2G Network: GSM 850 I 900 I 1 800 I 1 900 -all versions
3G Network: HSDPA 850 I 900 I 1900 I 2100- all versions
Dimensions: 1255 x 63.5 x 15.4 mm (4.94 x 25×0.61 in)
Weight: 208 g (7.34 oz)
Display: AMOLED capacitive touchscreen
Size: 540 x 960 pixels, 43 inches (-256 ppi pixel density) Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Card slot: microSD, up to 64GB, buy memory
Internal: 8GB (5GB user available), 15GB RAM
Camera: 1 6 MP, autofocus, Xenon flash
Features; 1 /233′ sensor size, geo-tagging. touch focus, face and smile detection, 1 Ox optical zoom (24-240mm), optical image stabilization, HDR, panorama
Video: Yes, 1 080p@30fps
Secondary: Yes, 1 .9 MP
OS: Android OS, v4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
CPU: Dual-core 15 GHz Cortex-A9
- Solid camera
- Instant connectivity and sharing
- Surprisingly good at being a twofer
- It’s quite bulky
If you have the room for it and really want a capable camera without having to take one around with you, this is what you’ve been waiting for.
Mobile phone imaging is one of the big draws of owning a particular smartphone over another. With each release, manufacturers try to best each other when it comes to sharper, larger, clearer images. There is, however, a limit to how much imaging technology you can cram into a device that is also fighting the battle against pocket bulge. Samsung has taken that limitation, and accepted the fact that if you want stellar imaging, you need more than a regular mobile phone can provide.
This seems to be the rationale behind the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. The device builds up the successful Galaxy portfolio, and levels it up by giving you a device that is equal parts phone and camera in probably the most literal way possible. One side of the device, which we will call the front, is for all intents and purposes, a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. The flip side, which we will call the back, is indistinguishable from a point-and- shoot camera. If you think we’re exaggerating, feel free to re-check the images. That’s one way to go about things.
Under the hood, the Zoom isn’t the same speed demon as Samsung’s flagship phone. It runs a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1.5GB of RAM. This isn’t a deal-breaker, and that’s still a decent spec, though you won’t be breaking any records for speed. It manages to do all the usual phone tasks quite well, without any complaints or hiccups. Unless you’re using the device to render a full-length video, it should serve you quite well. The phone makes short work of multi-tasking, not suffering any stutters when playing music while browsing the Internet, for example.
The screen is a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED deal behind extremely tough Gorilla Glass 3, and is all of 540 x 960 pixels, for a density of 256ppi. This might not seem much, but we’ll get back to this later. Since it is a Samsung AMOLED screen, colors are bright, vivid and very saturated. You aren’t going to have any trouble reading messages or watching video even on the (comparatively) compact screen.
As a phone, the S4 Zoom is capable, but rather unremarkable. That’s not the ballpark in which the S4 Zoom is playing. This thing shines as a camera.
From anywhere, as long as the screen is on, you can press the shutter button on the top edge of the device to launch the camera app. This happens with a little delay, though not enough to make you miss a moment. From there, you have access to all the usual point-and-shoot camera options through a quick and handy touch screen interface. This isn’t some neutered set of options either. The S4 Zoom gives you the full suite of point-and-shoot options. You even have a few manual options, if you want to go semi-pro. The options aren’t just there for show either. Each once enabled, you actually see discernable results. While a little low for phones, the screen is also a higher resolution that most point-and-shoots, so you get a more realistic idea of what your shot really looks like, without having to dump your photos onto a separate device.
The S4 Zoom can also do something no other phone camera can: a quick twist of the bezel on the back of the device gives you up to 10x optical zoom. This isn’t the same as the digital zoom that is more cropping that actually taking you closer to your subject, this the lens of the camera moving outwards, bringing you closer to the action. Turning the bezel from the home screen allows you to quickly pick a camera mode you want, making it even easier to catch the moment just the way you want to. The controls, being mostly on-screen, are all easy to hit and manipulate, and as a camera, the Zoom actually gives you pretty decent ergonomics, with enough material to wrap your fingers around in camera mode.
The unique selling point of the device is being able to share extremely nice photos instantly. Sure you could do that with your boring old cameraphone, but you wouldn’t have nearly the same photo quality as on the S4 Zoom. 16 mega pixels, a 1/2.33 inch sensor and 10x optical zoom is more than any other smartphone out there has. Uploading can be done either over Wi-Fi or your HSDPA connection.
It’s not all good news though. The Zoom is a monster of a phone. There is no doubt in my mind that this will leave an unsightly bump in your pocket. It’s not a small phone, not in the least, though in its defense, it’s still smaller than a phone and camera put together. You’re going to want to stow this away in your bag or a separate case, if you intend to take this places. The size, slower processor, and emphasis on photography mean the device’s 2330mAh battery will likely last you a whole day out, as long as you don’t abuse your data connection. Size is the price you pay for equal parts phone and camera, so if that’s really what you’re after, this is the device you need.
Words by Ren Alcantara
First published in Gadgets Magazine, September 2013