i Know HOW

Dedicated to The Telegraph KnowHOW

Picture perfect phones

Posted by iKnowHOW on October 30, 2006

What should you look out for when buying a new camera cellphone? Here’s a checklist

Say cheese: The K790i from Sony Ericsson has the best sound quality among all the new phones

With a clutch of new 3.2 Megapixel camera phones in the market, it is quite a feat to choose one that is worth the money forked out for it.

Leading the pack is the exquisite N93 from Nokia, which is more a handycam than a phone. Close on its heels are the Samsung D900, Nokia N73 and the Sony Ericsson K790i. And now, there is the world’s first 10 megapixel camera phone. Or is it a camera that doubles up as a phone — it’s difficult to tell. However, the B600, from Samsung, is slated for launch only in South Korea. We will have to bide our time before we can lay our hands on it.

So what can make phone shopping a rewarding experience?

Remember five important factors when you go out to buy a mobile:

• Portability

• Good call quality

• Good battery life

• Great music playback

• Ease of navigation

No phone can score equally high on all the qualities, so you must obviously weigh your options and buy what best suits your priorities.

Nokia’s N93:

Anything but portable, this phone has terrific video camera features that more than make up for its bulk. The N93 runs on the Symbian S60 v3 operating system that makes it capable of running applications like Adobe PDF reader and QuickOffice for viewing PowerPoint, Excel and Microsoft Word documents.

Samsung’s D900:

The B600 (top), from Samsung, is the world’s first 10 megapixel camera phone

Part of the company’s new ultra slim range of stylish phones, this slider phone has an internal memory of 60MB which can be augmented by an external memory slot for a MicroSD card. One of the drawbacks of this phone is that it does not support voice dialing, which is an essential if you are using Bluetooth headsets. Also missing is EDGE (enhanced GPRS) for high speed internet access. It only supports GPRS Class 10 which has a download speed of 32 to 48 kbps. The camera shoots pictures of an average quality, but fails in situations that need high speed photography, so that the slightest movement produces blurred images. A terrible shutter lag in this phone leads to these blurred pictures. However, all this is offset by a Document Viewer which allows you to read Word and PDF files and its ultra stylish appearance.

Nokia N73:

Nokia brought this out to compete with Sony Ericsson’s K790i. By Nokia’s usual standards of clunky looks, this phone is surprisingly sleek and slim. It has a 42 MB internal memory that is expandable with a miniSD card. The Carl Zeiss lens with auto focus takes pretty decent photographs. This phone too runs on the Symbian S60 Version3 operating system and those who want to use this 3G handset for work will be happy with the PDF reader and QuickOffice for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

Sony Ericsson K790i:

This phone takes equally good pictures as the N73, if not better, with its Cybershot camera. Cybershot is the line of digital cameras made famous by Sony. So when it was incorporated into the phone it created quite a stir. The phone more than serves your camera needs. In addition, among all the new phones the K790i easily has the best sound quality. Along with HSCSD (High Speed Circuit Switched Data) and EDGE, Internet access is quite fast. The only problem with the phone, as I have found since this is what I use now, is that I don’t have a viewer for PDF and Office documents. The browser on the phone swiftly resizes websites to fit the mobile phone’s smaller screen. There is no horizontal scrolling involved which can get to be quite a pain.

A word of caution for those going in for a new phone. Do not get swayed by 3G phones. This is because 3G networks have not arrived in India as yet. It is slated to come only around 2008. 3G refers to network systems that allow a data transfer rate of nearly 2Mbps. EDGE gives you a data transfer rate up to 384kbps. With 3G networks video calls and streaming movies will become possible on your mobile phones. EDGE gives you streaming video on your phone. You can even watch TV channels such as Aaj Tak and CNBC. However, this is not possible with the current 2.5G networks in India.

The EDGE reception in Calcutta varies from place to place. Certain residential areas like Ballygunge and Alipore or even Park Street have towers which support faster internet access. In other areas internet on the mobile can be painfully slow because just general radio packet switching (GPRS) is available at speeds of only 30 to 80 kbps.

All these phones come with FM capability. But if you are bored with the same kind of music you can listen to Internet radio with your EDGE-enabled phone. One such radio site is Spod radio. You can download the software for your phone from www.spodradio.com and listen to different genres of music ranging from pop, hip hop, rock, classical, jazz, to music of the sixties and seventies. You will get Hindi songs under World Music. For Nokia phones there is Visual Radio. Go to www.visualradio.com on your computer and follow the instructions on how to hear the music on your phone.

I have found a virtual pet shop for my mobile phone to make up for a lack of the real thing. I have two pets now, one dog and one monkey. I have to take my pets for a morning walk, feed them, bathe them, play with them and even take them to the vet regularly. If I neglect them even for half a day, they start withering away. A full day of neglect means my pet will die. Believe me, when that happens it can be very disheartening. To divert your mind you could either play chess or Sudoku. All this and more is available from www.cellufun.com. The Sudoku on your mobile is especially good with different levels. All you have to do is register at the site and then you can download the Sudoku games of your choice for free.

Before you go shopping for a phone check the reviews on the internet. Follow this up with readers comments — they can be quite revealing. Don’t get swayed by the advertisements. There are tools to compare phones at several sites too. A good starting place would be www.gsmarena.com.

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One Response to “Picture perfect phones”

  1. Heriberto Breger said

    Seven years ago, the camera-phone hardly registered. Indeed, on 17 June 2003, some idiot wrote in the Guardian that the low take-up of those newfangled 3G phones with their built-in cameras, launched two months previously, could be ascribed to the fact that “it’s not immediately clear what they’re for, and that mystery is not sufficiently seductive to make many of us shell out”. The writer all but argued that camera-phones were destined for the technological knacker’s yard, like Sinclair C5s, the Securi-Gnome and NiteMates slippers with their built-in headlights (all real products). With the benefit of hindsight, let me admit what a bonehead I was to write that…

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