Samsung’s Galaxy camera came out almost a year ago, and it roughly mimicked the specs of an international SGS3 but included a unique camera system and body. Although the device couldn’t make phone calls, it included cellular connectivity and was arguably the best in the first of a limited number of connected cameras competing with it. After many whispers, Samsung has announced the Galaxy S4 Zoom, an updated version of its connected camera line with a display and front face emulating the SGS4 but topped with another 16 MP camera system.
It appears Samsung’s biggest emphasis with the follow up to Galaxy Camera was thickness, as the S4 Zoom is 15.4mm thick, compared to 19 mm for Galaxy Camera. Display gets a bump down from 720p LCD to qHD LCD, and oddly enough SoC goes from the quad A9 Exynos 4412 to dual A9 Exynos 4212, though Samsung includes the usual “AP differed by market” caveat, so there’s a possibility the LTE variant includes some similarly classed Snapdragon SoC. As usual it isn’t really easy to find out until all the different model numbers and band combinations are in the open.
Last time around Samsung made things easy by supplying the sensor size, it’s easy enough however to verify that the S4 Zoom is using the same 1/2.3″ 16 MP sensor by going off of crop factor (5.64 crop factor for a 1/2.3″ format sensor * 4.3 mm focal length, gives us their own published 24 mm focal length in 35mm-effective numbers). Likewise the availability of some photos published by a few websites with access to the hardware makes it easy to verify the same captured photo size of 4608 x 3456. I’m not surprised that Samsung kept sensor the same size given the desire to get the package thinner, but I find myself wishing that this did include a larger one for better indoor and low light sensitivity. There’s thankfully still OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) onboard. The change in thickness also accordingly comes with a slightly higher F/# at the widest and most telephoto points, from F/2.8 to F/3.1 wide open, and F/5.9 to F/6.3 at telephoto. There’s no way around the fact that on paper the S4 Zoom is a bit of a step down compared to Galaxy Camera, but it is thinner.
Of course, the real benefit is that it’s a connected camera running Android 4.2 and including GNSS, 802.11n dual band WiFi, BT 4.0, NFC, and a 1.9 MP front facing camera. The biggest change of course is that unlike the Galaxy Camera, Galaxy S4 Zoom is capable of making voice calls directly. I could see myself sticking a SIM in Galaxy S4 Zoom and using it as a hybrid smartphone plus point and shoot device for sure, I just wish it was a step up over Galaxy Camera on the camera side of things. For that we’ll have to wait and see if a Galaxy Camera 2 appears.