Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Full Review
Design And Build Quality
No surprises here. From the front, the device is a carbon copy of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. It has the same 4.3 inch screen towards the front, with the default Samsung layout of buttons underneath it. It has a brushed aluminum finish bezel running along the sides. Volume and power are on the right side, speaker grille up top, a tripod port and MicroSD card slot towards the left.
From that back the S4 Zoom looks like the front of a standard compact digital camera. A circular silver lens case is surrounded by a chunky white plastic case. There’s a flash at the tip to the left as you look, and even further left is a handle with ‘Samsung’ written on it in silver.
The Galaxy S4 Zoom measures 15.4mm thick, and we struggled to squeeze it into our jeans pocket or hold it comfortably, with the chunky lens making it difficult to fit the handset naturally in the palm of the hand.
At 208g it’s also much heavier than many of its rivals, as Nokia’s 41MP Lumia 1020 weighs just 158g.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, has a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display with resolution of 960 x 540, 1GB of RAM.
It runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean skinned with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. The camera set-up includes a 16-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), optical 10x Zoom, Xenon flash, HDR, panorama, and 24mm wide-angle lens. It offers full HD video capture, and there’s also a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera.
Thee’s 8GB of storage, which you can expand via Micro SD. That’s good because photos and video take up a lot of space and in our review sample there was only 5GB free space when we started.
The Galaxy S4 Zoom features a 4.3in 540×960 Super AMOLED touchscreen, the same display found on the Galaxy S4 Mini. That gives it a pixel density of 256ppi. It’s bright and clear, and great for viewing pictures on.
Being an AMOLED display though, its colour reproduction is fairly inaccurate and over-exaggerated. As a result, photos can end up looking far less exciting on your computer screen than the S4 Zoom’s.
Outdoor visibility though was better than we expected, but the viewing angles hampered that a bit.
As expected, the Galaxy S4 Zoom’s 16MP rear-facing camera is the handset’s standout feature, arriving complete with a 10x optical zoom and additional software features that Samsung hopes brings the phone in line with dedicated camera devices.
With its last attempt, the Galaxy Camera, Samsung never quite got the imaging tech right – the pictures just weren’t sharp enough. With the S4 Zoom, most of these issues appear to be fixed.
Bright sunlight and high contrast images have a decent amount of dynamic range, while darker environments are helped with some good optical image stabilisation. Video is also of a good enough quality for it to outdo what most smartphones offer right now.
The 10x zoom is also a slightly bizarre thing to have. On a smartphone, you almost don’t expect it to be there, but it actually becomes a very handy thing. It allows you to pull out more detail than you could get from a normal smartphone, by zooming in further.
There are several different shot modes available, including Auto, Smart and Expert. We found ourselves reverting to Smart mode most of the time, as it easily let us select a mode such as HDR or nighttime rather than having to fiddle with the complicated settings found in Expert mode, which lets you tweak settings such as shutter speed and aperture.
Zoom Ring : The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom has a Zoom ring around the camera lens, similar to the one found on the Sony Rx100 cameras. It functions as the name suggests, zooming in and out of images, both while shooting and in the image gallery. It also helps you to select the imaging mode to jump straight into, without opening the camera app itself.
We found the amount of effort required to turn the zoom ring often produced unavoidable shaking in video footage.
With mixed use, we found that the phone’s 2330mAh battery provided more than enough juice to get us through the day — unsurprising since similarly-specced smartphones get by with much smaller batteries. The Galaxy S4 Zoom likely will need to be charged every night following a day of average usage.
“Jack of all trades, master of none.” That line perfectly sums the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. It has a camera which is miles above any other smartphone camera, except probably the Nokia Lumia 1020. Then again it isn’t good enough to replace your standard point and shoot any time soon.
The smartphone side of the device again is decent enough to get most things done, but it isn’t as powerful as other devices in this price segment. It is too bulky to become someone’s daily driver.
For those who want a compact camera and a mobile, with space saved in their pockets for something else, it’s ideal. Then again, we don’t think there are many people out there who do want that.
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