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Technology: The Camera Phone Evolves

In college, I took an anthropology class. One of the first things we learned was that most people don’t know our species’ correct Latin name. We think we’re homo sapiens, but we actually haven’t been homo sapiens for some time. Present-day man has an upgraded moniker: our correct scientific name is homo sapien sapien, which, translated, means “the clever, clever human.” So what does this have to do with cell phones?

In college, I took an anthropology class. One of the first things we learned was that most people don’t know our species’ correct Latin name. We think we’re homo sapiens, but we actually haven’t been homo sapiens for some time. Present-day man has an upgraded moniker: our correct scientific name is homo sapien sapien, which, translated, means “the clever, clever human.” So what does this have to do with cell phones?

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I don’t remember what earned us the second “clever” in our title, whether it the wheel, or fire, or wiki technology. Whatever it was, allow me to make a reaching metaphor. If most modern-day camera phones are homo sapiens, the new Samsung SGH-G800 would be the first to earn that second “clever.”

The SGH-G800, as Unwiredview.com reports, isn’t a massive step forward in cell phone technology, but it is indeed more clever than its competition. It share the slider form factor of other Samsung phones, but — get this — it has a 5.0 megapixel camera witha xenon flash and optical zoom. That’s right, optical; when you zoom, the lens extends out of the phone body, like a real, live camera. Does this make it a new species of phone? No. But it might mean the difference between the caveman that can grunt, and the caveman that can grunt out a tune.

For as long as the world has known camera phones, the world has known crappy digital cameras. Even my prized iPhone, which I swear was designed and built by very advanced aliens, has a really awful camera. But what Samsung has done with the SGH-G800 is to turn a novelty gizmo into a practical device. Just as my iPhone allows me to combine phone and iPod into one device, the Samsung allows me to combine camera and phone, making it the perfect party camera. Not only does it take legitimate-quality pictures with lossless zooming, it’s one less expensive gadget I can leave on the table when I walk out of the restaurant. Clever indeed.

About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.

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