By Tony Henning
Not content to rest on its laurels, which include the world’s first 5-megapixel, 7-megapixel, and 8-megapixel camera-phones, Samsung this past week unveiled its latest camera with a phone in it — the SCH-B500, which sports an impressive 7.7-megapixel camera with 3x optical zoom. The 8MP SPH-V8200, introduced just over two months ago [“Samsung Intros 8MP Camera-Phone,” MIR #159, November 9, 2005], marked a departure from Samsung’s recent parade of high-res camera-phones because it looked like a mobile phone with a camera in it, rather than a camera with a mobile phone in it. But the SCH-B500 indicates that the 8MP model was an aberration, not a trend. Like the earlier 5- and 7-megapixel models from Samsung, this new model once again features a protruding 3x optical zoom lens that has no chance of surviving the mandatory mobile phone drop test. Still, you’ve got to admire Samsung for pushing the camera-phone envelope way beyond where the other manufacturers are willing to go.
Details on this model are scarce, but we do know that the slider model is 18.5 mm thick — which in these days of RAZR-inspired super-slim phones is being characterized as bulky by most of the gadget web sites — but a quick review of the Mobile Megapixel Monitor shows that it’s a full 5.4 mm slimmer than the average slider. The SCH-B500 has a large color screen that automatically re-orients itself to landscape mode when you hold the handset like a camera and there’s support for microSD removable media. We’d guess there’s a Xenon flash as in past models and if it doesn’t have an MP3 player as well, we’ll eat our iPod. Just in case that’s not enough to float your multimedia boat, the phone also receives DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) TV and has a TV out function as well. The SCH B500 is expected to be available to Korean users initially via SK Telecom. We’re guessing this rascal will retail for right around a million South Korean Won ($1,033). We’ll keep you posted when we have more details.