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Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Best Android camera phones available today. Bonus: three future contenders

Quick, can you remember the last time you used a standalone digital camera? It was back when you were still listening to ”new” Rolling Stones hit singles on your dedicated MP3 players, right? Boy, have smartphones changed the game and sent a bunch of once crowd-pleasing gadgets to the pits of oblivion.

Android photography

Multimedia performers, skilled point-and-shoots, personal assistants, self-portrait producers, these are only some of the tricky roles Androids undertake day in and day out without flinching. Forget “convertible” tablets and laptops, our routine handhelds are the real 2-in-1, 3-in-1, 4-in-1, all-in-one MVPs.

Of course, while nearly all of today’s smartphones are versatile enough to transform into modern Walkmans, complex cameras and miniature PCs at will, only certain models can fulfil every task flawlessly.

Android camera

And if you don’t need a cutting-edge multi-purpose device, but rather the perfect machine for a specific imaging function, you may want to revisit our selfie specialist roundup or stay tuned for the ultimate list of camera phone pros.

That’s right, it’s time to put the selfie fad behind you, and concentrate on the best rear-facing cam-equipped Android contraptions available today, as well as a few imminent photography savants:

Samsung Galaxy S6 – $657 factory unlocked; $200 with Sprint, AT&T or Verizon pacts

It’s difficult to find something the GS6 (and its “edgy” sibling) aren’t great at. Cam performance is no exception, with 16 megapixels, optical image stabilization, autofocus, LED flash, face detection, auto HDR and panorama features covering all key areas a shutterbug might need when not in possession of a DSLR.


Granted, the actual lens remains tiny compared to bulky digital single-lens reflex cameras, whereas the f/1.9 aperture system is no longer the cream of the crop after LG G4’s introduction. Yet at the end of the day, this powerhouse will produce amazing pics in whatever conditions… all things considered.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – $540 unlocked; starting at $230 with Verizon contracts

At first glance, Note 4 and S6’s main snappers are virtually identical. The same 16 MP count, OIS across the board, LED flash and so on and so forth. But if you look close enough, you’ll find Sammy’s newest top-shelf phablet boasts narrower f/2.2 aperture, resulting in slightly less low-light muscle.

Galaxy Note 4 camera

Needless to point out the on-contract GNote 4 is also pricier while packing an inferior processor that could well influence shutter speed.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom – $411 unlocked

This weird hybrid is more digital camera than phone, and it’s nowhere near as widely available stateside as the mainstream new members of the S and Note families. But hey, it can make and receive voice calls, and when it comes to photography skill, it’s Android’s best shot at keeping Microsoft’s PureView technology at arm’s length.

Galaxy K Zoom

Hands down the 10x optical zoom is what makes this chunky monkey a shutterbug’s wet dream, alongside 20 hefty megapixels, 24 – 240 mm focal length, Xenon flash and a CMOS sensor.

Sony Xperia Z3 – starting at $465 international SIM-free

Though it also rocks 20.7 remarkable MPs, the Z3 is hardly an ideal DSLR replacement, since it lacks the sharp close-up miracles of optical zoom. Not to mention optical image stabilization.

Xperia Z3 camera

On the bright side, the CMOS 1/2.3″ sensor is a standout performer, and you get LED flash, autofocus , Burst Mode, HDR, a decent digital zoom and image stabilization system, plus 4K video recording at 30 fps in the 5.2 incher’s bag of tricks.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact – $380 unlocked

Xperia Z3 Compact

Smaller but not humbler than Sony’s most recent full-sized global flagship, this diminutive beast also unleashes the fury of a 20 megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, autofocus and 2,160p vid shooting at 30 fps. Including underwater.

LG G3 – $353 factory unlocked; $0.01 on-contract at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint

Let’s not beat it around the bush. 13 MP is low when pitted against the 16 and 20 megapixel giants listed above. F2.4 aperture certainly doesn’t help G3’s cause, letting less light in and thus harming both overall night-time photo performance and focal quality.


Thankfully (for LG), the perennial Korean underdogs were wise enough to adopt a proficient OIS solution, as well as offer dual-LED flash and something called laser autofocus to improve just what the narrow aperture hindered. All in all, for a market veteran, the G3 holds its own decently, keeping up with the times.

Google/Motorola Nexus 6 – $630 unlocked; $180 with AT&T contracts, $200 for Sprint

Yes, it’s expensive, somewhat precarious to handle with one hand and no, it doesn’t break any sensor records, at a humdrum 13 megapixels. But there’s OIS class to be had, f/2.0 aperture, autofocus, face detection, HDR, panorama functions and 30 fps 4K video recording.

Nexus 6 camera

Besides, the always up-to-date, stock software guarantees nothing will get between you and capturing that mesmerizing sunset the way God intended man to admire it – no bells and whistles, little to no post-processing correction.

What’s on the horizon


Moar megapixels (16, to be specific), record-setting aperture size (f/1.8), “truer colors”, improved white balance, beefed-up optical image stabilization, ultra-sharp UHD video capture, manual settings for fine-tuning everything from shutter speed to ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation.

