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Hands-on with the Samsung Innov8

The Samsung Innov8 promises a slick design and a powerful feature set. We take a first look at this camera phone.

The Innov8 struts its stuff.
Kent German/CNET Networks

Samsung held a holiday showcase Wednesday at a San Francisco studio. Typically, these things are reserved for our lucky New York City colleagues, so we were very happy to see Samsung grace us with such an event. The holiday decorations were also welcome, considering they matched the frigid San Francisco summer weather outside.

For the most part the cell phone news was nil, but we did spy a couple of previously announced handsets that we had yet to see in the flesh. One was the Samsung Innov8, aka the SGH-i8510, which the company announced almost two weeks ago. The loaded camera phone offers an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feature set in an attractive slider design that's reminiscent of the Nokia N96. The black styling is attractive, and even with all its features it manages to stay relatively slim at 4.19-inches tall by 2.12-inches wide by 0.68-inch deep. It also has a solid, comfortable feeling in the hand and the slider mechanism appears to be sturdy.

The Innov8 shows its camera side. Kent German/CNET Networks

The Innov8's controls are spacious and well designed. A square toggle and central OK button are flanked by shortcut keys, shortcut controls, and the Talk and End/Power buttons. We thumbed through the menus for a few moments and didn't see any potential issues. What's more, the user interface with the pop-up menus was intuitive and straightforward. We took great interest in the Innov8's promised "optical mouse." We didn't know quite what to expect from it, but the concept is simple in reality; on the screen is a small cursor that you control by sliding your finger over the square OK control. The effect was so subtle that we didn't notice it right away. And though there's no actual "mouse" present, the concept is similar.

From the left side you can see the Innov8's 3.5mm headeet jack. Kent German/CNET Networks

Like many high-resolution camera phones, the Innov8 is designed to resemble a standalone camera. And, on that front, is succeeds. On the back you'll find a prominent lens with a sliding cover, plus a large flash. When holding the phone horizontally, the Innov8 takes on the ergonomics of a real shooter.

We didn't get the chance to thumb through all the features, but the promised offerings are impressive. Beyond the 8-megapixel shooter, which looks impressive in its own right, the Innov8 offers an FM radio, Wi-Fi, an accelerometer, a 3.5mm headset jack, stereo Bluetooth, 16GB of internal memory, a microSD card slot, a music player, and A-GPS. And of course, it makes calls, too.

Samsung isn't planning to bring the Innov8 to the United States just yet, but it should end up here as an unlocked, and undeniably expensive, model.