We’ve spent the last week or so hands on with the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom (Samsung’s second camera/phone hybrid), putting it through its paces and and seeing how it measures up as a phone fit for a family. Here’s how we got on:

Out of the Box

In typical Samsung fashion, the phone comes nicely packaged, with a very compact wall charger (handy for travelling) and a standard Samsung handsfree headset with mic etc.

First Impressions

The Galaxy K Zoom is finished in high grade plastic, which feels sturdy and well made. As the phone is basically incorporating a full point and shoot camera into the package, it feels a little heavier than most phones at this price point and in this category, but not overly so. You soon get used to the way the phone feels and start to think of it as a camera first and a phone second, although this is meant in no way to detract from the Galaxy K Zoom’s abilities as a phone.

The phone runs the latest version of the Android operating system; KitKat. By far the most advanced, intuitive and snappy iteration of the Android OS, we found viewing video via Netflix or Vimeo, using Email or WhatsApp etc to be incredibly quick with no lag whatsoever – even with ten or more applications open at the same time.

In Use

We used the phone on the EE network, in an area where 4G is available although not with the strongest signal. We found that the Zoom performed well even in areas with one or two bars, maintaining calls at all times as well as a sturdy data signal for accessing the internet.

Most applications are now available for Android, so staying in touch via email, Skype, Facebook and Twitter etc is a breeze. The large but not too large screen is fantastic for viewing Twitter and Facebook feeds, showing images in rich colour and detail. Colours on the Zoom are bright and vivid and the display is rich and pixel crisp.

Call quality was excellent, even with one or two bars of signal strength, and we experienced no dropped calls at all.

The Zoom has 4G, and is able to take advantage of double/maximum speed 4G in areas where it is available. This phone can download via high speed LTE/4G networks at a max of 50mbits/per second; which is comparable to most home broadband networks. We were able to tether our laptop to the phone and work comfortably accessing email, web pages and iPlayer without any buffering or slowdown.

Incidentally, tethering via the Zoom is excellent. The phone creates a solid mobile hotspot which maintains a connection to the device you are using without the need to constantly re-pair or reconnect. This was a breath of fresh air compared to the iPhone, which we find drops the mobile/personal hotspot regularly.

The Zoom makes use of a MicroSD memory card slot, which accepts cards up to 64GB in storage. This is great for filling with movies and TV shows etc for those long train rides, flights or car journeys; and with the large screen two children can watch what’s on the screen comfortably.

A full charge of the Zoom will get you through till early to mid evening, based on average call, email, messaging and internet use. We did find however that using the camera drained the battery somewhat, but more about that in a moment.

Camera

The standout feature of the Zoom is the camera. The 20.7MP BSI CMOS on board sensor gives excellent, detailed pictures and an onboard ISP chip makes details even sharper. You’ll find the usual image enhancement tools that come with the Samsung flavoured version of Android KitKat too, which help you get the most out of the your pictures.

The Zoom is one of only two Smartphones (the other being the previous Samsung camera/phone hybrid the Galaxy S4 Zoom) to sport a real retracting lens. This allows you to zoom in properly on your subject, rather than using software which gives grainy and poorly focused results. Nothing beats getting closer to your subject by physically moving, but it’s a great feature to have. As you fire up the camera app or hold down the shutter key on the top right of the phone, the lens automatically extends ready for action. You zoom in and out using the volume up and down keys. It feels very natural and definitely aids the photographic process.

Outdoors, images we were lit and nicely coloured. Indoors, we found that the flash was usually necessary but again returned nice, sharp images.

Here’s some we took:

Taken using the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Taken using the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Taken using the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Taken using the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Taken using the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Taken using the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

 

Video

As well as capturing still images, the Zoom is also capable of capturing video in full 1080p HD. This is the highest resolution for HD video and the Zoom does it well. The retracting lens also works in video mode, which is great for keeping the action moving and retaining focus without things blurring and pixelating as is usually the case using a digital zoom. Here’s a short video we took with the Zoom outdoors earlier this week:

Conclusion

If you’re serious about photography and like Android, then it’s hard to find a better option than the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom. The large lens lets you capture images of a similar quality to that of a dedicated point and shoot camera, but with the convenience of having a phone and all the sharing possibilities (Twitter, Facebook etc) built right into it. We were able to film our 3 year old splashing about in the paddling pool and upload it in full HD to Vimeo using the 4G data connection in the phone, without the need to connect via USB or any other method. It was very simple and straight forward and the time we saved messing about connecting devices allowed us to enjoy the moment even more; which is surely the whole point of technology?

In it’s own right, the phone is fantastic; snappy and easy to use. Once you get used to having the full size lens, it’s very liberating. Could this be the device which finally lets you carry just one device for family days out and picnics etc?

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom retails for £399.99 and is available sim free from most good mobile phone retailers, as well as PC World and Argos.

 

Words, images and video by Dan Summers. 

Find out more on the Samsung website here: http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/mobile-devices/smartphones/android/SM-C1150ZKABTU