Verizon Cameraphone Comparison Q2 2007

5
Introduction
It has been four years since Verizon first introduced its first camera phone, the LG VX6000. At that time we had to get by with sub-par pictures taken at miniscule 640x480 VGA resolution. The following year the VX7000 was introduced with an improved picture, but still only had VGA resolution. Later that same year, Motorola rolled out the V710, the first 1.3MP camera for Verizon. Unfortunately, the picture quality was horrendous and completely unusable. It wasn’t until 2005 when the VX8000 came out that we began to take notice in the potential of a cell phone with good camera quality.



*The photos from these four old Verizon cellphones are not taken at the same time. They are here just to remind you of the past.

Today, you are hard pressed to find a cell phone that doesn’t have an integrated camera of some sort. They are everywhere, on the streets, in the stores, and in the homes of millions. But one must realize that just because a phone has a built in camera, that this is still not a replacement for a “real” digital camera. Camera phones are still in their infancy, yet are getting better with each new generation.


In this review, we are going to look at the newest 4 camera phones to be sold by Verizon. They are the Samsung A990, Motorola RAZR Maxx Ve, LG enV, and LG VX8700. The A990 is unique, since it is the only model to feature a 3MP Auto Focus camera. The remainder of the phones feature a 2MP camera, with the Maxx and enV also having Auto Focus capability. All phones also feature a flash, except for the VX8700.

First image - from Left to Right : A990, maxx Ve, enV, VX8700;
Second image
- from Top to Bottom : VX8700, maxx Ve, A990, enV



We have taken almost 50 pictures (47 scenes, with 4 cameras = 188! pictures) altogether, targeting identical objects at one and the same time and from the same position, but using different cameras. The pictures have been taken under the following conditions / categories:

  1. in the open in broad daylight;
  2. at night;
  3. picture taken indoors with different degree of lighting and different distance from the objects;
  4. we have also tested some comparative charts.
  5. and close-up macro photos.


We have used the phones’ automatic settings; for the nighttime pictures and the macro photos we have selected the respective mode. We have re-taken a certain picture only in case we felt that the person behind the camera, rather than the camera, brought about a fault. If any of the pictures are not well exposed or focused, this means that this is what the respective phone’s camera is capable of doing. With nighttime pictures we attempted at taking the pictures with our hand, which explains why some of those are blurred.

In each category we have put a 100% crop image(s), which shows the cameras' performance difference. It helps you compare easily the performance, seeing the same object, reproduced by different devices. As 3-megapixel camera (of A990) takes photo of the same object, but in bigger resolution, in our 100% crops you will see less of the object, but with more resolution. This is rather unfair, but that's the market - one offers 3-megapixel phone, the other doesn't. The stronger in the competition survives ...

Test 1: Pictures, taken in the open, in broad daylight

This is probably the easiest test, due to the fact that the sunlight is abundant, but, on the other hand, these are the most frequently taken pictures and therefore they tell a lot about the overall performance of a cameraphone.

In our daytime test results, the A990 comes in as 1st. This is due to the images having good color, sharp detail, and with them being properly exposed. The enV is in 2nd place, only due to it not having as much detail. The Maxx is a close 3rd, because of the Iris making some images come out too dark. In last place is the VX8700, since there is no auto focus and colors looking dull.

Cameraphone comparison samples. Scroll below for our category rating.



The phones' performance, sorted from 1st to 4th place:


1) A990
: Excellent color and detail for outside images during the day.
2) enV: Still has good color, but images not as sharp as the A990.
3) Maxx Ve: Images have good color and are in focus, however some would come out dark if too much sunlight would enter into the lens.
4) VX8700: Images have a “fuzziness” to them and colors are dull and washed-out.

Теst 2: Nighttime pictures

This test shows how cameraphones are doing in longer exposition, so that they are able to use the scarce light of lit objects at night.

For our night tests, the Maxx jumps into 1st place, thanks to images being in-focus, properly exposed, and with little grain in the image. The enV comes in 2nd and the A990 in 3rd place, because both phones have difficulty focusing in low light conditions, however the A990 has more of a problem properly exposing night images. The VX8700 comes in last place since night images are not in focus and are under exposed.

Cameraphone comparison samples. Scroll below for our category rating.



The phones' performance, sorted from 1st to 4th place:


1) Maxx: Night pictures are the most in-focus with good exposure.
2) enV: Has trouble focusing in low light, but are properly exposed.
3) A990: The A990 has even more difficulty using the Auto Focus in low light, plus images are darker and not exposed properly.
4) VX8700: Images are the most out-of-focus.

