto lens. The focus distance for these lenses is 18mm, so you REALLY have to get up close and personal with your subject to use this lens.
10X Macro Lens
20X Macro Lens
I won’t even pretend to be an expert in this type of photography, but once you get a shot in focus, this lens and its counterpart produce very good results that deliver a lot of small details.
I did have some trouble getting shots into focus, especially when taking pictures of anything with an uneven surface. I would suggest using a tripod with this lens for any type of shot that will allow, as that will make the focus process easier. Also, using a third-party camera app that allows you to manually select the focal point would also be wise.
2X Telephoto Lens
While I usually love the Wide Angle lenses the most when it comes to iPhone lens sets, this is by far and away my favorite lens with the Switch 6. I already love my iPhone 7 Plus’ built-in ability to get closer to the action without the distortion and degradation in quality that comes with using digital zoom. Now, using this lens, I can get four times closer to the action and still get a clear and sharp picture. In essence, this lens gets you one of the last missing benefits from the point and shoot digital camera category that the iPhone helped to kill off.
iPhone Wide Angle Lens Alone
iPhone Telephoto Lens Alone
Switch 6 2X Telephoto Lens in Conjunction with the iPhone Telephoto Lens
These window washer pictures from New Orleans really tell the story for me. I couldn’t take that shot with digital zoom and have it look that good, even on the latest iPhones. With the Switch 6, now I can zoom into a far away object and get a better shot than I’ve even been able to before with a phone. The only thing I’ve ever used that came close to this was the Nokia 1020 (which I owned briefly and reviewed for another site when it came out), and it had a 40+ Megapixel camera that allowed you to “zoom in” and still get a really good 5+ Megapixel shot. Unfortunately for Nokia, they chose the wrong smartphone OS in Windows Phone, so very few ever got to experience how good that camera really was. Taking shots with the Switch 6’s 2X Telephoto lens is the closest I’ve felt to using the 1020 since. That’s high praise from me.
The Ztylus Switch 6 is NOT a perfect product. Not by any means. It doesn’t have the design or build quality of the Ztylus Revolver, or competing products from olloclip, for that matter. However, when you consider the relatively low price tag of $49.95, even with its flaws, the Switch 6 is still a really good value for the money.
Now, I can’t discount the fact that I got a flawed Wide Angle lens the first time around, and that experience means that I have to temper my enthusiasm for the product a bit. However, Ztylus did handle the warranty exchange well, and I ended up with a fully functional lens set in the end. The positive customer service experience gets Ztylus some points back.
Ultimately, I recommend the Switch 6 to iPhone 7 Plus users who want to take better advantage of the dual lens setup on their phones. If the dual lens setup isn’t as big a deal to you, then you may find yourself more satisfied with the Revolver, but if you want to use the iPhone 7 Plus’s camera to its fullest extent, then the Switch 6 is the better choice. I think that the 2X Telephoto lenses that pair up with the 7 Plus’ Telephoto lens alone are worth the price of admission, because they add functionality that few other iPhone accessory lenses offer anywhere near this price point. Having a solid Wide Angle that doesn’t add barrel distortion is a somewhat close second, and the rest round out the package nicely.
Despite the Revolver’s polish and award-winning design, I will likely be spending more time shooting with the Switch 6 as long as I have my iPhone 7 Plus. All its flaws and quirks aside, this lens case takes the fullest advantage of the photographic capabilities of this phone. At $49.95, half of the cost of the Revolver far less than half of the olloclip with its corresponding case, the Switch 6 is a solid value.
The Switch 6 Camera Lens Case for the iPhone 7 Plus is available from Ztylus and other retail outlets for $49.95.