You're at the Grand Canyon and you want to e-mail a picture to grandma. Or you're an architect and you need to send an image of an in-progress building to your client. Either way, the combination of e-mail and a built-in camera has become increasingly important. For this test, we looked for simplicity and convenience -- how easy it is to get the picture from here to there? And besides sending images via e-mail, what else can you do with the pictures you take?
Taking Photos and Sending Images
While the four phones we covered varied in the quality of their cameras (the BlackBerry Curve 8310, the HTC Touch Dual and the iPhone include a 2-megapixel camera, while the Nokia E71 offers a 3.2-megapixel camera), we were mainly interested in the capabilities and interface of the operating system and applications.
When you want to launch the camera, both the Nokia E71 and the HTC Touch Dual have physical buttons you press, making it easier to get quick access. The iPhone is nearly as fast: You simply touch the camera icon on the home screen. The BlackBerry Curve requires a tad more work; you scroll through the icons until you get to the one for the camera.
After you take a picture, on-screen icons appear on all four devices; one of those icons is for sending the image via e-mail.
All four phones allow you to assign an image to a contact or e-mail it. Besides e-mail, the Nokia E71 has icons for posting your image online with photo services such as Nokia's Ovi or Flickr, and send it using MMS.
The iPhone includes the option to post the image to Apple's MobileMe gallery, but it lacks the option to send an image via MMS. In fact, it's the only phone among the four reviewed here that doesn't. Both the BlackBerry and the HTC Touch Dual support MMS, but neither has any links to a photo services. The HTC, by the way, is the only phone that doesn't let you use a photo as wallpaper.
Features aren't much good unless you can access them. Three of the four smart phones made the process of e-mailing a photo relatively simple. Unfortunately, the HTC Touch was the exception.
For example, while the other three devices have text to tell you the purpose of each icon, the HTC Touch Dual does not. To make matters worse, not only are the icons not marked, but they disappear about five seconds after you've taken a picture.
After that, if you want to e-mail your photo via the HTC, you must tap the screen to make another set of icons appear. Then you must press an arrow icon to display the photo gallery from which you can select the image you want. Once you select the image, you tap the screen yet again and, finally, icons appear for tasks like e-mailing the image. At least this time, the icons stay on-screen until you use them.
Most of us experience a lot of downtime when traveling, so it's a real advantage if our smart phones are capable of keeping us entertained. The first part of this test compared storage capabilities and how easy it was to get media to the phones. We then played our music collection to test audio playback quality. Finally, we viewed a YouTube video to determine video playback quality.