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Review: Kyocera Koi KX2

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The camera itself is decent and camera software is actually quite good, unfortunately holding the phone as a camera ruins the experience. Like Sony Ericsson models and some other phones, the Koi is held horizontally when used as a camera phone. However the design of the phone prevents you from firmly wrapping your hands around it. The left hand can grip the phone unobstructed, but the right hand must be positioned so that your fingers do not obstruct the lens and your palm is not getting poked by the antenna. While avoiding these pitfalls, you then have to use your right index finger to reach up and into the indentation where the shutter button is located. All in all, no mean feat except maybe for piano players and long fingered robot hands. It's difficult to believe this passed any sort of usability testing. The phone can also be used as a camera when it is open. In this case the left softkey or the D-Pad select acts as the shutter.

In either orientation, it is easy to navigate through the camera menu, which can adjust a number of settings. It is probably easier to hold the phone while it is open, however the viewfinder is only full-screen when the phone is closed. When open, the viewfinder is not even a horizontal rectangle, so it can't really be used to frame the picture.

The lens is very sharp at less than about 40 feet, then focus falls off quickly. Color is fairly good in daylight, though a little washed out. Low light performance is terrible. We tried every combination of the flash and low light mode and could not find a single one that produced anything other than dark blobs when trying to photograph some friends who were 3 feet away at a bar. The only special effect is a "frame" mode which lets you add clip art on top of 160 x 120 pictures.

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Video clips can be set at either low or high quality, but at either setting clips are 128 x 96 with a maximum time of 15 seconds. The quality only appears to effect how smooth the video looks. At high quality the video is very smooth, clear and the sound is pretty loud.

Starting up the camera by sliding the lens cover open takes about 2 seconds. The delay while saving images varies with size, but ran from near instant for tiny images to just over 3 seconds for 1 megapixel shots. After the shot is saved, you must hit the back key to take the next shot.

There is no memory card slot, so all pictures are saved on the phone. Despite what seems like a paltry 16 MB of shared memory, we didn't run out of room for pictures during our tests. It easily held 16-20 images at a time. The only way to copy images off the phone before deleting them is to send them using Verizon's Pix picture messaging.

The camera interface has a last shot review in the menu, using this feature when the phone is closed is the only way to view a photo full screen. The Gallery application displays photos letterboxed on the vertical screen. However it does allow you to zoom in and pan around the picture at a number of magnification factors.

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