Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
Introduction

Samsung, whose goal appears to be presence in each and every niche mobile segment, decided to beat the onslaught of cameraphones to market with the Galaxy S4 Zoom.

Despite the flagship branding, we'd have to admit that the S4 Zoom seems to be first a shooter and then a phone. S4 Zoom jibes very similar in design to Samsung's last year's dedicated camera - the Galaxy Camera - with the same 16 MP resolution and Xenon flash, but tones the optical zoom down to 10x, instead of the 21x on the Galaxy Camera, in order to keep the size relatively in check. On paper we have the first phone with a 10x optical zoom, but did Samsung manage to make a true cameraphone, or did it simply slap a phone on the back of a camera? Read on to find out...

In the box

  • In-ear stereo headphones (Samsung GH59-11720A)
  • Wall charger
  • MicroUSB cable
  • Warranty and information leaflets

Design

In short, we get a Galaxy S4 Mini at the front, and a compact point-and-shoot Samsung camera on the back, and that's the best way to describe what you can expect from the Galaxy S4 Zoom design concept.



Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

Dimensions

4.94 x 2.5 x 0.61 inches

125.5 x 63.5 x 15.4 mm

Weight

7.34 oz (208 g)

Nokia Lumia 925

Nokia Lumia 925

Dimensions

5.08 x 2.78 x 0.33 inches

129 x 70.6 x 8.5 mm

Weight

4.90 oz (139 g)

Nokia 808 PureView

Nokia 808 PureView

Dimensions

4.88 x 2.37 x 0.55 inches

123.9 x 60.2 x 13.9 mm

Weight

5.96 oz (169 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini

Dimensions

4.91 x 2.41 x 0.35 inches

124.6 x 61.3 x 8.94 mm

Weight

3.77 oz (107 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

Dimensions

4.94 x 2.5 x 0.61 inches

125.5 x 63.5 x 15.4 mm

Weight

7.34 oz (208 g)

Nokia Lumia 925

Nokia Lumia 925

Dimensions

5.08 x 2.78 x 0.33 inches

129 x 70.6 x 8.5 mm

Weight

4.90 oz (139 g)

Nokia 808 PureView

Nokia 808 PureView

Dimensions

4.88 x 2.37 x 0.55 inches

123.9 x 60.2 x 13.9 mm

Weight

5.96 oz (169 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini

Dimensions

4.91 x 2.41 x 0.35 inches

124.6 x 61.3 x 8.94 mm

Weight

3.77 oz (107 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



The “phone” is rather bulky at 15.4mm because of the grip bulge and huge protruding lens with a zoom ring at the back, where the thickness goes up to a full 25mm. Talking on this thing or simply carrying it around is no different than trying to hold and talk with a compact consumer camera. Working the screen with that giant lens protrusion on the back is not comfortable with one hand, too, but at least you've got a good grip while talking, resting your index finger against the zoom ring.


Speaking of one-handed operation, the grip bulge on the right should be helping to use the phone as a camera, quickly framing the shot and taking it with just a few fingers gripping the phone. In reality the bump is often too small to securely grip the phone, and the on-screen shutter key is too close to the edge, so you have to grip with both hands.



Granted, there is a two-stage physical shutter key, but it is also very close to the edge of the phone, and can't be pressed comfortably with one hand without the risk of dropping the handset. That same physical shutter button enters the camera app directly when pressed, bypassing the lock and home screens, but only when you turn the display on with the power/lock key on the right. There is no one second sleep-to-snap function like on some Xperias, for example.


Thankfully the capacitive navigational keys below the display can be turned off when you are in the camera app, so you don't worry constantly about hitting the back or context menu keys when you turn the phone sideways to take pictures.


Galaxy S4 Zoom sports a removable battery hidden under a lid on the side of the grip bulge, and released out by a sliding mechanism. That's where the microSIM card slot is as well, while the microSD one is covered with a protective flap on the left side of the phone/bottom of the camera, where the tripod mount is, too.




Display

There is a 4.3” 540x960 pixels Super AMOLED display on the phone, just like with the S4 Mini, so you can rest assured it has great viewing angles, deep blacks and pretty saturated colors. The disadvantages are cold default colors and low brightness levels, which make framing a shot outside under direct sunlight a sad affair.

The display settings let you change the image modes, though – from Dynamic, through Standard and Movie, to the Professional Photo option that according to Samsung represents directly a standardized color gamut, though it's not clear whether the sRGB gamut, or the much wider Adobe RGB one.

Samsung has graced the display with the super-sensitive tech that allows you to operate it with gloves, so working the camera app on that ski trip won't be an issue.


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49 Comments

43. nashoa

Posts: 12; Member since: Jun 18, 2013

Really wonderful and beautiful amazing

42. aco96

Posts: 244; Member since: Oct 12, 2012

This is a very interesting device imo :)

39. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Trolls everywhere.. I like this smartphone. It's good for photography.

36. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

actually this is quite thin for a camera, most cameras are closer to one inch thick, this is just a bit over half an inch.

34. spiderpig2894

Posts: 597; Member since: Jan 10, 2012

The looks on how the charger, cable, and earphones are wrapped up are looking Appleish. lol. This phone and camera hybrid is a stupid decision! Samsung is just making hypes to maintain their popularity as number 1. Looking forward to the Sony and Nokia phones.

32. krimHD

Posts: 106; Member since: May 23, 2012

i'll like to see how TROLL will back the piece of fugly phone... Nokia EOS all the way :D

37. TROLL

Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

Let's await and see.... Kinda looks fugly. EOS VS S4ZOOM... ®

27. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

*that

23. MEeee

Posts: 449; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Lumia EOS & Xperia Honami with full crop vs 10x optical zoom on the Galaxy Zoom, Lumia & Honami will look like sh1t. I hope you guys know what optical zoom is about. Soon others will follow the Zoom models just like with phablets.

