Last year, camera cellphones were something of a novelty. Their optical sensors captured VGA-quality stills at best (that’s about half a megapixel), so the resulting shots were destined to live in the digital realm. This summer, 1-megapixel combos capable of producing album-worthy 3-by-5-inch prints hit stores. One-hour photo outlets are capitalizing: Already you can point your 1MP mobile at a wireless, digital photo kiosk and–like that!–print your snapshots.
Prices for these models will range up to $600, and by the time you read this, mobile carriers will have announced which phones they’ll offer. Or, wait another year and pick up a 2MP version.
1) The Transformer
The Sony Ericsson S700 makes the complete transformation from cellphone to camera. Hold it horizontally, frame your shot in the LCD and press the top-mounted shutter release.
Specs: 1.3MP; 8x digital zoom; 2.3-inch display; 7 hours talk time; 4.83 ounces; Bluetooth
2) The Impromptu Photographer
No need to choose between taking a call and taking a picture with Kyocera’s Koi. You can do both since the answer button remains accessible in camera mode.
Specs: 1.2MP; 5x digital zoom; 2.1-inch display; 3.5 hours talk time; 4.02 ounces
3) The Beauty Queen
Tired of squinting to see yourself in the mini mirror some cellphones use for self-portraits? Motorola’s V710 employs a 1.3-inch external LCD as a second viewfinder.
Specs: 1.2MP; 4x digital zoom; 2.2-inch display; 4 hours talk time; 4.6 ounces; Bluetooth; MP3
4) The Mobile Webcam
Like these other models LG’s LG8000 takes videos. But thanks to its compatibility with Verizon’s high-speed (300 to 500kbps) EV-DO network, it’s
also capable of working as a webcam.
Specs: 1.3MP; 10x digital zoom; 2.25-inch display; 3 hours talk time; 3.9 ounces; external color LCD
5) The Blogger
By tracking your appointments, the calls you make and the photos you take, Nokia’s 7610 Lifeblog creates an online diary of your day. Just don’t ask us to suffer through it.
Specs: 1MP; 4x digital zoom; 2.13-inch display; 3 hours talk time; 4.16 ounces; Bluetooth; MP3
Next Up: Liquid Zoom Lenses
Digital zooms lose quality. Opticals don’t, but they’re bulky. So Philips lined a tiny cylinder with a hydrophobic film that squeezes water into a convex state–a lens. Zapped with electricity, the film forgets its phobia, lets the water spread, and alters the convexity. Two stacked make a cell-sized optical zoom. ETA: two years.