Click here to find out why our camera expert deemed the Samsung i8510 to be Best Camera Phone at the annual Mobile Choice Consumer Awards
A striking resemblance to the Nokia N95 8GB, this shouldn’t take anything away from the fact that the i8510 is a well-crafted handset. It’s a tad on the bulky side, but it feels good in the hand, the sliding mechanism is fluid and secure and the black colour scheme gives it an appealing look.
Everything you want from a Symbian S60 smartphone, bar a QWERTY keyboard perhaps. Wi-Fi, HSDPA data speeds of up to 7.2Mbps, A-GPS, 16GB of on-board memory, and a 3.5mm headset port can all be found alongside the eight-megapixel camera, which in itself houses numerous features.
Due to the scale of applications available the Samsung i8510 will take some patience in fully mastering your way around. We weren’t huge fans of the touch-sensitive D-pad key, but Samsung has packed in a host of shortcuts to make your life easier.
The camera is out of this world, providing more of a dedicated compact camera experience than we’ve seen before. Picking up a GPS signal proved a tad tricky, but the overall performance of the i8510 couldn’t be faulted.
A respectable 510 minutes of talktime and 310 hours’ standby time means you shouldn’t run out of battery power unexpectedly.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:53:10 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
The eight-megapixel camera has set the benchmark for all future camera phones.
It?s on the bulky side and strikes an uncanny resemblance to the Nokia N95.
No sooner had Sony Ericsson announced to the world its plans for the first-ever eight-megapixel camera, Samsung steps in and sweeps the rug from beneath it. The C905 may have been the first to be announced, but the Samsung i8510 is the first camera phone that surpasses the five-megapixel barrier to hit the stores. Something akin to Usain Bolt at this year’s Olympics, this powerhouse of a handset has seemingly come from nowhere. Yet while the Jamaican sprinter has undoubtedly written himself into athletics history, will the i8510 fulfil a similar destiny?
It may sound pedantic, but we have some issues with the naming of this phone. We weren’t huge fans of the Innov8 tag that accompanied the phone with its initial launch, but i8510 hardly rolls off the tongue. Ok rant over. Well almost. We did have a second gripe. The Samsung i8510 looks remarkably familiar, so familiar in fact that after asking three fellow colleagues at Mobile Choice towers if it reminded them of a former handset, the reply was unanimous: ‘Nokia N95 8GB’.
That’s not to say the i8510 is a badly assembled handset, because it’s not. The sliding mechanism is both fluid and secure, and the keypad is spacious and feels good under the thumb. However, it is not a dual slider like the Nokia N95 8GB, and it offers nothing that we haven’t seen before. The screen is an ample 2.8 inches with an array of 16-million colours to brighten it up, and it is positioned above a broad selection of keys that act as the main control panel of the device.
Sandwiched either side between the call, end and two soft keys are two metallic keys. The left-hand key is a one-press button to access your menu at any time, which means should you find yourself lost in some application – believe us there are a lot – one press of this button will take you back to your menu screen. The right-hand key takes you to your gallery, where you have immediate access to your images, video clips, songs, sound clips, streaming links and even presentations. While a tad unconventional we liked the security that both these keys presented; a simple one key press back to your menu options.
The middle of the control panel is marshalled by a navigation D-pad that engulfs a trackpad/confirm key. We found the D-pad to be slightly creaky, but it didn’t cause any real hindrance. The trackpad on the other hand is something of a personal taste. Akin to an optical mouse, the trackpad relies on touch-sensitivity that you can alter depending how sensitive you wish it to be. Simply stroke your thumb along the trackpad in an upwards direction, for example, and your cursor will jump up the menu icons. Stroke it to the right and your cursor will skip to the right. It’s a great idea in theory, but we couldn’t get to grips with it, skipping accidentally from one icon to another and consequently confirming the wrong option. Thankfully you can switch it off, though you may find it useful, particularly when navigating around webpages.
The start-up screen is unique in that there is a vertical toolbar on the left-hand side of the screen giving fast access to your list of shortcuts (which you can edit), calendar, music player, FM radio and your personalisation options, which allows you to change your themes and profiles. Click on any of these icons and you’ll be greeted by a list of subheadings for each category. What with this toolbar and all the shortcut keys, Samsung has certainly taken the phone’s navigational experience into consideration, but due to the depth of menu options and functions, it will take a while to fully master.
Build and design apart, the Samsung i8510’s camera has really got people talking. The camera can be operated with the slider open or shut − our preference was with the slider shut, as it gives it a real authentic camera feel. Fire the camera up with a dedicated camera key and the lens cover clicks open. As with so many camera phones, the volume keys double up as the zoom options. As you hold the phone in its camera-like position, we would have preferred these keys to have been on the top of the handset, but to be fair to Samsung they can easily be located via your left thumb. The top of the camera is instead occupied by the snapper button and a slider key that allows you to switch between your camera, video and images.
