As smartphones become more like cameras, it was inevitable that eventually, cameras would become more like smartphones.
Samsung's original Galaxy camera, debuted in 2012, combined a 'real' camera – one with a sensor larger than the average smartphone – and a 21x zoom lens with the Android operating system, making for a huge amount of customisation and connectivity options.
Now, Samsung has updated the original Galaxy with the Galaxy Camera 2. It has many of the same specifications as the original, making some tweaks along the way for improved performance. Interestingly, Samsung has also taken the decision to remove 3G capability from the camera, making it less 'phone-like' than the original, but it retains Wi-Fi functionality.
Other changes come in the form of the upgraded processor, which should improve the overall speed of the camera, and an improved battery life – it can now take 400 shots in one outing, compared with the previous 340. The Galaxy 2 manages to be ever so slightly bigger, but surprisingly lighter.
Aside from those minor tweaks, the general specifications of the camera remain the same. There's a 16-million pixel CMOS sensor, a 21x optical zoom lens (which offers an equivalent of 23-483mm in 35mm terms). At the widest point of the lens, an f/2.8 maximum aperture is offered, which should help with low light shooting or when aiming for a shallow depth of field effect. At the telephoto end of the lens, the maximum aperture drops to f/5.6, which is still respectable for such a long focal length.
As well as fully automatic settings, the Galaxy Camera 2 includes the option to take manual control over images. You can also shoot in semi-automatic modes such as aperture priority and shutter priority. That's good news for experienced photographers who want to control settings themselves, but disappointingly there's no ability to shoot in raw format.
A number of scene modes are also available that tailor the camera's settings to the situation you're shooting in. As with the previous Galaxy camera, Samsung has included a Best Face mode, which enables you to select the best (in terms of expression) faces within a group shot from five consecutively captured images. There are also common scene modes, such as macro and panorama.
On the back of the camera is a huge – by camera standards – 4.8-inch touchscreen LCD panel, but there are very few physical buttons.
As before, the camera comes with a free 50GB Dropbox account, which is useful for sharing and storing your images, as well as syncing images between devices.
When you don't want to use the camera as, well, a camera, then it has Android Jelly Bean, which allows you to add hundreds of apps from the Google Play store. Aside from photographic apps, you can add social networking, email and web browsing apps.
As the Galaxy Camera 2 is Wi-Fi only though, you'll only be able to use these apps when connected to a wireless network – though you could tether it to your mobile phone if you wanted to.
There aren't a lot of cameras that compete with the Galaxy Camera 2: one is the Nikon S810c, which also uses the Android operating system, but is physically a lot smaller; the others are, arguably, smartphones themselves. The Sony Xperia Z1 features a 20 million-pixel 1/2.3 inch sensor, which is larger than the average smartphone and the same physical size as the Galaxy Camera 2, but there's no optical zoom capability.
Meanwhile, the S810c features a 16 million-pixel 1/2.3 inch sensor and a 12x optical zoom sensor, and it is significantly cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2.