Call quality on the Samsung Galaxy Zoom S4 is good. We didn’t notice any distortion issues or calls dropping out. The built-in speaker while not great for music, is loud and clear enough for speakerphone conversations. Things can start to get a bit tinny when you crank up the volume, though.
The only real problem with using the S4 Zoom as a phone is getting used to holding what looks like a camera to your ear. The jutting out lens takes getting used to but if you really like the idea of the phone with a proper camera lens then it’s a tolerable problem.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom has a 2,330mAh battery – slightly less than the S4 (2,600mAh) but more than the S4 Mini (1,900mAh). Samsung claims the Zoom should get you up to seven hours of internet usage over 3G and nine hours over Wi-Fi.
Over a day’s use the S4 Zoom’s battery copes well browsing the web, playing games and taking pictures. It holds on for well over a day, but you will still need to charge it when you get home.
In terms of connectivity, the Galaxy S4 Zoom has the headphone jack, micro USB charging port and micro SD card support on the outside. Beneath the screen there’s 3G, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE support. Samsung has also included support for NFC, low energy Bluetooth 4.0 and both A-GPS and GLONASS navigation systems.
If a smartphone and camera in one is your dream come true then it’s an unequivocal, yes. The Samsung Galaxy Camera-inspired features really give the S4 Zoom the edge over the likes of the iPhone 5 and the HTC One for snapping photos – enough so to tolerate the extra bulk.
If you’re undecided on the idea, however, it’s not such an open and shut case. For instance, you could buy a Google Nexus 4 (£239) and a Samsung WB250F Smart camera and still have change left over from the Zoom S4’s circa-£450 asking price.
There is a trade-off on the design, too. The S4 Zoom is an S4 Mini with a big lens attached, but doesn’t fit as snugly in the pocket. That’s okay if you have a bag to pop it in, but not so if you always carry your phone in your pocket.
It will be interesting to see how it matches up with the Nokia Lumia 1020 as well. The new Lumia looks more jeans-friendly and has some promising camera features, but lacks the long zoom lens. Which is the better approach? We can’t answer that question right now, but it’s an interesting one.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is a great smartphone/camera hybrid – it’s a decent mid-range smartphone and camera delivers where it counts. We can’t recommend it to everyone, but if you love the idea then you’ll love the S4 Zoom.
Next, find out which phones we rate the best mobile phones of 2013.