Samsung tries its hands again at a ‘camera phone’ with the Galaxy K Zoom

by Felix Esser

posted Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 2:19 PM EDT

A couple of years ago, a 'camera phone' was a cellphone that sported a camera. Today, where most cellphones sold are smartphones which universally sport highly capable photo and video cameras, the term has lost its former semantic breadth. So what makes a camera phone in a time where every phone sports a camera? Samsung's line of smartphone/point-and-shoot hybrids that started with the Galaxy S4 Zoom might be a good candidate for the category.

Today, that line is being continued with the Galaxy K Zoom which, despite the change in name, can be seen as the successor to the Galaxy S4 Zoom. But while the latter sported a more camera-like body with a pronounced grip and protruding lens assembly, the former retains a more smartphone-like overall appearance. Though the grip-less styling and slightly more recessed lens give the Galaxy K Zoom a much slimmer profile, we reckon that it compromises ergonomics when using the phone to take pictures.

As for specs, the Galaxy K Zoom sports a 20.7 megapixel main camera with a 24-240mm (equivalent) f/3.1-6.3 10x zoom lens with optical image stabilization, and a 2 megapixel secondary camera on the front. The main camera supports ISO speeds from 100 to 3200 and records 1080/30p Full HD video. An interesting feature of the Galaxy K Zoom is the 'Selfie Alarm,' which, according to the press release, allows the user to "take timed selfies with ease." At this point, we're not really sure what that means.

The phone part sports a larger 4.8" display (as compared to the S4 Zoom's 4.3" display) with a resolution of 1280x720 pixels. The phone is powered by a combined 1.7 GHz quad-core and 1.3 GHz dual-core processor and runs on Android 4.4 KitKat. As most smartphones do these days, the Galaxy K Zoom supports NFC, WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS. It comes with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory, which can be extended by a microSD memory card. The battery holds 2430 mAh of juice.

In the world of smartphone with a focus on photographic capabilities, the Galaxy K Zoom stands out of the crowd with its long zoom lens, something that no other smartphone offers. Whether or not its image quality can hold up with the likes of the Sony Xperia Z2 and Nokia Lumia 1020 remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: With devices such as the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, there really is no need anymore to by a point-and-shoot camera.

Unfortunately, however, it appears the Galaxy K Zoom will not be made available in the US, at least not right away. And whether importing it from overseas is a viable choice for US consumers depends on whether the device will be compatible with the major US cellular networks at all. So if you really want the device, you should make sure it works with your carrier before ordering it from Europe or Japan.