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Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom review

Michael Sawh

By Michael Sawh



Our Score:


Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom: Software

The S4 Zoom runs on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI overlaid on top. The combination of Google’s UI with Samsung’s has in the past felt cluttered, but on the S4 Zoom it looks and feels cleaner and more user-friendly.

You have access to the Google Play Store, of course, but Samsung’s software takes pride of place on each of the five homescreens. The widgets now look sleeker and more enticing to use, and if you don’t like them they can all be removed.

Among the new Samsung apps is S Travel. Powered by TripAdvisor, it recommends new places to visit around the world. The majority of suggestions generated are quite obvious, but on occasions it does pick out an interesting destination. It would be nice to have some kind of booking functionality built in as well, though.

Story Album, meanwhile, uses photos to create a collage of your photos that you can print as a hard copy. It's a nice addition, but doesn't do anything out of the ordinary.

Other S4 regulars that require a separate Samsung sign-in include ChatOn messaging and the WatchOn video app. It’s also great to see that the brilliant Flipboard now comes pre-installed.

It’s worth noting that Samsung’s software takes up around 3GB of the 8GB storage built-in. That leaves you with 5GB of space. This makes the inclusion of a microSD card slot and 50GB of free Dropbox storage for the first year important to store images.

The virtual keyboard in portrait looks cramped on the screen, but actually responds really well to typing. Despite the small keys, the accuracy is great and the ability to learn words and even login codes is impressive. There's Swype support, but the keyboard works well without it.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Performance

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom features a 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM. This does have some impact on using the S4 Zoom. Swiping through homescreens and switching between applications have the slightest of lags. It’s more noticeable if you currently own a S4 or a quad-core powered HTC One. It’s not so bad that it affects the user experience, though.

When it comes to gaming, the Zoom S4 holds its own considering the power. Real Racing 3 runs and does it with the smallest of frame rate issues. Visuals are not as polished as they would be on a full HD screen, but the Zoom S4 deals with more graphically demanding games just fine. The Epic Citadel demo powered by the Unreal Engine gave a benchmark score of 55fps, which backs up its more than decent gaming prowess.

Apps boot up nice and fast and the mid-range processor doesn’t have a negative impact on browsing speed. Whether it’s the stock Android browser or Google Chrome, web browsing is quick and easy.

The Zoom’s speaker, located above the camera lens, offers reasonably clear audio, but it lacks the richness in sound and bass to significantly enhance movie watching or listening to music. It's an even tinnier and underwhelming experience when you turn it up to full volume, though.

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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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