There was a time, right around when I bought my first smartphone (a Palm Pre, of course) that I was kinda dying for a really small, dedicated camera. The Pre did decently in daylight, but I wanted a more powerful camera solution that didn’t have a three megapixel sensor, an optical zoom instead of just a crunchy-looking digital zoom, and the ability to easily transmit those images. None of my phones in the past three years have done this successfully, but Samsung has a decent idea: marry a phone to a camera in a solution that makes Sony’s dysfunctional organization green with envy. But there are going to be some downsides.
Why This Is The Greatest Idea Ever
Jelly Bean. The latest and greatest version of Android serves as the core of the Galaxy Camera, granting you easy access to all of the Android apps you could want on a clean interface. Samsung is creating a bunch of macro modes that’ll be easy to use because of Android as well. And yeah, you’ll be able to instantly Instagram your pictures. That’s right.
It does everything. Since it has all that Jelly Bean functionality, this could be your MP3 player, your web browser, on and on. It could technically be your phone, which is partially why these will be pushed big by Samsung in conjunction with mobile retailers.
4.8″ screen. The entire back panel is a massive touch screen. It looks like a big LCD instead of my favored OLED, but the latter’s problem with saturation would probably make things weird.
Easy as hell to move your pictures. The camera will have wi-fi built in, as well as 3G/4G connectivity, so rather than having to install proprietary software, or deal with operating system of standard image import, you’ll be able to upload your photos straight to Facebook (which is where they were going anywhere, right?) or to Dropbox without needing to plug in a cable.
16 megapixel camera. Most phone cameras are topping out at 8 megapixels, so getting that extra resolution will help with low light pictures, too. Samsung makes decent cameras so I trust the image quality will be very decent here.
Why This Won’t Work
TouchWiz. No, no, no, it would be too easy for Samsung to drop some default Android on this thang and just add some camera functionality. Nope, you’ll have to deal with Samsung’s sluggish and ugly TouchWiz junk. Ugh. I imagine people will have some stock ROMs pretty quick, but the camera apps will probably take a bit longer…
It’s bulkier than a Galaxy phone. So it can do 90% or more of what a smartphone can do, but since it’s also a higher-end point-and-shoot, you’ll need to deal with the heftier bulk as well. Of course, if you’re in the Galaxy crowd, you probably don’t care anyway.
Battery. Anyone who owns an Android phone knows how quickly batteries go. This has an enlarged port for that kind of thing, but with that massive screen and the potential for tons of non-camera usage, not to mention having to move that big mechanical lens (compared to a phone’s, anyway), expect to not get fantastic battery life. Day One solutions: only turn on radios when you’re transmitting photos and turn down that screen brightness, yo!
They went for a bigger zoom instead of a bigger sensor. 21x zoom is pretty nice, but unless you’re mounting it (it does have a standard camera mount), then you know how crappy that’s going to get incredibly fast. Rather than trying to tuck in a better sensor and eke out better photo quality (like Nokia is experimenting with their 40 megapixel Pureview cameraphone), they want you to zoom in further. I’d rather have the sensor.
Price. No price has been announced, but it definitely won’t be cheap. With Samsung planning to partner with carriers, it not hard to imagine some subsidized deals for these popping up in Verizon or AT&T ads right off the bat. The idea of sinking $400 or $500 into this unsubsidized is incredibly unsexy.
Like my struggle with owning a tablet, it almost seems difficult to imagine a use case for this, but running around E3 and taking the number of pictures that I have, it’d be nice to not blow my phone’s battery wherever possible (it does that well enough on its own). I’d love to have the better picture quality and, short of investing in a full DSLR setup, I like the idea of another pocketable camera solution. Would I mind having two of these things on my person come the next trade show? Not even slightly.
I look forward to this product with great interest.