Sony Ericsson Satio vs. Samsung Pixon12: 12MP shootout

GSMArena team, 21 October 2009.
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Gallery

The ability to quickly preview the shot you've just taken is perhaps one of the main advantages of digital photography over good old film. Let's have a look at how well the two contenders perform as a digital photo frame, shall we? There are two sides to this - hardware and software. We begin with the hardware, or more to the point - the display.

The screens of the Samsung Pixon12 and Sony Ericsson Satio are quite different. Pixon12 comes with an AMOLED touchscreen of WVGA resolution, which has lively colors and great contrast. All that in the shade though, in sunlight the display doesn't perform too well.

Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12
The file manager gallery on Pixon12 One-finger zooming The Media browser

Satio has the lead in terms of sunlight legibility. And while the pixel count (pixel density too) are not as high, the 3.5" screen is noticeably bigger and nHD resolution is still good enough for a display this size. Due to aspect ratio considerations however, photos previewed on the Satio display are not much bigger than on the Samsung, certainly not 0.4" bigger. And in favorable indoor lighting TFT is not as good as OLED.

Now for the software - both the Pixon12 and the Satio offer well organized galleries, which arrange photos by date and have tags as a means to group your photos.

Satio is ahead yet again in aesthetics with its Media application - the well-known interface, known from Playstation to mobile phones. It runs silky smooth - it will zoom in on a 12MP photo without breaking a sweat. Everything is animated too, not even the background sits still.

Sony Ericsson Satio (Idou) Sony Ericsson Satio (Idou) Sony Ericsson Satio (Idou) Sony Ericsson Satio (Idou)
The Media application on Satio

Some things are not very well thought-out though - for example, when selecting multiple photos the difference between selected/unselected is only indicated by opacity (to show off the animated background perhaps) but that just doesn't work for some photos (especially darker ones).

The Pixon12 on the other hand lacks the glitter, but instead relies on no-nonsense usability - the one finger zoom for one is a very nice feature as it eliminates a lot of panning, you just zoom in on what you want. Accelerometer-based scrolling is mostly a gimmick but will wow your friends the first time.

Both galleries also come with slideshow capabilities and direct web uploading to all the popular sites. There are also the built-in image editors - not quite on par with Photoshop, we admit, but they should be enough to crop, downsize and sharpen a photo before uploading.

Pixon12 offers two editors - Image editor and Dynamic canvas. The Image editor is good for applying effects, image levels adjustments and resizing, while the Dynamic canvas takes advantage of the touchscreen and lets you draw with your fingers.

Overall the editors in both phones are quite capable (as far as editing on the phone goes), enough to handle the basic and most commonly used tricks, maybe even a quick joke with a photo of someone. The one on Pixon12 offers more effects to stylize an image (the usefulness of this is questionable), while Satio has red-eye correction which will certainly come in handy.

For indoor viewing OLED is king, but indoors we also have computers - it's viewing photos on the device while outside that we want. The speed of the gallery (especially in zooming) is also a major point. The image editors of the Pixon12 might seem like a big advantage, but they're not - it tends to present you with a whole screen of similar looking effects, which confuses more than it helps. The editor in Satio offers the basics without unneeded complexity.

WINNER: Sony Ericsson Satio

Final words

Having put the cameras to so many tests, we can safely conclude that the Pixon12 beats the Satio in terms of image quality. The output is better in the elements that we consider most important for producing better shots in real life scenarios.

Yet picking a winner between those two cameraphones is anything but easy. The Satio has its own strong points and we know picture quality is only one part of the general experience. Besides, the difference is not that great so it's completely up to the user to decide what compromises can be made.

The Sony Ericsson Satio has a better looking camera and gallery interface, a superior BestPic burst shooting mode, an active lens cover and a hardware key to toggle stills, video and gallery. It also takes an edge in the video recording department.

On the other hand, the Samsung Pixon12 camera interface has several additional features such as blink detection and WDR, but the easily exposed lens glass is almost sure to get scratched.

In addition to that, we feel the different focal lengths of both cameraphones will make some difference too and give users another tough choice to make. The wide-angle 30mm lens of the Pixon12 is better for landscapes, cityscapes and group shots taken indoors. But portraits (the head-and-shoulders type of shots) come off slightly better with the 35mm lens of the Satio. Inevitably, the wide angle lens creates more optical distortion, which can make faces look a bit awkward.

So in conclusion, if you have only scanned the article to find the winners in different categories we suggest you go back and pay more attention - at least to the tests that matter most to you. Only then will you be able to decide which camera will suit you better depending on what is really important to you.

We guess the difference in physical size, the smartphone OS behind the Satio and the local pricing will be the three other major factors for you to consider before splashing the cash. In any case, we doubt it anyone will regret purchasing either of the two handsets. They're both excellent performers and if one was victorious we hope both emerged wiser from the battle. One thing we know though is that in technology there's no battle to end all battles.

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