A camera with a 10-times optical zoom grafted on to the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini, the Zoom is both Android smartphone and advanced camera. Watch our Galaxy S4 Zoom video review to find out more.
The 16Mp Samsung Galaxy Zoom's rear-facing camera has a Xenon Flash and the focal length starts at a wide 24mm. More important is the zoom - a 10x optical zoom with an adjustable zoom ring. We found the zoom ring clunky to use, however, and tended to default to the onscreen zoom control buttons. The 16Mp CMOS sensor is a decent size: not like a full bridge camera but much bigger than is usually found in a smartphone. This should improve the amount of light you can capture. You can capture video up to 1080p. See Group test: What's the best smartphone?
There's a tripod mount and a physical shutter button. We liked using the latter and found the chunky hand grip fits nicely in to your right hand when taking shots. It's the nearest we've felt to using a proper camera when using a smartphone. And the results are the best we've seen from a phone. It's a great phone camera. See also What's the best Samsung Galaxy smartphone?
As you might expect with Samsung there are a lot of software extras for the camera. This includes 25 different scene modes. And with manual mode you're able to tune individual settings such as shutter speed and aperture.
Our test shots were good: full of detail and with great accuracy even at 10x zoom.
The back of the Galaxy S4 Zoom is dominated by the lens, looking like the front of a standard compact digital camera.
Flip over the Galaxy S4 Zoom and you might imagine you are looking at the Galaxy S4 mini. The 4.3 inch AMOLED display dominates.
Galaxy S4 Zoom: big for a phone, small for a camera
It really is two devices stuck together, as becomes apparent when you try to slip your hands around the Galaxy S4 Zoom. This cameraphone is chunky even before you get to the lens. In reality the Galaxy S4 Zoom is 2.5cm thick. That's very slim for a compact camera, but clownishly fat for a phone.
The overall feel is of reasonable quality, solid build, and a certain clumsy ugliness. It feels uncomfortably fat to use
The Galaxy S4 Zoom sports a dual-core chip running at 1.5GHz. We found the Galaxy S4 Zoom a reasonably snappy performer, without being noticably fast. Web page loading is snappy.
There is nothing particularly slow about the Galaxy S4 Zoom, but we wouldn't look to use it to view HD movies or play intensive games. Battery life is decent, though.
There's 8GB of storage, which you can expand via Micro SD. That's good because photos and video take up a lot of space and in our review sample there was only 5GB free space when we started.
The Zoom's 4.3in display can't compare with the Sony Xperia Z's, that of the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the HTC One.
The Galaxy S4 Zoom's AMOLED display is colourful - possibly overly so - and the resolution is sufficient without being outstanding. It's okay to look at, but you'll want to view your Zoom's photos on another display or on paper to feel the true quality of the camera.
The Galaxy S4 Zoom is only for those smartphone users who are truly dedicated to photography, and prepared to sacrifice some of the their phone in order to have a superzoom camera to hand. It's neither the greatest camera nor the best Android phone: it's a compromise that will find only a small audience. But that doesn't make it a bad product. We award three and a half stars.