The Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera is a curious creature. We never thought we'd start using the world "cameraphone" again, but there's simply no other way to describe it. The reality of going hands-on with it is that it's a pretty poor camera and a pretty poor phone but it's still bound to be streets ahead of any imaging in current smartphones, not least of all because it actually features a proper optical zoom.
Running a version of Android looking more Eclair than even Froyo, the screen on the back is small and low res and generally not much fun to use. You get full access to the Android Market, but it's not something you'll have much fun playing Angry Birds on. The third party camera and photo editing apps, however, will be a real bonus.
Naturally, the phone is connectable by Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and by cellular connection that was up to Edge levels when we saw it. There's also GPS which means that all your snaps are nicely geo-tagged and uploadable in an instant.
The camera itself brings the power of a 16-megapixel CCD sensor, 3x optical zoom lens offering 36-108mm (in 35mm terms) but sadly the app itself looks very, very limited indeed. It's nothing more impressive software-wise than a normal phone. The size of the sensor is also still unclear but the general impression we got from this device is that it's only really a marker.
Polaroid is currently in search of a carrier. T-Mobile was the network SIM inside when we used it, so that might be a hint but the big trouble is going to be in the battery life which a Polaroid spokesmen admitted was not good enough to last you a day - quite a problem for a device billed as a phone. The chassis itself was also pretty shonky, but we're willing to except that that's likely down to pre-production issues.
While we're quite harsh in our description of the Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera, that doesn't mean we don't like it. We wouldn't want one but we like what it represents - a phone that's specialised for photographers, much the same way that the Xperia Play is for gamers. Pump the zoom a little further, get the aperture of the lens wider and max out the sensor size and we could have a really tempting package.
No word on pricing for the Smart Camera and only a very vague "available in 2012". Expect improvements by the time it comes to market.