The results of the two handsets are pretty similar as far as color rendering is concerned. Surely there are cases when one of the handsets produces slightly more saturated colors in an attempt to give punchier results straight out of the camera, but usually they are on par.
To make better judgment we snapped the color chart in our studio with the Canon 5D Mark II DSLR camera. We developed its RAW file with the color profile set to Faithful, and hand-adjusted its white balance so the results should be a perfectly good reference. When we compared its output to the two handsets the Sony Ericsson Satio came closer, and thus clinched the win in this category.
Here go some some real life examples where the two handsets demonstrate their slightly different behavior. We are hardly the ones to judge which is better as it is primary a matter of taste here. Besides, the differences are minimal.
Winner: Sony Ericsson Satio
Looking at all the photos we took for this test (not only the actually published ones), we can say focus accuracy is great on both contenders.
Yet we do find the performance of the Samsung M8910 Pixon12 a lot better than that of the Satio in well-lit conditions. The Samsung is simply much faster in obtaining focus lock which can make the difference in quite a lot of situations.
The Sony Ericsson Satio replies with faster low-light and close-up focusing. The Symbian smartphone can focus from shorter distances and achieves quicker lock when the subject isn't properly lit. The Samsung usually takes its time and often fails to lock proper focus.
The decisions that the two cameras make in terms of exposure are pretty good. We only had several over- and underexposed shots in the whole shootout and these were all in pretty tricky conditions where every digicam would have had problems.
Note that the default metering mode of the Samsung Pixon12 is set to center-weighted, rather than matrix. It means that the handset gives priority to getting the middle of the frame properly exposed, rather than retaining as much information as possible in the whole frame.
Permanently going for the alternative matrix metering mode, allowed it to meter the scenes just as the Sony Ericsson Satio - whit results which we find preferable.
Flash performance is another category that turned easier to decide on than suspected initially. Both the Pixon12 and the Satio are equipped with proper xenon flash units, which suggest equal performance in the flash category.
Once we tested them however we saw that there was virtually no room for comparison. The Pixon12 managed to produce better exposed shots, while at the same time keeping the ISO lower.
Additionally, the Sony Ericsson Satio lacked a "Forced ON" option for its xenon flash, meaning you can't use it as fill light with backlit portraits in the day.
We have to note that we are extremely pleased that none of the cameraphones went too far with reducing the shutter speeds. The 1/30 and 1/33 values that they chose were possible to hand-hold, even if not too easy. Freezing fast moving subjects is out of the question of course, but still, you will get quite a few low light shots right.
Winner: Samsung M8910 Pixon12