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Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom review

Michael Sawh



Our Score


User Score


  • An excellent camera with 10x zoom
  • Useful camera scene modes
  • Comes with Android 4.2.2


  • Low res screen
  • Bulky design
  • Slight lag in performance

Review Price £450.00

Key Features: 16-megapixel camera with 10x optical zoom; Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS; 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display

Manufacturer: Samsung

What is the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom?

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is Samsung’s idea of the ultimate cameraphone – a 4.3-inch Android smartphone with a full 10x optical zoom camera lens. In effect it’s a cross between the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and the Samsung Galaxy Camera, with its 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, Xenon Flash and 25 Smart modes blurring the lines between camera and smartphone while retaining the simplicity of a regular smartphone camera.

The Samsung Galaxy Camera is a decent camera, but it lacks the extra phone functionality that should make sharing your photos so much easier. The Zoom hopes to put the final nail in the compact camera’s coffin. Does it? Let's find out.

SEE ALSO: All the latest on the Samsung Galaxy S5

See the Zoom S4 in action from the launch event in June:

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom: Design

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom follows the design principles of the Samsung Galaxy S4. It has the same white plastic body and while this gives the S4 Zoom a glossy, shiny look, it doesn’t feel as nice to hold as the iPhone 5 or the HTC One – not by a long chalk. Plenty of column inches have gone into the merits of metal vs. plastic so we won’t repeat them here, but we can’t help yearning after something more luxurious considering the price tag.

The camera part of the S4 Zoom is modelled closely on the Samsung Galaxy Camera as it adopts the same curved design around the grip. Unlike the Galaxy Camera, however, the lens has what Samsung calls a ‘Zoom Ring’. This lets you control the zoom, access camera modes and quickly share photos just by twisting a ring on the lens.

The 4.3-inch screen means it’s identical to the Galaxy S4 Mini, at least in the display department. At 15.4mm thick it’s essentially double the thickness of the Samsung Galaxy S4 (7.9mm) and a few millimetres slimmer than the Galaxy Camera (19.1mm). It weighs 208g, making it lighter than the Galaxy Camera (300g), but again substantially heavier than the Galaxy S4 (130g).

In itself the weight isn’t a problem, but the lens makes the Zoom feel top-heavy when held in portrait mode. It’s less noticeable when taking pictures in landscape mode, but it’s worth noting that the S4 Zoom doesn't have a textured handgrip like the Samsung Galaxy Camera.

More to the point, the S4 Zoom is simply not pocket friendly. That's really down to the camera lens. It adds the extra bulk to make it press against your leg. It’s definitely more suitable to keep in a bag than to slip into a pair of jeans.

There are a few subtle layout differences between the S4 Zoom and S4, but the major one is the MicroSD card slot on the left edge (it’s under the backplate on the S4) and the addition of a small plugged hole to let you hook up a tripod.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom: Screen Quality

It might have S4 in the name, but again the S4 Zoom shares more in common with the S4 Mini than their big name sibling. This time it’s in the screen department, where the S4 Zoom has the same 4.3-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen display as the Mini, though it adds Gorilla Glass 3 to give the display an extra layer of protection.

The S4 Zoom’s screen retains the same less than impressive 960 x 540 resolution, too. Its 256ppi pixel density is nothing like as sharp as the S4’s 1080p, 441ppi screen. It’s still vibrant and extremely bright, but the loss of sharpness really shows when you play HD videos or games.

We can’t fault the S4 Zoom’s responsiveness, though. It reacts just as smoothly to touch and gestures like pinch and zoom as any other top end smartphone we’ve tried out. For all its shortcomings in the resolution department, the screen is still more than adequate for camera and smartphone duties.

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Jojo Carlos

June 26, 2013, 2:30 am

what about the Nokia 808? Is the S4 Zoom better than the N808?


July 5, 2013, 5:48 pm

I just bought the S4 Zoom in Dubai and already have the Nokia 808. The sensor isn't better but it is still 1.8x the sensor of a standard smartphone. Although it doesn't have a bigger sensor than the 808 it has a superior lens and physical OIS on the lens housing. It takes better pics on average and although it doesn't have the stereo mics of the 808 for video it still takes excellent 1080p footage. Please ignore TR, it is not awkward or clunky, it's a really innovative cameraphone and perfect hybrid.


July 5, 2013, 6:04 pm

Firstly let me say I think Trustedreviews is normally a very good review website but I believe you your initial preview of the S4 zoom has the totally wrong perspective.

This is not one of those super-slim smartphones with a camera function. It is a truly hybrid device with a larger zoom lens that houses a floating physical OIS component and a superior sensor (1.8x size) to the leading smartphones. It is not hard to pocket and as a camera it is extremely easy to grip. When reversed to use as a smartphone, the lens housing actually makes it very hard to let the phone slip from your hand because you can sit it on your index finger and type or navigate one-handed.

I bought the device in Dubai just 3 days ago. I'm sorry trustedreviews but it is unwise to speculate that it 'may' not be good in lowlight. Despite the lower aperture of the Nokia Lumia 920 or even a fully fledged compact camera like the Sony RX100 (1.8 aperture lens), the S4 Zoom takes good low-light and night shots. In full light it shows great versatility and the macro focusing is fast and much more capable than the RX100. Despite the Nokia 808 having a larger sensor (I have one), the superior lens and OIS of the S4 Zoom more than compensates and you get much better results on average. I've compared the S4 Zoom to my RX100 indoors and it actually uses the ambient light much better than the RX100. That's amazing given the very large sensor and lens quality on the RX100.

Finally as a phone it is pretty good and it's a shame they didn't have LTE/4G but the HSDPA is still very useful. It is a superb device for taking out to events where you need a phone and to point and shoot. If you get a foreign sim on holiday you can take great shots on the go and share instantlyand upload to the Web and have phone functionality when needed. Just like the Note a few years ago, a minority will view the S4 Zoom as odd but its hybrid nature will win through and it will be a successful niche seller for Samsung and very likely move a few million units.


July 31, 2013, 8:01 pm

I am really impressed to saw the photography of the camera is just awesome.

Aerial drone photography

July 31, 2013, 8:17 pm

I am really impressed to saw the photography of the camera is just awesome. I wish if i have one.

Diana Loginova

August 13, 2013, 3:51 pm

Saw one, got one. As a photographer enthusiast, sunday clicker and collector of analogue cameras I had to get one as soon as i saw it, yes it is quite bulky, and some people say i might as well talk into my shoe.. It comes in handy and the lens size just does not matter when you realize all the functions, exposures and apertures you can tweak with once you get it.


September 11, 2013, 3:02 pm

Nokia is better sorry that you wasted money :(

jim lewis

October 15, 2014, 9:47 am

i've had this for over a year now. Generally happy, the smartphone is as capable as I need, bulkiness is a minor issue.
However, one MAJOR problem is the ingress of dust inside the zoom/lens mechanism. this is inaccessible to clean but my pictures now all have noticeable artefacts due to objects on the lens which I can't remove.
I would NOT buy this again with this experience.

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