I’ve been receiving quite a few requests for photo and video samples from T-Mobile’s Garminfone, and no wonder; it’s packing a 3.15MP cam with no flash and the highest resolution video it captures is 320 X 240. Can this thing compete on the photo front with even low end feature phones in today’s market? Well, my answer is yes for sharing still photos but when it comes to video, shooting with the Garminfone isn’t even worth the time it takes to open your camera app and hit the onscreen record button.
That’s one little oddity I’ve found regarding the device’s software. The dedicated camera button – which can be depressed halfway to focus and achieve automatic lighting adjustments – operates the still camera only. To operate the video mode, you use the virtual red LED on screen. There is no way to take video with the hardware button or a photo with the virtual one. No problem, that’s a small adjustment to make for a new phone. The sparse camera settings are limited to size, lighting, and format for video. Functional, but barely.
Because the Garminfone comes with 4GB of internal memory and a 2GB microSD card, mounting the device via USB results in two external drives popping up on your computer. I have found no way to transfer images or any other file from internal storage to the microSD card, or vice-versa, so keep in mind that changing the default storage setting on the phone before taking shots is the only way to determine where your pictures will reside. This is a bit of a hassle, though I can live with the setup for quick snaps. I’m not a prosumer photographer, and those that are shouldn’t and wouldn’t buy this device. That said, the quality of still photos, with a max resolution of 2048 X 1536, is pretty decent. Just be in a very well lit area before something worth immortalizing happens, patient enough for an average delay between snaps, and able to keep your subject(s) still. Also be prepared for dramatic variations in hue between photos taken in the same place at the same time, at least if you use the phone’s automatic lighting adjustment.
The video situation was fine for me in terms of transferring material because I wanted to post the sample below directly to YouTube. Piece of cake. No problem. But why is the video taking so long to process on the website? Oh, wait…that’s how it’s going to look forever? Wow. The video can’t even fill the Garminfone’s 320 X 480 screen without being blown up, thereby magnifying the hideous quality of the video this phone shoots. While still photos are fine for electronic transfers and possibly passable for print outs, the video quality is a disaster.
As useless as the video camera is, it doesn’t have a great impact on my opinion of the device. This glaring weak point does not detract from the Garminphone’s ability to fulfill its primary function – navigation. Just keep in mind, that with T-Mobile’s Garminfone, you are buying a navigation device that also functions as a phone and incidentally takes pictures. Video feels like an afterthought at best.
Video at the highest quality setting:
Photos, resized from 2048 X 1536: