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Is Bigger Always Better? A Look at the 12.1-Megapixel Sony Ericsson Satio

Although more than six months old, the Sony Ericsson Satio still holds the record for being the most pixel-packed camera phone in existence. It has a whopping 12.1 megapixels, a hundred pixels more than its closest competitors, the Samsung Pixon 12 and the just-revealed Nokia N98. The Satio would have held the record as the first-ever 12-megapixel phone in the market, too, if Korean electronics giant Samsung did not beat them to the punch by shipping their own 12-megapixel Pixon 12 a few months in advance. Despite this minor glitch, the Satio was able to maintain its lead as top-of-the-line camera phone for 2009.

The Satio is testament to the genius of the Cybershot camera range found only in Sony Ericsson phones. After all, the Cybershot has been a market leader in digital cameras for years now, so this should come as no surprise. The whopping 12.1 megapixels plus up to 16X digital zoom makes for really impressive phone photos, especially if you’re used to the grainy, distorted quality of images from most other camera phones. The lack of an optical zoom, however, makes images pixelated at full zoom and distorted at a distance. Widescreen photos are also limited to 10 megapixels, and the recovery time between taking photos may take long, especially for full-resolution images. On the plus side, it has lots of built-in tools like auto focus, touch focus (the camera will automatically focus on an object you touch on the screen), and an image stabilizer that comes in handy for everyday novice photographers. Like most other camera phones, it has a Xenon flash for photos and a LED flash for recording videos. The video recorder is also pretty impressive, with a resolution of up to 864×480 at 24 fps. Photos taken with the Satio are also automatically geotagged, and there are links to let you instantly upload photos and video to Picasa, YouTube or Facebook.

Unlike other 12-megapixel camera phone contenders with AMOLED screens, the Satio only has a resistive TMT touchscreen. This makes the touch-screen operation frustratingly unresponsive at times, especially for the thick-thumbed. Internet browsing was decent at most, with full HTML support but no smart-fitting of text and a quite cumbersome window-switching method. Like the Samsung Pixon 12, battery life on the Satio was disappointing. Who would use 1,000-mAh batteries on such power-packed phones? This means that the phone requires at least daily charging.

The greatest downside to Satio, however, is its problematic software In November 2009 two major phone retailers in the UK pulled out Satios from their shelves following mounting complaints from users about the phone’s penchant to randomly freeze and shut down. In December the company issued a software update for download on their site. There are reports, however, that the phones still continue to freeze and hang at random.

Despite its flaws, the Satio will still endure, at least for some months, as a top-of-the-line camera phone. To keep up with competition, however, Sony Ericsson should seriously look into stabilizing their software stacks in future mega-camera phone releases.

A Retrospective Look Into the World's First 12-Megapixel Camera Phone: Samsung M8910/Pixon 12

It has been almost a year since the first-ever 12-megapixel camera phone – the Samsung M8910, a.k.a the Pixon 12, has been announced to the world. Sony Ericsson had earlier announced their own version of the 12-megapixel camera phone; however Samsung beat them to the punch by shipping the Pixon 12 a few months earlier. The phone was met with pretty much mixed reviews – whereas some users were thrilled with the novel concept of a pixels-packed camera phone, others just didn’t see the point. Since a lot has since then been said of the Pixon 12, allow us to honor that one-year milestone with a retrospective review of the first-ever 12-megapixel camera phone the world has ever laid its hands on.

The Pixon 12 is actually a direct successor of the Pixon M8800, another record-holder as the “world’s slimmest touch-screen 8-megapixel phone”. Besides the obvious upgrade in the number of camera megapixels, the Pixon 12 uses an active-matrix OLED (AMOLED) screen, which is a more vivid, power-efficient alternative to the M8800’s TFT screen. Many users complained however, that the resistive screen was much harder to operate than the capacitive touchscreens found in other smartphones. This meant twiddling around cramped on-screen keyboards and having trouble with single- and double-tapping operations.

The beauty in this baby, however, is in its innovative 12-megapixel main camera. With added features like Touch Auto-Tracking which lets the camera focus on an item you touch on-screen, Smart Auto, and smile and blink detection, the camera has become a viable replacement to the point-and-shoot you lug around along with your phone. It also has a decent 4x digital zoom, a Xenon flash for photos and a LED flash for recording video. Video records were also found to be quite impressive for this camera phone, with a resolution of 720×480 at 30fps VGA or up to 120 fps for low-resolution QVGA. The built-in photo editing apps were also mildly useful for tweaking photos before uploading them to Facebook, Picasa or your computer.

With such beefy specs for photo and video, the Pixon 12 comes with a tiny 150 MB internal memory. Yes, this can be expanded to up to 16 GB using a microSD card, but for a phone that costs between $500 and $800, one tends to expect more. Another common complaint about the phone is its less-than-power-packed battery. With only 1,000 mAh of juice, most Pixon 12s will only run for less than a day – that’s factoring in radio and internet use, merry photo-snapping, and the usual text and call. Which meant you’ll always to lug around a phone charger to be on the safe side.

To date, the Samsung Pixon 12 remains the lightest and smallest amongst existing 12-megapixel camera phones (the Sony Ericsson Satio and the Nokia N98 being other contenders), packing only 119 grams. It also has the largest screen resolution (480×800) and the smallest screen size (3.1 inches, compared to the 3.5-inch screens in the others). Our verdict? Despite its inherent flaws, the Samsung Pixon 12 earns brownie points for being a market trailblazer. Yes, it did just follow in the heels of Sony Ericsson’s announcement, but it will always bear the distinction of being the first-ever 12-megapixel camera phone in the market.

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Call Now: +1 833-522-1003