Camphones, camphones, everywhere – but which one to get?

I’ve been set a task. A young lady has asked me to find her a cameraphone that will last, live in the bottom of her capacious hand-bag and preferably be a candy-bar type hand-set. She is not that interested in smart phone add-ons.

I’m thinking 5 megapixels, good design and ease of use should be the keywords here. So, lets have a gander at what’s out there shall we?

LG KU990 Viewty


Here is the first in the line; great looking and it’s being pushed as the complete visual package. It has, of course a 5 megapixel camera which is de rigeur and also a stack of features you’re more likely to find on your stand alone snapper.

There’s a 16x digital zoom, video recording at a mind-blowing 120 frames per second and playback at a DVD quality 30 fps. So that’s quite a bit then?

As with all the latest LG range it’s quite a looker – but we’re interested in gadgetry as well as design here. Could it be relying too much on its looks?

There’s a few things that might let the Viewty down. For instance, you operate the zoom by rotating your finger around the lens. This makes it quite tricky to hold steady and take quick pics without getting your paws in the way – and that’s whilst sober!

Images themselves do indeed make other lesser mobile snappers look a tad average, but up against the N95, they’re pretty comparable. Praise indeed from this N95 convert but the Viewty seems to be less impressive when levelled against the Nokia’s multimedia powers and the brick hard build of Sony Ericsson’s K850i which will be up next.

The touchscreen itself takes its lead from LG’s fashionista fone, the Prada. Similarly, it’s a fairly iffy affair and you have to make sure you hit it in the right place if you want it to be obedient. Scrolling through text messages can take a couple of ice-ages. Again, imagine texting after a few shandies……perhaps it’s a good thing to make drunk texting unviable?

Once you’ve got your targeting fixed on though texting is fairly easy to do. There’s a standard mobile keyboard on the screen, so you can fire off nonsense in no time once you’ve had a bit of practice.

The build is incredibly plasticky so if you’re not that gentle with your tech it’s praps best you look for something more like the……..

Sony Ericsson K850i


Chasing the Nokia N95, Samsung G600 and LG Viewty U990 in the 5mp race the Sony Ericsson K850i has been using the time enrolling on evening classes to make it a better photographer and it has come away feeling quite smug.

It has also been working out as it’s beefier than the K810i with the new Sony keyboard design. It looks pretty cool but I was a bit aprehensive to its usability but the three touch-sensitive soft keys and a four-way navigation pad fencing the 2 and 5 buttons works incredibly well. You won’t need much time to adjust to this new layout – I like :0)

The heart of the K810i beats within – Best Pic and Photo Fix image wizardry, Xenon Flash and autofocus naturally all resurface – but it’s the new found photographic prowess that elevates it above it rivals. The K850i is the first phone to feature a dedicated power button that automatically and instantly opens a scratch resistant plastic protected lens cap. You also get an accessible three way switch that toggles between still photo, video recording and picture gallery while it’s the first Cyber-shot to serve-up ISO settings for adjusting to differing lighting environments. Told you it has been a good student.

Another camera characteristic is the bottom trap door that rooms the battery, SIM card and a hotswapple memory card slot that unprecedentedly welcomes both Memory Stick Micro and Micro SD formats. The K850i has also contracted the Apple iPhone bug and rigged the handset with highly responsive accelerometer motion sensors that automatically realign the display from portrait to landscape. Top of the class methinks.

The K850i would get you thinking “do I need a camera and a phone?”

Samsung G800


Samsung also has a 5mp camphone and they have also stuffed the G800 with an autofocus, flash and a 3x optical zoom.

With illuminated keys and brushed metal back it is a looker but it’s not a size 0 model. And while it’s carrying some extra weight it doesn’t feel as solid as my N95. Again, if you’re going to chuck it in the bottom a hand/man bag I’m not certain it would continue to cope with daily bashing.

Held horizontally, using your index finger to hit the shutter and the G800 really feels like digital camera. But we have a zoom design problem on this one as well. You have to stretch for it quite a bit. Far from being silky smooth, it’s also pretty slow and jittery.

With exposure tweaks, face detection and scene modes, the features rival a basic compact. Pictures have good colours and heaps of detail, but there is a stack of lag from the shutter.

The Xenon flash is excellent for close-ups but may be a bit underpowered for larger rooms.

Other bits on this machine include a radio, decent music player, picture blogging, HSDPA, a document viewer and secondary camera. And with decent-sized keys and a frightingly bright screen, it’s not that bad. It is, however, a little betwixt and between; it is a tad lardy as a phone, while slower than a lot of the new camphones out now. But if you can live with these niggles it is still quite a well-spec’d and handsome cameraphone.

Nokia N82


Like a candy-bar N95 this has pretty much everything.  There’s the 5-megapixel camera, with Carl Zeiss optics and a slick xenon flash taken from the N95 so that’s that taken care of.

You can also record DVD-quality flicks, all of which can be saved on the supplied 2GB microSD card. Sweet. There’s space there for 900 high-res pics and 84 minutes of top notch vid. That should be plenty for most people I reckon.

Slap it onto the TV or your PC monitor and you can get multimedia slideshows going and crank out all those presentation skills at home as well as in the office. Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also an accelerometer for switching between portrait and landscape. Now that’s the kind of nifty idea we’re getting used to and love to see.

So – which one?

It’s probably still debatable whether you can replace a standard digital compact camera with a phone, but if you can my money is with the Sony Ericsson’s Cyber-shot range or the Nokia N Series.

I’ve used Sonys quite a bit and, as I’ve stated before, found them pretty much bullet-proof (although not cola proof!).

I’m loving my Nokia and now having got used to the little quirks after moving from Sony to Nokia I’m quite settled.

My new loyalty aside, I think, for the purpose of this review, I’d recommend the Cyber-shot as it’s the most like a camera with phone usability and will have Sony’s reliability and build quality.

So – the winner is the Sony Ericsson K850i!