Posted by Chris Martin 20 June 2013
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom hands-on review: A true 'cameraphone'
Is it a phone? Is it a camera? We're not sure because the Galaxy S4 Zoom looks like the Galaxy S4 Mini and Galaxy Camera had a nasty accident and couldn't be separated. See also: Samsung Premiere 2013 Galaxy & Ativ event.
We have to be honest and say we're not a fan of this hybrid design. Samsung says you get the benefit of camera ergonomics and a proper shutter button. This is true and it's not exactly abnormal for a camera to have a large touchscreen. It feels relatively nice to hold as a camera but it just doesn't when you come to use is as phone, not at all.
The bulge at the bottom and the large lens are just plain and simple in the way and make using the touchscreen in traditional smartphone portrait mode extremely difficult.
If you can get past the awkward design then the Galaxy S4 Zoom has some decent specs on offer. The phone part is essentially the Galaxy S4 Mini with a 4.3in qHD screen, dual-core processor and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
The camera offers a 16Mp BSI CMOS sensor with 10x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle lens, optical image stabilisation (OIS) and a xenon flash. Samsung says this will get you significantly better images than your smartphone. We'd love you verify this but it wasn't possible to test the camera properly enough in the small briefing room where we saw the Galaxy S4 Zoom.
Things we do like about the Galaxy S4 Zoom include being able to easily launch the camera by spinning the lens ring. Like a 'proper' camera, this is used to zoom in and out instead of the volume buttons usually used on a smartphone.
Samsung includes Smart Mode 2.0 which offers 25 different shooting modes which pre-defined settings if you’re a novice. If you not even sure which of these modes to use, Smart Suggest will use scene recognition and, er, suggest three of these.
Furthermore, Photo Suggest will use your location information and suggests nearby places to get a good shot. There are also Samsung's smartphone apps such as Story Album and Group Play, plus Galaxy S4 Zoom owners will get 50GB of Dropbox storage free for two years.
Samsung says consumers want a smartphone camera which can zoom, offer better quality and camera ergonomics, but we just can't see the point. Smartphone cameras are so good now that anyone who is serious about photography should use a compact systems camera or a DSLR alongside their smartphone.