The Future of Camera Phones

I hardly have anything nice to say when you meet me in person. It’s true. Nothing is harder for me then holding in criticism. Given this unfortunate condition, one cell phone manufacturer in particular should be happy about what I have to say here.

If you’re a regular reader of this site, I recently covered the Palm Treo 700w, a purchase I made lately that I revel in so much that friends have stopped talking to me. I thought humans had achieved the most recent technological marvel when my new phone arrived – the wheel, the airplane, the Treo.

But I’ve been wrong before. There’s a cell phone manufacturer out there that could humiliate the rest of them if they don’t follow its lead.

I’m talking about the Korean-based company, Samsung. Literally meaning “three stars” in Korean, the 68 year old company has been developing cellular technology at a break-neck pace.

Integrated 3.2 MP CameraIntegrated 3.2 MP CameraAnd for today’s lesson in cool technology, I’d like to present, specifically, the Samsung a990. This is the next phase in both camera-phones and flip-phones, period.

There’s really only one reason for us to examine it – a standard, built-in 3.2 megapixel camera. The wish that everyone who loves their cameraphone has come true.

While the standard has just recently become 1.3 megapixel cameraphones, the a990 has leapt ahead of the competition Incredible Hulk style (the Ang Lee version, not Lou Ferigno. Though the 80’s TV series ruled). It has a flash, zoom functions and video capability. This is unheard of with any other flip phone, as far as image quality goes. (At least in the U.S.)

Added to the flip, is the ‘fold back’. That is to say, that if you want to take pictures (but don’t want to look like one of those fools at a concert shoving their cell phone in the air) you simply need to open the phone, twist the top around 180 degrees and fold it back down. You now have the full display as your viewfinder. The Fold backThe Fold Back

Why am I so high on this product? It’s because ideas as simple as the fold back (as I’m calling it) revolutionize the global techno-culture. Think about it. When was the last time that you typed a password into your favorite website? Something as small as storing passwords in your web-browser made viewing the web an entirely new and simpler experience.

Little tweaks go a long way, as many an experienced (and profitable) inventor knows. Samsung thought about a digital camera, then they thought about a cell phone, combined the two (with a little help from their remarkable engineers) and came up with this little gem. The difference between their thought process and everyone else’s was that they aimed for ease of use, instead of cramming options into platforms that can’t handle it.

Do I have a problem with this phone? Well, it looks monstrous at first glance. But let’s give Samsung the benefit of the doubt here. There is a size comparison image along side my phone, the Palm Treo 700w. Scoping the stock photos of the a990, I thought Samsung had lost its edge and sacrificed size for better camera quality.

No dice. This thing is small, slim and stylish.

Side by SideSide by Side

On the front side, the a990, the smooth lines illuminate the black and silver motif. On back, it looks like a regular digital camera. Truly a two function product, but with a certain style that sets it apart from all other attempts at cameraphones.

If I have one complaint, it’s that the Samsung line has difficulty catching up to smaller LCD displays. The larger, inside LCD is crisp and clear, but the tiny outside display is about as good as the technology was 3 years ago. It might not be a drawback for you, but I was always taught to the look at the front, back, sides, the engine and the interior before I bought the car. If I didn’t like one of those features, why would I spend the money? Especially with it’s near $300 price tag. A minor thing, but something to watch if you’re a tech nerd.

Sure, there’s other things that this phone has that I’m not covering here. Like the microSD card slot (for added memory), Bluetooth, speakers on two sides of the phone, and music player controls like fast forward, rewind and play. Needless to say, it holds and plays mp3’s over the speakers or into headphones. Verizon’s VCast is also installed and functions include internet access, web browsing as well as video, game and music downloads. Pretty standard stuff in my opinion, but it’s the camera that sets the Samsung a990 apart among cell phone advances today.

I love my Treo, but Samsung is making innovations like Hollywood is making bad movies – too frequently now to keep track. Samsung, you might be the best in the biz.

Jefferson Smith
Featured Blogger

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Sep 13, 2006
by Motorola Razr Unlocked (not verified)

Thoughs phones look great!

Thoughs phones look great! I can't believe that will be the future of cell phones! I can't wait!

Sep 20, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)


I "supphoughs" I disagree; the future sounds scary--especially when taking into account the people who will be left to write about it.