Test 3: Pictures taken under variety of inside lighting conditions



We compared thecameraphones indoors, in various artificial lighting conditions, which show howthey how their automatic White Balance performs. When it gets darker, morenoise appears and the detail disappears, which is another problem for thosecameras.



The Maxx stays in 1st place for picture taking inside, thanks to the Auto White Balance being able to differentiate between different types of lights (fluorescent, incandescent, halogen), the Auto Focus keeps the images sharp, and the overall good color saturation. The enV is a close 2nd, only because Auto Focus would have occasional difficulty. The VX8700 beats out the A990 as 3rd place. This is because the A990 has trouble with the Auto White Balance when used inside, which caused some images to have an orange tint to them.

Cameraphone comparison samples. Scroll below for our category rating.



The phones' performance, sorted from 1st to 4th place:


1) Maxx: The Auto White Balance works well with many different types of lighting.
2) enV: The Auto Focus on the enV has trouble depending on the type of lighting.
3) VX8700: The Auto White Balance works well, but images still have “fuzziness”.
4) A990: The A990 has issues with different types of inside lighting causing image colors to not be accurate.



Теst 4
: Test situation: colors and resolution

The Maxx is in 1st place because colors are the most saturated and closest to the original. The resolution chart shows that most of the lines and numbers have uniform clarity to them. The A990 is in 2nd place, due to the colors not being as saturated, and the resolution chart showing some number are more blurred than others. This trend continues with the enV coming into 3rd place and the VX8700 into last place.




The phones' performance, sorted from 1st to 4th place:


1) Maxx: The Maxx has the best color saturation and the resolution chart shows all lines and numbers are in focus.
2) A990: Colors are not as saturated and the resolution chart shows some numbers are blurry.
3) enV: The enV has even less color saturation as well as some numbers being blurry in the resolution chart.
4) VX8700: The VX8700 has the dullest colors out of the tested phones, and the resolution chart is also the most out-of-focus.



Test 5
: Macro

For the first time, the enV comes in 1st place. Macro images taken by the enV were the most in-focus out of the phones we tested. The Maxx is in 2nd place and A990 in 3rd place, due to macro images being slightly out-of-focus. The VX8700 comes in last, since it lacks any setting to be able take macro images.

Cameraphone comparison samples. Scroll below for our category rating.



The phones' performance, sorted from 1st to 4th place:


1) enV: Macro images are the most in-focus out of the tested phones.
2) Maxx: Macro images are slightly more out-of-focus.
3) A990: The A990 is even more out-of-focus.
4) VX8700: There is no focusing system on this phone, so any close-up images will be severely out-of-focus.

Overall: Total Rating

Ineach category we gave the five phones a different rating. The firstplace brings 4 points, 3 points for the second place……. 1 point for theforth place.



Based upon our variety tests, we believe the Maxx to be the most versatile camera phone out of this group. This is due to it being able to take pictures under a wide variety of conditions with little difficulty. The only problem that we encountered with the Maxx is that if there is too much sunlight entering into the lens, the Iris will close, and cause the image to be darker than we would want. For the rest of the outside pictures, when the sun was behind us, this was not a problem. The Maxx also takes the best inside, night, and flash pictures out of this group. Because of this, we place the Maxx into 1st place.

The enV comes in at an overall 2nd Place, due to it being able to take good outside and inside pictures, despite the fact that night and flash images are undesirable.

The A990 would come into 1st Place, if we based the results only on outside picture quality. However, we rate it at 3rd Place, since inside images were poor (due to the Auto White Balance), as well as night and flash images being undesirable. If you are only planning to use the A990 for outside images taken during the day, the A990 receives top marks.

Last is the VX8700. Every image we took had dull colors and looked out-of-focus with soft edges. There is also no flash or macro setting available.

Here is the final rating with points (out of 4):

#

Phone

Points

Comment

1)

Motorola maxx Ve

3.4

Overall it’s best among all

2)

LG enV

3

Although it is messaging device, the enV outscores the A990

3)

Samsung A990

2.4

It is good outdoor, but not indoor and at low light

4)

LG VX8700

1.2

The lack of flash and macro mode are not 8700’s only drawbacks


MISCELLANEOUS

Althoughit does not influence the quality of the pictures directly, theoperation time of the camera is rather important for its use.

