In an age when mobile photography is more popular than it ever has been before, the quality of photos taken on leading mobile devices like the iPhone 5s and Galaxy S5 continues to impress. At the same time, however, there is still a huge disparity between photos taken by smartphones and images captured by dedicated compact cameras.
Or is there?
Because mobile photography has become so popular, a new category of smartphones has emerged. Made up of just a handful of high-end handsets like the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom, this new breed of camera phones tries to come as close as possible to providing the quality and experience we might expect from a dedicated camera.
And now, these next-generation camera phones have a new king: The Samsung Galaxy K zoom.
Samsung’s second crack at a modern “phone camera” is based on its popular Galaxy S5, but it has been broken off into the new Galaxy K category. Regardless of the phone’s name, the experience it provides is very similar to the one enjoyed on Samsung’s flagship phone. The key difference, of course, is the camera.
The Galaxy K zoom is a smartphone first and a camera second, according to Samsung. If you ask us, however, there is one reason and only one reason to consider purchasing this phone, and that’s the camera. The K zoom is thicker than the S5, it’s heavier and it has a lower-resolution display. The only area where the K zoom tops the S5 — by a mile, we might add — is where the camera is concerned.
Samsung’s new phone camera features a 20.7 megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, a xenon flash and support for 1080p video capture at 60 fps. It also features a retractable lens system with nine elements that supports 10x optical zoom.
Not digital zoom… 10x optical zoom.
As you might assume, the Galaxy K zoom is packed full of features and manually adjustable settings that advanced users will love, but it also has plenty of nifty camera value-adds that casual mobile photogs will enjoy. Examples include “Pro Suggest,” which suggests appropriate camera settings configurations in real time based on the user’s surroundings (custom configurations can also be saved and shared in an online marketplace); live object tracking, which will constantly adjust the camera’s focus as it follows a moving object; and “Selfie Alarm,” which helps users take full 20-megapixel selfies using the rear camera.
To elaborate briefly on the Selfie Alarm feature, it lets user mark an area on the display where his or her face should be positioned in a selfie. The phone can then be turned around and it will beep more rapidly as the position of the user’s face gets closer to the area designated in the first step. Once the user’s face is positioned perfectly, the phone will automatically capture a selfie.
Beyond the camera features, the Galaxy K zoom is full-featured modern smartphone in a big, fat case.
The device is 20.2 millimeters thick, with is very big for a smartphone but not bad at all when the camera features are taken into account. The device’s thin plastic housing also keeps the weight down to 200 grams despite the added bulk.
In terms of specs, we’re looking at a Samsung Exynos hexa-core processor that combines a 1.3GHz quad-core chipset and a 1.7GHz dual-core processor, as well as a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with 720p resolution, 2GB of RAM, 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, microSDXC support up to 64GB, a 2,430 mAh battery and Android 4.4 KitKat.
Samsung plans to begin rolling out the Galaxy K zoom in various Asian and European markets beginning early next month, though no pricing details have been announced at this point.
For the time being, Samsung has no plans to launch its new K zoom in the United States.