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...

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
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.

In short, we get a Galaxy S4 Mini at the front, and a compact point-and-shoot Samsung camera on the back - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
In short, we get a Galaxy S4 Mini at the front, and a compact point-and-shoot Samsung camera on the back - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
In short, we get a Galaxy S4 Mini at the front, and a compact point-and-shoot Samsung camera on the back - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review

In short, we get a Galaxy S4 Mini at the front, and a compact point-and-shoot Samsung camera on the back



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.

Camera lens - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
Camera lens - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
Camera lens - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
Camera lens - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
Camera lens - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
Camera lens - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
Camera lens - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
Camera lens - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review

Camera lens


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.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review


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.

The sides of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
The sides of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
The sides of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
The sides of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review

The sides of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom


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.

Front - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review

Front

Capacitive navigational keys - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review

Capacitive navigational keys

Front camera - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review

Front camera


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.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom sports a removable battery - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom sports a removable battery - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom sports a removable battery - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom sports a removable battery - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom sports a removable battery


Tripod mount - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review

Tripod mount

Camera flash - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review

Camera flash

Louadspeaker - Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review

Louadspeaker



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

1. KINGJUAN27

Posts: 210; Member since: Jul 02, 2012

This trying hard camera phone crap from Samsuck should get a 6 or a 7. LOL. Biased as always!

5. Boreni

Posts: 28; Member since: Feb 22, 2013

"The “phone” is rather bulky at 15.4mm" Most of the phone is 25mm and not 15.4mm so the phone thickness is 25mm! Say that the phone is 15.4mm thick is lie to the public.

15. ebubekir26

Posts: 337; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

you don't have to bash Samsung like that, you may not like the device, I don't, but some people do, photoghraphers or people who are into photography,

21. yudi.nemesis unregistered

For photoghraphers or people who are into photography quality is number 1 and with the same price point we can find compact camera with superior quality. So only samsung die hard fans will like and buy S4 zoom

24. Bioload25

Posts: 213; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

Not necessarily,if a photographer needs to use a phone and "professional" camera to share photos with his boss,for example,this might be a good alternative... If someone purchases a Samsung device,that person might not be a fanboy,the possibilities of liking that specific device are very high... (sorry,im brazilian and my english may not be correct)

30. yudi.nemesis unregistered

i think no one will use S4 zoom as their main smartphone and if those photographer need optical zoom they can use optical zoom accessory it's smaller and they can take it off so their smartphone doesn't look like bulky brick. or they can buy some compact camera with WIFI support so they can share photos with everybody with that price point there is no good reason to buy S4 zoom

35. maccess

Posts: 742; Member since: Jan 16, 2013

just say whatever reasons you want kid.. you just trying hard to make people dislike this phone or samsung's phone.. if you don't like samsung no need to manipulate other people mind with your PERSONAL OPINION kid...

38. yudi.nemesis unregistered

Yeah at least my PERSONAL OPINION not some BS. i can’t manipulate other people mind, i just show them there is better options but if you or other people like and want to buy S4 Zoom i can’t do anything with that. i’m sure anyone who smart enough will agree with me, because we can find compact camere with better quality, cheaper even some of them have smaller size

40. Bioload25

Posts: 213; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

Yudi,you've forgotten na inportant point: the S4 Zoom is still a very good midranger phone,and the fact that anyone can buy it (photographer or not),only the consumer determinates the usefulness of the phone,if u dont agree with its performance and price point,please,dont buy it Another thing: if you see better photo quality on compact cameras,that doesnt indicate necessarily that this phone loses in câmera department,because its your interpretation of the images... (again,sorry my bad english)

41. yudi.nemesis unregistered

S4 Zoom is just average performer both in camera quality (compare to compact camera) and as android smartphone, at online store S4 zoom is around $600. with $600 I can buy some high end android smartphone or i can buy midranger with good camera for day to day use + compact camera with wifi just like i said before there is better option than S4 zoom and photographer or not, for anyone who is smart enough the will choose the best option available

44. Bioload25

Posts: 213; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

and again its your perception about the quality of the phone bro,that doesnt mean its the only opinion in the whole market... somebody may hate the galaxy s4 zoom (like u,for example) but someone may like the phone,open your mind a little bit...

45. yudi.nemesis unregistered

it’s not my perception about the phone, S4 zoom is just average performer in terms of camera and smartphone. my mind is wide opened so thats why i can see many better options i know the truth is some people may like it and other not but it’s not what i’m trying to say. i said with the same price point we can get high end smartphone or midranger phone with good camera for day to day use + compact camera Having great midrange phone and compact camera with better quality with the same amount of money is smarter and better options than expensive camera phone with average performance

46. Bioload25

Posts: 213; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

Theorically yes,but you seem to like the compact cameras and holding the thing all around,pressing hard buttons all the time and waiting some time untill the picture is taken (underwhelming processor),charging it and the phone at the same time.... if u can buy a device that takes good pictures in no time with soft touch screen and lighter weight,it'll be alot less to care about...

47. yudi.nemesis unregistered

the biggest problem with S4 Zoom is, thick, heavy and expensive. with about the same amount of money i can get something like 1. Sony DSC-WX200 18.2MP Exmor R, 10x optical zoom, Sony G lens, built in WiFi, Optical SteadyShot, and only 121g. 2. Xperia V 13MP Camera, 4.3” HD Display with 342ppi, Dual krait cpu and adreno 225, water and dust resistant, 120g. you can get many other device, but i just want to show youthat with the same amount of money i can get 2 devices, a great compac camera and great midrange phone.

49. doubleandry

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 08, 2013

I was a photographer, now a videographer. I have to say that I really enjoy this cameraphone alot. first because, yes, I care about a good image quality. the main reason I fall in love with this camphone is I can get some random candid shot when I'm not working, which mean I dont bring my photography/video gear around. Hey, if you are a photographer, it doesnt mean that you bring your camera wherever you go,so it's a good deal. alot smaller than dslr, with standart quality, after all, photography is not just about high quatily image, but timing,compositing, and many more. I can say I can get better good low res photo than average people with high end photography gadget. again, the choice is yours....

48. chocolaking

Posts: 495; Member since: May 22, 2012

I wouldn't recommend this device to any of my friends. this thing is realistically not practical in any aspect.

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....-_-

19. SonyXperiaNexus

Posts: 374; Member since: Oct 01, 2012

lol, nokia lumia EOS vs samsung galaxy POS

20. haseebzahid

Posts: 1853; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

so nokia 6310 is still better then samsung galaxy Zoom

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..

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.

6. DFranch

Posts: 521; 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.

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.

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

Galaxy S4 Zoom
  • Display 4.3" 540 x 960 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 1.9 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 4 Dual, Dual-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 8 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2330 mAh(13h 3G talk time)

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