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Samsung M8910 Pixon 12 review



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Samsung has long been at the forefront of the camera phone market with it boasting the UK's first 8-megapixel model, the i8510 (Innov8), among its accolades. Sadly that milestone didn't mark the end of the megapixel race, though, so today I'm looking at a 12-megapixel model, the Samsung M8910 Pixon 12. Thankfully, there is more to this phone than just a pixel bump so let's take a look.

First and foremost, this is possibly the most camera-like camera phone we've ever seen in terms of ergonomics. This is mostly due to the proper textured hand grip that makes this by far the easiest phone to hold and use as a camera - assuming you're right handed that is. The lens is also much larger than those found on most phones and its housing protrudes a fair distance from the body of the phone as well. The lack of a keypad or keyboard (due to this being a touchscreen phone) also enhances the camera feel. Finally, there's a dedicated camera power button as well as the shutter button. This brings the phone out of standby and straight into the camera application without the need to unlock the phone first, so you've more chance of capturing that fleeting Kodak moment.

Further physical camera based features include a proper Xenon flash above the lens, and off to the side is an additional LED for shooting video in the dark - a very welcome addition.

Unsurprisingly, due to all this extra hardware, the Pixon 12 isn't the most attractive of phones. That said, with dimensions of 108mm x 53mm x 17mm, it's actually quite a sensibly sized phone that fits comfortably in the hand and is easy to handle. We also like how all the buttons are positioned in such a way that you don't ever need to shift your grip to reach them (again, this is a slightly right hand-biased point) - something large phones like the iPhone classically fall down on.

Looking round those buttons, we find call answer, menu, and call end ones on the front while the right side is home to the aforementioned shutter button and camera button with the volume rocker/zoom control above these. A lanyard loop also nestles in the bottom right corner (top right when in camera/landscape mode). On the left is the lock button and, above this, a microSD slot. The phone only comes with 150MB of onboard memory but does come with a 2GB card to get you started and will accept 16GB microSDHC cards.

Up top, meanwhile, is the micro-USB data and charging socket that's hidden behind a little flap. This also doubles as the headset socket and there's a micro-USB to 3.5mm headset adapter in the box. Initially we thought sound quality from it was appalling. Samsung appeared to have cranked up the bass level in the EQ so that with its own earphones (that normally lack any semblance of bass) it sounds passable. However, if you plug a half decent set of headphones in it gives your music that same unique and disappointing timbre that you get when standing outside the venue of a gig on a cold November night, slowly getting soaked to the bone by the UK's famed drizzle as you desperately try to woo the bouncers into letting you in, and all you can hear is a muffled rumble accompanied by the occasional snatch of guitar or vocals floating on the fetid steamy air that drifts from the high windows.

Hmmm, got a bit carried aware there. As it turned out, though, this was the effect of turning on the '5.1 channel' mode, which automatically comes on when you insert headphones. It took us noticing this setting on another Samsung phone (where the button was actually visible without having to tap the album art first) before we worked out that this same setting must've been in use on this phone. Long story, short; don't use the '5.1 channel' mode for music.

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Daniel Gerson

September 14, 2009, 4:29 pm

What about some low light/flash sample pics?


September 14, 2009, 4:49 pm

Quote: "Overall results are pretty impressive with a level of detail (in good lighting) that noticeably surpasses my own compact camera. Exposure is generally accurate, the flash is well-metered, and colours look natural."

Can you please explain what camera phone are you talking about in these two sentences, as I fail to agree on your observations looking at included sample photos? If your first sentence is correct, I'd suggest your next purchase to be a new compact camera (any but the one you already have, really), not the 500 pounds camera phone like this. Wonderful world of photography seems to have many positive surprises left on store for camera phone enthusiasts. Personally, I'm appalled by how bad the IQ is with this whooping 12MP cam phone. Exposure is only half right on the focused subject, other 8/9ths of the picture are extremely over/under-exposed with extreme chromatic aberration, using flash results in uneven lighting across the picture even at closer ranges and produces awful colour shifts, and colours don't look anything natural to anyone not suffering partial or full colour blindness. I've seen way better pictures taken with a 5 pound or less worth disposable cameras.

iain coghill

September 14, 2009, 5:56 pm

Why can't manufacturers just bung some phone electronics into one of those dinky little compact cameras that can be had for < £200? I can't see why you couldn't get decent quality pics and an ok phone for well under £250.


September 15, 2009, 5:34 am

Never mind the quality feel the megapixels.


September 15, 2009, 1:30 pm

@miha: I've added the shots I used for comparison taken with my Canon 850 IS so you can see for yourself. It is a slightly older compact camera so doesn't have some of the more sophisticated chromatic aberation removal features of many new compacts but it's still a very good camera. The Pixon clearly beats it for raw detail and pretty much equals it on every other level. Again, though, this only really counts in good lighting.

As for flash, considering the size of flash you can expect to get on a phone, its results are very impressive (the sample shot was taken in a nearly completely dark room).

Obviously the Pixon's not perfect but is it good enough to replace a basic cheap compact? Arguably, yes. Your comment to the contrary (better pictures taken with a 5 pound or less worth disposable cameras) is utter rubbish.

@Iain: Three things:

1. I'm not sure that many people would actually buy such a device.

2. I think it really is easier said than done. You'd end up with quite a bulky device.

3. It would cost a damn site more than £250 if you wanted half the features of a modern phone. You could argue that they drop all the fancy stuff and just make it have really basic phone features that do only add £50 to the cost of the camera but then who would want such a basic device? I'd personally rather just have the camera and a slightly more feature rich phone.

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