Thursday, March 6, 2003

Camera phones offer surprising pictures


By Brian Bergstein
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - In some ways, the camera phone seems like technology for its own sake. Before these devices became available, did you really ever wish your camera had a phone, or vice versa?

Now that I've tested two high-end phones with integrated cameras, I'm less skeptical

The Nokia 3650 and the Sanyo SCP-5300 took better pictures than I expected. And for the most part, neither device was made too clunky or awkward by having a camera on board - though Nokia made a bad choice by giving the 3650 a circular keypad.

The Nokia is expected to retail for less than $400 when it becomes available this month. The Sanyo, available from Sprint PCS, hit the market last fall at a similar price.

The main advantage of the Sanyo 5300 is that it is roughly the same size as most other flip-style phones, known as "clamshells."

I found its camera easy to use, especially because you have a choice of two separate buttons that activate the picture function and snap the shutter. The camera was remarkably sensitive to situations with little or bad light.

I also liked the flexibility of being able to send images to e-mail addresses or to upload them to a Sprint Web site that lets you crop the photos and make them darker or lighter.

The Nokia 3650 is longer, wider and thicker than most phones.

The circular keypad slowed typing in e-mail addresses and other contact information, and I came to dread doing it.

Overall, the 3650 is packed with capabilities and its interface is crisp and mostly self-explanatory. The phone is quick at e-mailing pictures or uploading them to, which makes it easy to buy prints.

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