Did you know that Samsung has been making phones with optical zoom cameras since 2004?

Samsung optical zoom cameras
At CES 2015, Asus made headlines with the announcement of its two latest phones – the Asus ZenFone 2 and the Asus ZenFone Zoom. What's special about the latter is that its 13MP main camera features 3x optical zoom. In other words, you can get up to 3 times "closer" to your subject without doing so degrading the image's quality (much). Pretty cool, right?

Alas, optical zoom is something we very rarely see on a phone's specs sheet. It's just too big of a trade-off as its inclusion requires the use of big, bulky optics. Nevertheless, there's a company who has been making phones with optical zoom cameras since 2004. That's Samsung.

Before we dwell any further, we must note that Samsung wasn't the first to launch a phone with a camera offering optical zoom. Sharp launched the V602SH flip phone, with its 2x zoom lens, in June of 2004. But Samsung's offering, the SPH-S2300, came only a month later. As a matter of fact, the camera on Samsung's phone was far superior as it had a higher resolution of 3.2 megapixels and could zoom at up to 3x. Also, the snapper had auto-focus, an adjustable xenon flash, some manual controls, and could go up to sensitivities of ISO 400.

Now, if you're wondering why you've never heard about the Samsung SPH-S2300, that's because it launched solely on the Korean market. So did its successor, the Samsung SPH-V7800, which packed a 5.2MP camera and an identical 3x optical zoom lens. Also, it was less bulky and much easier to use as a phone, whereas the S2300's shape and button arrangement made it frustrating for one to use its phone capabilities.

Unsurprisingly, Samsung did not stop there and launched several more zoom-capable cameraphones over the following years. The Samsung SCH-V770 came out in 2005 and had a 7MP camera with 3x optical zoom. The Samsung SCH-B600, which was released in 2006, had an even more generous 10MP camera sensor with the same 3x optical zoom capabilities. Then the Samsung SCH-W880, also known as the AMOLED 12M, reached the 12MP milestone in 2009. It stood out with its 3x optical zoom lens, dedicated camera shutter button and controls, and a fair amount of manual settings.

So all in all, cameraphones with optical zoom may seem like a fairly recent contraption, but they're actually nothing new. Samsung has been making them for over a decade, and they keep on getting better and better. Have you ever owned one, or would you if given the chance? Let us know in the comments!

references: DCViews, Esato forums
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