While dual-core, 4G phones may have dominated the spotlight at last week’s CES, there was plenty of other hardware worth checking out that may have been overshadowed. Altek’s 14-megapixel Leo has been on our radar since last year, with a supposed European release scheduled for early this year. Aigo’s A8, being shown off at the CES, looks more than a bit like a re-branding of the Leo. If indeed the same hardware, the opportunity provided some of the first reports of the phone’s performance as a digital camera.
Rather than keep its image sensor small and out-of-the-way, the Leo/A8 goes all out with a three-times optical zoom and a tantalizingly large lens. Though you can do a lot with software enhancements or new sensor technology, ultimately a bigger lens means more light, means higher-quality pictures. While this isn’t the first such cameraphone to use optics more suitable for a stand-alone digital camera, it’s notable for being a relatively modern Android handset.
We say “relatively” with a few caveats, like the dated Android 2.1 the phone seems to run, and a processor that would be more competitive a year ago. The Android installation is a bit odd, as there’s no trace of the standard Google apps, but that may be due to a licensing agreement still being worked out.
While the A8′s image quality is above that of the cameras on most phones, it still showed room for improvement, with graininess in some of the test images. Besides still pictures, the phone can record 720p video.
The Aigo A8 is destined for the Chinese market, and Altek is still planning to release the Leo in the West sometime this quarter.