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Galaxy S4 Zoom elevates phone camera

Samsung took the phone-camera arms race to new heights with its unusual hybrid Galaxy S4 Zoom, which has an optical zoom lens on the back of its smaller Galaxy phone chassis.

The 10x zoom lens protrudes from the back of the phone like an aluminum Oreo cookie, making it a little awkward to hold while making phone calls. It also takes up more than twice the pocket space of a normal smartphone.

But in return, the phone gives you amazing pictures.

From up in the bleachers at a soccer game, it took crisp photos of players on the field. From the back of a dark theater, I could zoom up and take acceptable pictures of bands on the stage.

Some might think it’s worth wearing cargo pants to carry an S4 Zoom. It works well as a phone and includes the huge list of Galaxy features, including facial recognition, gesture input and voice controls.

I liked the “Inspector Gadget” feel, and it’s more practical than the 4G LTE-enabled cameras that Samsung has offered for sharing photos but not making calls.

The Zoom has a 16-megapixel camera and dual-core processor running Android 4.2. AT&T is selling it for $200 with a two-year contract, or $529 without.

Brier Dudley, Seattle Times