It's a digital camera without a lens and without a screen--but it's likely to be a very popular option. The Sony QX1 essentially turns a smartphone into a mirrorless camera, complete with manual modes and even RAW compatibility. The QX1 is an APS-C sensor, a processor, a pop-up flash and a shutter release--but not a whole lot else.
The screen is your smartphone, and it communicates with the camera via wi-fi or NFC. This means you can use image editing apps and share images just as quickly as you can share shots taken with your smartphone's camera. Unfortunately, that also means the camera will likely be slow. We tested out the QX10 last year, and since the screen is communicating with the camera wirelessly, there's a significant delay between the time you tell the phone to take the picture, and when the image is actually taken. You can compensate some by using the shutter release that's located directly on the camera, instead of using the phone, and that's likely where the 10 fps burst speed comes in. You can even use the QX1 without attatching it to a smartphone, but composing images without a screen will be tough.
The QX1 is compatible with Sony's mirrorless E mount lenses, which means there are plenty of options already on the market--there's a lens to fit pretty much any shot you might want to snap with the QX1. Image stabilization, however, is not built in to the camera, so you'll want to purchase lenses that have a stabilization system inside (making them a bit pricier).
Being able to use interchangeable lenses and a big APS-C sensor with your smartphone is a pretty big accomplishment--but Sony has also managed to include manual modes, and even RAW capability. RAW files won't transfer to your phone, but will save to a mini-SD card for editing later on the computer. ISO sensitivity reaches 16,000, like Sony's mirrorless models.
The QX1 will probably get you the best "smartphone pictures" you've ever taken--but a Sony mirrorless camera with built-in wi-fi offers the same capability, without slowing the camera down. We haven't tried out the QX1 yet, but the previous QX models saw a significant delay while the camera communicated with the smartphone wirelessly. Despite this, there's still likely a big spot on the market for the QX1. Smartphone photographers will love the big sensor, interchangeable lenses, manual mode capabilities and RAW shooting, while still being able to shoot with their phones.
The Sony QX1 will be available beginning mid-October 2014 for a $399 list price.