Do Hybrids work? Galaxy S4 Zoom review

S4 is first of its kind to combine high-end smartphone with all-imposing 16MP camera
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The super-competitive smartphone market is continually pushing its players to revolutionise their products in order to maintain or improve market share. Enter the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. Priced at $518, it is the first of its kind to combine a high-end smartphone with an all-imposing 16 MP camera with x 10 Optical Zoom.

Before moving to the camera, it is important to make sure that the Galaxy S4 Zoom is packing the same smartphone punch to that of its more renowned S4 counterpart. Unfortunately, it is not. Compared to the ‘real’ Galaxy S4, the Zoom has nowhere near the level of computing power, running an unexceptional 1.5GHz dual core Processor with the ‘real’ S4 packing in a 1.9GHz Quad-Core Processor. What this means is that the S4 Zoom’s ability to effortlessly run the endless software goodies that Jelly Bean 4.2.2 has to offer is somewhat reduced. However, my guess is that anyone in the market for a smartphone with high levels of computing power would not be considering the S4 Zoom anyway and I don’t believe that Samsung have positioned this phone to appeal to that type of consumer.

What you can expect from the S4 Zoom’s smartphone ability is that it does most things well and really it is no crime to fall slightly short of its illustrious and market-leading counterpart. As far as specifications go, pretty much all the boxes are ticked with Bluetooth 4, dual-band Wi-Fi, 4G Connectivity and a 1.9MP front camera. The meagre 8GB of internal storage is rather disappointing, but the microSDXC does somewhat come to the rescue, allowing you to add an additional 64GB.

Once you turn the phone over and begin to use the camera, it really is a sight to behold. Samsung have incorporated an endless of array of photographic options that can assist you in taking some stunning-looking photos. Control dials on the right-hand side of the touchscreen will allow for adjustment of everything from scene presets to the SLR-renowned ISO, aperture and shutter speed. As a novice photographer this mode of presentation was a lot less daunting than trying to navigate the many features of a standalone SLR camera.

Whether using the 10x optical zoom or just taking normal shots, I was astounded at the drastically improved level of quality, colour and depth that the phone was providing. Even the 13MP camera on the ‘real’ S4 had no chance of competing. As most smartphone users know, the two areas that are often frustrating with camera usage are image stabilisation and low light shots. The Zoom had no issues with either of these.

Combining the best of both worlds, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom takes a step forward in trying to target a new segment of the market. With its prowess as a camera, I feel that the chunky aesthetics of the device may prove too much for it to make any substantial impact in consumer demand. Hopefully Samsung will continue to innovate on this idea and come up with a sleeker-looking version that will be sure to have a far greater impact.

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