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Give up already! Samsung's new camera phone is botched up

Last updated on: July 08, 2014 13:25 IST

Give up already! Samsung's new camera phone is botched up

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Himanshu Juneja

Samsung Galaxy K zoom is chunky. Many of its features will make users cringe and lament about compromises Samsung has made, apart from its poor battery life and not so stellar display, says Himanshu Juneja

After last year's Galaxy S4 Zoom, Samsung has yet again tried its hands at a hybrid device. A gadget which combines two of the most used features for a portable gadget, a mobile phone and a camera.

Naturally, the latest offering from Samsung will carry improved specs and more features on the OS front, but we really need to take a more detailed look than that to see if this model changes the fortune of the hybrid offering by Samsung or not.

Specs:

  • OS: Android ver 4.4.2 (KitKat)
  • Display: Super AMOLED 4.8 inches @ 720 x 1280 pixels, (~306 ppi)
  • Processor: Quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex A7 and dual-core 1.7 GHz Cortex A15
  • RAM: 2 GB RAM
  • Camera: Primary -- 20.7 MP, 10x optical zoom, Xenon & LED flash, Secondary -- 2.0 MP
  • Memory: 8 GB
  • Battery: Li-Ion 2430 mAh battery (Removable)

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Image: Samsung Galaxy K zoom
Photographs: samsung.com
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Design and built

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The K Zoom sports the similar perforated styled back panel which is the latest trend with Samsung mobile phones. This gives it a good grip, but also brings along a plasticky feel.

Nothing to really rant about, but when a phone is camera heavy, a good construction material is more suitable.

The phone has the huge camera lens placed on the rear. Now this does make all the balance really messy, not to mention, the phone also becomes heavy due to the sheer weight of the camera itself.

The camera area is protruding at the back panel. That said, handling is not really an issue.

Bringing in a camera this sophisticated means that the phone loses out on water proofing, which really would have been welcome feature for added protection, and the finger print scanner also goes missing, as the camera takes its place.

The good thing is that the lens of the camera is mad of Gorilla glass. This provides some protection and relief to the users.

The availability and placement of the microSD card will prove to be a big boon, especially to the avid photographers. The slot is placed on the left edge and not behind the rear panel. This makes it easier to access the card every now and then.

On the right edge, one finds the volume rocker, lock key, and the dedicated camera shutter. It is a big plus to have a dedicated camera key, more so when the users are looking forward to the camera option.

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Image: Samsung Galaxy K zoom
Photographs: samsung.com

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Display

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The K zoom has been supplied with a Super AMOLED screen. The 4.8" screen doesn't seem to be doing too much justice to a device which boasts of its design to attract potential customers for its photography prowess. After all, people would want to view their precious moments instantly in full glory.

The screen is not as sharp vis-a-vis resolution looking at the current trends.

The 720 x 1280 pixel resolution will only result in a pixel density of ~300 ppi and the results show. Moreover, the screen colours look more saturated than those at ideal levels, and to compound the issue, Samsung hasn't provided any modes to offset the over saturation either.

The screen gives an effect of a bluish tint as well.

Being an AMOLED, the screen provides brilliant deep blacks, but the maximum brightness levels are really not up to the mark. This in effect makes the outdoor viewing a tad bit uneasy.

Samsung really has handed this area with mind-boggling unprofessionalism. All this when the device in question has been fitted with a special camera to boost sales.

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Image: Samsung Galaxy K zoom
Photographs: samsung.com

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OS and features

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The software running on the K zoom is the same as the one that Samsung brought out on Galaxy S5.

Out of the few things one notices is that the menu consists of a host of circular icons. This imparts a premium look to the interface, even though the menu now looks bigger.

Then there is the new home screen called Magazine. It basically gives you updates on the selected favourite category of books, sports section, culinary preferences etc. One can choose to get the updates from the social networking sites as well.

There were the pre-installed apps like the S Planner, Dropbox, Group Play, S Note, Polaris Office 5 etc. The last one being a pretty handy one, allowing users to carry out plethora of important tasks.

One of the cool features to look forward to is the option to Hide the apps. This is pretty good news as users can simply hide the pre-installed apps which they are never likely to use.

Another feature was to bookmark the favourite users on top of the inbox for quick sending option. The feature has been aptly named as 'Priority Senders'.

The phone engages dual core configuration for day to day task and allows the quad core strength to kick in for more intensive applications. This should go in favour of conserving battery power.

Overall, the OS feels pretty good. Lag was hardly noticeable, for which the TouchWiz has been infamous for. There should be an update most likely to fix few random crashes which were not frequent and can easily be termed as rare.

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Image: Samsung Galaxy K zoom
Photographs: samsung.com

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Camera

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Himanshu Juneja

The USP of the phone is, without a shadow of a doubt, the 10X Optical Zoom it is offering.