25. yudi.nemesis unregistered

If i’m not wrong Honami will have optical zoom acessory. and maybe Eos will also have that kind of accessory. the good thing about accessories you can take it off, so your phone doesn’t look like bulky brick.

28. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

hi buddy what for EOS would be equiped with that kind of accessory? It has lossless zoom, which is limited compared to optical but let´s not forget we´re talking about a phone which basic form should remain intact. Unless new materials and tech breakthrough turn out, optical zoom won´t work in a cellphone. CELLPHONE. That´s why Nokia gave us PureView.

31. yudi.nemesis unregistered

having optical zoom is a good thing just like iphone it can take good picture with some optical zoom accessory So optical zoom accessory will be very useful for someone who really need it

26. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

given tnat zoom hasn´t shown anything new capable of surpassing the competition. Zoom in the form of optical one isn´t worth making such uncomfortable device. Better buy a small camera. In terms of photos it can´t hold a candle to 808. How many photos in zoom do you make? I prefer Nokia´s approach. It´s fresh and innovating, perfectly suitable for cellphones.

29. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

I hope you know you´re comparing a camera with 3g connectivity with usual phones with unusual cameras?? And are you familiar with PureView tech? I assume you´re not. Read about it. I wonder what will you say when Nokia with pelican tech will be unveiled somewhere next year. Seeking new ways to omit the limitations of small parts inside. I take more normal photos than with zoom. But that´s just me. Maybe you zoom in everything. If that´s the case then zoom is for you as it´s only advantage it has over 808 (and hopefully honami).

33. Galax3

Posts: 19; Member since: May 04, 2012

I rather have 3 MB file size zoom in photos than the huge 10 MB file size photos which I have to crop later. When you crop the photos, they will have more noise than photos taking with optical zoom.

18. SonyXperiaNexus

Posts: 374; Member since: Oct 01, 2012

lol, nokia lumia EOS vs samsung galaxy S4 POS

17. shashi.map

Posts: 31; Member since: Oct 16, 2011

"The photos themselves are on par with a very good point-and-shoot camera, and certainly much better than the ones from your smartphone, except for the 808 PureVew". well that summed up the review for me. nice try sammy, better luck next time waiting for Nokia EOS and Sony Honami.

7. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

"The photos themselves are on par with a very good point-and-shoot camera, and certainly much better than the ones from your smartphone, except for the 808 PureVew. " "In our experience with the S4 Zoom, the OIS mechanism is not as advanced as the multiaxis one on the Lumia 920/925, which indeed makes the lens appear “floating," Thanbk you. it would be all about samsung zoom. They took a camera, put an android in it and dare to call it a phone. yet, it cannot beat 808 which was "only" on Symbian with ancient hardware. Think what 1020 will do to this samsung crapmera.

9. hung2900

Posts: 966; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

Nokia 808 with the basic outdoor photos has the similar level of image quality as many DSLRs, but not other situations. And these situations almost are what the Zoom is better

10. PhansMuneeb

Posts: 371; Member since: Jan 28, 2012

Nokia EOS will hopefully fix that situations

13. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

let me ask you something. You do make normal, standard, mostly on automatic settings, photos or make macros all the time? Keep in mind that EOS will use OIS and probably will be an improvement over 925 in terms of optimalization and algorithms. Your argument is invalid. It's on par with basic dslrs in may situations, but zoom cannot even beat, according to many users (mostly andro-boys), this ancient and old-hardwared device.

14. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

The point is that when Nokia is trying to achieve something truly spectacular pursuing their own way, it's gone unnoticed whereas samsung picked up a blatant shortcut.

16. PhansMuneeb

Posts: 371; Member since: Jan 28, 2012

^This

6. DFranch

Posts: 569; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

What a farce. There is no way this camera, i mean phone should score an 8. So it's uncomfortable to hold, looks stupid to make a call with, has a crappy screen and lower specs, and you give it an 8. You mention the 808 pureview, but never mention the Nokia EOS which is coming out in a week. I agree with KINGJUAN27, a 6 or 7 max.

11. PhansMuneeb

Posts: 371; Member since: Jan 28, 2012

Some people hate Nokia, so yeah that's a fair score.

4. RiseAgainst94

Posts: 281; Member since: Mar 03, 2012

Samsung has never really been a contender in the photography department. They have one really strong contender in their EXF series, so I'm surprised to see that this review was so impressed by the image quality, especially in low light situations.

3. Lyngdoh

Posts: 319; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

This is one fugly phone.

12. PhansMuneeb

Posts: 371; Member since: Jan 28, 2012

Welcome to the galaxy..

2. KINGJUAN27

Posts: 210; Member since: Jul 02, 2012

Meh! Next please, we're waiting for the Lumia EOS and the Xperia Honami. Samsung, get ready!

8. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

I'm just pissed because I don't see a big enough photo quality boost for it's price... Not to mention that who ever reviewed this took pictures of ugly ass thistles... I hate them things...they are the worst invasive species ever...damn aggressive European plants smothering GA wildlife....-_-

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Galaxy S4 Zoom
  • Display 4.3 inches
    960 x 540 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP (Single camera)
    1.9 MP front
  • Hardware Samsung Exynos 4 Dual, 1.5GB RAM
  • Storage 8GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 2330 mAh
  • OS Android 4.4.2
    Samsung TouchWiz UI

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