With the announcement of its Galaxy S4 zoom, Samsung has gone the extra yard beyond its Galaxy Camera to release a capable snapper – with a 10x optical zoom no less – that is also an out and out smartphone running Android Jelly Bean 4.2. Samsung claims that the 16-MP device combines uncompromised performance as both a smartphone and compact camera.
The device includes a 4.3 inch 960 x 540 AMOLED display and a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor. There's a secondary 1.9-MP front-facing camera. The Galaxy S4 zoom can talk to LTE and 3G networks and includes integrated Wi-Fi (stop me if this is taken as read, these days).
The camera functions of the Galaxy S4 zoom appear to be activated with what Samsung is calling a Zoom Ring: a dial surrounding the lens which, with a twist, sparks the camera to life. The Zoom Ring works during a phone call, and Samsung reckons it's easy to take a photo and send a MMS picture message to the person you're talking to.
We're not sure if the feature is as "revolutionary" as Samsung claims (after all, my compact camera is activated in much the same way), but it's certainly a good thing if Samsung has made the Galaxy S4 zoom's camera functions nice and accessible without having to poke the touchscreen and risk accidental hang-up.
It sounds as if the Zoom Ring will also let users choose between different camera modes and, unsurprisingly given the name, control the 10x optical zoom itself (which beats button control any day).
The camera itself packs a 16-MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor which Samsung claims is capable of close-ups and landscapes in any light conditions. It includes Samsung's Smart Mode to automatically adjust settings once told the desired preset mode, though it can suggest that too if you like.
A feature called Photo Suggest taps into a library of images by other photographers in order to recommend photo opportunities based on your location. Apparently the cultural homogenization won't be complete until we're all taking photos of exactly the same things from exactly the same viewpoints – creativity and individualism be damned. Let's hope one can turn this off.
Photos can be edit and prints ordered directly from the device. Or photographs can be wirelessly synced with a computer or the HomeSync cloud service.
The devices can also shoot full HD video at 30 frames per second.
Expect to see the Galaxy S4 zoom on the market before the end of the year. Price is yet to be announced.