Galaxy S4 Zoom

Samsung's new handset has 10x optical zoom and a new twisting Zoom Ring that shares photos

Samsung have unveiled a new handset that attempts to be as useful as a camera as it is a smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom has a 16 megapixel rear-facing camera with a 10x zoom lens strapped on to the specs of a Galaxy S4 Mini.

Ignoring the massive lenses that juts out of the back of the device (there’s only so small you can make something with a 10x zoom), the S4 Zoom appears identical to the S4 Mini from the front. It features the same 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen with a 540x960 resolution at 256ppi.

For the rest of the phone it’s a standard 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU and a 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera.  

But of course, it’s the camera software that has received the big update, adding a wealth of new features, such as ‘smart suggest’ – which automatically picks the three shooting modes most appropriate for the scene, and ‘dual shot’ – which takes a picture from both front and back cameras, one after the other.

The new ‘expert mode’ is pitched at those looking to use the camera as a camera, and includes a lot of tweaks – from light metering and sharpness, to the standard aperture, shutter speed and ISO options.  You can also customize your own shooting modes using all the given options to save time.

Another new feature is that the zoom ring encircling the lens can be twisted whilst in the middle of a call, activating the In-Call Photo Share feature, that lets “you capture and send an image directly via MMS to whoever you are talking to simply.”

JK Shin, one of Samsung’s three CEOs describes the handset as “combining the industry leading functionality and connectivity of the Galaxy S4 with thigh quality photographic experience you’d expect from a compact camera. The result is truly the best of both worlds, without compromise.”

No unnecessary compromise perhaps, but the bulky handset and slightly dumbed-down hardware specs mean that whilst the S4 Zoom is perhaps the most ambitious camera/smartphone hybrid around, it only shows why such hybrids are still just a tiny part of the market.