Today the Stuff.tv team's usual mobiles have been given a day off, for last night we were the lucky recipients of the UK's first 8MP camphone, the Samsung i8510. By gazumping Sony Ericsson's C905 with an earlier launch (the i8510 will be out in September, the 8MP C905 October at the earliest) Samsung has cleverly grabbed many 'the digicam is dead' tabloid headlines. But can it really convince us to eBay our compacts?
Firstly, it should be mentioned that the i8510 is more than a camphone – it's a genuine Nokia N96 rival. It runs Symbian's slightly crusty but powerful Series 60, and our samples have an impressive 16GB memory (though Carphone Warehouse will initially only be stocking the 8GB version).
Elsewhere, its CV is a roll call of headline features: 7.2Mbps HSDPA connectivity, 2.8in QVGA display, built-in A-GPS, Wi-Fi, stereo Bluetooth, microSD slot and FM radio. All of this is packed into a chassis that's a pocketable 16.9mm thick, making it very similar in size to the N96.
Our early play with the i8510 has revealed hidden extras too. The D-pad has touch-sensitivity (a little like the Soul) which lets you stroke your way around the menus and is particularly handy for web browsing. A built-in accelerometer also rotates the screen as you turn it, and Google Maps is on board to help you get around town (though there's no dedicated GPS software on board).
But what about that camera? Well, from our early shots it seems very capable. All the photos here were taken with the i8510, and it compares well the Samsung's own NV11 compact in the scene shot below. There are stacks of compact-esque options too: a reasonable macro mode, ISO settings that go slightly unecessarily up to 1600, smile/blink detection and a nifty panorama mode.
It's still slightly hobbled by the usual camphone problems though: flash and zoom. The decent dual LED flash and 9x digital zoom will suffice for most point-and-shoot situations, but to really wipe out compacts it could still do with a powerful Xenon number and proper optical zoom to let your creative juices flow. Video is also only QVGA, although you do get the option of capturing in slow-mo 120 frames per second.
One advantage the i8510 it does hold over most compacts is connectivity: the on-board ShoZu app lets you post pics straight to facebook, and you can geotag snaps too.
We're off on a trip round Teddington to take some some more snaps, so look out for a hands-on video and a full review very soon.
Samsung i8510 (left) versus Nokia N96 (right):
Shot taken with Samsung i8510:
Shot taken with Samsung NV11: