Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Camera

Daniel Bader

October 27, 2012 4:24pm

Tucked away at the lavish, Kanye West-filled Samsung Galaxy Note II party on Thursday night was a small table dedicated to the upcoming Galaxy Camera.

We’ve heard rumours and conjecture that the camera will come to Canada late this year or early next year in both WiFi and 3G varieties. AT&T has already announced support for the 16MP shooter, though we’re unsure whether the carrier will offer it on a 2-year term like it does its phones, or go the iPad route and offer month-to-month data deals.

The Galaxy Camera is the second such device to be launched in recent months, coming only days before Nikon showed off its Android-powered S800c P&S. The difference, however, is in the execution. Samsung seems to have done a much better job at making its camera a cohesive product, not just a heap of disparate features.

While the Galaxy Camera isn’t pocketable, it has a high-quality plastic build and nice right-side grip for one-handed usage. Holding down the shutter button, either when the phone is off or inside an app, will start the camera itself, which looks much the same as its Galaxy phone counterparts but has a few perks.

The lens is a built-in 23mm variety with 21x optical zoom for an 86.1mm equivalent focal length at full zoom. There is a 1Ghz quad-core Exynos processor inside and a 720p touch screen on the back. The phone runs a variety of Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. It comes with WiFi, A-GPS and a number of other sensors to provide a full smartphone-in-a-camera experience. In other words, you’ll be able to use the Galaxy Camera like a phone as much as a camera (except for the lack of explicit voice capabilities).

I tested the speed of the shutter and it was instantaneous, faster than any smartphone on the market. The app launches quickly, too, so despite the Android lineage there doesn’t seem to be any significant memory overhead.

Of course, the apps are the biggest potential draw here, giving you access to third party editing suites such as Camera Zoom FX, as well as favourites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. While a 3G connection may be superfluous in an age of LTE tethering, if Samsung can price the Galaxy Camera reasonably, I have no reason to believe it won’t be a huge hit among the amateur photography crowd.

An interesting turn of events, too: the Galaxy Camera uses Android’s on-screen navigation buttons, which change orientation depending on whether you’re holding the device in portrait or landscape mode. And while the software certainly resembles TouchWIZ, you can tell that Samsung didn’t just copy and paste the existing Nature UX onto the camera: it is tailored specifically for the screen size and inevitable usage differences.

From our brief time with the camera, it looks like Samsung has put a lot of thought into the product. It’s not just a throwaway experiment, and could breathe life into the point-and-shoot market, something it desperately needs.

We’ll bring you any Canadian availability announcements as they come in.

  • AppleStockHolder

    So pointless. Better to get an iPhone with PHONE and good camera.

    • bd

      So, you mean to say get a Lumia 920 with the top of the line camera? Thanks and I will :)

    • BlackBerry Gangster

      STFU! Your camera is a piece of sh!t

    • apple chodeboy

      no thanks, i don’t want purple hazes in my photos

  • JP

    Cool toy! :)

  • AV

    It would be pretty odd to be holding that up to your ear and walking down a street.

    • Frosty

      Correct me if I’m wrong but I assumed this was an actual dedicated camera that is running Android (with usable apps and 3G) as opposed to a phone/camera hybrid.

  • brrro

    wow. awks in a box.

  • justin

    This is a great product.

    I just purchased the Nikon P510, would be awesome if i had the ability to upload to social sites directly from the camera(wi-fi or cellular), or have apps like instagram to edit the photos.

    Smartphones will never replace a full-blown camera, so it is nice to see cameras adding these abilities..now as long as the price is right.

  • Justin Credible

    INCREDIBLE.

  • AC

    Who’s Kayne?

  • Joe

    wow this is awesome! want want want! lol

  • John Lee

    I think Samsung should launch a camera of this kind in an interchangeable lens (EVIL) format.

  • Ethan

    You know, it’s great to see these sorts of products, but I don’t know if I want Android on every device I use. I’m an Android advocate myself, but I don’t want my fridge, toaster, and pocket camera running relatively complex software. I want them to do their jobs, not show me Twitter and Instagram. I have a phone and tablet for that. My camera should focus on being a camera.

    • Tom

      That is quite reasonable, but for photo obsessed consumers it can be nice to go out with just the camera, and have it fill much of the role of the phone and tablet.

      And when I look around in public places, I start to get the feeling that a ton of people are ‘photo obsessed consumers’ who take so many photos that they really should replace their smartphones with smart-cameras even if just so that they can stop using digital zoom when they really need optical zoom.

  • hmmmm

    Actually there is also a Nikon with Android to upload instantly,I saw the ad on tv. So when will they release a camera with a keyboard??

  • Deli

    We need some pictures!

  • shawnzhangmusic

    One thing about it that I really, really, really wanna know is, Battery life, considering if it’s seriously being used as a smartphone.

  • andy c

    I would rather have a nicer camera with wifi and a good app/software to sync with a smartphone.

    Sony nex….. want

    • photo

      Samsung Smart cameras can already connect to your IOS or android device and its not using any data. they use a feature called Mobilelink

  • Ron Mexico

    Imagine what this will do to your Instagram photos. I originally thought this product was DOA. I’m now thinking i want one. Priced right, I’m buying.

  • ANANAMAS

    POS. Isn’t there enough amateur photos already, since everyone uses these sh*t cameras to take them with they’ll always be inherently low quality, out of focus, or just plain blurry. Not to mention so many smartphone addicts feel the need to take 100000 pics of everything and litter them on the interwebz. Would not buy!!

  • Richard

    Getting one for my mom. They don’t even have a cell so this is a start.

  • Geoff

    I keep looking for a flash on it but I just don’t see one…

    • Yukio

      @Geoff – it looks like it’s got a flash that pops up from the top of the camera. Look on the side opposite the shutter button. It’s similar to a few other cameras on the market.
      Cheers.

      I have played with the Nikon pocket camera that has Android & thought it was a neat idea…for a techie minded guy or girl.

    • photo

      there is a pop-up flash on it, if you looked on the top view photo there’s a rectangular shape that you can see very close to the top of the lens. that’s where the pop-up flash is located

  • Sam

    price is all that matters assuming it’s quality pictures and good in low light, for the right price, I’m in. NO PHONE can do what a solid $150-$200 pocket camera can do. I don’t care what the marketing nonsense says.

  • drone.

    Would never buy this. I don’t want my phone/camera to crash right in the middle of a Kodak moment.