Samsung Galaxy NX review: first look

21 Jun 2013

Samsung made quite a stir when it launched its 3G-enabled Android-based Samsung Galaxy Camera earlier this year. Now the Samsung Galaxy NX is here to take the concept upmarket.

From the front it's nothing special, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the company's existing range of NX cameras. It looks like a shrunken DSLR, with a small hump on the top for an EVF (electronic viewfinder), a large grip to one side and a number of knobs and buttons on the top plate.

However, the Galaxy NX is no ordinary compact system camera: it's the first interchangeable lens camera on the market to run Android (4.2 Jelly Bean), which comes complete with Google Play and all the apps you'd expect. It's also the first to boast integrated 4G connectivity.

Physically, it's an impressive thing to behold. The entire rear of the Galaxy NX is occupied by an huge 4.8in touchscreen. This is used not only to frame stills and video, but also to access all the camera's settings - from setting the mode, aperture, shutter speed and ISO level, to selecting the focus point and triggering the shutter.

Once you've taken your photos, they can be edited and shared within Android. It took us a moment to figure out how to get out of camera mode and into Android, but we worked it out eventually - all it takes is a swipe across the screen from right to left. Then, up pops an standard-looking Android app grid - turn it on its end in portrait mode, and it's just like using an enormous, misshapen smartphone.

This no toy, however. Unlike the first Galaxy camera, the Galaxy NX features an APS-C sensor of the kind you'll find in mid-range DSLRs such as the Canon EOS 700D, promising better low-light sensitivity. The resolution is higher, too, matching that of the excellent Samsung NX300 at 20.3 megapixels.

It features the same fast hybrid contrast and phase detection autofocus system as that camera, and employs the same NX lens mount system as featured on all Samsung's NX-branded cameras. This puts a total of 19 Samsung lenses at Galaxy NX owners' disposal.

In terms of its core hardware, the Galaxy NX sports Samsung's DRIMe IV processor for images and video, and has a quad-core 1.6GHz processor for running the Android software, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage with a microSD slot for expansion, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4 and GPS. As with the NX300, the Galaxy NX also comes with a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom in the box.

In the brief time we had with the Galaxy NX - and we must stress it was only a few minutes - we were impressed. The fluidity of the screen and the depth of detail it offers is out of this world compared to your average 3in DSLR display. The controls, which mostly seem to pop up in the form of dials on the right hand side of the screen, felt snappy and responsive.

Perhaps most impressive is how well the camera works from an ergonomic perspective. Because the screen reaches from edge to edge, it feels completely natural to reach around and spin the control wheels up and down with a flick, and the large, rubber grip and light overall weight means it's a joy to hold in your hands.

It's impossible to draw a firm conclusion from such a brief encounter — to do that we'd have to live with the Galaxy NX for a few weeks, take hundreds of photos and shoot lots of video. Pricing information isn't available yet either, though it seems very unlikely that the Galaxy NX will be cheap. All the same, based on first impressions, it's a camera that should fly off the shelves when it appears in the shops later this year.

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