The feature performs beautifully and is a boon for users who are looking to get the precious moments captured up and close. Combined with Optical Image Stabilisation users get a very good incentive to go about practising their art on the go.

Smartly combined with the Xenon flash, the photography section seems to be well equipped with features that tick all the right boxes. The pictures came out pretty good in outdoor as well as indoor settings, but there are some glaring shortcomings as well.

The phone is hampered by issues like delay in activating the camera. This, when the action has been initiated via the dedicated camera button.

There is noticeable lag while zooming as well. Both these really do take away the whole excitement.

The photographs do suffer from edge fuzziness, more so while taking wide angle shots.

This should have been avoided, given the profile of the phone. There is no 4k recording which really is a shame. With the feature becoming a regular on recent phones, K zoom simply had to have this feature.

The phone shoots 1080p videos smoothly and users won't feel disappointed. Overall, the results from the camera are pretty good, but not excellent.

As for the options and apps thrown in by Samsung, the Galaxy K offers most photography modes than any other phone, and that really was expected too. It was really disappointing that there is no real manual mode on this, where professional photographers could have controlled the aperture settings or the shutter speeds etc.

There are some interesting camera apps onboard the Galaxy K zoom though.

Program

As mentioned earlier, the phone doesn't provide access to shutter speeds etc, but this is the closest one gets to being a Pro. The user gets to adjust the exposure and ISO settings. The presets might get the users their desired level of satisfaction.

Studio

This is again pretty much a camera centric app. It allows you to edit the photos and videos to suit one's taste. Also, this brings up the option to create a collage and get creative.

In a nutshell, it is a suite which gets all the important editing functions under one roof for the users.

Pro Suggest Market

This app pops up when the shutter button is pressed halfway through. It provides the user an access to the selection of filters and photo settings available that can be applied.

Virtual Tour

This is pretty much Google inspired. Basically the user walks or moves around in an area with the app running, and once the tour is complete, the app creates a virtual place by combining all the different facets captured during the walkthrough.

Selfie Alarm

This feature allows users to get a selfie clicked via rear camera. The user draws a box on the screen, and let the rear camera face you. Through face detection, as soon as the camera recognises the head to be in the right place, the photograph gets clicked.

Users can get those higher resolution self clicked pics this way.

Beauty Face

To get rid of the wrinkles and other similar aberrations for better photographic results.

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Image: Samsung Galaxy K zoom
Photographs: samsung.com

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Battery

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The Li-Ion 2430 mAh battery takes about 2-3 hours to get charged fully, and that is about okayish considering the small time batteries have been taking to get charged.

As for the performance, 14 hours worth of talk time is what is being claimed of it. But use it for some photography, the battery starts taking a hit. An avid/heavy photographer out on an expedition will be advised to carry a spare pack just in case. A day's worth is all one should expect to get here.

To sum up, the battery is just about okay. Samsung could have supplied a battery with stamina of the one being used in Note 3, given the fact that this device can, and will be used for heavy duty photography. With flagship phones now hitting 3000 mAH plus, this is a lost opportunity.

Samsung does provide two power saving modes though.

The Standard Mode

The former mode blocks the background data, limits the features one can use, throttle CPU speeds to lower numbers, screen brightness is reduced, backlights turned off and GPS gets disabled as well.

The Ultra Mode

This one heavily truncates the interface features and only lets the user have access to select services and conserves the battery heavily.

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Image: Samsung Galaxy K zoom
Photographs: samsung.com

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Verdict

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It is clear from the prolonged usage that people who really want to have an extra penchant for photography will get this phone.

The phone is a bit chunky and has many features which will make users cringe and lament about compromises Samsung has carried out here and there. Most likely so in the department of screen quality and battery life, two of the most important features of a phone. The software department itself isn't too well stacked up, particularly the camera app section.

The pic quality itself really doesn't blow out every other devices in the business today, with phones like Samsung Galaxy S5 outperforming the K zoom in some of the areas. As earlier mentioned, it offers pretty good camera performance, but not excellent.

All in all, the selling point of the phone will be the 10x optical zoom, which will be a priceless feature to have if users are in the habit of clicking a lot of photographs.

Combined with OIS this will make the phone survive to some extent, but overall the Galaxy K zoom is unlikely to set segment on fire. People might want to check out a dedicated camera for the price range if they are fine with carrying two devices at the same time.

The phone comes exclusively to Amazon.in, and they are offering freebies and offers worth Rs 6,000 for the early birds. For instance, 32GB memory card, a Samsung Pop out case, Voucher worth Rs 1,000 for select watches, another Rs 1,000 voucher for purchase of handbags from select brands.

In addition to all this, 6 movie tickets come along as well. All these for the first 1,000 customers only.


Image: Samsung Galaxy K zoom
Photographs: samsung.com

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