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11/18/2009
12:46 PM
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Verizon's Droid Has Camera Issues

A bug is causing the smartphone's autofocus feature to work incorrectly for days at a time, says a Google engineer.




Motorola Droid
(click for image gallery)

The Motorola Droid has sold well and received mostly positive reviews in the press, but a software bug is causing its camera to perform inconsistently, according to a Google engineer.

With a 5-megapixel camera, the Droid has one of the higher-end cameras on the market. The iPhone 3GS, a rival handset, sports a 3.2-megapixel lens. But some Droid users have complained that the device doesn't correctly automatically focus.

The issue became more confusing when the problem went away a few days ago. Dan Morrill, a Google engineer on the Android team, explained that the bug is related to the handset's internal clock.

"There's a rounding-error bug in the camera driver's autofocus routine (which uses a timestamp) that causes autofocus to behave poorly on a 24.5-day cycle," said Morrill. "That is, it'll work for 24.5 days, then have poor performance for 24.5 days, then work again."

Morill said the "works correctly" cycle started earlier this week, and that a permanent fix is in the works.

The camera bug does not seem like a big enough issue to derail the momentum of the Droid, as the handset is receiving massive support from Verizon Wireless. The smartphone also has various high-end features such as Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS, and a large touchscreen that could be attractive to consumers. The carrier could sell up to 600,000 Droid handsets by the end of the year, according to estimates by research firm Broadpoint AmTech.

While the Droid will likely rack up some impressive sales figures, it probably will not be as successful as AT&T's iPhone. Apple sold more than one million iPhone 3GS handsets in its launch weekend, although it did sell the touchscreen smartphone in multiple countries while the Droid was only sold in the U.S. market.


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