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)



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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