Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom: Optical Zoom in Phone

Samsung Galaxu S4 Zoom

Samsung Galaxu S4 Zoom

Ketan Kundargi tries to make sense of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom as he keeps falling in and out of love with this interesting new gadget.

Samsung’s Galaxy Camera was one of the first Android-powered point and shoot cameras. While it could take good quality pictures and share them instantly via 3G and WiFi, it still could not make calls. This prompted Samsung to finally bring out the Galaxy S4 Zoom. But is it a camera that can make calls or a smartphone that can shoot like a camera?

Exciting Mix of Features
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom packs a 16 megapixel Backlit CMOS sensor along with a 24-240mm zoom lens. It also comes with optical image stabilisation, full HD video recording, Xenon flash, focus assist lamp as well as a wide variety of manual controls. It does not come with a viewfinder which means you need to depend on the 4.3inch Super AMOLED touchscreen display.

The smartphone is powered by a 1.5Ghz Dual-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM and runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. While this is not as impressive as the flagship Galaxy S4, it does enough to deliver a smooth performance.

Excellent colour reproduction combined with a pleasing AMOLED screen makes shooting on the Galaxy S4 Zoom very exciting. Photograph/ Ketan Kundargi

Excellent colour reproduction combined with a pleasing AMOLED screen makes shooting on the Galaxy S4 Zoom very exciting. Photograph/ Ketan Kundargi

Disappointing Handling
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom looks just like any other touchscreen phone from the front. But turn it around and you will find the 10x zoom lens and a prominent grip bulging out. One can understand the space an optical zoom lens needs but the phone’s overall thickness is a complete disappointment. Discreet shooting goes for a toss the moment you take out the phone and switch on the camera with the lens rolling out, ready to shoot.

Unlike other Galaxy phones, the S4 Zoom’s screen-lock button and the volume rocker are both located on the right hand side along with a dedicated shutter release button for the camera. However, you still need to access the apps menu from the display screen or rotate the zoom ring to switch on the camera instead of a single click of the shutter button. The left side of the phone features a tripod mount which can be very helpful as the camera fails to balance on its own if shooting on self timer.

Impressive Image Quality
The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom outperforms most of the smartphone cameras in the market currently. It delivers stunning image quality along with great colours and impressive details. And surprisingly, this is constant throughout the focal range. The metering is usually spot on, optical IS reasonably effective, flaring hardly visible and distortion almost non-existent.

It is only when faced with low light that the camera miserably fails. Low light performance is disappointingly bad with noise showing up at ISOs as low as 200 and 400.

There is no doubt about the fact that the Galaxy S4 Zoom is a new revolution in smartphone technology. However, it still requires a lot of improvement before it can even be considered as a serious camera or pass off as a mainstream device. It is not a bad camera or a bad phone, but put together in a single package, you have a disappointing device in your hand.

At A Glance
16MP BI CMOS sensor, 10x optical zoom, xenon flash, optical IS, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, 1.5GHz dual core, 1.5GB RAM, Rs. 29,900.

What We Like
Image quality, optical IS, optical zoom, manual control.

What We Dislike
Bulky size, noise at low ISOs, costly for a mid-range phone.

Why Buy It?
The S4 Zoom is a budget compact camera and a good quality phone in the mid-range zone at the cost of a high end smartphone.


Final Ratings
Camera Features
Zoom, xenon flash, scene and Manual modes.

Image Quality
Impressive in daylight, suffers in low light.

Video Quality
Good quality, clear audio.

Too bulky for a phone, inconvenient to carry around.


Tags: ketan kundargi, November 2013, Cellphone Review, Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom