Although there are already plenty of add-on lenses and apps that allow you to take better photos with your smartphone, they all ultimately still utilize the phone's existing lens and image sensor ... which typically aren't as good as those found on stand-alone cameras. The Relonch Camera, however, is designed to address that shortcoming. It's a proper camera that uses your docked iPhone as its brains.

Very similar in principle to the still-in-development ladibird, the Relonch features a fixed-length "normal lens with large aperture" (no specs are available yet) and a large APS-C size sensor. It also has a docking port built into the back, which the user's iPhone 5 slides into.

As soon as the phone is in place, the Relonch automatically powers up and starts communicating with it. The camera does so via a Lightning plug in the dock, so no pairing via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is necessary.

The iPhone's screen becomes the viewfinder for the system, along with the interface for adjusting camera settings. The accompanying Relonch Camera App features a Guru function that guides users in setting up shots, along with a "unique image processing algorithm" that's designed for optimal sharpness, contrast and image tones, along with the ability to blur out the background behind the main subject.

Once images are saved on the phone, the app can be used to share them online via services such as Instagram. The camera does appear to be very much aimed at social media use, as the current prototype has a resolution of just one megapixel, and only saves photos in JPEG format. The commercial version also likely won't feature a flash, or the ability to swap lenses.

The Relonch Camera is available now for preorder, priced at US$499. Delivery isn't expected until late next year. In the meantime, along with keeping an eye on the progress of the ladibird, you could check out Sony's QX and Kodak's PixPro lens-format cameras – they attach to the user's smartphone, and wirelessly transmit images to it.

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