Channel 5

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

Wednesday 17 July 2013


Rating of 4

The basics

Is it phone? Is it a camera? Samsung’s sequel to last year’s explorative Galaxy Camera attempts to be both, but is it a Jack of All Trades, Master of None? Or can the Korean giant finally create a device which takes convergence to the next level? Read on to find out in our full Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom review.

Read our full Sony Xperia Z review here

How to shoot underwater: Follow these top tips!

The good

Given the generally lackluster nature of mobile phone cameras, using the Galaxy S4 Zoom is something of a revelation. Samsung has essentially fused a capable point-and-shoot lens onto the back of a smartphone, and the difference is like night and day. Shots are detailed and colourful, and the x10 optical zoom (unheard of on mobiles until now) allows you to zone-in on your subject without losing clarity or lowering resolution. Add in image stabilization, autofocus, a wide selection of shooting modes, manual controls and HD video recording, and you’ve got a phone which could render your traditional point-and-shoot redundant. You can even attach a tripod for that professional touch.

Of course, because it’s a phone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom offers even more advantages over a bog-standard camera. Images can be uploaded to cloud storage directly from the device, no matter where you are - which means no more waiting until you get home to fumble for your USB cable or transfer data to your computer from an SD card. You can also share snaps with services such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

With Android 4.2.2 on board, the Zoom also benefits from everything Google’s OS brings to the table - namely thousands of applications, excellent customization and a powerful suite of options. Samsung’s TouchWiz UI sits atop Android, offering unique elements such as gesture controls and S Translator, which turns your handset into a pocket-sized interpreter.

The 4.3-inch AMOLED screen really pops and is easy to view in direct sunlight - a prime consideration for a camera - and the Zoom boasts an MicroSD card slot and removable battery, two things that aren’t present on Google’s own Nexus line of Android devices.

The bad

While it’s genuinely refreshing to take photos on a phone with the same level of competence you’d expect to see in dedicated hardware, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom still feels a little bit like a compromise. As a camera, it beats its phone-based rivals but can’t hope to match the best point-and-shoot compact snappers on the market.

And as a phone, it feels very much like last year’s tech. The 1.5GHz dual-core processor lags behind the likes of the HTC One, Nexus 4 and Galaxy S4, and the screen resolution is shy of being HD. Finally, the 8GB of flash storage isn’t nearly enough to satisfy budding photographers, although the MicroSD card slot - which can accept cards of up to 64GB in size - mitigates this somewhat.

Moving away from technical concerns, the other “big” issue with the Zoom is exactly that - it’s too darn big. It’s almost three times the thickness of many leading Android handsets, and will bulk out all but the most roomy of pockets. It is possible to get used to the chunky dimensions, but if you’ve moving from a svelte handset then the transition is going to be a dramatic one.

Nokia Lumia 1020: 41 megapixel monster phone unleashed!

Five of the best cameraphone super shooters you can grab right now

The bottom line

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is a curious hybrid device which practically begs you to like it the moment you take it out of the box. There’s something appealing about a phone which takes image capture so seriously, but it takes a dedicated photo-lover to live with this product’s shortcomings.

For the same price you can pick up a far superior dedicated camera, or a more powerful (and thinner) smartphone. However, you can’t buy both - and with that in mind, the Zoom is a relatively successful marriage of these two disciplines. It won’t beat the best of either class in a straight fight, but it instead offers a novel alternative to traditional camera phones. It’s something of an acquired taste and certainly won’t be to everybody’s liking, but it proves that there’s a market for decent hybrid handsets out there.

Review handset kindly provided by

Currys Top Products

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is tagged with Android, galaxy s4 zoom and Samsung. Select a tag (Android, for example) to find everything on The Gadget Show about the subject.

User comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Join Channel 5

Creating an account is free, will only take a few moments and will allow you to enjoy the full benefits of 5FWD and Channel 5:

  • Create lists of your most wanted and owned products
  • Leave article comments without having to re-enter your login details
  • Get updated with all the latest gadget and car news

Leave a comment

Please note that we will not expose your email, but we might use it to email you back. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.
* mandatory field

  • Asus X200MA-KX366B laptop

    If you’re looking for a low-cost laptop to get you going on the basics, Asus is aiming to have you…

  • Vodafone Smart 4

    Vodafone's no stranger to the budget blower arena, with last year's Smart III providing fairly…

  • Tonino Lamborghini Antares

    If you thought your brand new iPhone 5s in gold was the cream of the crop when it comes to luxury…

  • Gigabyte P34Gv2 gaming laptop

    When you think of gaming laptops, your mind usually goes towards hulking behemoths that more…

  • Nokia Lumia 930

    Meet the Nokia Lumia 930, the latest 4G flagship from the now-Microsoft company, and the first…

  • USB iShaver

    It seems like you can get practically anything powered by USB these days, and now the humble…

  • Nokia Lumia 635

    Nokia's currently on a Windows Phone 8.1 roll, unleashing the budget-friendly Lumia 630 back in May,…

  • Heimplanet ‘The Cave’ tent

    How do you solve a problem like tent poles? In a bid to make its £435 ‘The Cave’ the fastest…

  • Singtrix karaoke machine

    Love it or hate it, karaoke is an absolute riot - even if you can't sing to save your life. You…

  • LG G Watch

    Google's vision of the smartwatch is finally with us, but can Android Wear succeed where so many of…