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Review: Casio EXILIM 5.1MP camera phone

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leadLets get a few details out of the way first. The Casio Exilim is one of the most expensive Verizon phones available at $279 with a 2-year agreement. Only the HTC Touch Diamond and Touch Pro cost more. Not only that, the Exilim is loaded with a dated OS and is rather bulky. The only selling point that this phone has is the 5.1MP camera, so that’s what I spent most of my time testing.

I pitted the 5.1MP Casio Exilim against a 3.2MP BlackBerry Storm and 6.1MP Nikon D40. I would have to say that I’m impressed with the quality. It’s better than the Storm and almost on par with the D40 in some of the photos. Check out the pics below to see what I mean. (note: these have been resized using Picasa)

[PSGallery=8uxnag51rp]

The camera has all the features we have came to expect from digital cameras these days: scene modes, flash, 9 point AF, Image stabilizer, and even a 3x optical zoom. I don’t know if I would use it as my primary camera, but it’s a mighty big upgrade for those that already use their Motorola RAZR as such.

The 9 point AF works well and does help get a better photo. There isn’t much lag from when the shutter button is pressed until it takes the photo. The flash is almost too bright, I would have to say though. But in all, the camera is almost good enough for most cases.

frontHardware
The Exilim meets Military Specifications for durability, but you wouldn’t know that by just looking at it. In fact, I don’t know if I would test that certification as it doesn’t feel that solid. The only hint that it’s durable is the battery lock. The rest of the phone is your standard grade plastic.

The screen isn’t anything to rave about but it gets the job done. It’s bright enough to use in direct sunlight, which is a good thing when taking pictures. The screen rotates around for a more natural camera feel.

Operating System
homeWhat we have here is one of the most disappointing aspects of the phone. The Exilim is loaded with your standard Verizon-issue OS. I’ll have to say that it’s at least snappy and can even display some fancy animated backgrounds. To me this OS does a huge disservice to great camera phone, but some people might be satisfied with the standard OS.

Quick story: At a recent event with some of my wife’s distant family members, a couple of her cousins were ragging on an Aunt as she fumbled with her presumably new BlackBerry. These early 30 year olds kept asking her why she she uses a BlackBerry and advised that she should just get a “normal phone like everyone else”. These folks aren’t exactly…ummm…educated, so let’s not forget that there are still people out there that want need a simple OS like the one this phone uses.

dockWhat’s in the box
Remember the days when phones actually use to come with accessories? The Exilim actually comes with some stuff. Included in the box is a charging dock, cables, photo software, a lanyard, and a dumb 3.5mm adapter that’s required to use any 3.5mm headset. Greg hates those things.
[PSGallery=8wdhnwpu28]

Conclusion
There is a market for a high quality, simple camera phone. However, I don’t know if that market will pay $279 for such a device. Certainly some of the people that rely on their phone’s camera for special occasions like birthdays and Bar Mitzvahs will probably pony up the cash. The Exilim takes good enough pictures that it could very well be the primary camera for that lot. The rest of us will buy an iPhone or BlackBerry Tour, phones which cost less up front and take decent impromptu photos, and then rely on a standard camera for real photo-taking.

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