Samsung M8800 Pixon review: Touch'n'shoot
Modest retail package
The retail package of Samsung M8800 Pixon doesn't really spell high-end. Inside the relatively small box you will find a stylus to be hung on the lanyard eyelet, a two-piece wired headset and a DC charger. The handsfree set has a 3.5mm standard audio jack, which means you can easily replace the included headphones with ones of your choice.
This stylus solution, as we've repeatedly pointed, is quite inconvenient and basically means that most users will probably do without it. It wasn't too much of a problem with the LG KU990 Viewty, and it shouldn't be with the Pixon either, but why did they bother including it in the first place.
However, the fact that our Samsung M8800 Pixon retail package had no paperwork makes us think it might not be its final version. Besides, those packages have always been strongly market dependent, so you should take our example with a pinch of salt.
Update 05 Dec: Things do look a little different with the final version of the retail package that we received. The additional load packs a 1GB microSD card, a Samsung PC Studio CD and finally, a user manual. There are no other changes.
Samsung M8800 Pixon 360-degree spin
Samsung M8800 Pixon stands at 107.9 x 54.6 x 13.8 mm or at least this is what the manufacturer says. However, upon a careful caliper measurement, the Pixon scored 14.5mm at its slimmest part. This still is acceptable but 0.7mm thicker than the official spec.
Just for the sake of comparison the LG KC910 Renoir is advertized as being 14mm thick, but our measurement proved that it's in fact 14.7mm in its slimmest part, so there you have it, Samsung Pixon is still the slimmest 8 megapixel handset out there.
Now before you jump to some conclusions that our measurement is consistently flawed by 0.7mm, let us just say that we did the same measurement of both the Apple iPhone and the Nokia N95 8GB and their thickness turned out EXACTLY as advertized.
That being said, we have to point out that it has become a habit for Samsung (and for LG) to measure their phones' thickness at the slimmest parts instead of the thickest. While in the case of the LG Renoir it's only the camera lens that sticks out, in the Samsung Pixon is both the really large camera lens and the grip at the back of the device. So as a result, Samsung Pixon leaves a rather bulky impression and the quoted thickness of 13-14mm is nothing but marketing smoke. Have that in mind when you read those specs aloud next time.
Samsung M8800 Pixon is nonetheless pocketable even if the weight of 121 g doesn't exactly put it in the strawweight category.
Design and construction
The huge touchscreen doesn't leave too much space for creativity in design, but somehow the Pixon falls short of the seamless Apple iPhone or the sleek HTC Touch HD design. The digicam-styled back though creates an awareness of the handset's main intent. The projecting nest of the lens and bulging rubbery camera-style grip at the bottom do mean business.
There is only a single color version of the M8800 Pixon announced at this stage. If the demand turns out sufficient Samsung might come up with some new editions (white comes to mind - just kidding!) but black is all you get for now.
The number of keys and controls on the Samsung M8800 Pixon is quite impressive for a touchscreen phone. For starters there are three hardware keys under the large display that takes most of the front. The Call and End buttons are on either side of a round back button. On the other end of the phone's face we see the video-call camera, ambient light sensor and the earpiece.
The round black button is used as a Back key throughout the interface.
The left side of the Pixon hosts the microSD card slot, the Shortcuts menu key and the Hold key. The latter is used for locking (and unlocking) the touchscreen.
The bottom is quite plain, featuring the lanyard eyelet and the mouthpiece only.
The top is where the proprietary connectivity port is located. The other thing of interest here is the battery cover release button.
Moving to the right side, we come upon the dedicated camera key, gallery key and a volume rocker/zoom control. All those are self-explanatory, so we doubt it there is much to tell you about them. As far as their size and ergonomics are concerned - the keys on the Pixon are small and discreet but nicely tactile and responsive. The shutter key is notable for offering fairly distinct half-press and full-press for the amazingly short travel it has.
The back side of Samsung M8800 Pixon features the 8 megapixel autofocus camera which - when not in use - lies under an automatic protective cover. Its low-light performance is helped by the included LED flash but you probably shouldn't set your hopes too high. The LED flash isn't great for night photography.
The other item of interest here is the loudspeaker grill, placed on the side of the lens nest and forming a nice symmetrical pattern with the LED flash. The rubbery bulge at the bottom of the rear acts as a proper digicam grip. It's also level with the projecting lens nest and that prevents wobbling of the handset when laid on its back.
Removing the all-metal battery cover is a breeze thanks to the release latch at the top. Fitting it back in place is a little fiddly but not much of a burden. You will hardly need to do it often enough to make this an issue anyway.
Below the cover hides the 1000 mAh Li-Ion battery quoted at 3 hours and 40 minutes of talk time or 290 hours in standby. While this might not sound too unsettling you will probably end up charging your phone every other day even when using it sparingly. This isn't much of a problem to us but some users have the right to disagree.
The general build of Samsung M8800 Pixon is fine and the materials used suggest adequate durability. They don't by any means yell expensive but hopefully the price tag will reflect that.