The Samsung Pixon 12 M8910 packs in the megapixels like no camera phone before it. This phone doesn't just ratchet the resolution up to 11 megapixels -- it goes to 12, baby. But it's common knowledge that there's more to capturing a good photo than a horde of megapixels, and, when we jam a camera phone into our pocket, we want to be able to whip it out when we need it. That's where the Pixon 12 falls down.
The Pixon 12 is available from free on a £35-per-month contract, or for around £530 SIM-free.
Flash the back of the Pixon 12 at your peeps, and they'd be forgiven for thinking that you'd picked up a new, super-compact camera. There's a large, raised housing for the lens, and even a leather-textured, raised grip along the bottom that feels similar to what you'd find on a digital SLR. Flip it over, though, and you'll find a typical touchscreen phone, with call and cancel buttons, and a home button in the middle.
We were ready to be blown away by the Pixon 12's 12-megapixel resolution, xenon flash and large lens. We used the Pixon 12's 'smart' auto setting, which promises to deliver the best shots with the least effort. In our tests, however, photos were a mixed bag. Colour reproduction was excellent, and noise was low for a camera phone. The flash gave spectacular results in low light, even when the subject and the camera were both moving. In bright light, however, we found the Pixon 12 tended to overexpose light areas, and didn't compensate well for backlighting. Close-up macro shots were good, with a sharp focus on nearby objects.
The xenon flash can't be used for video, so Samsung's also included an LED light. The picture quality of our test videos was good, but the low frame rate made for jerky shots and, again, we found light areas tended to be overexposed.
The power of the xenon flash to capture shots down the dingy pub is also the camera's great downfall, since it requires time and energy to recharge between snaps. We found that, occasionally, the Pixon 12 wasn't ready to take a photo right away. We forgave it for that when it showed us a helpful message asking for our patience while the flash was getting ready.
But many times we found that the camera went through all the motions of taking a photo, and then displayed a cryptic message that told us the capture had failed. Then we had to tough it out for a couple of seconds until the phone became responsive again, only to find that our photos hadn't been taken. Samsung told us that the error occurs because the xenon flash isn't ready, but it's a major annoyance, and the company couldn't tell us if this problem would be fixed in a firmware update.
We can forgive the occasional failure, but we had our photos fail again and again, so we wouldn't depend on the Pixon 12 to get a shot. We appreciate that Samsung is pushing the envelope with a 12-megapixel camera phone, and we love the power of the xenon flash, but the Pixon 12 isn't quite ready to hit the streets.
Keep your options
The Pixon 12's camera impressed us with its good range of options, including the usual suspects, such as face detection, which waits for a toothy grin before snapping the shutter, and the ability to control the ISO and white balance. You can also geotag your photos with the built-in GPS, so that you can view them by location in applications like Flickr.