Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom review

10 Aug 2013

A cracking phone and camera combination; not the best of both worlds, but a fantastic bargain

Price when reviewed: 
419(£419 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

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.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

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.

Snap happy?

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.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £349
Price inc VAT £419
Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £25.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider www.buymobiles.net
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6

Physical

Dimensions 64 x 27 x 125mm (WDH)
Weight 208g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 1.50GB
Camera megapixel rating 16.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.3in
Resolution 540 x 960
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android

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