O2 Cocoon features a 2 megapixel camera with a LED flash, which can take pictures at a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels. There is no dedicated camera key, you shoot images with the center key on the D-pad instead.
We already made a reference to the "auto focus" sign on the camera lens, which seems out of place in a device with no trace of auto focus functionality. Even if the user manual states that the camera is an auto focus unit, there are no autofocus marks in the viewfinder, close-ups are out of the question and there's no way of selectively focusing on a foreground or background subject.
Update (June 19, 2008): It turns out there is an undocumented way to actually engage the camera auto focus. We got tipped that when you press and hold the D-pad longer, the auto focus comes into action. We tried it ourselves and as it turned out, now the O2 Cocoon could even take macro shots. Great feature, but poor documentation.
Anyways, this auto focus setup is not the best one yet - that way you can't take advantage of the old "focus-and-recompose" trick that offers a more creative way of composing your shots. In case you are not familiar with it, google it. You will find this a wonderful technique with any point-and-shoot digital camera.
Now that we got all that straight, we can continue with a few words on the camera itself. An interesting solution is the landscape and portrait modes. Toggling between those two you can change the default image orientation.
In plain English, the portrait mode allows you to shoot images with vertical (portrait) orientation. Even if you do rotate the handset sideways before shooting, the images will turn out in portrait orientation. When you set the landscape orientation images will turn out in horizontal orientation no matter how you hold the camera.
Now, that may be a bit confusing for the casual snapper but just remember this: if you shoot holding the handset vertically, choose portrait mode; if you shoot horizontally, choose the landscape mode. That way you won't have to rotate your images later on when you transfer them to the computer.
Still if all that still sounds confusing, you can go ahead and neglect that setting for good and always shoot in portrait mode - later on you can always do a quick rotate with any imaging software on your computer.
The selected landscape mode even changes the orientation of the onscreen overlays, but doesn't change the orientation of the context menus.
Beside that odd solution, the O2 Cocoon camera interface is intuitive and follows the current trend of showing settings on a bar of icons in the bottom of the screen, while options appear as popup menus. The only drawback we noticed is that once you set an option, the interface exits the settings menu and you have to dig back again in order to change another setting. That kind of reminds us of the LG Chocolate - it had similarly styled camera menu and the same illogical behavior.
The Cocoon camera settings include picture size, color effects (black and white, negative, sepia), clip art, funny frames, white balance, and flash setup. Additionally, the shutter sound can be turned off if you like.
You can't expect miracles from the 2 megapixel snapper of the Cocoon. Dynamic range is low, so is the contrast. The low contrast issue is seems like a case of some bad quality optics. There's some significant purple fringing too.
Compared to what Apple iPhone can do, Cocoon certainly prevails. The iPhone images don't capture the same amount of detail and they have lower contrast. However, the iPhone doesn't apply that much sharpening and has no purple fringing issues.
The camera is also able to shoot video. Recording length is only limited by the available memory. The user interface of the camcorder is pretty much the same as the one of the still camera.
The O2 Cocoon captures 3GP/MPEG-4 videos with a maximum resolution of QVGA (320 x 240 pixels) at 10 fps. If you set video resolution to 176x144 pixels, you'll get a better framerate of around 17fps. You should know that generally the human eye needs at least 18 fps for what's perceived as a smooth video playback.
Now, we bet you remember the whole landscape/portrait mess. The thing is it gets even trickier when shooting video because shooting videos in portrait mode actually produces (can you guess)… portrait videos. We hadn't seen a handset, or a digital camera for that matter, to create portrait videos - not until now.
It's an interesting effect that you may come to like though. If you don't however, you can always switch the camera to landscape mode and turn the handset to a horizontal position and shoot just like you would with a regular camcorder.
The O2 Cocoon is well geared in the connectivity department. Besides EDGE, you also get 3G and even HSDPA for fast wireless data transfers. They allow you to take full advantage of the nice web browser that is coming up later on.
Of course, you also have Bluetooth connectivity at hand for short range data transfers. Plus, as this is a music-centric handset, you also get stereo Bluetooth support (A2DP).
And finally, there's USB. The USB data cable is supplied in the rich retail package. When connected to a PC, the handset gets charged, too. The supplied Cocoon PC Suite software allows you to seamlessly sync the O2 Cocoon with Microsoft Outlook. It does a bunch of other stuff, but we'll not get into detail.
There are three USB modes with the Cocoon: Sync, Music and Transfer Files. The first one enables pairing with the above mentioned Cocoon PC Suite. The second one allows you to sync the Cocoon with your Windows Media Player 11 music collection, if you prefer it that way.
And finally, the third Transfer Files one allows you to directly access the 2GB of Cocoon storage memory as a Removable drive on your computer. If you have a microSD memory card plugged into the Cocoon as well, you get it as a Removable drive too. In this mode you can directly copy and paste music files from your computer. Only make sure you put them in the right place in the phone's memory.
USB connectivity worked flawlessly in all the three modes both under Windows XP and Windows Vista. However, the benefits of the straightforward USB connectivity are dubious in the light of the seriously crippled integrated file browser that the O2 Cocoon offers (see the relevant part of this review).