Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom review

Is it a phone? Is it a camera? Do you care?

TODO alt text

In a lot of ways we're quite fond of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. It's not as unwieldy as we'd expected, it's got one of the best cameras available on a smartphone, solid battery life and a lot of features and apps.

The problem is that as a phone it's decidedly mid-range, with average specs and an average screen, while as a camera (as opposed to a phone camera) it's quite low end.

The main selling point is presumably that it removes the need to carry around both a phone and a compact, except that it doesn't, because if you care about photos enough to carry a compact around with you anyway then this is likely to be a downgrade and while it's fine as a mid range phone it carries a premium price tag of around £440 SIM free.

We liked

The camera, by smartphone standards, is absolutely superb. Pictures are detailed, low light performance is solid (though seemingly worse than on the Nokia Lumia 925) and the addition of a 10x optical zoom and Xenon flash really take it up to another level.

The battery life is pretty good too, despite being clad in plastic it looks quite nice, internet performance is fast and there are loads of useful built in apps and features such as 'S Translate' and pop-out videos.

We disliked

While the camera is great by smartphone standards it's still pretty poor compared to most standalone cameras. Aside from the camera the Samsung Galaxy S4 also seems a little over priced for what it is as the screen isn't full HD and it only has a dual-core processor, which noticeably led to slow down on a few occasions, particularly when launching apps or changing modes on the camera.

There's also only 8GB of built in storage which really is a paltry amount and while it isn't as bulky or awkward as we thought it might be the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is still far from slim or light.


We really want to like the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom but we're just not sure there's a gap in the market for it. If the camera or phone part was better or the price tag was lower then it would make sense, but right now it's a poor compact married to a mid-range phone at a high end price tag.

Anyone looking to spend that sort of money on a phone would likely want more from it, or they could get the mostly quite similar Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini for a fair bit less.

It might appeal to camera fans, but they could get a much better compact for the money. Combining a compact camera and a phone into a single device is a nice idea, but when both are worse than stand alone models it seems like an awkward compromise.

On the other hand there's nothing inherently wrong with it. As a phone camera it's great, aside from adding bulkiness and weight to the handset. The phone bit isn't bad either, but for not much more you could get an HTC One or a Samsung Galaxy S4, both of which are a lot better as all round smartphones.

So ultimately the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is quite good, and given the quality of the camera attached to it it's not necessarily overpriced as such, we're just not sure it actually fills the small gap in the market that it seems to be aiming for.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory8 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS, HSPA+
SAR Value0.14 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy S4 Zoom
Cellular Generation3.9G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution16 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD, microSD High Capacity (microSDHC)
Phone StyleBar
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time13 Hour
Product ModelSM-C101
Screen Size10.9 cm (4.3")
Screen Resolution540 x 960
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)208 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerARM
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.2 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density256 ppi
Front Camera Resolution1.9 Megapixel
Height125.5 mm
Width63.5 mm
Depth15.4 mm
Radio TunerYes
Battery Standby Time570 Hour
Product NameGalaxy S4 Zoom SM-C101 Smartphone
Processor Speed1.50 GHz
Processor TypeCortex
Product LineGalaxy S4 Zoom
Screen TypeOLED
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Gyro Sensor, Magnetometer, Ambient Light Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberSM-C1010ZWABTU
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing InformationDo it all and miss nothing with the next phase in imaging smartphones. Controlled by the revolutionary zoom ring, the Galaxy S4 zoom is a no-compromises smartphone and camera that sets new standards for versatility and control. The zoom-ring control lets you share a photo during phone calls, control the optical zoom, and launch the camera. Capture life's greatest moments in breathtaking detail with a super-fast, super-sensitive 16-megapixel CMOS sensor. The Galaxy S4 zoom even guides you to the best locations for picture-taking-anywhere in the world. Powered by the latest Android OS and featuring precise control of all picture-taking and communications functions, the Galaxy S4 zoom lets you do more with your life.
Limited Warranty2 Year