The efforts of phone manufacturers to cram more and more pixels into the lenses of the built-in cameras is nothing short of relentless. Samsung has hit 10-megapixels with its SCH-B600 phone, but that is of course no more than a technology statement and is only available in Korea anyway. Here in the UK, the best we can get right now is 3.2 million courtesy of Sony Ericsson’s K800i, the first SE phone to carry the Cyber-shot branding.
It is not just about pixels, though, and Sony Ericsson has added in some non pixel-count features which augment the K800i’s potential as a cameraphone.
None of what follows is intended to suggest that you can use the K800i as a replacement for a dedicated digital camera for serious photography, but I do think that this handset does wonders for the idea of a mobile phone as a ‘snap and share’ and ‘snap and keep’ and even ‘snap and print’ device.
In hardware terms the K800i isn’t much to look at. Small (105 x 47 x 22 mm), light (115g) and unprepossessing in terms of design with shades of slate grey and silver and white highlights, it doesn’t give the appearance of being a top end handset.
The front facing controls are dominated by a small joystick which is one of the better ones I’ve used. It is responsive and has plenty of travel. You can programme its four directions for specific functions.
There are two absolutely tiny buttons to the far left and right of the joystick that need to be approached with a fingernail if you are to hit them accurately.
One launches the web browser, the other is the Activity Menu key which contains four tabbed sections: these are more shortcuts to applications, web bookmarks, notifications about missed calls and new messages, and, helpfully the chance to close any running applications that might be slowing the handset down.
The front facing camera for video calling is absolutely tiny and located in the speaker grille where it is not obviously visible. But when making test 3G calls the camera delivered fine quality images to the K800i and the receiving handset.
You get the software for the primary, rear mounted camera started by sliding a substantial cover off its lens or pressing a dedicated button on the bottom right edge of the casing that is then also used to take snaps.