CNET First Look
Galaxy S4 Zoom: More camera than phoneThe Zoom joins the power of Samsung's Galaxy S4 with a killer zooming lens.
Make no bones about it. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is a point-and-shoot camera first and a smartphone second. I'm Jessica Dolcourt with CNET. Let's check out this crazy phone. Essentially the love child of the internet connect a Galaxy camera and a Galaxy S4 smartphone, the Zoom is the only handset anywhere with a 10x optical zooming lens. The 16-megapixel lens sticks out 2 full inches from the phone's face which is normal for a camera and really outrageous for a phone. That means you can forget about carrying it in your pocket and if you do make a call without using a Bluetooth headset, yes. As far as photos go, using the Zoom is natural and intuitive. Onscreen control zoom in and out, flip the camera and get it settings and modes. Smart mode hides a ton of extra presets you won't find on the Galaxy S4, like a food mode for amping up your dinner and want to freeze moving water. There are manual controls as well so more precise or creative photographers can set things like ISO, white balance, and exposure just how they want. When you aren't in the camera and turning the zoom lens is a quick way to pull up some common modes. Holding down the shutter button also opens the camera out. Just keep in mind that you have to unlock the phone before you can take a photo. However, if you want to you can set the S4 Zoom to unlock to the camera app which does save you a step. I took some really good photos with the Zoom's automatic settings and extra camera modes, but I took some less successful shots as well. Sometimes zooming in made people and objects look out of focus but other times it was very, very clear. Pictures of text were especially good with really crisp writing. Overall, I was happy to use and share the majority of my photos. As for video, the Zoom captures nice, smooth 1080p HD clips. The 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera is also capable of recording 720p HD video which is really good for video chats. The zooming camera lens is clearly the main event here, but the Zoom is also a capable Android phone even if it is incredibly awkwardly shaped. Like the Galaxy S4, the Zoom runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean but it also has a smaller 4.3-inch screen compared to the S4's 5 incher and a dual-core processor instead of a quad-core chip. It still has the same Android apps though, and it still has the IR blaster that you can use as a TV remote. There's also a micro-SD card slot that can take up to 64 gigabytes in external storage. Because of its enormous size, the Zoom really is a niche device that isn't for everyone. Instead, it's gonna be best for budding photographers who already carry around a point-and-shoot and would rather consolidate to just 1 device. If you're a serious photographer then I don't think the Zoom is gonna replace your higher powered DSLR. I will say that it is a fun cool idea that yields some better than average photos, but for most people the awkwardly large handset just isn't practical for day to day use. I'm Jessica Dolcourt for CNET. You can catch my full Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom rundown and all the specs at CNET.com.