The images looked great both on our screen and when printed out. Many people argue that the only real benefit of megapixels is if you plan to print out your pics. Well if you choose to do so with the i8510, you won’t be disappointed. Having sought the opinion of a professional photographer, he said that the results were more reminiscent of a dedicated compact camera, than a mere camera phone. We tested the camera in landscape, portrait, macro (close-up) and flash mode and all shots produced bright, colourful and clear pics. However, one slight criticism we did have was the processing speed, as it took around three seconds, which is not ideal for the more spontaneous of shots.
It’s not just the oodles of megapixels that we loved about the i8510. Samsung has packed the phone with a host of camera features, some we’ve seen, and some we haven’t. The panorama shot is excellent, allowing you to successfully line up eight consecutive shots to give you the ultimate landscape photograph. The smile shot worked without any trouble, automatically snapping a pic when our subject grinned. However, we did manage to trick the blink detection, by blinking repeatedly at the camera – the idea is that you will no longer find yourself with the perfect group photo only for one individual to have spoiled it by closing their eyes at the wrong moment. Yet unless the object of your photo has something of a nervous disposition, then this feature should prove useful.
Operating on Symbian Series 60 there’s a host of ready-made applications available to download from various websites, with many already pre-embedded on the device. Unfortunately to fully appreciate some of them you will need to pay for them. One such app is Quickoffice 5.0, a mobile solution that effectively supports Microsoft Office 2007. If you’re willing to pay the £38.89 fee, then you can create and edit Office documents direct from your mobile. The service may ultimately prove very useful but the fact you have to pay for it and the lack of QWERTY keyboard may put people off composing large word docs − we’d be interested to see the sales figures for Quickoffice 5.0 in one year’s time.
That said there is plenty on board the Samsung i8510 to keep you entertained. An Adobe PDF reader not only allows you to view PDF files, but with the aid of the TV-out function you should be able to host PowerPoint presentations on a big screen. The Zip Manager is another welcome addition, comprising of various folders including images, games and video clips so all your files can be easily managed, but that’s not the best thing. Zip files are files that have been compressed to reduce their size. By converting your images, games and video clips into zip files and storing them in Zip Manager, you are in affect freeing up tonnes of storage space on your device.
Lack of memory is really something you need to worry about with the Samsung i8510. With 16GB of on-board memory, the i8510 rivals the Apple iPhone 3G in terms of memory space. Yet with a microSD memory card slot that is compatible with 16GB memory cards, there is plenty of space to store your media content. There is an 8GB version of the Samsung i8510 available too.
With HSDPA data speeds of up to 7.2Mbps and Wi-Fi, speedy internet connections should be achieved whether in a Wi-Fi hotspot or not. Testing out the Wi-Fi ability in our office, we were able to find our hub immediately and were online before you could say ‘that was quick’. The built-in accelerometers work a treat, transforming the screen into landscape instantaneously as you tilt the phone on its side, but without being overly sensitive so as even the slightest tilt either side of 180 degrees inadvertently changes the dynamics of the screen. Something that has caused mild irritation in other recent handsets.
These days any smartphone worth its weight in gold needs to have built-in GPS and Samsung gains extra points for including Assisted-GPS. There is also Route 66 bundled in, though you will need to purchase various maps to make the most of it, as well as the ever-reliable Google Maps. We were a tad disappointed in the time it took for the phone to pick up a GPS signal, but once our location had been found, it was plain sailing.
Visit the applications menu and find an absolute feast of programs to try out. Shozu is there, so that you can upload photos and videos to the likes of YouTube, flickr and Facebook, and GyPSii enables you to geo-tag photos as well as see where other GyPSii members are. VoIP fans will be pleased to find Fring present meaning you can talk, chat and interact over the internet. Billed as being free, data charges will apply so we suggest using the built-in Wi-Fi when using this feature. Gaming fanatics will be pleased to find full versions of both racing hit Asphalt3 and FIFA 08.
We’ve seen camera phones with optical zoom (the rather forgotten about Samsung G800) and Xenon flash (see last issue’s Nokia 6220 Classic review), but they all fall into the wayside with the emergence of the Samsung i8510. Its camera abilities are second to none – even the professionals say so – and the dedicated digital camera industry must be looking over its shoulder with a slight shudder of fear.However, focusing on the i8510’s camera alone would be an injustice. The Samsung i8510 is one of the most capable Symbian S60 handsets we’ve ever come across. Granted it may be the spitting image of the Nokia N95, but feature wise it has a fuller package. Even considering its bulk and unoriginal design, the Samsung i8510 is one of our phones of the year.