Samsung's Style Phones 2007
Samsung is really on a roll with new high-end phones for Europe. The latest is the G800, a high-end camera phone slider for Europe. By high-end, I mean the camera is 5 megapixel with a 3x optical zoom and xenon flash. The optical zoom is what really sets this apart from competition like the Nokia's N95 and Sony Ericsson's K850.
The G800 has metallic silver design combining a mirrored front and brushed stainless-steel body that might remind some of LG's Shine series. Resemblance to the competition aside, the design is quite stylish and feels very high-quality. It's no coincidence that the back resembles a standalone digital camera. Many high-end camera phones have intentionally adopted this sideways design, but the G800 may be the best yet at fooling people into thinking you're using a standalone camera and not a camera phone.
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The G800 is a bit on the large and thick side, but not dramatically more than its competition with 5 megapixel cameras. In fact it's relatively compact for a device with an internal optical zoom.
The "internal" optical zoom simply means that the lens doesn't extend outside the phone body to perform its zoom function. Sony has been using similar lens technology for years on its popular T-series ultra-thin cameras.
As for the flash, xenon means it's a "real" strobe flash, instead of the LED type typical of most current camera phones. Sony Ericsson's K850 also sports a xenon flash. Since it doesn't have an LED flash to assist with focusing, it has a separate orange LED and lens that serves as an auto-focus assist lamp. Therefore when focusing in low light, you'll see a small orange beam projected on your subject during focusing.
Continuing along the list of high-end camera features, the G800 also sports face detection technology to help ensure people are exposed and focused correctly. This ensures the camera doesn't accidentally focus and meter on the background, leaving your friends dark and/or blurry.
A panorama mode adds to the extensive camera feature list. In the pre-production version we tried, panorama mode didn't offer any visual guide for lining up adjacent shots in the viewfinder, but it still seemed to do a decent job of stitching the photos together right in the camera as soon as the last shot was taken.
Finally, the G800 camera interface also sports a new four-way shortcut system using the d-pad, and a sliding cover on the back to protect the lens.
The rest of the G800 interface is standard for a high-end Samsung. It does sport some new features, though, such as a photo editor, video editor, and RSS reader. When viewing photos, the soft keys become zoom in/out keys, a novel and handy way to inspect your photos up close. Google integration is also present on the generic unit I tried, although that's typically a carrier-dependent feature.
The phone did feel a bit sluggish during my brief session with it, although it was a prototype, so that could easily be a pre-production issue. However the most important application - the camera - was very responsive.
Unfortunately, like most of the other GSM phones in this article, the G800 is not quad-band, so it's not a great choice for use in the US, but we can hope Samsung will bring something similar Stateside before too long.
Below is a quick video tour of the interface. I apologize for being half-asleep while narrating - Samsung had us on a quite the rigorous schedule last week. Much thanks for Vincent Nguyen of SlashGear for taping and uploading the video for us, since my video camera was stolen from my checked luggage (damn that Atlanta airport!)