Half phone, half high-end camera.
That's the idea behind the Galaxy S4 Zoom, the new device unveiled by Samsung earlier today. The S4 Zoom, pictured above, boasts many of the same features as the more traditional Galaxy S4 Mini smart phone: The Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system, the 4.3-inch display, the dual-core processor. The difference is the 16-megapixel, 10X optical zoom lens that sprouts from the back of the machine.
There's also a back-illuminated sensor, optical-image stabilizer, and something called Smart Mode Suggest, which Samsung says can "assess the scene for you and provide a short list of the best options for your consideration based on surrounding factors such as light levels, focal length, or face detection." In other words, this ain't your standard-issue smart phone shooter.
But what kind of audience is Samsung aiming (sorry) for with the Galaxy S4 Zoom?
Over at CNET, Stephen Shankland allows that this "model isn't likely to appeal to the mainstream smartphone buyer. But in an Android market crowded with options, a niche that caters to a particular subset can be a reasonable approach – especially if that subset is as passionate, enthusiastic, and willing to part with money as photographers often are," Mr. Shankland adds.
He's right, to a certain extent. But we'd also argue that Samsung is bucking a trend with the S4 Zoom, possibly to its own detriment. These days, consumers want a Swiss Army knife-like device in their pocket – a phone that does lots of things pretty well. As tech site Liliputing has noted, the camera on the Zoom is good. The rest of the specs, on the other hand, "look like they were ripped from a 2011-era phone."
That may not fly with consumers.
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