The recently announced Samsung Galaxy NX is the world's first interchangeable lens mirrorless camera to run on Android. Unlike previous Android-powered shooters, the NX boasts some serious photographic credentials, including a 20.3-megapixel APS-C format sensor and a hybrid autofocus system. It also features 3G/4G LTE and Wi-Fi technology for instant sharing.
The arrival of an Android-totting mirrorless camera or DSLR has been almost inevitable since the release of point-and-shoots running Google's mobile OS, like the Nikon Coolpix S800c. Indeed, given how impressed we were with the Samsung Galaxy Camera (despite it not having the best photographic capabilities), it's no surprise that a Samsung is first to take this title.
From the front, the Samsung Galaxy NX looks like any other SLR-styled mirrorless camera. However, its rear is almost entirely taken up by a massive 4.8 inch HD LCD screen and the striking absence of buttons makes it clear that this isn't your typical shooter. The camera is built around Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and its giant touchscreen is integral to its operation.
As with the Samsung Galaxy Camera, the Galaxy NX runs Android just like a very capable smartphone, though again without the ability to actually make phone calls. It has everything needed to make sure apps run as smoothly as you'd expect, including a 1.6 GHz Pega-Q quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and sensors such as an accelerometer, geomagnetic, proximity and gyro. There's 16 GB of internal memory and a microSD slot that supports capacities up to 64 GB.
In camera mode, the gigantic touchscreen is used to navigate general settings and its Smart Mode, which makes it easy to get the right set-up without knowing what you're doing. Manual controls can be accessed by either the same virtual lens barrel interface as the Galaxy Camera, or using the iFunction button on Samsung lenses and the dial on the top of the camera. A built-in SVGA electronic viewfinder means users don't have to compose shots using the rear LCD screen.
Once photographs are taken, they can be edited in-camera by any number of apps, though it's worth remembering that many output images in much lower resolutions than the camera is capable of. The wireless options of the NX also mean images can be shared instantly via Wi-Fi or 3G/4G LTE connections. Yes, that means you could post direct to Instagram, if you are so inclined. GPS is also included for geo-tagging images.
The new device should be capable of producing better images than any other Android-powered camera thanks to the photographic pedigree of the NX series. This is not just because the Galaxy NX is compatible with the growing arsenal of Samsung lenses, but also because it features a large 20.3 megapixel APS-C format (23.5 x 15.7 mm) CMOS sensor.
Capable of shooting RAW and JPEG images, a DRIMe IV image signal processor means the camera has a continuous burst shooting speed of 8.6 fps and an ISO range of 100 to 25,600. An advanced hybrid autofocus system uses contrast and phase detection to provide fast and reliable focusing. The Galaxy NX is no slouch when it comes to shutter speed either, it's capable of shooting at an impressive 1/6000 sec. Full HD video recording is also present at 1080p 30 fps.
Measuring 136 x 101 x 56 mm (5.4 x 4 x 2.2 in) and weighing 495 g (17.5 oz) the camera is one of the larger mirrorless offerings and, because of that massive screen, it is bigger than other NX cameras like the NX300.
It's not clear when you'll be able to get your hands on the Samsung Galaxy NX as no release date or price have been revealed.