It's almost hard to believe that, just a few years ago, many of us used to tote around point-and-shoot cameras and smartphones. How things have changed. Today the smartphone camera has evolved to the point where it's the main camera for many amateur photographers around the world. So it makes sense that more serious camera phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom and the new Nokia Lumia 1020 would start popping up. Let's take a look at how the specs (and other features) of the two hybrid devices measure up.
The Lumia 1020 is four percent taller and 13 percent wider, but it's much thinner than the chunky Galaxy S4 Zoom. The GS4 Zoom is a full 47 percent thicker than the Lumia, though we aren't yet sure whether or not that's accounting for the Zoom's protruding lens.
The Zoom is also a much heavier device: it tips the scales at 30 percent heavier than Nokia's phone/camera hybrid.
Though much of this comes back to personal preference, the Lumia's polycarbonate build is probably going to have the advantage over the Zoom's standard plastic. The Lumia has more of a "premium" feel to it (Samsung's Galaxy line has been called cheap more than once), and is more resistant to unfortunate drops.
The Lumia 1020 looks like the clear winner here. Not only does the Galaxy S4 Zoom only give you 89 percent as much screen area as the Lumia does, but Nokia's phone also gives you 90 percent more pixels for a much sharper display.
Cores and clock speed are equal, but the Lumia 1020 has a leg-up, with the higher-end Snapdragon S4 processor. The chip in Samsung's phone is more of the budget ilk.
Another advantage for the Lumia 1020, as it bests the Zoom's rather unconventional 1.5 GB of RAM.
Technically the GS4 Zoom can store more photos once you pop in a 64 GB microSD card, but that could also cause some problems. MicroSDs generally have much slower write speeds than a phone's internal memory, so the Zoom might give you some lag, especially when shooting in burst mode. Hardly something you want to worry about on a device that's supposed to serve as a serious camera.
After reaching a certain threshold, higher pixel counts alone don't necessarily lead to better shots, but the Lumia has a huge advantage there nonetheless.
Much of that advantage comes from how Nokia set up the 1020 to use those extra pixels, with its Dual Capture taking simultaneous 38 MP and 5 MP shots. Use the lower-res version to share with your friends on the fly, then use the high-res version as a master for finer editing when you get home. There are so many pixels in the master that you can crop tiny sections after the fact, without getting that upscaled, pixelated look.
The GS4 Zoom gives you optical zoom, but that might not necessarily be an advantage. The Lumia's digital lossless zoom again takes advantage of its insane resolution to guarantee that even your zoomed shots supposedly stay sharp and clear. No whirring motor sound required, which could be a problem in the Zoom.
Both phones have Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) in place, to help cut down on the effects of camera shake. We haven't put them through the paces yet to know if one works better than the other, but they do both tick this box.
There isn't much point in having a super-powered camera in your phone if you can't upload those photos on the go, but both of these devices should fit the bill.
A couple of things to keep in mind though. Only select regions get LTE capabilities (which generally have much faster uploads than HSPA+) for the GS4 Zoom. Also, if you're on a capped data plan, as many carriers now require, you might be better off waiting until you're on a Wi-Fi network to transfer those pics anyway.
Battery life is a known concern in the GS4 Zoom, and the Lumia's lesser capacity (along with a higher-res display to power) could potentially cause some problems too. It's probably best to consider this an unknown, though, until both have been properly put through the paces.
Both devices are aimed at people who want a serious camera and typical smartphone capabilities. In that department, you're comparing Android Jelly Bean (with Samsung's TouchWiz layered on top) to Windows Phone 8.
On one hand, the Google Play Store is much more stacked than the Windows Phone Store, and Samsung throws in many of the same TouchWiz extras from the GS4 (including many that are photography-related). On the other hand, though, Windows Phone has a slick modern interface, no manufacturer UI, and its app selection is only going to improve over time.
Both phones have software-based features that let you tweak things like white balance, ISO, and manual focus.
With that said, it's hard not to see the Lumia 1020 having an initial advantage here. It has a bigger, better screen. It should deliver better performance, which is crucial in any phone, but especially one which you'll use for semi-serious photography. And we're curious to see how those 41 megapixels stack up with real-world images.
So stay tuned. Devices like these could eventually find a loyal audience, if done right. For the moment, though, that if is very much hanging in the air.
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