LG G4 camera

Frankly, I’ve no idea what half of those things do or mean. What I’m pretty sure of nevertheless is the leather-backed soon-to-be G4 drastically perks up its predecessor’s already impressive camera performance, going up against Nokia’s PureView virtuosos with great aplomb. Let’s just hope LG finds the pricing sweet spot eventually.

Asus Zenfone Zoom

Unveiled back at CES in January, this direct Samsung Galaxy K Zoom opponent is nowhere to be found on store shelves stateside or around the globe. Even worse, we doubt it’ll ever be picked up by a major American carrier.

Asus Zenfone Zoom

The best we can hope for therefore is a reasonable price tag outright and an adequate distribution effort. What makes this so desirable? Simple – 3x optical zoom, dual-LED, dual-tone flash, OIS and laser autofocus. Unfortunately, the megapixel count is mediocre at best. Yes, we’re afraid you can’t get rid of the unlucky 13 here either.

Sony Xperia Z4

Looking familiar as ever, the latest “Sony flagship nobody asked for” pulls off the “amazing feat” of once again snubbing optical image stabilization. No words on an LED or aperture upgrade yet, but ultimately, even if nothing’s changed, this 20.7 MP shooter remains a classic.

Xperia Z4

Do keep in mind that, while identical on the outside, the Z4 stands out from the Z3 under the hood with a state-of-the-art octa-core Snapdragon 810 chip. That perhaps doesn’t directly boost photography excellence, but it definitely aids with the phone’s general wow factor.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom vs Galaxy S4 Zoom – Specs comparison

Apparently unwilling to dilute the Galaxy S brand anymore, Samsung took the wraps off an S5 subspecies called Galaxy K Zoom. I’ll be damned. But look, Sammy, just because you label a light bulb some fancy other way, it doesn’t mean we’ll view it any differently.


If it glows as a result of electric current passing through it, it’s a light bulb, and likewise, if the K Zoom is a logical follow-up to last year’s Galaxy S4 Zoom with a design overhaul making it look like the GS5, it’s a Galaxy S5 Zoom.

At the end of the day though, we couldn’t care less about branding strategies and marketing mumbo-jumbo. What we want is for this Galaxy S5 K Zoom to improve on an intriguing but poorly executed concept. Well, does it? Are we any closer to ditching conventional point-and-shoot cams in favor of a smartphone/camera hybrid that can do it all?

Galaxy K Zoom vs S4 Zoom

Only one way to find out – take the K Zoom and pit it against the Galaxy S4 Zoom. Here it goes:

Design and build quality comparison

However smart it may be, whatever tricks it might have up its sleeve, no one wants to carry around a brick. As such, it was back to the drawing board for Samsung after botching up S4 Zoom’s aesthetics.

Now, sure, the K Zoom shares quite a few common points with its predecessor (after all, the Koreans couldn’t have possibly reinvented the wheel), but make no mistake, the designers started from scratch. And they (mostly) pulled it off.

Galaxy K Zoom

The K Zoom sports a much larger display (0.5 inch larger, to be exact), yet it’s 8 grams lighter. It’s also reasonably thin, measuring 20.2 mm at its thickest point. Most importantly, it doesn’t feel like Samsung conceived two separate gizmos, then blended them together with little sense anymore.

The K Zoom really gives off the vibe of a cohesive, close-knit crossbreed. Bottom line, you won’t feel bad when whipping the big guy out of your pocket and using it as a phone. As for the perforated pattern on the device’s back, it oddly works.

Galaxy S4 Zoom

Build quality? Since the GS5 is sturdier, more robust than the S4, we expect the K Zoom to trump the S4 Zoom too.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom vs Galaxy S4 Zoom – camera face-off

We clearly need to wait for real-life comparisons with Nokia’s PureView monsters and Sony’s 20.7 MP snapper-toting Xperia Z2 before concluding the K Zoom is the all-around best camera phone. For the moment, we can definitely assume it’s better than the S4 Zoom.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom-2

Both photographic powerhouses pack 10x optical zoom, Xenon flash and optical image stabilization and the sensor size is the same: 1/2.3″. Then again, the K Zoom ups the megapixel ante from 16 to 20.7 and adds a bundle of special, nifty features in the mix.

You’ve got AF/AE Separation, a Pro Suggest smart mode, Object tracking and Studio, plus better response times and 1080p video recording at 60 frames per second. Face, smile and blink detection, panorama, HDR, geo-tagging, Kids shot, Expert Mode, Beauty face, Virtual tour, Continuous shot, Selfie alarm, Landscape, these are all add-ons the S4 Zoom introduced and, presumably, the K Zoom revises and upgrades.

Display duel

Enough about the camera part of the hybrid, let’s talk smartphone specs. Granted, K Zoom’s screen isn’t exactly spectacular. But when compared to S4 Zoom’s panel, it’s leaps and bounds ahead. Not only is it bigger and thus more comfortable for video playing and whatnot, it boasts 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution for a 306 ppi pixel density.

