Samsung Galaxy Camera 2: The same, but different for CES 2014
The market for a mobile-broadband-connected camera may still be small, but Samsung's Galaxy Camera definitely didn't go unnoticed when it arrived in late 2012. That attention likely benefited the Wi-Fi-only version that followed in 2013. And now we have gen two.
The Galaxy Camera 2 doesn't stray too far from the original formula, though. It has the same 21x zoom wide-angle lens and 16-megapixel backside-illuminated sensor as the first-gen model. Its giant 4.8-inch HD touch screen remains as well.
It's now wrapped in leatherette and trimmed in metal saying, "Look at me, I'm a camera, not a smartphone." Still, it is running on Android 4.3 Jellybean, so it can do all of the stuff that a newer Android smartphone can do. That's especially true thanks to a new speedier 1.6GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. Oh, and NFC joins the camera's Wi-Fi to simplify pairing with NFC-enabled devices.
You'll find some new shooting modes, too, and a desperately needed larger battery pack as well. You can read more about its features in this slideshow or wait till it arrives in stores. I'd love to tell you when that is, but Samsung didn't announce availability or pricing (though I'd expect it to be around $500).
Battery life wasn't great with the first Galaxy Camera, so Samsung increased the battery power for the new model to 2000mAh from 1650mAh. Also, although the camera stores shots to microSD cards up to 64GB in capacity (not included) or to its 2.8GB of available internal storage, Samsung bundles in 50GB of Dropbox storage as well for up to two years.
There are now 28 Smart Modes in the Galaxy Camera (up from 19), which are like the scene modes you'd find on other point-and-shoots, but several of them have interesting twists. There are basics like Landscape, Snow, and Macro, but you also get Best Face, which allows you to pick the portrait you like most from a burst of shots, as well as the new Selfie Alarm, which works the same but is tuned for self-portraits. You'll also find a Multi Motion Video mode that lets you control playback speed so you can slow down or speed up the action in your clips.
Along with the leatherette finish on front, the camera has a brushed metal finish on top. With the same lens, sensor size, and screen, the body size remains about the same as the first version, though its weight is a touch less at 10 ounces compared to the previous generation's 10.7 ounces.
There is no SIM card slot this time around, and the Galaxy Camera 2 is presently Wi-Fi only. However, Samsung added NFC for simple straightforward pairing with NFC-enabled devices. Just tap them together and you can create a wireless network between the camera and your smartphone or tablet for quickly sending photos and movie clips or remotely controlling the camera, among other things.
Just because it's first and foremost a camera doesn't mean you can't use it for anything else. With Android 4.3 and full access to Google Play and other apps, the Galaxy Camera 2 makes for a nice media player, too. There's even a mic and headphone jack, so you can listen to movies and music, make Skype calls, or even use it for recording better audio for your movies.