One thing is for certain, there is something fun about the way the Samsung Galaxy Camera spins the current smartphones-killing-the-point-and-shoot-market trend, as it is a point-and-shoot with a “good-enough” smartphone OS, rather than a smartphone with a “good-enough” camera.
There are a lot reasons the Samsung Galaxy Camera could work. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphone has a phenomenal camera (for a smartphone anyway), complete with high-end shooting features, like an effective HDR mode and “best face” for group shots (see the full Galaxy Note 2 review on Brighthand for an explanation). The Galaxy Camera offers much of the same, only with a 21x optical zoom, larger CMOS, more shooting modes, manual controls, and AT&T cellular connectivity.
It’s got some truly killer features
The connectivity is really a killer feature, because it not only allows for instant uploads to social media sites, but also instant sharing to individuals through Samsung’s own photo sharing apps. Also, AT&T offers shared data plans, in which multiple devices can all connect on the same data plan for a much smaller fee than an additional contract. Many users already have smartphones and tablets on the same plan, why not a camera?
The connectivity also extends to other Samsung devices, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Samsung reps claim it can be used as remote viewfinder for the Samsung Galaxy Camera, though they would not confirm if any additional Samsung devices will also support it. I suspect Samsung Android tablets would also be a good fit, as would the large Galaxy S III.
Finally, the Samsung Galaxy Camera is a fully-functional Android smartphone, minus the phone part — completely sanctioned by Google for Google apps (Gmail, Google Talk, Google Maps –yes, it has a GPS) and Google Play Access. Its 4.8-inch screen rivals most smartphones, and Google Play has relatively powerful imaging editing apps that blow away any other in-camera editing functionality from rival point-and-shoots. You can play Angry Birds on it, too.
You can text with it, use it as a webcam, and maybe do video chat via Skype, though Samsung reps had not yet tested that out. And also, the Galaxy Camera is a one-way shooter, so any video chat would be awkward at best for the Galaxy Camera owner.
But we’re still hesitant
None of this matters if the Samsung Galaxy Camera fails as a digicam and takes lousy photos. To that end, DigitalCameraReview was not allowed to snag any sample photos from the Samsung event, but the camera does have a 16.3 megapixel, 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS sensor. Also, Samsung reps confirmed that the mobile team did work with Samsung’s imaging team on developing the product. And while the new Galaxy camera is reasonably thin for a point and shoot camera, it’s pretty thick compared to today’s hottest smartphones.
Another downside is that offers only 3G service, not 4G LTE, which could make a noticeable difference when it comes to uploading the large picture files that Galaxy Camera users will undoubtedly generate. (Update: The Samsung Galaxy Camera supports AT&T’s HSPA+ network, which is the same technology AT&T and T-Mobile have marketed as “4G.” HSPA+ is faster than last-generation 3G technologies as it is an upgrade to existing 3G tech [HSPA], but it is not as fast as LTE, which AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon also market as 4G.)
Still, the fact that it is an AT&T exclusive, and that there has been no mention of a Wi-Fi version that would undoubtedly be less expensive, suggests that Samsung is not sure of the market for this product. Samsung has recently been staging some serious events to promote its flagship Galaxy devices, including the Note 10.1 tablet and the Galaxy S3 smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy Camera made its big US debut as an afterthought at an event dedicated to the Galaxy Note 2 smartphone.
Even though it’s pretty hot on paper
That’s not to suggest it is a low-quality device. In fact, its spec sheet matches the top smartphones (quad-core Exynos processor, Android Jelly Bean 4.1 operating system), and the software performance impressed during some brief hands-on time. Users familiar with Android will have no trouble operating the camera –it’s a surprisingly pure Android experience, and the touchscreen is large and responsive enough to tweak the manual picture controls with ease.
It also offers, to some extent, a ‘purer’ Android experience that some of Samsung’s Galaxy phones, as it uses Google’s preferred on-screen buttons – as opposed to the permanent capacitive buttons that Samsung tends to favor.
We’ll just have to see the price and image output before passing final judgment. Samsung claims the Galaxy Camera will be ready by the “holiday season,” though no other details are available at this time.