Jan 11 AT 10:23 AM Anthony Domanico 20 Comments

Polaroid SC1630 phonecamera is great on the camera, not so much on the phone

dsc00699 Image via: Engadget

Polaroid has made a phone for the camera enthusiasts; one look at the Polaroid SC1630 and you can immediately see that the device’s primary function is a camera. In fact, the back of the device looks almost identical to many point and shoot cameras on the market today, and from looks alone you may be surprised to learn that it actually is an Android smartphone (assuming Polaroid can land a carrier contract or two).

The SC1630 features a 16 megapixel rear camera, complete with 3x optical zoom and 5x digital zoom. It sports an aperture ranging from F3.1 to F5.6, an ISO of up to 3200, and can record 720p video with anti-shake support. It comes with several 3G bands, but has yet to land any carrier contracts, meaning this will just be a camera that runs Android when it launches later this year.

The camera is by far the most impressive feature of the SC1630. When it comes to the device’s innards, the SC1630 features an 800×480 3.2-inch display, 512 MB RAM, and 512 MB ROM, which is quite disappointing for a device being released in 2012. Physical buttons are like what you’d expect with a phonecamera, with hard buttons for capturing pictures, video and zooming functions.

With only a 1,020 mAh battery, battery life may prove to be a huge issue with the SC1630, though one Polaroid COO Emanuel Vorona told Engadget the company is well aware of this and is working on a solution. Similarly, they’re working to build LTE capability into the SC1630, though they’ll have their work cut out for them contracting with carriers if they’re to release the cameraphone sans phone in April for $299. (No carrier contracts have been announced as of yet to unlock phone capabilities).

All in all, we have to wonder how many people out there need a decent cellular camera so bad that they’re willing to settle on a device as poorly spec’d as the SC1630. Most smartphone cameras are good enough for most uses, and most people bring point and shoots or DSLRs to events at which you’d need higher quality images. Is anyone out there interested in the Polaroid SC1630, or does this phone qualify for our consideration in the “Worst of CES” category?

Source: Engadget

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • spazby

    hands down, worst of CES

  • http://pixelswim.com Steve Heinrich

    Possibly in the “Worst” category. This doesn’t seem like the way to put a “fancier camera” on a phone. Like you said most phone’s cameras are sufficient.

  • geewhipped

    wacky… when I first saw this covered, I thought it was (basically) a point-and-shoot camera that happened to be running android (wifi-only), which I thought would be pretty cool.
    I didn’t know it was an actual *phone* … yikes.

  • Topher

    There is definitely a market for this. I’ll buy one, and probably make it my primary.

    I need a good camera on me most of the time (I have kids) and I need an android device because my calls and texts are through google voice, and company email is on google apps. But as far as other things people tend to do on their phone – meh. I have a tablet and a laptop for that shit.

    But perhaps I’m the exception. I sacrificed my Google Nexus to use a Republic Wireless, I’ve gone wifi phone only in the past.

    Android gives us the ability to do all these awesome, or niche things. It’s about more than just “zomg it’s so powerful’.

  • geewhipped

    Should also be noted that $299 is hardly “whopping”
    If it *was* picked up by a carrier, a $299 phone could be sold very cheap when subsidized. Top-shelf Android phones are close to $700 un-sub’ed, right?

    • http://www.anthonydomanico.com Anthony Domanico

      Yeah, I admittedly was thinking subsidized when looking at the $299 price. We’ll see what this thing goes for subsidized if they manage to land carrier contracts. Otherwise, $299 is a bit much for a point and shoot.

    • Apollostees

      Agreed for 299 you could reasonably pick this up without contract.

      This one clearly is not for ever one but there is a market for a higher end phone/camera. The most exciting thing for me is the optical lense. I may be wrong, but I don’t think there has been a phone out yet with an optical telescopic lense?

  • nwilliam3

    I think Polariod has built a phone for which there is going to be a very small market. I just don’t think that most people who want high quality photos are going to want to shoot them on their phone.

  • http://alxrock.deviantart.com alxrock

    I used to work in a photo lab, and I remember Polaroid’s digital cameras being the worst quality cameras. Cheaply made and horrible picture quality. I wouldn’t touch this even if it was $20.

  • oddball

    Great idea not so great execution. The phone is extremely under spec for even midrange device. I would still have to carry a second device and that is where they lose me. If they brought it up to current high end phone specs. I would buy it in a heartbeat even at $350-400 as it would enable me to carry one less expensive device everywhere

  • Trinhbo

    Wow talk about another DoA. I’d have to put this device and the Toshiba Excite in the “Worst of CES” category.

  • Kai99

    The “older” crowd will eat this up with a spoon and two knives! The types that still want a dedicated GPS until in their cars and want a separate music player than their phone.

