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

Richard Hall: The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom had potential to be something great. But instead, we get something mediocre.
by Richard Hall Modified: January 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: January 27, 2014

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.

by Richard Hall
Newsroom Developer
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.
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