Take a look at the camera above. Looks like any compact point and shoot, right? Right up until the point you pick it up, turn it over and discover the
14-megapixel Altek A14 Leo is a mobile phone too.
It's obvious straight away that this Android 2.1-powered blower is no ordinary camera phone, thanks to the honking great pop-out lens on the front. It's no bigger than an average smart phone -- we almost wonder where the 3x optical zoom actually goes when it's folded away. Also on the back is a xenon flash. On the front is a
3.2-inch capacitative touchscreen.
The camera controls are placed on the top when you're holding the camera in landscape position ready for snapping. We were confused by the buttons on the left, which look like a zoom rocker but are actually volume controls. Instead, the zoom is controlled by a scroll wheel on the right, which turns out to be more responsive than rocker buttons anyway.
What elevates the Leo above the status of a gimmick is the sensor inside. Cramming many megapixels on to a sensor the size of a gnat's chuff is a recipe for grainy photo disaster. But the Leo packs a 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor, the same size as the sensors found in proper cameras.
There's also a dual-core processor, and sensitivity goes up to ISO 3,200. We couldn't look at finished photos from the model we tried out at phone show Mobile World Congress, but it seemed fast to snap and focus.
The Leo is packed with camera features. GPS for geotagging your snaps with location data, and all the options you'd expect from a compact camera. There's the usual fistful of scene modes, including portrait, landscape and panorama modes, assorted low-light modes and red-eye reduction. It detects faces and waits until they smile before snapping a picture. There's even exposure compensation to manually adjust the way the camera deals with lighting conditions.
It doesn't end when you've pressed the shutter button, either. When you've snapped some pictures, you can fiddle about with in-camera editing, such as cropping, red-eye removal, resizing and colour correction.
The camera also shoots 720p high-definition video. On the phone front it offers Bluetooth, HSDPA and 802.11n Wi-Fi. Storage is expandable up to 32GB with an optional microSD card.
The 14-megapixel Altek Leo A14 is available in black or silver. It's set to come to Europe this year, but price and date are yet to be announced. Are you tempted by this 14-megapixel monstrosity?