The camphone megapixel race is on again. But is the Pixon 12 too much of a good thing?
Samsung’s Pixon 12 is, as it’s fond of telling us, the world’s first 12MP camphone. This isn’t necessarily good news – camphones inevitably have small sensors, and cramming more megapixels onto them can create more noise and reduce tonal range.
But while it may not be a compact digicam killer, the Pixon 12 – and its imminent 12MP foes, the Sony Ericsson Satio and LG Louvre – do have advantages over their dedicated rivals. There’s HSDPA for instant uploading of photos to the web, Bluetooth for sharing pics and, of course, GPS for geotagging.
Bright, touch-sensitive screen
The Pixon 12 also has a pretty spectacular 3.1in AMOLED screen that, like the display found on the Samsung i8910HD, is crisp and easy to see in bright sunlight.
On the down side, it’s also a resistive touchscreen – so while setting the flash, picking the scene mode or pinpointing the focus is all intuitive thanks to haptic feedback, you have to press that bit harder (unless you’re prepared to pull out a stylus).
Luckily, the phone’s camera features are well thought out. The lens is wide-angle and stored safely behind a self-opening cover. And because there are so many megapixels available, zooming in with the digital zoom doesn’t destroy image quality.
Minimal shutter lag
Better still, the time between pressing the trigger and the camera firing is much shorter than on most camphones, even in lower light conditions.
Photo playback on the Pixon 12 is simple and effective, the colours shining out on its screen – and tapping on an image lets you zoom in for closer examination.
The ‘Touch Autofocus tracking’ also means you can pick an object, or your friends’ smug grin, and with a tap ensure the focus stays there even if you move the phone.
Sadly, the ergonomics leave a little to be desired. It’s easy to press the wrong button – you launch the camera with a dedicated button, but the shutter is triggered by another one. Also, it’s easy to rest your thumb on the screen lock, so you can find you’re disabling the screen instead of shooting.
Still, other treats help to compensate – beyond the camera, there’s an efficient GPS receiver, and neat extras like a slick three-screen menu system and widgets screen.
Another nice touch is that when you receive a call and don’t want to take it, turning the phone over mutes the ring, letting you can escape the cinema without the mandatory 10-second fumble.
But it’s not quite enough to lift the Pixon 12 to the camphone top spot. While impressive, it’s photos are oversharpened and oversaturated when compared to the Sony Ericsson Satio – and the lack of a 3.5mm headphone socket firmly places it in four-star territory.
Samsung Pixon 12 review
The Pixon 12 is chunky but highly usable and the most advanced camphone we’ve seen – for now