Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom review
A cracking phone and camera combination; not the best of both worlds, but a fantastic bargain
Review Date: 10 Aug 2013
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: Free, on a £25.00 per month, 24 months contract.
Features & Design
Value for Money
Camera connectivity has been improving steadily in recent times, but none can match the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. Developing the concept introduced with Samsung's first connected Android camera, the Samsung Galaxy Camera, this hybrid boasts not only cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity, but also the capabilities of a full-blown smartphone to its 16-megapixel snapper.
In fact, viewed from the rear, it looks exactly like a Samsung Galaxy S4, with its white, diamond-textured surround, chrome-effect trim, earpiece grille at the top and 4.3in touchscreen beneath.
There's the familiar home button at the bottom, flanked by touch-sensitive context menu and back keys. When you turn it on, it behaves precisely as you'd expect one of Samsung's Galaxy smartphones to, complete with the TouchWiz Android overlay and clever enhancements such as Smart Stay, pop-up video and split screen apps.
The display is excellent. It employs Super AMOLED technology, so blacks are inky and colours are rich and zesty. The resolution isn't the highest we've seen on a smartphone this size, at 540 x 960, but you still have to look pretty hard to see the pixels. And it's a responsive device, whether you're using it to browse the web, make social network updates or play games.
Its dual-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A9 processor delivers a time of 1,019ms in the SunSpider benchmark, which isn't half bad, and, generally, even demanding 3D games such as Asphalt 7: Heat are smooth and playable.
As for other specifications, it's mostly up to scratch. There's 1.5GB RAM, Bluetooth 4, dual-band Wi-Fi, 4G connectivity and a front-facing, 1.9-megapixel camera for videoconferencing. There's a replaceable 2,330mAh battery, but stamina is a touch below average with 50% remaining after our 24-hour test. We're also none too keen on the rather stingy 8GB of storage, but the microSDXC slot makes amends here, allowing you to add up to 64GB extra.
Flip it over, and it no longer resembles any kind of phone, with a hand grip on the right-hand side, a proper xenon flash and focus-assist lamp, plus a lens housing that protrudes a good centimetre from the housing of the phone/camera. That lens housing plays host to an f/3.3 10x zoom, delivering a focal range of 24mm to 240mm (35mm equivalent).
There's more, too: on the bottom edge, you'll find a proper tripod socket and that microSDXC slot, with a user-replaceable battery and SIM card located under a narrow flap running along the edge of the camera grip.
As a camera, the S4 Zoom relies heavily on touchscreen operation. Control dials pop in from the right-hand side, which allow the adjustment of everything from scene presets to ISO, aperture and shutter in the camera's manual mode.
To reduce touchscreen fatigue, Samsung has also added a ring around the lens housing, which can be tweaked to zoom in and out of a scene, or used as a means of accessing the camera's quick settings mode.
Give it a spin when you're using an app or browsing the web, and a selection of modes appears on the screen in the form of a circular dial – choose one, then press and hold the shutter button and the device launches directly into the camera app.
"The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is a unique device. No other smartphone delivers a camera with as much flexibility and all-round quality, and no other camera offers such all-encompassing connectivity."
What about the Nokia 808 or the 1020? Or even the 925 or the 928?
By JamesD29 on 12 Aug 2013
I'm not 100% sure but I believe the S4 is the only one of all those that has a proper optical zoom.
The others I think have digital zooms.
By ajf350d on 12 Aug 2013
That is true ajf350d, but at 41 megapixels the Lumia 1020 enables you to crop heavily into the picture and still end up with a 8MP image, so effectively giving you an optical zoom (albeit not a 41MP optical zoom).
It' also a whole lot less bulky than this Samsung.
By Grunthos on 13 Aug 2013
What's the point...
Seriously, what is the point of this? Who is realistically going to walk around looking a complete tool with what looks like a camera glued to their ear?
By valeofyork on 13 Aug 2013
Nokia's first gaming phone looked pretty stupid too. Didn't stop people from buying them.
By JamesD29 on 13 Aug 2013
- Will Android Wear work with iOS?
- Amazon loses $170 million on Fire phone
- Photos: Information Age revealed at the Science Museum
- Surface makes $1bn for Microsoft in three months
- Facebook Rooms to give anonymity to iPhone users
- Google buys Oxford University AI startups
- Microsoft Kinect SDK 2 brings apps to Windows Store
- Raspberry Pi unveils DIY tablet kit
- Windows 10: two-factor authentication coming to every device
- What is Google Inbox?
- Google Glass: mugger bait, pub problem and other lessons learned from two dangerous weeks
- Twitter, please don't fiddle with my feed
- How Satya Nadella can get some pay-raise karma
- Windows 10: a step back to go forward
- Michael Dell: Cloud infrastructure is the roads, bridges and highways of the 21st century
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- iPad Air 2 vs Nexus 9: Apple and Google's latest high-end tablets compared
- Five things that are actually new in the iPad Air 2
- Bendgate, Antennagate, and why Apple doesn’t care about bad news
- iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 release date, specs and UK price rumours
- Office Online vs Google Docs: which free online office suite is best?
- iPhone 6 Plus vs iPhone 6 design comparison
- How to speed up an Android smartphone
- Nexus 6 release date, specs, UK price and leaked images
- iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus screen comparison
- Mac OS X Yosemite release date, price and new features
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office