The Re is a new, oddly shaped $199 handheld camera from smartphone maker HTC.

Story highlights

HTC announces new handheld action camera

The Re is a small waterproof camera with just one button and no viewfinder

Like the popular GoPro, the Re is meant for capturing action shots

CNN  — 

HTC is dipping its toes in the camera market with the new Re: a supersimple handheld action camera that pairs with a smartphone.

The L-shaped Re camera looks like an inhaler or small periscope. Just under 4 inches high, the waterproof gadget is mostly handle. It turns on when you grip it and features a fixed ultra-wide-angle lens, a single button and no viewfinder. It captures 16 megapixel still images and shoots 1080p HD videos at 30 frames per second or 720p videos at 120 frames per second.

Though it works independently, the Re does a lot more when used with its Android or iOS apps. The apps can turn a smartphone into a viewfinder and make it possible to shoot time-lapse and slow motion videos.

Why is HTC, traditionally a smartphone company, making a camera? In a way, all smartphone makers are already in the camera industry. Starting with Apple’s iPhone, smartphone manufacturers have mostly obliterated the point-and-shoot by putting powerful cameras in everyone’s pocket.

Part of the problem was that traditional pocket cameras just couldn’t catch up fast enough with the editing and instant sharing features smartphones offered. HTC is approaching its camera from a different angle: It’s built as a phone accessory.

Though aimed at a more casual user, Re is similar to the many portable action cameras available. Led by the hugely popular GoPro, action cameras have taken off in recent years. Rugged and powerful, they can be mounted on vehicles, heads and animals for intense videos.

Like GoPro, the Re will have a line of custom mounts and clips. It can shoot up to 1 meter underwater. HTC says the camera will be available before the end of the year and cost $199. It comes in white, navy and red.

The Taiwanese company announced the new camera on Wednesday, along with the Desire Eye smartphone. Built to capitalize on the selfie craze, the Desire Eye puts its most powerful camera on the front side of the phone, so people can get the highest quality image of their face and make sure they look good at the same time.