Thanks to a tipster, we just got a glimpse of the future of cameraphones. Putting Taiwanese R&D into practice, Altek have recently announced their 12 megapixel digital camera with GSM phone function. Altek has dubbed it a "professional cameraphone" - meet the Altek T8680.
The camera lens extends out in a very camera-like fashion and just by looking at the back you'd never guess the Altek T8680 is a GSM phone. The benefit over almost all other cameraphones is of course the 3x optical zoom. Altek also claim that here is a separate dedicated imaging processor inside, which takes care of the camera part in a professional manner.
The T8680 captures images in an ample 12-megapixel resolution and you can crank up the ISO from 80 all the way up to 3200. The software offers face and smile detection, as well as touch focus, plenty of scenes and shooting modes. The camera is accompanied by a xenon flash.
The camera can also record video at VGA resolution using AVI files (M-JPEG codec).
We mentioned touch focus - the T8680 has a touchscreen to allow for that - a 3" WQVGA TFT one. Bluetooth with A2DP, USB, TV out, PictBridge and DPOF handle local connectivity, while the GSM capabilities are rather limited by today's standards. Tri-band (900/1800/1900) GSM/EDGE support is all there is - no 3G this time.
MP3/AAC support and an FM radio take care of the music capabilities. The Altek T8680 also has an accelerometer that can do the turn-to-mute trick. As for the OS, it's a proprietary one with support for J2ME.
"How big is this thing, anyway?" you may be wondering. The T8680 measures 113.5 x 52 x 16.6 mm and 135 grams - hardly what you'd call "thin" but not the thickest phone we've seen by any means. It packs a 1020 mAh Li-Ion battery for up to 350 hours of standby and 4 hours of talk time.
The Altek T8680 will be available for 3000 yuan (about 308 euro) at the end of August or early September. Whether it will be available outside of China remains to be seen.
Thanks, Eske Rahn.