Samsung T939 (Behold II) camera

It was not long ago that a 5 megapixel camera was the exclusive domain of the high-end cameraphone. Today, almost every smartphone worth its salt includes a 5 megapixel camera!

The Samsung T939 (Behold II) is no exception – it features a 5 megapixel autofocus camera with macro and LED flash. Of course megapixels don’t matter nearly as much as the quality of the lens, sensor, and image processing algorithms used…

For a smartphone with no particular emphasis on camera performance, the Behold II delivers :) It’s probably the best camera I’ve used on any Android device to date, including the Google Nexus One and the Motorola Droid.

It’s more like a Nokia N-series phone than anything else out there. Then again, Samsung knows a thing or two about making a great cameraphone (cf. the Samsung Memoir).

There’s a dedicated 2-stage shutter button, and there’s a custom user interface that just makes any other Android camera look like a pathetic joke. Of course, there’s geotagging, but despite the built-in accelerometer, there’s (strangely) no auto-rotation.

What surprised me the most was low-light performance. The Behold II is very thin – this generally dictates using a small sensor, and makes for noisy pictures. But the resulting pictures are really quite good (slide show), with nice color balance, exposure, and level of detail.

Video recording is where the Behold II looses its luster. It’s limited to CIF (352×288 pixels, 30 fps), vs. VGA (640×480 pixels, 30 fps) or higher for most of the competition.

Here is a sample video (download original):

So if you’re looking for an Android device with a great camera, and you’re willing to accept some limitations (custom TouchWiz user interface, lackluster video recording), consider the Behold II.

Just remember: the Nexus One is cheaper and significantly better overall, with a camera that’s almost as polished, and excellent video recording.

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