Aquatech AxisGo housing – waterproof iPhone housing system

Summary: The Aquatech AxisGO housing system is the best option for taking surf photos with your iPhone 7

Aquatech have announced their waterproof iPhone housing system. It’s called AxisGO and it includes (nearly) everything I wanted in a smart phone housing, with a couple of extra surprises.

Zac Milan shooting with the Aquatech AxisGO housing for iPhone

This image features Zac Milan, I believe he shot the photo himself whilst using the Aquatech AxisGo housing in his other hand.

Here are the key specifications of the Aquatech AxisGO housing system for iPhone:

  • Compatible phones: iPhone 7 only at launch (iPhone 6 fits but only works with the standard lens port, iPhone 7 plus housing will be arriving in August)
  • Release date: pre-orders available now for release on the 1st of June 2017
  • Controls: Full touch screen controls and mechanical volume controls (for shutter release)
  • Pistol grip: Yes! and it’s a pretty clever way to do it too, using the volume buttons on the side of the iPhone and a simple lever mechanism
  • Interchangeable ports: Yes, standard, wide angle and dome port available
  • Prices:
    • $249 US for the phone housing with standard lens port
    • $79 US for the standard port
    • $99 US for the pistol grip
    • $99 US for the wide angle port (140° field of view)
    • $199 US for the 6″ dome port for over/under shots
  • Where to order: aquatech.net/collections/axisgo

Is the Aquatech AxisGo housing system the best iPhone 7 water housing for surf photography?

Yes, at the moment.

At the moment at least it’s the only housing that offers a pistol grip, full touch screen controls and interchangeable lenses that’s designed to withstand use in the surf.

When I speculated about Aquatech’s system a few weeks ago I made a list of essential requirements for a smart phone housing system:

  • A pistol grip
  • A companion app
  • Future proof design
  • Selfie window

So lets see how the Aquatech AxisGo housing stacks up:

Does the Aquatech AxisGo housing have a pistol grip?

Yes.

It’s reasonably priced and because it’s mechanical it should be as effective as the KNEKT GPLT trigger, rather than relying on a Bluetooth connection that could suffer from interference when used in the water. Basically it will make taking surf photographs with the Aquatech AxisGo housing much easier than any other waterproof iPhone housing.

It also looks lightweight too and it’s held in place with two bolts so it should be rock solid. The ergonomic shape should be good, although for anyone with small hands it might cause some discomfort, I’d like to have a play with one to find out.

From the descriptions on the Aquatech site I think you’ll need the pistol grip to shoot photos underwater. I imagine that’s because the touch screen interface doesn’t work, or maybe isn’t as consistent when you’re underwater.

Does the Aquatech AxisGo housing need a special app?

No.

Since you’ve got full control of the touchscreen you can use whatever app you like to take photos and video.

When I used the Watershot housing with the iPhone 5S I set it up to so I could access the Watershot app and the native iPhone camera app. I was then able to swap between the two to take advantage of the superior burst mode in the native app or the simple video mode in the Watershot app.

With full control you’re free to use whatever you want.

Can you take selfies with the Aquatech AxisGO iPhone housing?

Yes.

The clear touch screen cover, described as “A hard-coated polycarbonate membrane”, extends over the front facing camera, so you can snap selfies in the water.

Which phones are compatible with the Aquatech AxisGO iPhone housing?

At launch in June the only phone that’s officially compatible is the iPhone 7. But, they have confirmed via Ray Collins’ Instagram account that the iPhone 6 works in the housing too.

They are going to release an iPhone 7 plus housing in August.

Interestingly the cameras on the two phones is one of the main differences between them. The iPhone 7 plus has two lenses side by side compared to the iPhone 7’s single lens.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus rear view

I was trying to imagine how Aquatech might deal with the dual lenses on the iPhone 7 plus, as the lens ports are clearly designed for one lens only. There aren’t many options I can think of that will allow the use of both lenses.

Here are the options:

Sliding lens port

slide it to one lens or the other. This isn’t ideal as I think the idea of the two lenses is to make the swapping of the lenses invisible to the user. If you zoom in too much it automatically switches your view to the longer lens and vice versa, so you wouldn’t necessarily know which lens you were using at any point.

Also – I believe the two lenses are used simultaneously for some of the effects, like the blurred background in the portrait mode. So obviously this wouldn’t work at all with one lens being covered.

A bigger lens port

A port that covers both lenses on the 7 plus. This would need a different size of lens port which is a pain, but it’s not unprecedented, Aquatech currently have the LP port series for their mirrorless housings and the P system for their DSLR housings for instance.

No interchangeable lens ports

This won’t happen, but you could just use a flat piece of acrylic and do away with the ports all together, then you’d be shooting through either lens. But you’d miss out on the option to use a different port for one of the lenses.

Only allow access to one camera lens

This is probably the way to go, the best lens to use would be the wider one. You lose the ability to zoom in and any of the effects that require two lenses, but you keep the same lens ports as the iPhone 7 system.

Will the Aquatech AxisGO housing be compatible with the next generation of iPhones?

No-one knows.

That’s the short answer, the long answer is: probably some of them.

Apple tend to release a new iPhone every year in September, and they alternate between an internal upgrade with very few external changes (e.g. iPhone 6 to iPhone 6S) and a bigger update which usually changes the external design too (e.g. iPhone 5S – iPhone 6).

If the pattern continues then it’s likely that the next two phones released will be the iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S plus and they will probably be very similar, possibly identical, in external design to the current iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus.

Strangely though, there’s a rumour that they will also be releasing an even more premium model, possibly called the iPhone 8, at around the same time. If that’s the case it’s possible that the iPhone 7S and 7S plus will work fine in the AxisGO housings designed for the 7 and 7 plus, but the iPhone 8 might be different enough that it would require a new housing design.

But honestly, no-one knows at the moment and it’ll be a few months before we find out for sure.

 

Alternatives to the Aquatech AxisGO iPhone housing system

Right now nothing else offers the same features as the AxisGO, but as I mentioned in my post before it’s release, there’s at least one other housing manufacturer with something in the pipeline.

Watershot are another interesting option to watch out for. They’ve got an iPhone 7 housing available now too and an iPhone 7 plus housing coming soon. I’ve used their housing for the iPhone 5/5S/SE and it works pretty well, but I’ve heard that there’s some extra accessories on the way soon too, I don’t know for sure but I’ve got my fingers crossed for some sort of pistol grip attachment.

I’m planning on doing a big post about smart phone surf photography fairly soon. I’m currently awaiting delivery of a housing for my Samsung Galaxy S6, and I’m working on adapting another housing too, so it might be a little while in the works.

By the time all the iPhone 7 plus housings are available to buy, with the various accessories, I’ll probably be in the market for a new phone, so we’ll wait and see exactly what’s on offer to see if I’m swapping my Android for an iPhone 7 plus in the future.

Are you planning on ordering the AxisGo housing system?