April 5, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
My time with Sony Ericsson’s XPERIA X10 review unit is quickly coming to a close. While I’ve already shared my overall thoughts about SE’s first Android phone, I wanted to devote more time to testing the camera and camcorder functions in a dedicated review. Long story short: the camera deserves a high-five.
I feel obligated to repeat my previous statement that users should stop expecting their phone to be on equal footing with their digital camera – for now, at least. Technology has not advanced to the point that a lens jammed into a phone among several other critical components can be as good as a decent digital camera. Don’t expect filet mignon taste when you order the rib-eye.
With that said, the XPERIA X10 performs very well when compared to other camera phones. Fans of the HTC Hero/Sense camera will enjoy the many features and responsive interface of the XPERIA X10. Switching from “Landscape” to “Macro” or “Night Scene” to “Beach and snow” was hassle-free.
The X10 takes excellent photos in optimal settings, and the photo-light just beneath the camera lens provides some – but not much – improvement in poorly-lit one. Supporting up to 8 megapixels, image stabilization, several shooting modes, and a number of options designed to get the best photo the phone can produce, the X10 did a good job during my two weeks of use. Most photos I took were outside or indoors with average lighting quality, the two places I assume most people snap photos, and the X10 did its job well.
The X10 has a digital zoom that isn’t powerful enough to take great photos from a distance. Again, this goes back to the limitations on phone cameras, so you have to be realistic about the camera’s power. Anyone needing only a chance to snap photos of friends to embarrass them on Facebook or take a quick picture of their newborn will have no problem using this phone.
CAMCORDER / VIDEO
The camcorder function deserves similar praise and slight criticism. The digital zoom on video is useless in many cases, but it does a good job of filming video up-close and across the room. The XPERIA X10 camcorder also handles shooting action shots and slightly-improves low-light situations thanks to its photo-light. Phone-sourced video is typically much worse than photos, but the X10 recorded WVGA videos that were far surpassed anything I experience on my phone G1 or Hero. I won’t waste any more time telling you about the video quality; take a look at this collection of sample videos to gauge image quality for yourself.
Note: These videos were joined together and experienced a small loss of quality in the process.
The XPERIA X10 has its faults that will keep some people from purchasing it – update limbo, no pinch-zoom, and some sluggishness – but the camera should not be a concern. Anyone looking for a phone with a good quality image capturing and smooth video recording will be pleased with the X10. You won’t be able to retire your digital camera, but you will feel comfortable reaching for it less often.