  • mmitchum

    As a photography enthusiast, this really piqued my interest. It is really disappointing that the actual phone specs are so low-end because camera quality is one of the major gripes that I have about smart phones. It could be that my Nikon D7000 has me jaded, but I think that a little more time effort and resources should be put into camera optics on these high end smart phones.

    Honestly, i’m realistic and don’t expect DSLR quality photos from my phone and the photos are actually quite decent when you capture images of still objects/people. Still, I’d like to see less of an emphasis on megapixels, more on lens quality and shutter speed to capture moving objects with much less blur. We use the cameras on our phones for spontaneous moments and often times that spontaneity comes in motion!

    So so picture quality could be a side effect of the phone that I have (HTC EVO 4G) or it could be a pervasive issue with smart phones. Either way, I think all we have to do is wait long enough and smart phone camera optics wil begin to approach those of entry level DSLRs with kit lenses.

  • CTown

    Well, I think they should continue to work on it! With all of the CPU makers basing their SOCs on an Android-based refrence platform and stock Android being good enough for new comers, why not? For example, Polaroid can take Qualcomm’s refrence platform and add their camera sensors and a modified camera app and they are done!

  • lokidokie

    There is a market for these sorts of things. I have no idea why, but there is!

  • floxorius

    Somehow looks like a black Altek Leo A14 and the specs seems to be very close too.

  • http://www.jdotreach.com Joshua Reach

    I was all excited about this, especially since I rarely ever use my 14MP point & shoot camera. My phone is definitely my primary camera, but these specs and especially that battery life will totally prevent me from even considering this phone… :-/

  • donger

    is this polaroid’s first phone?

  • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Homncruse

    I won’t be buying this device, but I *WILL* give credit to Polaroid for actually innovating and experimenting. There’s no denying that this device is a huge risk; it might be a flop, but it might also be a runaway success that paves the way for other, similar devices.

    Bravo, Polaroid. Bravo.

  • trevor J

    I am surprised no one thought to mention the Nokia N8 in this discussion. The OS and most functions including calling and text are basically a dog’s breakfast on the miserable N8. However, it housed a camera and firmware that was secondary to dedicated compact digicams only in light of it’s lack of an optical zoom. It’s trick was not the 12MP back side illuminated sensor, although that was carried off with rare quality. Any sensor can be made to produce bad pictures if the firmware is amateurish enough. Nor was it was, just that the N8′s firmware was the closest thing to professional quality that ever escaped from a manufacturer other than a top SLR manufacturer. (Not on par with canon or even panasonic’s SLR’s, but right up there with the same companies’ compacts). Rather, the N8′s greatest trick was that it’s sensor was physically larger than the majority of those built into compact cameras on the market, I believe.
    1/1.8″ vs. 1/2.5″ for most compacts. Right? Add in being the only manufacturer to use glass lenses in a phone, or even more importantly a mechanical shutter (i.e. not the usual electronic on/off signal to the sensor, i.e. no shutter really). Of all of the camera design features that Nokia put into the N8, Apple has as yet only matched one feature, back side illumination (and that on a vastly smaller sensor which they bought off-the-shelf from another manufacturer). The reason, I mention Apple in specific, although they haralded the landslide decline in smartphone camera quality, they today sell what is likely the second best overall camera package installed in any smartphone today.
    I truly hate barely functional smartphones, and the Nokia N8 is a flagship phone from last year that was barely functional in every app native or third party that was not it’s camera app. However, I bought an N8 for my wife last year knowing what it was, and she loves it. Some days I even envy her for it. Every time I try to use her phone for anything other than taking a picture, I get frustrated of waiting within seconds. Modern phone OS’s are a completely different experience than what Symbian used to sell into flagship phones from the likes of Samsung, Sony and Nokia.
    However, when the iphone and HTC changed the smartphone landscape, cameras in flagship phones suddenly jumped half a decade into their own past. The Nokia N8 was the only recent high priced phone to have never back peddled on camera progress. My wife’s N8 turns out consistently, noticeably better pictures than every other phone in the room every time, to the point that her friends and college’s are shocked by the results on a near daily basis. That “barely phone” N8 has caused more looks of buyer’s remorse amongst friends holding their new flagship Android and iPhones than you can imagine. I hate the N8 as dinosaur that barely gets by, but respect the quality that Nokia has yet to reproduce in either of the better phone OS’s it has produced since leaving symbian. Truly, you should see what the N8 gets by with for a web browser. It hurts to look at it. So yes that Polaroid phone market might exist in spite of itself. However, I wouldn’t risk buying it. After all, when was the last time you saw a Polaroid or Kodak digital camera that didn’t take inferior pictures than its’ asian competitors compact cameras?