Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom preview: First look

By on 01:06


Just taking the photo won't do these days - you'll want to edit and share it, then rake in the likes. Except most cameras pretty much bail out at the snapshot. Not the Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom though, a hybrid of a point-and-shoot with 10x optical zoom and a Galaxy S4 mini. This is Samsung's second such attempt after the Galaxy Camera, which was based on the Galaxy S III.
Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom official photos

The Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom has full telephony features (unlike the Camera), but it's not the most comfortable phone around. Photography is the full-time job here.
A 10x zoom lens with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) sits in front of a 16MP sensor. At the wide end, the lens is the very wide 24mm in 35mm equivalent, the aperture goes from f/3.1 to f/6.3 and there's a mechanical shutter. The Galaxy S4 zoom has a control ring around the lens like some high-end point-and-shoots do, a xenon flash and LED light.
That's just the camera specs, the rest is a full-featured Galaxy S4 mini hardware, including the IR blaster, which can control a projector (the one, most likely, you'd use to show off your photos).

Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom at a glance:

  • General: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz; UMTS 850/900/1900/2100 MHz, HSDPA 21 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps; LTE (market dependent), Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL
  • Form factor: Touchscreen bar phone with optical zoom lens
  • Dimensions: 125.5 x 63.5 x 15.4 mm, 208 g
  • Display: 4.25" 16M-color qHD (540 x 960 pixels) Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen
  • CPU: Dual-core Cortex-A9 1.5 GHz processor, 1.5GB RAM, Mali-400 GPU
  • OS: Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • Memory: 8 GB (5 GB user available) of inbuilt storage, microSD card slot
  • Still Camera: 16 megapixel auto-focus camera with 10x optical zoom and Optical Image Stabilization; xenon flash and LED light; control lens ring
  • Video Camera: Full HD (1080p) video recording at 30fps; 720p @ 60fps
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0+HS, NFC, MHL-enabled standard microUSB port, GPS receiver with A-GPS and GLONASS, 3.5mm audio jack, FM radio, USB-on-the-go
  • Battery: 2,330mAh
  • Misc: TouchWiz 5.0 Nature UX, XviD codec support, built-in accelerometer, multi-touch input, proximity sensor, gyroscope sensor, smart screen
There are some differences between the Galaxy S4 zoom and the mini but, outside the size, those are insignificant. The chipset is powerful enough to shoot 1080p video at 30fps and 720p at 60fps (same as the Galaxy Camera). Samsung has made sure too that the default camera app is the most advanced we've seen yet, and there are a number of helpful image and video editors among other tools.
Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom Sm C1010 Preview Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom Sm C1010 Preview Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom Sm C1010 Preview Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom Sm C1010 Preview
Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom in our office
With Android 4.2 you'd be able to install other editors and camera apps too (though these will have to add support for the optical zoom feature). Not to mention all the social networking and other tools for sharing your photos, which can be piped through blazing fast LTE or Wi-Fi, DLNA, MHL or Group Play.
Jump over to the next page for a closer look at the hardware, while we try to avoid any "zooming in" puns.

Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom 360-degree spin

The Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom measures 125.5 x 63.5 x 15.4mm, the same height and width as the S4 mini, but thicker. Obviously. The actual number doesn't tell the whole story as the device itself isn't all that thick, save for two key areas - the lens and the grip. The first is out of necessity (you can make a 10x lens only so thin) and the other's for the sake of ergonomics.

Design and handling

The Galaxy S4 zoom has two faces - that of an S4 mini on the front and a Samsung camera on the back.
The design of the S4 zoom is fundamentally the same as the Galaxy Camera's, tough Samsung has moved some things around. If you ignore the back for a second, the device is almost identical to the mini, except the volume rocker is now on the right side. This allows you to use the Zoom in the same way you would the S4 mini.
For snapping photos, the grip offers a good hold of the device and you can shoot one handed without worrying you'll drop it. Samsung's favorite hyperglazed plastic is rather slippery which isn't ideal but isn't a deal breaker either.
Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom Sm C1010 Preview Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom Sm C1010 Preview Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom Sm C1010 Preview
The brushed metal strip is a nice visual element
The arrangement of the controls is fairly comfortable, whether you use the Galaxy S4 zoom as a phone or as a camera. Not in equal amounts though - holding it horizontally by the grip is a lot better than holding it vertically with the camera lens pressing against your palm.
Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom Sm C1010 Preview Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom Sm C1010 Preview
Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom in the hand
We noticed something odd - there's a piece of glass (or clear plastic) on the front of the lens, over the mechanical lens cover. That means you can't rely on the cover for protection from smudges and the glass can get scratched too. We hope this is some sort of reinforced glass that will be durable enough to survive in the long run though.
Anyway, to further emphasize the camera-centric nature of the device, there's a tripod mounting hole at the bottom. There's a small stopper plugging it when not in use, but since it's not attached to the camera you should be careful not to lose it. This can be used in situations when you need a steady shot (e.g. time lapse videos). The Optical Image Stabilization is usually good enough for a handheld night shot.
Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom Sm C1010 Preview
Tripod mounting hole
The Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom is quite thick and heavy compared to a modern smartphone, but still pocketable, unless you're wearing tight jeans. You might want to consider using the lanyard eyelet instead and carry the device like a regular camera.


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