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Samsung raises the bar for camera phones

Camera phone or phone camera?

A new gadget from Samsung may remove the limitations of the tiny camera lenses on mobile phones by looking at the problem from the opposite angle. Its soon-to-be-launched SPH-S2300 features a 3x optical Pentax zoom lens, just like that found on conventional digital still cameras, and a regular camera flash rather than one based on LEDs.

The result is a product that is much more like a digital camera with integrated phone function rather than the other way around.

The camera has a resolution of 3.2 megapixels and images can be stored on a removable SD (Secure Digital) memory card. Like a conventional digital camera users can set the output image size at between 2,048x1,536 pixels and 640x480 pixels; set ISO control to auto,100, 200 and 400; and adjust white balance. The 3x optical zoom is supplemented with a 4x digital zoom and the lens also features an auto-focus function.

For the record, it also looks like a digital camera.

The number pad is hidden away under a panel that is usually closed and the use of an internal antenna means there are few clues at first glance, with the exception of the "Anycall" brand name on the front panel, that there is a phone inside. The phone has a TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) with 176x220 pixels resolution on its rear.

The telephone is compatible with the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) standard and is due on the South Korean market later this month, said Sophia Kim, a spokeswoman for Samsung in Seoul. The price has yet to be fixed but she said it will likely be around US$800.

Samsung currently has no plans to launch the phone outside of South Korea although an international launch remains a possibility, she said.

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