Samsung Memoir Phone Packs 8-Megapixel Camera

Handset boasts of other camera features, but still no optical zoom

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One side of the new Samsung Memoir cellphone looks much like a digital camera. With good reason, as the upcoming Memoir's camera can capture an unprecedented 8 megapixels.

The phone comes with other features that blur the line between camera and phone, including smile detection and face recognition -- capabilities that came to dedicated cameras only a few years ago. The Memoir also has five shooting modes and a bright Xenon flash. Software widgets on the phone make it easy to post photos to sharing sites such as Flickr, Kodak Gallery and Snapfish.

But no optical zoom. The 16x digital zoom is mostly worth avoiding. Digital zooms just crop into the photo, which is better done later with software. Then again, 8 megapixels offer more room for error, and the digital zoom might be useful for crops when sending photos for immediate sharing.

Optical zooms have appeared on cameraphones overseas, but I can't think of any U.S. phone with one. Seems like the next step if Samsung really wants us to leave the camera home.

The camera will be available soon from T-Mobile. No word yet on price.