The Samsung S5230 features a nice 3 megapixel camera with fixed focus and is capable of taking photos with a maximum resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels.
The camera does not have auto-focus, but it sports the nice Smile shot feature. Basically when you turn it on, pushing the camera button doesn't immediately take a picture. On the contrary - it just starts monitoring the framed face and as soon as the person smiles (or at least grins), the handset takes the shot for you automatically.
The actual pictures taken with the camera are a nice surprise - they have nice details and colors. The noise reduction however is a bit aggressive at times. We certainly don;t like the contrast at this stage but the image processing however is certain to go under more changes.
The overall impression of the captured photos is enough satisfying and you can see it from the samples below:
The camera interface is nicely touch-optimized and is certainly one of the most comfortable camera interfaces on a touchscreen device so far.
The video recording capabilities are very poor - only QVGA video at 15fps. But for a cheap and budget touch phones, it is enough. The competing LG Cookie doesn't offer more too.
We had an argument here in the office which phone is better - is it the 3G and GPS-equipped S5600 or the S5230, which has a larger, higher-res screen. Of course we didn't reach an understanding but hopefully end users won't be victims of similar hesitation. Samsung will probably release the two at different price points.
The comparison between the LG Cookie and the Samsung S5230 finished quite even too. Both handsets pack similar hardware and quite optimized touch software. While the Cookie comes with a document viewer, the S5230 offers more interface features - the Gesture lock, Photo contact manager and camera Smile shot. Still, our personal subjective opinion is that the Cookie is far better looking.
At the end of the day, the choice between the two will be up to you. The retail price will surely have a saying too, but for now we don't really know what it will be.