Samsung Galaxy K zoom Review
Last year, Samsung created another new market niche, outing the first handset equipped with a 10x optical zoom – the aptly named Galaxy S4 Zoom. It has a 16 MP sensor, protruding lens, and a bulky body, making it more of a camera with phone functions you'd take on vacation, rather than something suitable for the everyday grind.
This year Samsung doubled down on the new market niche it created, by introducing the Galaxy K zoom, whose naming scheme breaks away from riding on the flagship's coattails this time. The second edition is better equipped in the specs department, both on the phone, and on the camera side: it now sports a 20 MP sensor, larger screen and better processor. Does the K zoom stand a better chance of becoming something else than a niche device for camera enthusiasts? Let's find out...
In the box
- In-ear stereo headphones
- Wall charger
- MicroUSB cable
- Warranty and information leaflets
The 10x optical zoom lens makes for a bulky and hefty phone, but it is still more comfortable to use and carry than a 6” phablet.
At 5.41 x 2.79 x 0.65 ” (137.5 x 70.8 x 16.6 mm), against the 4.94 x 2.50 x 0.61” (125.5 x 63.5 x 15.4 mm) of the Galaxy S4 Zoom, the K zoom is one taller, wider and slightly thicker handset, making it less suitable to operate with one hand than its predecessor. The huge lens area on the back sticks out a bit more, and gets in the way while operating the phone, but one can quickly get used to that. Due to the protruding lens part, the phone also looks funky when placed on a table, with the upper part propped by the camera, and the phone rocking left or right when you tap on the screen.
At 7.05 oz (200 g) of weight, you'll always notice that the K zoom is in your pocket or your hand, but still the heft and dimensions are manageable, considering that you carry a 10x optical zoom device with you at all times. The thing weighs as much as some of those 6-inchers that are flooding the market, so if you are willing to put up with that lack of comfort, you won't have trouble gobbling up the K zoom, too.
Samsung has opted for the perforated look that first appeared with the Galaxy S5, and uses the same soft-touch material for the back. The phone hence feels solid in the hand, providing a good grip, and the weight distribution doesn't lean on the lens part, so you don't need to carefully balance it when operating the screen with one hand. The dimpled battery cover is easily removable, revealing a replaceable unit underneath it. This might come in handy for those photogs that the K zoom is aimed at, since they can carry a spare juicer or two with them at all times, when shooting in the boondocks.
Samsung has outfitted the K zoom with its signature physical home key below the display, which flaunts a good tactile feedback, and the same goes for the volume rocker, lock key, and camera shutter on the right hand side. The left is occupied solely by the microSD slot, which lets you extend the internal storage with up to 64 GB cards.
Typically incorrect colors and disturbingly low peak brightness.
Samsung opted for a larger display diagonal, compared to the 4.3” S4 Zoom. The K zoom sports a 4.8” 720x1280 pixels Super AMOLED display with good 306ppi pixel density. That's fine for most scenarios, including reading smaller text.
Typical for an AMOLED panel, the colors are very inaccurate – not only oversaturated, but also tone-incorrect. The color temperature is also way on the cold side at 8326 Kelvins, so what should be a white background, for instance, is actually light-blue. Thus, you can't trust the K zoom's display accuracy if you go shoe-shopping online, or want to preview your photos on the phone itself.
Moreover, at 294 nits, the panel's peak brightness is pretty low, even compared to the current Super AMOLEDs from Samsung, like the ones on the S5 or the Note 3. Outdoors the screen doesn't reflect much light, so you can tell what's on the display, though if the sun shines directly on it, you'll be in trouble. Viewing angles are pretty good, as the screen keeps its deep blacks from an angle, but the color inaccuracies deepens even further with the slightest tilt. About the only good thing that can be said about the quality of the K zoom's display is its low minimum brightness of 4 nits, so it won't burn your eyebrows if you have to read something on it in the dark.