Next to the micro-USB socket is the release button for the backplate. Pressing this pops off the tough black anodised aluminium back to reveal the battery and SIM card slot. The battery is only a 1,000mAh (3.7V) unit but we found this to be enough for taking several dozen photos and a few short video clips, listening to an hour of mp3 playback, and doing a couple of hours web browsing and general faffing over the course of three days. Samsung quotes a minimum three hrs of talk time, which is quite low, but standby time is a minimum of 250 hrs. With heavy use we think you’d have to charge this phone every other day.
The M8910’s 3.1in screen uses resistive touch sensing technology so has a soft flexible surface that will be very prone to scratching. To counter this, Samsung includes a fitted case that protects the screen and most of the body of the phone, leaving just the lens and camera controls exposed. This means you could theoretically take shots without removing the case but you’ll have to guess the framing of your shots and you won’t be able to use the flash or LED as theses are all covered.
Responsiveness of the screen is acceptable, so typing using the onscreen keyboards is reasonably easy and the various flicking and tapping gestures required for navigating other features work well. However, it’s not a patch on devices that use hard, capacitive touchscreens. Largely making up for this (though the two features don’t have to be mutually exclusive) is the quality of the display. It uses AMOLED technology so delivers a really bright, vivid picture that really brings pictures and, in particular, videos to life. The 480 x 800 pixels also provide plenty of sharp detail and viewing angles are exceptional so framing scenes with the phone held above your head is quite possible.
In use the camera feels as intuitive and quick as many a dedicated compact camera. Pressing the camera power button gets you ready to take a photo in about two seconds while shot to shot time is about three seconds, though with flash this drops to around six seconds as the flash takes a while to recharge. Incidentally, lowering the picture quality doesn’t seem to speed things up a great deal.
There is a continuous mode but this is a special high speed version that takes up to nine photos at 6fps and results in pictures that are only 640 x 480 pixels. There’s also a panorama mode that provides a guide for taking each shot then stitches them all together automatically. Again, the end result is woefully small at only 1,280 x 960 pixels.
The Pixon 12’s camera also has object tracking. This is activated by touching an object on the screen which sets the focus and exposure for that object and then dynamically maintains them as it moves around. It works well if the object is moving quite slowly but we can’t imagine it being all that effective in truly fast-paced situations.
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