Camera Application Overview
The Samsung Galaxy xCover has a 3.2 MP camera that is also capable of VGA video recording at 25 FPS. Pictures are compressed as JPEGs and videos as MP4. We’ll get to some samples in a little bit, but first a quick tour of the default camera/camcorder application.
Upon opening the camera you will be faced with a overlay that includes shooting and scene modes, settings, a link to switch between camera and video modes and a link to the media gallery.
Shooting modes include single (standard) shot, smile shot and panorama. After several attempts of getting the smile shooting mode to work I gave up and tried out panroma; it worked wonderfully, even if the quality did not quite match it.
It is easily the most user friendly built-in panoroma shooting mode I have encountered on any phone. Instead of having to gently survey your surroundings, the xCover will give you a green outline as to what area will be included in the next section. Just line this border up to the perimeter of the viewfinder and that section of the panorama is done and dusted with.
Horizontal panoromas were roughly 2700×400 pixels while vertical shots were 544×2048 pixels in size. Standard 3.2 MP photos are 2048×1536 pixels.
Other options include scene modes that include portrait, sunset and text as well as settings for the LED flash. You are also able to easily change exposure, focus, white balance and image quality settings.
Tapping the display where the overlay is not present will remove everything from your shot except the snapshot button and a grid reference, allowing a better look of your object of interest.
Unfortunately there is no touch to focus ability in Samsung’s camera application. To give you an idea of how useful it is, the vast majority of the pictures back in the hardware tour sections were taken with a smartphone with the assistance of touch to focus.
You are also able to enable a setting where the menu button acts as a camera button, just in a more awkward position. Honestly, it’s easier to just tap the screen.
The camcorder side of the application is near identical in look, it just offers video based options instead. A neat feature Samsung has incorporated into TouchWiz and the xCover is the ability to pause and resume a video recording.
A 3.2 MP camera sensor is one thing you should never expect amazing pictures from and in the case of the xCover it remains no different. To prove my point, be sure to open up the images in a new tab to see how they really look.
Image quality is alright at best, although it could be considered good for a 3.2 MP snapper. Colours are often faded and washed out while not being as saturated as they could be. There is also a noticeable amount of noise when images are viewed full-size.
To top this off it was fairly slow to auto focus, taking a good second and a half to focus automatically and then take a picture. You can always hold the snapper button down to force a pre-focus and then release to snap a photo which did increase end shutter speed noticeably.
For the first time ever I just cannot recommend the Galaxy xCover as a cheap or old digital camera replacement, however it is best suited for quick pictures when they’re required. If you want a rugged smartphone and decent camera combination look at the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active, which I have previously reviewed.
Note: Sorry for not having a video sample, in reality they are surprising hard to get a decent one. I personally assure you that the video quality isn’t an improvement on my opinion of the camera.