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s4 zoom user review - not worth it
on 8 September 2013
hi there , thanks for reading my review , I am a bit of a phone addict and if you google the name buxz777 you will see me on many mobile forums .
I have a thing about a decent camera phone going back to the 6220c , n73 , n82 , n86 ,n95, n8 , 808 , 920 and I have owned many phones recently including the s3 , s4 and I also use ios on my ipad . I don't really have a fave o/s I just want a great convergence device so when I 1st heard about the s4 zoom I was intrigued and quite excited about it . After using the nokia 808 a camera centric device running a more up to date o/s then Symbian is exactly what i wanted
I ordered it from amazon and it arrived quickly and safely as always the packaging was great and amazon provided a great service , moving onto the phone it comes boxed in the same brown recyclable box as the s4 and the box contains the phone , battery , cleaning cloth , headphones and lanyard as well as a small bit of documentation .
the phone itself is quite large and quite heavy , I wear baggy jeans but the weight and thickness is still obvious and sometimes the camera lens can be seen through my pocket , now I don't mind a bit of bulk to my handsets as long as they do their job and do it well. I owned the Nokia n900 maemo device and anyone who remembers that will know its a hefty device but i loved it because it was a mini Linux computer in your pocket and it pulled it off well and I think that's the s4 zooms problem it doesn't do either of its jobs well , it isn't a great phone and it isn't a great camera.
for example the s4 zoom is basically a s4 mini with a £100 compact camera whacked on the back. As a phone it is heavy and for me akward to hold , the huge lens circle on the back gets in the way of my hand , the screen isn't the best and after using bigger screens the font and keyboards look a bit small , the internal memory has about 5gb to the end user which will easily be filled with apps and games and map data , meaning you will have to root the device to be able to transfer some app data to the sd card , the cpu and gpu are really quite old in terms of high end phones they will cope with most games and apps but expect a little stutter here and there when things are getting a bit taxing and for an android phone there are much better alternatives like the s4 , s3 , htc one , xperia z .... they are all better ''phones'' then the s4 zoom and offer a better phone package
as a camera the phone does a bit better although I find my s4 pictures look better most of the time and the s4 also seems to capture more detail then the s4 zoom , you see the zoom seems to use very hard jpeg processing and there is no way unrooted to change this. comparing it to phones like the Nokia 808 and lumia 1020 leaves the s4 zoom creeping in the shadows and hiding itself away as it just cant match the Nokia pureview phones ........ in fact the only time I found the s4 zoom to perform better then any other phone was when you needed say 5-10x optical zoom even then though the pictures can contain a lot of noise , blur easily or auto focus may struggle to lock on . Another time the s4 zoom will come in handy is when your out up the pub or club with friends and the lighting isn't great , the s4 zoom has a powerful xenon flash that freezes time well and is much much more useful then a led flash , i wish more phone manufacturers built phones with xenon flash units and the s4 zoom one does a pretty good job when required up to about 4m/5m max
I also found the auto focus in the dark is very frustrating and very hit and miss its a shame as the xenon flash can work quite well and freezes time well , but when you view the image after there will always be noise and over sharpening going on due to the heavy jpeg processing . I was pretty disappointed in the camera of the s4 zoom and stated asking myself how can Nokia fit such a high end sensor and lens into the 1020 and 808 and here we have the s4 zoom which is really thick compared to them and yet Samsung just cant match the quality of the optics and the end result just isn't that great , as I said above I often find photos to look better from my s4 then my s4 zoom. For reference the s4 zoom uses the same size sensor as the Nokia n86 that was released many many years ago and was in a much smaller slimmer design . Therefore you are not paying samsung for high quality optics and sensor , nor are Samsung using the thickness for that and you certainly arent paying for a high end specced android phone so the phone is only so big due to the optical zoom mechanism that you find on the s4 zoom which is a dam shame as i am sure Samsung could have fitted a much better sensor and optics into this device and made it a true camera phone rather then a half job wich doesn't do either of its jobs particulariy well
so I was quite disappointed with the s4 zoom to be honest I blew £400 on a device that I was hoping could replace my point and shoot and phone at the same time yet I honestly feel that the s4 does a better job , it has a better design , is more powerfull , has better features and hardware , the camera captures images as good and if not better then the s4 zoom with more detail and less blur , the only thing missing is the optical zoom and to be honest its clunky and as soon as its used auto focus suffers as does light into the sensor and other things due to a poor lens system that's found on budget £99 point and shoots
the camera software for me is the best thing about the s4 zoom camera , it has an array of features even including full manual mode where you can control shutter speed etc , i like the best shot mode where the camera senses the scene and gives you the best 3 modes to choose for that scene it will help novice photographers get the right shot 1st time , its just a shame that the quality of pictures aren't great , they look fine on screen but zoom in and you will be greeted with noise , artifacts and jagged edges from over sharpening and coming from an 808 it really stands out
I will be sending the s4 zoom back asap and saving my money for either the sony z1 or nokia lumia 1020 both have great camera tech and also great camera software ...... i would use my nokia 808 still but finding Symbian a bit clunky these days so hoping to see the z1 or 1020 on amazon soon
sorry if you found the mini review a little negative , the phone is a nice idea , however if a phone is going to look like a camera and cost someone £400 id expect it to produce better results then it does because i can achieve just as good from my s4 handset bar the zoom features and the phone actually looks like a phone not a hybrid device with loads of room for optics etc
There are mixed reviews online about this device some saying its a great idea , others saying its a frankestein of a device ..... to me i am gutted that Samsung didn't put more effort into the camera , bigger sensor and better lens for a start meaning that it was worth carrying such a device round with me because at the minute with the s4 zoom i honestly feel there isn't much point as i can just get as good a pictures from my s4 unless i need the extra zoom of course
for me its 3 stars .... its a great idea .... mixing camera and phone .... but with this set up there isn't much point as the design makes the device look like a camera but there are devices out there that look like phones and produce better results with higher iq like the nokia 808 and lumia 1020 and even phones like the s4 can match the quality of the s4 zoom so i have to ask myself what really is the point?? its not a bad device but with the current lens/sensor/jpeg software combo you can achieve same/better results from much better phones then a s4 mini mixed with a £100 compact :-)
hope you find this helpful and please remember its just my opinion based on useage of the device and useage of other devices , if you haven't used the s4 , 808 , 1020 you may be really happy with the s4 zoom image quality but for me it just wasn't worth carrying the s4 zoom with me and i look forwards to trying the 1020 and z1 sooner rather then later
so the z1 xperia camera doesnt look great from reviews especially at night i opted for the nokia 1020 in yellow and wow what a device it is . Like i said at the start of the review i am not a lover of a certain o/s but more the device that the o/s is on i want a great convergence device with the best camera i can get and i am finding the 1020 gets me as close to that as possible and as i ever have been. The camera blows this s4 zoom away , the build quality is awesome , the phone is butter smooth , its just a great device and instead of being dissapointed like i was with the s4 zoom i am like a kid at xmas enjoying my new toy
keep an eye out for my 1020 review when amazon stock them