Announced last year at IFA, the Samsung Galaxy Camera was the first device to successfully combine a point-and-shoot camera with a smartphone. In essence, it was a Galaxy S3 with a 21x zoom strapped to the back.
The only problem? It couldn't make calls, but you still had to pay for a data plan.
We thought that was a pretty big oversight, and it seems Samsung did too. So today, the company rolled out the Galaxy S4 Zoom, complete with full voice-calling functionality. While the sensor is still a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS model, the lens is a new, more conservative 10x design with a 24-240mm equivalent focal range. The device runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, with Samsung's usual Touchwiz user interface.
You might think that given its name, this camera would be rocking the same guts as the recently released flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone. But you'd be sadly mistaken. The Galaxy S4 Zoom runs on a 1.5GHz dual-core processor—far behind the 1.9GHz quad-core in the Galaxy S4. Other key specs also fall a little short. The S4's 5-inch Super AMOLED screen has been shrunk down to 4.3 inches for the S4 Zoom, and its resolution has also dropped from 1080p to 960 x 540 qHD (likely the same screen from the Galaxy S4 Mini).
On the plus side, the Galaxy S4 Zoom is packed with plenty of camera-oriented functionality. Chief among them is a new physical zoom ring, which can also be used to access all kinds of shortcuts and additional features. The coolest of these is the new Call Photo Share, which allows you to snap a photo mid-call and send it by MMS to the person you're talking to. As you'd expect from a proper camera, there's a shutter button on the right side of the device, but the rest of the interface is entirely touch-driven.
While larger (at 125.5 x 63.5 x 15.4mm) and heavier (at 208g) than just about any other smartphone, the Galaxy S4 Zoom is notably smaller than the original Galaxy Camera and lighter by almost a third. Will it be comfortably pocketable? Do you even want to carry a delicate thing like a camera lens around in your pocket all day every day? Are they all going to laugh at you? We'll have to test one to find out.
So far, the Galaxy S4 Zoom has only been officially announced in the UK, but we expect it to break cover in the US soon. When pricing and availability have been announced, we'll be here to fill you in on the details. In the meantime, you can check out the press release at Samsung Mobile's site.