Samsung on Wednesday unveiled its latest Galaxy S4 smartphone.
Or is it a camera?
Whatever it is, the Galaxy S4 Zoom – a cross between a phone and a high end point-and-shoot – is another step in the company’s expansion of its flagship S4 product line.
Looking at the front of the Zoom, it appears to simply be an S4 Mini, the 4-inch smartphone Samsung recently unveiled.
But when flipped over, it looks just like a digital camera.
While Samsung lauds the dual functionality, some tech experts are not sold on the practicality of a gizmo that’s equal parts phone and camera.
“You’re literally going to be holding a camera to your face when you’re on the phone,” Jonathan Geller, editor-in-chief of tech site BGR.com (Boy Genius Report), told the Daily News.
“I don’t think there are many people that would… replace their phone and camera with this. You’re better off with a regular S4. This is very much overkill,” Geller added.
The Zoom is equipped with a 16-megapixel camera and 10x optical zoom, allowing the smartphone to double as a fully functioning digital camera.
By comparison, the cameras on both Samsung’s standard Galaxy S4 phone and Apple’s iPhone 5 are 8-megapixel.
“The Galaxy S4 Zoom exists simply because it can,” said Darren Murph. managing editor of engadget.com.
“This phone is a mishmash… (but) if you’re Samsung, you can afford to create first and answer later.”
The device offers the Zoom Ring, which allows users to snap a picture while talking on the phone and send it to the person on the other end of the call.
The camera is also equipped with a zenon flash, image stabilization capability, and Samsung’s Smart Mode, which automatically chooses the best settings for pictures.
On the phone side, the Zoom runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, with a 4.3-inch qHD display and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor.
The 8GB of built-in storage can be increased by up to 64GB with a microSD card.
Samsung did not give specific details on the price and release date.
The Galaxy S4 Zoom furthers the Korean electronics giant’s strategy of rolling out niche variations of its signature smartphone, which include the smaller and cheaper S4 Mini and the waterproof S4 Active.
“There’s no question that smartphones as a whole have started to cannibalize the compact camera market, and Samsung is evidently hoping that those in the market for both a new shooter and a new phone will simply grab this,” said Murph.
“I suspect Samsung will sell precious few of these – it’s a quintessential niche device, after all- but it’s great for the overall industry to see the envelope being pushed in such a way.”
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