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S4 Zoom

Samsung had the tech world abuzz with the release of their latest Galaxy S4 variants recently, or just weeks after another S4 model came out. We were also interested, so we went our way to acquire the first commercial unit of the Galaxy S4 Zoom.

What sets the Galaxy S4 Zoom apart from the rest of the competition is its form factor. It’s basically like a fusion of two Samsung devices, specifically a smaller S4 and and a Galaxy camera. And since it was made to look like a camera, let’s start off from there.

It boasts 16MP, a large lens that is protected with a fingerprint-resistant panel, a powerful and effective 10x optical zoom. On the device’s lower right-side is a nice, round camera button, making photo shooting easier. But the button itself does not launch the camera app.

The zoom ring feels a little stiff, but gets the job done of zooming in and out. It can also be used to launch the camera, when spinning it, the mode selections appear and all it takes is a quick tap.

The smooth curved handle is a hefty bulk as a phone but makes it comfortable to hold on to as a camera.

We were awed by the camera as we took it for a spin. Images captured are bright, colorful, and meticulously detailed.

Images remain clear and crisp when zooming in to view them. It also has a 1.9MP front facing camera for the Smart Stay feature and for other reasons.

Camera has four options: Auto, Smart, Expert, and My Mode. Auto picks the best mode for the situation, expert lets you adjust shutter speed, saturation and so on, while My Mode is a quick access to the modes you like to use most.

Smart is where other options like HDR, panorama, and a lot of scenes to choose from.

There are other modes as well like Animated Mode, which captures several images and save them as a single GIF.

And there’s the Kid Shot, which plays a sound to catch a child’s attention when pressing the camera button.

Drama mode attempts to take a few shots of a moving object and stitches them together.

Because of its design, the Galaxy S4 Zoom looks and feels larger compared to holding one of the current smartphones in the market.

Putting it in the pocket makes an obvious bulk, and feels like you have a compact camera in there instead of a smartphone.

It could be a plus factor, if you want to hide it from a would-be criminal seeking a high-end phone. But our best advise is to get a small bag to keep it away from the elements.

The 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen is very responsive, smooth, and fluid.

Its resolution range to 930×540 with 256 pixels per inch. Not Full HD, but still an above average display. It sports a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and a 1.5GB RAM.

Now these are modest specs, compared to devices with quad-core and octa-core processors. But as we’ve mentioned earlier, the S4 Zoom is more camera-centric, and we’re guessing the S4 Zoom is eyeing the artist in us.

Dual-core is proper, it doesn’t drain too much of the S4 Zoom’s 2330mAh battery capacity. And even if the energy runs out too fast, the battery is removable, so it’s easy to bring a spare one, or carry a power bank charger.

It only sports 8GB internal memory, but is expandable up to 64GB via microSD. It’s NFC enabled, along being 3G and 4G ready, along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

So what say we?

Getting the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is like getting the best of both worlds. (Jonathan Kevin Castillo)