Described by Samsung as the "world's first 12.1 megapixel cameraphone" the Samsung Pixon 12 combines an excellent camera with Samsung's TouchWIZ user interface, but potential buyers may be disappointed that this isn't a smartphone.
The Samsung Pixon 12 actually looks more like a camera than a mobile phone. The rear features a bulging lens with a mechanical lens cover (similar to many dedicated digital cameras) and a Xenon flash.
When viewed from the back, the Samsung Pixon 12 doesn't look like a mobile phone at all. With this in mind, it's not the most attractive mobile we've reviewed, though it feels sturdy and the metal battery cover is a nice touch. The Pixon 12's design means it feels great when holding it as a camera, and we loved the raised leather grip on the rear - it's a comfortable place for your finger to rest when taking snapshots.
Disappointingly, the Samsung Pixon 12 mobile phone has a resistive touch screen rather than a capacitive one. Nonetheless the AMOLED display is one of the best resistive screens we've used - it's sharp, bright and responsive to touches. Below the display sits a round button that accesses the main menu, and physical answer and end call keys are also present.
The phone's camera boasts a 12-megapixel sensor, a Xenon flash and a wide-angle lens. It also has a "smart auto" setting that automatically selects the scene, mode and settings for the best snapshot.
Other features include smile shot, panorama mode and the ability to geotag your photos. We were very impressed with the photos we took; the camera offers excellent colour reproduction and minimal image noise. Detail levels are very impressive for a cameraphone and the macro mode in particular produced a sharp focus.
The Samsung Pixon 12's Xenon flash works very well in low-light conditions, though it struggles a little in overly dark areas - we found it overexposed light areas in shots. The flash also took a little time to be ready for the next shot, so if you're looking to take two or three photos in quick succession you may become frustrated.
The camera doubles as a video recorder and an LED light is included alongside the Xenon flash for this purpose. Video quality is average for a mobile phone and we found it difficult to record smooth footage - its hard to keep a steady hand while moving the phone and filming. There is also no quick way to switch from still shots to video recording - we would have liked a physical key or switch of some description for this function.
The Samsung Pixon 12's camera doesn't feature optical zoom, but it has digital zoom buttons (wide angle and telephoto), a shutter key and a dedicated camera button (which instantly launches the camera application and opens the lens shutter regardless of what part of the Pixon 12's menu you are in). The camera application is zippy and largely free of lag.
The Samsung Pixon 12 mobile phone runs Samsung's proprietary OS and features the TouchWIZ UI, which is also used on the Icon range. The TouchWIZ interface uses a three-page home screen and has a big focus on widgets.
A row of widgets sits on the left edge of each screen. To use one you simply drag an icon from the panel to the main area. Each of the three home screen pages is customisable and you can add any widget onto any page. Unfortunately, the widgets' functions aren't labelled in the sidebar, so it's hard to work out what they do without adding them to the screen. The Samsung Pixon 12 lacks social-networking apps - the included Facebook, YouTube and MySpace widgets are merely links to the web page of each service.
You can unlock the Samsung Pixon 12 mobile phone by drawing a letter of the alphabet on the screen (Samsung's "smart unlock" feature). You can use different letters to launch apps as the phone unlocks including messaging, music and the Web browser.
We used the Samsung Pixon 12 for several days and were impressed with the speed and responsiveness of its UI. There was no evident lag, applications open and closed swiftly and messaging is also responsive. Samsung offers both a numeric keypad with T9 predictive text input and a full QWERTY keyboard when the Pixon 12 is tilted sideways. The touch-screen keyboard feels a little sluggish compared to the iPhone's, but it's user friendly once you get used to the layout.
The Samsung Pixon 12 mobile phone is marketed mainly on the basis of its imaging credentials but the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack is still very disappointing. Thankfully, Samsung includes an adaptor in the sales package that lets you use standard headphones. The Pixon 12 supports DivX playback, has an FM radio and boasts a handy music recognition application, similar to the iPhone app Shazam and Sony Ericsson's TrackID service.
The Pixon 12 supports Microsoft ActiveSync and features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB connectivity through a standard micro-USB port. For mobile Internet, the Pixon 12's Web browser uses tabbed browsing, loads pages without any issue and is quite responsive, though it doesn't compare to iPhone's excellent Safari browser. Samsung ships the Pixon 12 with a 2GB microSD card.
NEXT:our expert verdict >>