Ratings in depth

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom review

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom review

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom review

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom review

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom review

We know that the smartphone has eaten the compact camera's lunch, but Samsung thinks it still has one or two tricks up its capacious sleeves before the plates and cutlery are finally cleared away.

The South Korean company - never shy to try any combination of size, specs and features in its line-up of devices - has followed up last year's Galaxy S4 Zoom with the Galaxy K Zoom, once again attempting to bring consumers camera-quality optics in a mobile-sized frame.

The intention behind this second phone-camera hybrid (as opposed to the camera-phone hybrid - keep up at the back) is to provide the best of both worlds, but in practice there are compromises on all sides.

The camera technology here isn't terribly advanced, and the phone gets lower specs, extra depth and more weight as a result of including it.

Phone-wise, we're looking somewhere between the aforementioned Galaxy S4 Zoom and the latest Galaxy S5 flagship in terms of specifications. Like its direct predecessor, the K Zoom features 8GB of internal storage which you can expand via a microSD card but everything else has been given a bump.

Galaxy K zoom
The screen is decent, though you only get a 720p resolution

The 720 x 1280 pixel Super AMOLED screen may not match the latest and greatest phones on the market, but it's a welcome upgrade from the S4 Zoom. There's 2GB of RAM here too, as with the Galaxy S5.

The processor inside is a hexacore Samsung Exynos 5, with two high-performance 1.75GHz A15 cores and four less powerful high-efficiency 1.3GHz A7 cores. The dual-core configuration is used for day-to-day tasks, while the quad-core capabilities kick in whenever there's some heavy lifting to be done.

That's the same strategy used by the octacore Galaxy S5, but with two fewer cores, obviously. There's NFC and 4G on board, so all of your connectivity options are taken care of. The removable back case gives you access to the battery and the microSIM slot, while the tiny microphone in the base completes the picture.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
The camera optics mean there's extra bulk around the back

Unfortunately, you're not going to get much change from £400 (around $680, AU$730) if you want to buy the K Zoom SIM-free, and that's a big investment considering the middling specs on offer. It's about 10% cheaper than its predecessor, but it still feels overpriced.

On contract, most deals are in the £20-30 per month range, and aren't particularly appealing in terms of bundled goodies.

Samsung has promised that the Galaxy K Zoom will arrive in Australia later this year. As yet there's no word on if or when it will turn up in the US.

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom feels top-heavy thanks to that larger lens, tipping the scales at 200g — while that's 7g lighter than the S4 Zoom, something like Google's svelte Nexus 5 comes in at 130g. You will notice the difference.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
It's bigger than most modern phones but it's not a dealbreaker

Thinness and lightness are significant considerations for most mobile phone buyers, but it's not difficult to get used to the K Zoom after a day or two, and I wouldn't say the extra size or weight were dealbreakers from a personal perspective.

They're noticeable for sure, but you can still slip the phone into a pocket, use it one-handed and do everything else you can with the super-slim super-light handsets on the market.

It's 16.6mm thick across most of the body and 20.2mm thick at its widest point (where the camera optics are installed). Perhaps the biggest difficulty is learning to rearrange the default position for your fingers around the back of the device so you're not constantly interfering with the lens casing.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
The phone stretches to a depth of 20.2mm where the casing sits

It does look a bit odd propped up on a table or desk but you don't care about strange looks down the pub when you have all that camera power to fall back on, do you

Aside from the obvious key feature, the Galaxy K Zoom is neat and tidy, with the 4.8-inch screen offering bright, sharp, clear colours.

Viewing it in sunlight isn't always easy, and the 720p resolution is a bit of a shame - particularly when you're framing shots with the cameram - but again it's not going to ruin the phone if you've bought it because of its photo-taking prowess. You're paying your admission fee for the camera, so average specs don't matter as much as they otherwise would.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
The latest version of TouchWiz for Android is installed

There's a dimpled, textured effect around the back, which feels nice to the touch and gives some extra grip. The standard microSD port is on the bottom left as you hold the phone - Samsung says cards up to 64GB in size are supported.

If you're looking to match your next mobile with your socks, the Galaxy K Zoom is available in white, black and blue, and a chunky metal trim around the edges (kept from the S4 Zoom) completes the look.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
The extra zoom capabilities are one of the handset's best features

Samsung has done well with the design of the K Zoom and it's a significantly nicer-looking bit of kit than the S4 Zoom device that preceded it. As with the latest Samsung handsets, a central home button sits between capacitive buttons for going back and viewing recent apps (replacing the menu button).

Down the right hand side you'll find volume and power controls, plus a dedicated button for the camera. We have a standard 3.5mm audio jack on top, and an equally unexciting USB charging port underneath.

Taken as a whole, the Galaxy K Zoom impresses just about as much as you would expect: it looks like a neatly designed mid-range mobile, and while the camera optics do inevitably add some heft, it's by no means ugly.