#

Phone

Starting

Focusing

Saving

Time between 2 pictures

1)

LG VX8700

2 sec

N/A

3 sec

4 sec

2)

Samsung A990

2 sec

2 sec

4 sec

6 sec

3)

Motorola maxx Ve

2 sec

3 sec

4 sec

7 sec

4)

LG enV

3 sec

3 sec

6 sec

9 sec



Here is our opinion for each phone separately:

Samsung SCH-A990:

The A990 is the only phone in this line-up that features an Auto Focus 3MP camera (the rest are 2MP). Pictures taken outside, either in bright sunlight or cloudy conditions, have good color representation and sharp edges. The Auto Focus and Auto White Balance also work best when taking pictures outside. The Iris keeps the lens open more than the other phones, so that pictures are not dark and under-exposed if too much light gets into the lens.

For pictures taken inside, the A990 begins to suffer from several problems. The first, which we noticed, is that the Auto White Balance has difficulty under different types of lighting, such has fluorescent and incandescent. This caused some images to have an orange tint to them. The second issue is that the Auto Focus would sometimes not be able to focus properly, thus causing the image to be blurry.

Pictures taken at night of well-lit buildings suffer from being out of focus and are under exposed. The flash can only be used within 4 feet of a subject, and causes the image to be washed out.
The Auto Focus is capable of taking close up Macro pictures, however they images have a fuzzy look to them.

Motorola RAZR Maxx Ve:

The Maxx features a 2MP camera and Auto Focus system that works in the same fashion as a traditional digital camera. You press the focus button down halfway to first focus on the image, then press the button down all the way to capture the image.
Most of the pictures taken outside have good color representation, but are slightly over saturated. Edges are sharp, but are not as detailed as the A990. The Auto Focus also works well. The only problem we encountered for pictures taken outside, is that the Iris would close and cause some images to be dark and under exposed when too much sunlight was entering into the lens.

The Maxx appears to perform better than the A990 for pictures taken inside, and does not seem to suffer from the Auto Focus and White Balance problems that the A990 does. Pictures taken indoors have accurate color saturation and detail, yet suffer from soft edges. We were able to take images in a variety of store lighting conditions without any Auto White Balance problems.

Pictures taken at night of well-lit buildings are properly exposed, and are in focus. The Maxx provided the best pictures in the category.
The flash on the Maxx is the best that we have seen on a camera phone. In low light, it turns on at half brightness to allow the Auto Focus to first focus in on the subject, then gets brighter when the image in taken. This allows flash pictures to have good color and detail. The range of the flash is 8 feet.
The Auto Focus also allows Macro pictures to be taken. We found the Macro images taken by the A990 and Maxx to be practically identical, with the Macro Pictures taken by the enV to be clearer and more in focus.

LG enV (VX9900):

The LG enV is the only other phone that features a 2MP camera with Auto Focus.
Pictures taken outside look almost identical to the A990, except they are not as detailed, due to the lower mega-pixel count. Colors are natural looking, but not as saturated as on the Maxx. The enV also seems to suffer from the same Iris problem as the Maxx, causing some images outside to be under exposed.

Pictures taken inside are very pleasing. Colors are more accurate than the A990, and the Auto Focus does not have any problems. The enV and Maxx take similar pictures inside, with a slight edge going to the Maxx due to it having better color.

Pictures taken at night of well-light building are properly exposed, but are somewhat blurry, due to the Auto Focus not working as well in low light.
The flash is also a disappointment, since the range is only 4 feet. It does not light up the image enough, which causes it to look dull and lacking of color.
The Auto Focus works well for Macro images, and created pictures that are clear and in focus, slightly more than the A990 and Maxx.

LG VX8700:

The LG VX8700 has a 2MP camera, but lacks the Auto Focus features that the other phones offer. Not having Auto Focus did limit the quality of the images taken by the VX8700.
Pictures taken outside are lacking the clarity and color representation that the other phones offer. Images have a soft “fuzzy” look to them, and colors look dull.

Images taken inside suffer from these same affects, and do not look as good as the Maxx and enV. However, the Auto White Balance for inside images does work better on the VX8700 than on the A990.

It is also no surprise that pictures taken at night of well-light building are under exposed and out of focus. Once again the Maxx and enV is the clear winner here.
The is also no flash on the VX8700, which means you must provided light by another source to take pictures in darkness.
Since the VX8700 does not have Auto Focus, it cannot take Macro pictures. Any attempt to take Macro pictures will create an image that is blurry and out of focus.

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