Review: Samsung A900
There is a small button on the side of the A900's flip to activate the camera. Using this button is by far the fastest method to start the camera, and yet it takes almost 3 seconds to launch, which is longer than most other handsets take. When first launched, the camera displays a full screen viewfinder with an upside down image. This issue is a small gripe with all Samsung handsets that have rotating cameras. A quick tap of the volume rocker will flip the image right side up.
The full-screen viewfinder makes excellent use of the large, bright screen. However it is not that useful for actually framing pictures if you compose your shots at all. The full-screen mode is oriented vertically while the camera is set horizontal. So to see the full image that the camera will capture, the camera needs to be set to wide screen, which place large black bars above and below the image in the viewfinder.
The A900 may feel solid in the hand, but apparently it is not easy to hold still. Either that or the camera shutter stays open longer than normal. Most pictures we took came out blurry unless we held the phone still with both hands or they were taken in very bright light. And when pictures were taken in bright light, the contrast was too high to get a usable picture. We were disappointed at the small number of usable snapshots we got from this cameraphone.
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The camera application offers the normal set of options - resolution, quality, color effects, as well as adjustment of flash, white balance and brightness. The one impressive feature is the ability to choose from a number of shutter sounds as well as completely silence the shutter.
The video recorder can take either a short clip limited to Sprint's MMS message size or a long clip limited only by the available memory. Clips can only be recorded at QCIF (176 *144) regardless of which option you choose. Video recording features all the same options and color effects as the still camera. Motion on the clips is smooth and the sound is good, but the low resolution unfortunately gives the A900's videos a much lower quality feel.
The gallery application is more frustrating than the pictures it contains. When launching the gallery, you have to wait for the application to draw a screen's worth of thumbnails before you can do anything. The phone does not store thumbnails after they are created the first time. In fact, the phone never stores the thumbnails. If you scroll off a screen, you have to wait for the next 9 thumbnails to be drawn, and if you scroll back, you'll have to wait again. Each thumbnail takes about a second to draw.
Once the thumbnails are drawn you can select one or more photos and choose to send them, upload them to a Sprint gallery or even print them over Bluetooth. The ability to select multiple items at once is one of the gallery's few saving graces.
If you choose to view a single photo ("expand", in this application's parlance), you can do the same operations and nothing else. There is no zoom, slideshow or editing of the picture - even from this "expanded" view.
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