Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom review, rating and latest UK deals & offers
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is a smartphone/camera hybrid that is either a brilliant concept or a ridiculous gimmick depending on how you look at it - there really doesn't seem to be an in-between view!
IMPORTANT: Customers outside the UK MAINLAND MUST select the "worldwide" option from the drop-down list.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom
Available in White
Payments handled securely by Paypal. Credit/debit cards welcome.
Unique camera style design
Stunning 16 megapixel fully featured camera
Xenon flash, 10x optical zoom
Optical Image Stabilisation
4.3 inch Super AMOLED screen
Read our full review here >>>
by Mike Leader
It's a bit of an oddity of that there is no doubt. Is it a phone? Is it a camera? Samsung have tried to be all things to all men, and women of course, for some time now and the introduction of the Galaxy S4 Zoom is another product that is meant to fill a niche.
The only problem is we're not sure the niche really exists. Aside from the professionals, photographers are broadly separated into two groups, those like me who simply take snapshots now and again, and those of you who take your photography more seriously.
I do actually take a separate compact camera with me on holiday, but for everyday snapshots virtually all cameras that come fitted to your smartphone are up to the job, with some excellent kit on almost all of the flagship models such as the Sony Xperia Z2, LG G3 and 41 megapixel Nokia Lumia 1020.
So where does the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom fit in? This is the problem. It is neither a top end smartphone or a top end compact camera. It's decidedly midrange on both counts.
First of all the phone. It does not have the 5 inch screen size or the 441 pixel per inch resolution of the Galaxy S4. Instead it has a 4.3 inch, the same one found on the S4 Mini in fact, with a 256 PPI screen which definitely puts it in the midrange bracket.
It's not a bad screen by any stretch of the imagination, being of the Super AMOLED type and coated with scratch resistant and shatterproof Corning Gorilla Glass 3. But we would have preferred the sharpness of a full HD screen on a phone with a dedicated camera, not least for viewing your photos as they were intended to be seen by the camera's software designers, and it's a strange choice by Samsung. It's adequate, but no more.
You will find a slightly slower 1.5 GHz dual core processor than the S4, and at 8GB has only half the memory of the smallest capacity S4 which for a phone made primarily to take photos we also think is slightly odd, although you do get a memory card slot which will take cards right up to 64GB. You also get 50GB of free Dropbox Cloud storage.
The camera is the main attraction of course, and it is a compact camera style 16 megapixel affair featuring a Xenon flash, a 1/2.33 sensor size for sharper pictures and better low light performance, geo-tagging, touch to focus and auto focus together with face and smile detection. You also get HDR and panoramic modes together with Full HD 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second.
However most notably it features optical image stabilisation and 10x optical zoom. Overall it's a very well specified camera with dedicated shutter button and enough optimisation and controls to take it's place as a compact camera in it's own right. You get 25 presets too, Samsung call them Smart Modes, to enable the best settings in the right situations.
It manages to pull off the feat of looking like a camera from the camera side and a smartphone from the smartphone side too, further confusing those of us who are not sure exactly what it is meant to be.
It does look a little odd, and the finger grip on the front of the camera is the same slippy, glossy cheap looking plastic that Samsung seem so fond of, that none of us critics like, but which hasn't prevented millions of you buying Samsung phones in vast numbers.
What is does have is a quite brilliant Zoom Ring around the lens, pro-camera style, from which you can not only alter the zoom but share your photos and quickly access camera modes. But it does feel rather strange both to hold in the hand and in the way it looks when you are using it as a phone, especially when it is held up to your ear because you appear to be talking to your camera.
The camera lens makes it top heavy too, adding to the weird feel when using it as a phone but on the other hand it does make it easier to grip, your fingers falling naturally around the lens housing.
It is not the easiest to slip into a pocket either, with a camera case being the best option to preserve it from knocks but again that's not ideal if you use your phone for anything other than a camera as often as the majority of us tend to.
Battery life is pretty decent with a hefty 2330 mAh replaceable battery included, but the downside of this is when it is drained you have no phone and no camera.
In most cases the power pack should last you over a day but we would advocate obtaining a spare nevertheless. Just avoid the cheap fakes on eBay and Amazon and remember, if the price seems to good to be true it probably is.
Overall it is probably not a bad attempt at a hybrid device and plenty of you out there will love it for exactly what it is. Our major concern is that is isn't any better than a midrange phone or camera at a premium price. You do at least get a good quality "proper" compact digital camera though and you won't find another one with a 4.3 inch screen.
If you are paying this sort of money then frankly we think you would be better off buying one of the flagship smartphones such as the new Samsung Galaxy S5, the Nokia Lumia 930 which itself includes a 20 megapixel camera and optical stabilisation, as does the Sony Xperia Z2.
You won't get 10x optical zoom with those alternatives but you will get a top quality screen, excellent camera and more top end features for around the same money. And you won't feel quite so daft when you're making phone calls.
Maybe we are being a little unkind as we are primarily phone people, but it simply wasn't for us and we just couldn't get to like it, even though it does what it does very well. If you feel differently we would love to hear what you think so please add a comment below.