Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 review: Gone fishing
Very good 5MP camera
The Samsung S7710 Galaxy Xcover 2 comes with a 5MP camera that shoots stills at up to 2560 x 1920. It has an LED flash to assist it in low light scenes.
The interface is virtually the same as on the Galaxy S III. On the right there's the still camera / camcorder switch, a virtual shutter key and the gallery shortcut (which is a thumbnail of the last photo taken).
On the left, you get several controls and the good news is that you can pick any four shortcuts to put there - its let you easily have all frequently used features just a tap away.
The fifth shortcut always points to Settings. You can also move the icons around to your liking.
The Galaxy Xcover 2 has an extensive set of features: touch focus, smile shot, continuous shot, panorama and can snap photos during video recording (but at only 720p resolution, basically a frame from the video). What's missing is HDR.
That's in line with what the Galaxy S II Plus and the Express have, but the Xcover 2 one ups them with Aqua mode. When you turn it on, it reminds you to close all flaps and that the touchscreen will not work under water. After that, you're free to shoot photos and videos with the hardware shutter key. Just make sure you don't go too deep or stay too long (the official promise is that the Xcover 2 will survive at up to 1m of water for up to 30m).
5MP doesn't sound particularly exciting, but the Galaxy Xcover 2 has one of the better 5MP shooters we've seen. It will give even some 8MP cameras a run for their money. The level of detail is great as is contrast. Highlights tend to get overexposed but nothing out of the ordinary. Colors are too subdued for our liking, but you can adjust that from the camera.
Photo quality comparison
The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 has plenty of 5MP shooters to compete with in our Photo compare tool. The tools page gives you info on what to look out for. You'll notice a big pink spot that's quite visible in the first chart (you can see it in the second chart too). The third chart under artificial lighting looks okay.
720p video camera
The camcorder interface of the Galaxy Xcover 2 is nearly identical to the still camera's - you get the same customizable panel on the left with five shortcuts.
The video camera tops out at 720p resolution at 30fps. Videos are recorded in MP4 files with 12Mbps bitrate and mono sound (128Kbps bitrate, 48kHz sampling rate).
The still camera left a good impression and 12Mbps is plenty for 720p (some phones try to cram 1080p in that much bitrate), but the overall results are less than stellar. Fine detail is on the low side and there are jaggies on diagonal edges. Still, videos are smooth and quite usable.
We do wish Samsung had included a 60fps mode, which would be great for action-packed mountain biking videos.
Anyway, here's a sample of what the Galaxy Xcover 2 can do in video mode.
You can also check out this untouched video sample, straight from the phone - 720p@30fps (0:16, 23.5MB).
Video quality comparison
The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 enters the video quality comparison tool as an HD-capable contender. The pink spot is back (check it out in the third chart). Low-light shooting isn't the Xcover 2's strength as it turns out.