Samsung INNOV8 Review
As a smartphone everything’s good, but this is an all-in–one device and its featured application is the camera. On paper the 8-megapixel camera is as good as it gets, and although we are not fans of the monochrome interface, it offers many options and works well. The face recognition feature is accompanied with smile and blink recognition, so you get pictures with smiling faces and open eyes.
We are somewhat disappointed by the camera startup speed (4 sec). This however, was compensated by the fast focusing in a well-lighted environment (1 to 2 sec) and even in darker ones (3 to 4 sec). Saving the 8-megapixel photos is not a quick task, and the INNOV8 requires about 4 more seconds to do that. The speed is important in terms of quantity, but in the end it is quality that matters most.
Unfortunately, we were unimpressed with the quality as well. We were optimistic about the results we saw with the prototype and it’s strange to see these end results, which appear to be worse on the final unit. The small details (tree leaves) are of poor quality, typical for a phone. There are strange picture distortions and lines; usually straight lines sometimes come out bent and some objects are disproportionate. This is hardly noticed when shooting people, but is clearly seen on the images of cars and buildings. The quality of the images taken in a darker environment is not satisfactory either, despite the low noise. The colors are flat and bluish when the flash is used. The flash is not strong and is only usable indoors up to 6 feet. Frankly, we expected something better from such a high-class phone and feel slightly disappointed. The images are OK but INNOV8 definitely doesn’t belong in the winners’ circle because there are more and more 8-megapixel phones made available on the market daily.
Videos can be recorded with a VGA (640x480) resolution and they look good. The sound is not the same as from a regular camcorder, but if you are shooting in a quiet room and the speaker is close, it can be used.
Samsung INNOV8 sample video at 640x480 resolution
* Note that due to codecs support, you may not be able to play the file.
You can also take a look at our 8-megapixel comparison to see how the device is performing against the competition.
Samsung has chosen to use the standard S60 music player without any modifications. It’s not bad but is definitely not the best one available. It offers a decent set of sorting options, 17 different equalizers and a pleasant interface. As we’ve seen before from S60 devices, we had trouble with the album art. We have yet to figure out why S60 chokes on these files, as the album art loads on other music players and phones just fine.
The headphones from the package are neither comfortable nor high quality, but they’ll do. Thankfully you’ll be able to replace them with better ones since the phone is equipped with a 3.5 mm jack. Quality headphones produce good results, and we doubt that anyone will be disappointed in the sound quality. On top of these features, you have an FM radio at your disposal, with the ability to store up to 50 stations. To use the radio you’ll need the included headphones because they act as an antenna. A small inconvenience is the jack’s location; it is on the left side as opposed to top or bottom, which makes the headphone jack stick out.
DivX support, but we were disappointed that XviD files cannot be played. This is strange and limits the selection of watchable videos. None of the files we played gave us trouble, but apparently the phone doesn’t support versions of the codec earlier than 5. The image quality in well-compressed DivX or MP4/H.264 files is very good, but in others we saw strange artifacts. The 2.8” display is a good size for watching videos but bigger is always better. We managed to play a file with a resolution of 640x480, but we’ll contact Samsung in order to find out what the maximum resolution is (not announced officially).
The manufacturer has equipped the phone with a decent software package, including various applications and games. When we say games, we don’t mean anything boring that you’ll never play, but rather the hottest titles like Asphalt 3 and FIFA08. We’ve seen those two in many S60 Nokia models as well, but Samsung has loaded full versions rather than just the demos Nokia includes. Congratulations to Samsung for taking not nickel and diming their customers.
The included applications add functionality to the INNOV8, and being an S60 device you can always download others. You get Shozu, which is a convenient way to upload photos online to sites like Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, Blogger and others. GyPSii is a program for a social network based on your geographical location. CNN will allow you to see the optimized World news, and Yahoo! Go will provide you with a “virtual work screen”, including applications for email, pictures, news and others. RoadSync adds support for Microsoft Exchange push email. To get in touch with your friends you can use Fring, which is an excellent all-in-one Instant Messenger supporting all known services, including Skype which can be used for voice chat as well. The INNOV8 is equipped with the good navigation program Route 66. Unfortunately there are no included maps, but users can download a free 14-day trial of the maps before buying them. GPS+ is an application that improves lock times by downloading satellite data. On a cold start it took under a minute to locate us; hot starts required less than 5 seconds.