Galaxy K zoom_Electric Blue

The poor, raggedy old S4 Zoom, meanwhile, comes with a shoddy 960 x 540 pixel count in tow and crappy 256 ppi. No extra comment necessary.

Processing speed, RAM and battery life

Once again, the K Zoom isn’t breathtaking when evaluated on its own. It’s no high-end contender, that much is obvious. But its on-board CPU has three times as many cores as S4 Zoom’s. Six in total, four of the Cortex A7 line and clocked at 1.3 GHz and a couple 1.7 GHz Cortex A15s.

The hexa-core Exynos 5260 chipset is paired with a Mali-T624 GPU and 2 GB RAM, up from 1.5 GB in 2013. As a result, multitasking and overall hardware performance should considerably and noticeably progress.

Autonomy? That’s a touchy subject for the time being, as the K Zoom barely boosts battery capacity by 100 mAh (2,430 vs 2,330). And with a higher-res display and more power-demanding processor, it’s entirely possible you’re looking at a downgrade instead of an upgrade. Oh, well, at least you get S5’s Ultra Power Saving Mode to make the best of the ticker’s final units of juice.

Software, storage, connectivity and others

Pre-loaded Android 4.4 KitKat comes as no surprise for a Q2 2014 upper mid-range smartphone, but I must admit, I wasn’t expecting the K Zoom to incorporate so many of GS5’s TouchWiz-specific goodies. There’s S Health Lite, the uber-useful Kids mode and, I’m guessing, plenty of other features Sammy didn’t get a chance to detail.

Galaxy K zoom_White

Storage-wise, the K Zoom and S4 Zoom are identical twins, with 8 gigs of space built-in and an additional 64 available via microSD cards. Not much has changed in the connectivity department either, with Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Wi-Fi and optional 4G LTE across the board.

That’s pretty much everything worth noting and, since K Zoom pricing and availability continue to be kept under lock and key, I’m afraid we’ll need to give it some time before passing a verdict. So far, so good though. Anyone care to disagree? The comments section is all yours.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom Gets Officially Announced

Samsung has finally unveiled its smartphone-point and shoot camera hybrid device called the Galaxy K Zoom at the Red Dot Design Museum in Singapore. This device is basically the successor to last year’s Galaxy S4 Zoom which now features several upgrades. Some of its impressive features include a 20.7 megapixel sensor that has a 10x optical zoom as well as most of the software enhancements present in the recently released Galaxy S5.

samsung galaxy k zoom

According to Sun Hong Lim, Senior Vice President of Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics, “With the introduction of the Galaxy K zoom, Samsung continues to demonstrate our commitment to creating products that meet the diverse demands of our consumers. The new Galaxy K zoom empowers users to effortlessly capture and share their most important everyday moments in stunning clarity, with the convenience and connectedness of a Galaxy smartphone, for a unique, all-in-one mobile experience.”

Technical Specifications

  • Network: LTE (Cat4, HSPA+ 42Mbps, LTE 800/850/900/1800/2100/2600, HSPA+ 850/900/1900/2100, EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900) 3G (5-band HSPA+ 42Mbps, HSPA+ 850/900/1900/2100, EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900)
  • Display: 4.8 inch HD Super AMOLED Display (1280×720)
  • Processor: Hexa core( 1.3GHz Quad-Core + 1.7GHz Dual)
  • OS: Android 4.4 (KitKat)
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Internal Memory: 8 GB
  • MicroSD Slot: micro SDSC (up to 2GB guaranteed), micro SDHC (up to 32GB guaranteed), micro SDXC (up to 64GB guaranteed)
  • Main Camera: 20.7MP (f.3.1 – 6.3 OIS) with Xenon flash
  • Secondary Camera: 2MP
  • Battery: 2430 mAh
  • Dimensions: 137.5X70.8X16.6(20.2)mm, 200g

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom improves on almost all areas of its predecessor. What’s probably the best part is that while the Galaxy S4 Zoom was a bulky device that closely resembles a camera than a smartphone the Galaxy K Zoom is much slimmer and now closely resembles a smartphone than a camera.

One of the most notable featuresof this device is its optical zoom, something that most smartphones don’t have. The combination of the 20.7 MP sensor and 10x optical zoom captures very clear and detailed images.

Those who love to take selfie shots will be pleased to know that this device comes with a Selfie Alarm. Just select an area on the display where you would like your head to be positioned then turn the device around and point the camera to yourself, once your head is inside the frame an alarm will sound. There’s also an easier way to take a selfie photo by using the 2MP front camera.

Other features of this device include the Ultra Power Saving Mode which saves battery life, S Health Lite which is used in personal health and fitness coaching, and Studio App which allows for easy editing of photos.

Samsung is set to release the Galaxy K Zoom globally this May. There is no information as of the moment on a U.S. release date.

via samsungmobilepress