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.