NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Review: Samsung's smartphone/digital camera hybrid misses the mark

Samsung figured, if people use their phones as their primary photography devices, why not give them something a bit more?

And that's how the Galaxy S4 Zoom happened: A marriage of smartphone and digital point-and-shoot, a beacon of potential — a lackluster execution.

The S4 Zoom isn't a technical wonder in terms of its insides, though anyone familiar with the Android OS and Samsung's features can rest easy knowing the typical performance found in both are also found in the Zoom. In other words, there's nothing wrong with the call quality, ease of use, speed or screen.

Samsung basically built onto its popular S4 Zoom by adding a 16-megapixel camera that boasts 10x optical zoom with a focal range of 24 to 240 mm, as well as a handgrip and flash. Combined with the OS's fantastic camera app and you've got a great combination of hardware and software.

But then you hold the thing and realize how heavy it is (7.34 ounces). Then you put it in your pocket and realize how bulky it is (thanks to the protruding lens). Then you use it and realize there's something missing from the experience.

Using the camera is easy, but a bit slow. I was surprised at how slow it was. It's also uncomfortable to hold as either a phone or a camera.

The nice things about the S4 Zoom are that it supports microSD cards (though many photographers might scoff at that, instead wanting SD card support), has a nice battery life (about nine hours of mixed use) and an easily removable battery.

The S4 Zoom isn't anything special in terms of picture quality, especially for nonprofessionals. It has professional features, but if all you're doing is shooting on auto mode (which is what most people do), you're not going to be awed by this camera.

This device is an interesting creature, no doubt, and I appreciate Samsung for taking the chance on it; but it's just not worth investing in. Even if it is only $100 on contract with AT&T. You're better off getting a device that does photos well enough and doesn't have added bulk attached to it.

I think about people who would legitimately use this hybrid on a daily basis — like my fellow journalists — and realize there's no way this would replace the normal smartphone, or the normal point-and-shoot. As much as some people might drool over an LTE-enabled camera, Samsung just missed the mark with this hybrid.

Related Photos
<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure>
Richard Hall

Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008. Read more ›