Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Samsung INNOV8 (i8510)
A beast of a phone that packs an 8-megapixel camera.
- 8-megapixel camera, HSDPA, Wi-Fi, GPS, menu and user interface, 16GB internal memory, microSD slot
- Design is underwhelming, LED rather than Xenon flash, screen is difficult to view in sunlight, fingerprint magnet
Beneath this rather underwhelming design is a handset packed with every feature under the sun. The INNOV8 is a true jack of all trades — but unlike many other handsets it performs most of them quite well. If you're after a high-end mobile and aren't fussed if it doesn't have a touch screen then the INNOV8 should be near the top of your list.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
With an 8-megapixel camera, 16GB of memory, Wi-Fi, built-in GPS and HSDPA connectivity, Samsung's INNOV8 i8510 is one of the most feature-packed phones we've ever reviewed. Stepping up to compete alongside the likes of Nokia's N96, Sony Ericsson's C905 and LG's Renoir (KC910), can the INNOV8 jump ahead of the pack?
It may boast a wealth of features, but the design of the INNOV8 is quite underwhelming. Although build quality feels reasonable, and the gloss black edging adds a touch of class, the handset is quite brick-like. It’s a similar design to the N96, though bulkier and slightly heavier. Thankfully, the controls are well designed. They consist of a flat but comfortable and well spaced keypad, as well as a five-way navigational pad that doubles as an optical mouse. The mouse is convenient for browsing the Web, but it is frustrating to use for general use in menus and submenus — we prefer to use the regular navigational pad.
The 2.8in display is quite large considering the INNOV8's design, but its performance in direct sunlight is disappointing. The glossy finish also attracts a multitude of fingerprints, making this a difficult handset to keep clean. However, in the right lighting conditions the display possesses competent viewing angles and works well for both video and images.
The INNOV8 is one of a number of Samsung handsets that use the Symbian Series 60 operating system rather than Samsung's proprietary OS. For those familiar with Nokia phones, using the INNOV8 will be second nature. Menus are straightforward and clear, submenus are in a simple list format and the general speed of the user interface is excellent, with minimal lag experienced. The transition between menus features some nice eye candy.
The INNOV8 is quite simply a bundle of features. Connectivity alone consists of HSDPA, Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth. But it’s the 8-megapixel camera that is the biggest drawcard here. It offers a host of features, including a flash, face detection, geotagging, blink detection and image stabilisation, as well as an all-important, automatic lens cover. There is also a slider key of the kind you might find on a standalone digital camera, allowing you to switch between photo, video and viewing modes. The photos captured are some of the most impressive we have seen on a camera phone. The shots are comparable to those taken by the Renoir, but the colour reproduction of the LG handset is a cut above the INNOV8. Edges are relatively smooth and there is little evidence of purple fringing. The LED flash is effective in close situations, but a Xenon flash would have been a much better inclusion.
Multimedia features are also aplenty, and the 3.5mm headphone jack is an extremely welcome inclusion. In addition to video and music players, the INNOV8 boasts an FM radio and DivX playback. Videos look sharp and clear on the display and viewing angles are excellent, and the music player supports playlist creation. A2DP Bluetooth also means you can stream wireless audio to compatible accessories. In a big boost to its multimedia credentials, the INNOV8 comes with 16GB of internal memory and a microSD card slot, — using a 16GB microSD card will give you a whopping 32GB of storage.
The Web browser also works quite well and it is here that the optical mouse comes into its own. While obviously not a patch on the iPhone 3G's Safari browser, the INNOV8 is a competent phone for occasional Internet use. Conveniently, you can adjust the sensitivity of the optical mouse for the best possible user experience, while a built-in accelerometer can automatically rotate the screen orientation when the phone is tilted.
Also present is DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compatibility. A feature that should be standard on all Samsung devices in the near future, devices equipped with this standard can network to other devices such as televisions and stream multimedia. Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG are other phone manufacturers that are members of the DLNA alliance.
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