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Will These Phones Make Digital Cameras Obsolete?


Brand New Crop of Camera Phones?
By Andrew Eisner
The cell phone market continues to add new types of phones. There are sliders like T-Mobile's Sidekick that offer big keyboards that slide out from under big displays. There are Smartphones with QWERTY keyboards and high resolution displays, and now a new generation of phones is offering many of the features found on smartphones along with cameras with lots of mega pixels, video recording, and editing tools.

Sony Ericsson C905
Although the Sony Ericsson C905 has many high end features found in smartphones it is being categorized as a camera phone. It has an 8.1 MP camera along with some cool photo features like face detection, Smart Contrast that balances light and dark areas, image stabilization, BestPic that takes seven pictures in fast succession(you keep the best), and a Xenon flash. It has a built in accelerometer so photos change to landscape mode when you turn the camera and A-GPS so photos can be “geotagged.”

You get all the latest connectivity options like 3G, GSM, A2DP Bluetooth (stereo), WiFi (with DLNA for home media sharing), USB 2.0, and Exchange ActiveSync. It has a 2.4 inch QVGA (320 x 240) display, a TV-out port for watching pictures on your TV, an FM radio with RDS (Radio Data System for station ID and track/artist info) and a megabass audio equalizer preset for better audio.

On the down side it’s a little hefty at 19.5 mm thick and 136 grams and it doesn’t have a QWERTY keyboard. It'll be available in Copper Gold, Ice Silver & Night Black with a bundled 2 GB Memory Stick Micro M2. All this functionality is not going to come cheap with this phone costing upwards of $800.

Sony Ericsson C905
 
Sony Ericsson C905
 
Sony Ericsson C905

Samsung INNOV8 i8510

The Samsung INNOV8 i8510 is a camera phone with an 8 MP autofocus camera that includes image stabilization and face, smile, and blink detection. It will record QVGA (320 x 240) video at 120 fps or VGA at 30fps with a full editing suite on the phone which makes this device more like a camcorder phone than a camera phone.

It supports WiFi, 3G Quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) and dual-band WCDMA (900/2100MHz) and runs Symbian 9.3 S60 3rd Edition FP2. It has a big 2.8 inch display, built-in A-GPS, accelerometer and has 16 GB internal storage with microSD card slot for more storage. It should be available soon for around $350.

Samsung INNOV8 i8510
 
Samsung INNOV8 i8510
 
Samsung INNOV8 i8510

Motorola Motozine

Motorola is about to launch the Motorola Motozine ZN5 in China with a 5 MP camera “powered by” Kodak. It will have all the standard smartphone features minus a QWERTY keyboard and 3G connectivity. This phone is expected to be followed by the, rumored, Motorola Motozine ZN12 which could hit the stores around October 2008. It is also rumored to have an 8 MP Kodak camera, a big 2.8 640x480 display and uses an NVidia chip to help with video & 3D graphics. Some say this is a make or break cell phone for Motorola who needs another hit product in this market.

Motorola Motozine
 
Motorola Motozine
 
Motorola Motozine

LG KU990 Viewty
The LG KU990 Viewty is an old timer by today's standards having been out for almost a year. It only has a measly 5.1 MP camera but some very impressive features. The camera uses a high quality Schneider-Kreuznach lens with autofocus, a Xenon flash, and a SmartLight feature that improves pictures taken in low light. It also includes a secondary front facing video camera for video conferencing.

The video camera takes QVGA (320 x 240) video at 120 fps which can be played back at 15 fps for slo-motion and also takes VGA resolution clips at 30 fps. It comes with built-in picture-editing and video-editing tools and a dedicated microphone to capture sound when recording video. A second front-facing camera can be used for video calls. It uses Haptic technology which has been used in game controllers to simulate resistance and motion, to provide added sensory feedback for some operations.

The list goes on including a 240 X 400 pixel, 3 inch touch screen, FM radio and 3G connectivity. Missing is WiFi, GPS, and an accelerometer. The LG KU990 Viewty costs around $470. The LG KF755 Secret which is due any time will add another 5 MP camera phone with a few more features.

LG KU990 Viewty
 
LG KU990 Viewty
 
LG KU990 Viewty

 

Conclusion
It's amazing what they're packing into phones these days. With 8 MP cameras built into your phone you might not have to carry around a digital camera. Remember for all your cell phone information like reviews and manuals, don't forget to go to Retrevo for information on all popular gadgets and gear like Digital Cameras, GPS, Camcorders, Laptops, and more.

Cell Phone Product Advisor

 


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What about zoom capabilities?

I feel like the obvious question -- one that was not answered, but is critical if these camera phones really are going to replace digital cameras -- is what sort of zooming capabilities these new phones have. I have a Moto 9Qc with a 2 MP camera, I think. While the shots are clear, the lack of an optical zoom makes it a poor substitute for my Canon.