Review: Samsung Focus S for AT&T
The Focus S will launch the camera when you press the camera button, even if the phone is locked and asleep.
There's a box that appears in the center of the screen to help with centering the shot. Basic controls to access zoom and the video camera are stacked on right side of the display. The Focus S offers a lot of tools for controlling the camera, including the ISO, metering, photo quality/resolution, white balance, and so on.
The Focus S has touch-to-focus, and will focus on whatever you touch in the viewfinder. It focuses really fast. If you use this feature, be sure to hold the phone still. After you touch the screen, it focuses, and then shoots the picture. Alternately, you can use the dedicated camera button. Either way works.
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Once images are captured, they slide off one edge of the screen, with a thin strip still visible; touching that strip takes you to the gallery app.
The camera performs lightning fast, which is what I want most from a cell phone camera (aside from great pictures, of course!).
Microsoft assigns a lot of importance to The Pictures Hub. Your own photos are stored in one place, but the Pictures Hub also syncs the photos shared by your Facebook friends. The result is lots of pictures to look at all the time.
The Pictures Hub is all about the community experience. It lets you easily upload images to Facebook, SkyDrive (Microsoft's photo upload service), Flickr, or send them along via MMS or email. Microsoft wants users of Windows Phones to spread the photo lovin'.
The native gallery app doesn't have any editing tools other than using the "auto-enhancer" setting. All this does is fix exposure, white balance, color, etc. You can't crop or rotate, and you have no control over how the auto-enhancer works. It does its thing, and you either have to take it or leave it.
Thankfully, the Focus S includes the same Photo Studio application found on the Focus Flash. This separate app is a rich photo editor with a vast set of features that include crop, rotate, fix brightness, fix contrast, fix color, etc. It works with the pictures you've taken with the Focus S itself, but not those in your Facebook folder (it will share directly to Facebook, Picasa, and other web services, though).
Even more interesting, the Photo Studio software can act as a camera and lets you apply a lot of effects to shots as you take them. For example, you can pick panorama mode for wide vistas, or “plus:me” to add yourself to existing photos, and so on. It's a neat tool that bolsters the Focus S's otherwise stock camera.
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Both the Samsung Focus S and Focus Flash will arrive at AT&T on November 6th.