Samsung Galaxy Camera vs The Rest (Part 1)

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We pitch the first dedicated Android-powered camera against the leading Android smartphones to definitively find out which device you should be using to get the best snaps

Cameras have been one of the major areas of growth in Android smartphones over the last year or so. Many manufactures, like Sony, are using their expertise in the imaging sector to create vastly superior camera phones, while others like HTC are using the camera as one of the key selling points of its entire range of devices. So it was no surprise when one manufacturer decided to build a dedicated camera powered by the Android OS and it was no surprise either that the manufacturer responsible was Korean giants Samsung. With the Galaxy Camera, Samsung has combined the best parts of the already impressive camera in the award-winning Galaxy S III – both hardware and software with elements common in dedicated standalone cameras that still elude smartphones chiefly, full optical zoom. But with the compact camera market shrinking as people find they already have a more than capable shooter, is there any need for the Galaxy Camera? Can Android really revitalize a product category in decline? We pitch it square against three of the best Android phones: the Sony Xperia T with its 13-megapixel sensor, the HTC One X+ complete with a dedicated imaging chip for superfast performance, and the Nexus 4, with some brand-new software features exclusive to Android  4.2. But which is the best? Let’s find out.

Group test Samsung Galaxy camera vs the rest

Group test Samsung Galaxy camera vs the rest

Samsung Galaxy Camera

The Galaxy Camera won’t replace a DSLR but it does brilliantly to bridge the gap nicely

The Galaxy Camera has a sleek and contemporary look and a large 4.8-inch HD touchscreen, which was highly responsive. Additionally, alongside its 21x optical zoom, dedicated camera button (with thumb zoom control) and pop-up Xenon flash, the Samsung Galaxy Camera certainly emanates the feel of a high-quality, premium product. It is quite weighty, but to combat this, and to improve handling reassurance, Samsung has engineered an ergonomically shaped hand grip with a rubberized coating to the right and supplied a lanyard in the box.

Samsung Galaxy Camera

Samsung Galaxy Camera

Booting up the Galaxy sends you straight to the intuitive camera interface which was by far the most feature-packed in the group.

The main controls are split into three on-screen modes offering an Auto mode for simple point and-click shots or an excellent Smart mode containing a series of preset camera modes. For advanced users, you click on the Expert mode which features an on-screen mockup of a camera lens, along with real-time previews and helpful descriptions of what each mode does – you have full manual control.

Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Camera with the same size sensor as used in smartphones, so images did inevitably get noisier in lower light, but the inclusion of a pop-up Xenon flash did at least ensure shots snapped in darker conditions were very sharp. The ability to zoom gave the device an instant benefit over any phone, and the macro function was excellent, letting us get up close to an object. We also liked the ability to pause live video recordings and use the superb optical zoom during video takes.

Tap the home button and the lens retracts and you’re in full Android mode. We liked the extra photo editing software (including Instagram) and the ability to download additional apps from the Google Play store. On-board storage was limited to 4GB and battery life does drain quickly for heavy usage, but you can boost the storage up to 64GB via a micro SD card and the battery can be hot-swapped on the fly.

Pause live video

With the video recording side of things, you have a simple pause button during live recording, which was really useful. It meant we could come back to the video at a later point – if we desired and pick up where we left off

Samsung Galaxy S II battery

While we mentioned in the review, the battery can be hot-swapped out. It actually uses a 1650mAh battery that is found in the Samsung Galaxy S II. Thus you can buy additional batteries for as low as $6 from eBay

Xenon flash

You can’t use the flash as a light source for your video recording because it is a proper fill flash. But the Xenon flash, when combined with photos for indoor use, did a great job

Optical zoom

The 21x optical zoom is accessed using a small slider next to the dedicated camera button and it enables you to get quite close to objects from a greater distance without impacting too much on quality

The Galaxy Camera won’t replace a DSLR but it does brilliantly to bridge the gap nicely

The Galaxy Camera won’t replace a DSLR but it does brilliantly to bridge the gap nicely

Samsung galaxy camera information

Price: $620


Head to head

Picture quality

Indoor shots in low-light conditions were similar to the Sony, but there were less traces of noise. However, its Xenon flash produced excellent results. Color matching and accuracy was also good outdoors, even in wintery conditions.

General performance

The dedicated camera button or touchscreen focus alternative provided reassuring feel and it processed the majority of shots quickly. Its interface is brilliant, providing intuitive controls and helpful descriptions of each function.


No front-facing camera, but it still has a wealth of features, including voice control, social sharing options and excellent optical zoom. Underneath you also have a great Android experience with plenty of editing software and Google Play.

Battery life

If you tap into the Android experience heavily you can expect regular charging at the end of the day. Unlike the other products, the battery is removable and you can hot-swap this on the fly.

Verdict: 5 stars

Those who want to seamlessly back up, edit and share without needing a computer will be blown away

Technical specs

§  Operating system: Android OS, 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean)

§  Processor: Quad-core 1.4GHz Cortex-A9

§  Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, micro SD and 50GB Dropbox

§  Dimensions: 70.8 x 128.7 x 19.1 mm

§  Weight: 300g

§  Display: 4.8” (306 ppi) Corning Gorilla Glass 2, 720 x 1,280 pixels

§  Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth V4.0, GPS (including tagging), HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76Mbps, micro HDMI port

§  Camera: 16.3-MP rear (Xenon flash), 21x optical zoom, 1080p full HD video with live pause


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