Let’s just get this out of the way now. Touchwiz; you either love it or hate it.
My first Android smartphone was the original Samsung Galaxy S I9000 “iPhone killer”. I didn’t mind TouchWiz back then as I had nothing to compare it to, plus it didn’t feel that heavy. As for the current version of TouchWiz running on this device and all new Samsung devices, it’s very heavy. They may have stripped back TouchWiz a bit since the Samsung Galaxy S4 as Chris found out when he reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S5, but it’s still a little heavy for my liking.
Samsung initially experimented with their Galaxy Camera line before the release of their first smartphone with a point-and-shoot camera, the Galaxy S4 Zoom based on the Galaxy S4. The Galaxy K Zoom is a Hybrid Camera/Phone based on the Galaxy S5 but features a smaller 4.8-inch display, a 20.7 mega pixel rear camera, 10x Optical Zoom and and 4G LTE capability.
The Galaxy K Zoom starts from around $550 on-line through to around $750 in retail stores. In that price range you could buy an LG G3, HTC One M8 or a Samsung Galaxy S5, but none of these come with a 10x Optical Zoom camera which is comparable to a low to mid-range digital camera. One of the advantages of owning a device like this is, wherever you go, you have the ability to take great shots that can be uploaded using the 4G LTE connection. It also allows you to make phone calls, send SMS, play music and access the internet like a regular smartphone.
- 4.8″ HD Super AMOLED screen is bright with vibrant colours
- MicroSD card slot up to 64GB
- Great point-and-shoot camera with various modes
- Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box
- Only 8GB on board storage
- Device is slippery and a bit top heavy
- Doesn’t sit flat due to camera lens
- Navigation keys are reversed
The construction of the Galaxy K Zoom is closely based on the Samsung Galaxy S5. It has the same plastic and plastic chrome banding design with the dimpled plastic back. It’s not the most beautiful device I have ever seen but definitely not the ugliest either. The device in hand is “very slippery” and would definitely benefit from a TPU/Soft Gel cover to give your fingers something to grab onto. I’m not sure if this is due to the curved rear design and thickness of the device, but it is a bit uncomfortable to hold in one hand, and I was forever feeling I was going to drop it. There is however a way to attach a wrist strap which is more easily visible if you remove the back cover but the wrist strap doesn’t come in the box. The slippery feel of the device may have been exaggerated due to the Zoom lens which makes it feel top heavy, and like it’s going to fall backwards in your hand.
Aside from that, it feels comfortable to hold when using it as a camera in landscape mode. When it comes down to it, this device is a camera first and a smartphone second, so I guess most of the design went into making it feel more like a camera.
On the left hand side near the bottom is the MicroSD card slot, the microUSB port is on the bottom, 3.5mm headphone jack on top and down the right hand side from top to bottom is the volume rocker, power button, and then right down the bottom it the Photo capture button. A long press of the Photo capture button launches the camera app providing you’ve unlocked the device.
The back of the device features the 20.7MP camera with 10x optical zoom at the top along with speaker. The LED flash is located centre left on the rear also.The back cover is removable to access the 2430 mAh battery and single Micro sim slot. The battery fits snugly and I found a 5c piece was perfect for getting it out quickly and easily unless you have strong fingernails.
The Galaxy K Zoom has a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED screen which is bright and clear and the colours are vivid. It performs well outside with full brightness which is handy as there is no viewfinder for taking photos like a regular camera.
The display is 720 x 1280 306 PPI which is the same as the Samsung Galaxy S3 which was released back in 2012. It’s actually not too bad for everyday use and if anything the display seems crisper than my Nexus 4 with 318 ppi.
The Galaxy K Zoom has 4G LTE, 3G and 2G connectivity which is compatible with Optus/Vodafone/Telstra 2G, Telstra/Vodafone NextG 3G 850, Optus/Vodafone 3G 900, 3G 1900, Optus/Vodafone 3G 2100, LTE 850, Telstra/Optus/Virgin/iiNet 4G, LTE 2600 but there’s no Optus 4G Plus.
It comes with Dual Band WiFi a/b/g/n 2.4 + 5GHz, Bluetooth 4.0, GLONASS GPS and NFC. The Wi-Fi on the Galaxy K Zoom has a good range on either 2.4 or 5GHz as I was able to sit outside in my back yard and still get three bars of signal consistently. The phone calls are clear and the speakerphone works well but could be a bit louder.
The Galaxy K Zoom comes with a 2430mAh Li-Ion removable battery which is more than capable of keeping the device alive for around 15 hours with moderate to heavy use. On my first day with the device with a fully charged battery, I managed to get 14h 24m with 22% battery remaining, and that’s without the Power Saving modes enabled. That’s pretty good considering I used to struggle to get 8 hours out of my Nexus 4 most of the time.
The performance of the device is quite snappy with very little lag if any. The web browsing in Chrome is smooth and clear without any noticeable stutter even when scrolling as fast as physically possible. The Galaxy K Zoom is driven by an Exynos Hexacore (1.7GHz Dual – Cortex A15 + 1.3Ghz Quad – Cortex A7) processor with 2GB of RAM.
Generally, whatever I threw at the Galaxy K Zoom it managed to handle it with ease and I was quite amazed that touchwiz didn’t appear to slow it down. Then again, I didn’t have another device with the same specs without TouchWiz to compare it to.
The speaker on the Galaxy K Zoom is on the rear above the camera lens and produces pretty good sound for a mono speaker. It’s not exceptionally loud but is more than adequate for listening to YouTube videos, playing some music or making phone calls using the speakerphone.
If you are playing lots of music or media you would be better of connecting to a Chromecast or bluetooth speaker or you could just plug in some headphones. At the end of the day, this is a Camera with smartphone built in, so if you want a phone with good stereo speakers, buy something like a HTC One M8.
The Galaxy K Zoom has a 20.7MP, 10x Optical Zoom with OIS and a built in Xenon Flash on the back. This thing is definitely made to take photos. There are various modes available in the camera app including Pro Suggest which will suggest a selection of effects to choose from after tapping to focus on the object you wish to capture. You can also download various effects from the Samsung Pro Suggest Market, which is part of the Camera Studio software/widget pre-loaded on the device.
Other modes available include Auto, Program, Panorama, Virtual Tour, HDR, Night, and Continuous Shot. There’s a Manage modes function to add or remove modes from the menu. It also has a Selfie Alarm mode that detects your face, sounds a beep and takes 3 photos automatically, letting you choose the best shot.
The front facing camera is a 2MP unit – reasonable for taking selfies if you’re into that type of thing. It has various modes including Beauty Face, but let’s be honest, it can’t work miracles with a head like mine.
The camera is good in daylight conditions but doesn’t fare as well in dim conditions unless you use Night mode which takes multiple shots and combines them to get brighter clearer pictures without using the flash. I thought the camera on my LG G Pro 2 was the “ducks guts” but the camera on the Galaxy K Zoom is much more refined.
There’s a dedicated photo capture button, and the Volume rocker doubles as the zoom slider in camera mode. The camera records video in 1080P @60fps – pretty decent, but the sound isn’t great when played back through the speaker on the device. The mono speaker is most likely to blame for this along with the built in microphone.
The Galaxy K Zoom is running the same software as the Samsung Galaxy S5 – Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Samsung’s TouchWiz launcher over the top. Now, KitKat on a device with Touchwiz launcher looks a lot different to a device running vanilla Android.
You do get used to it after a while, plus you can always install a third party launcher such as Nova Launcher to make it look and feel more like a Nexus device. However, at the end of the day it’s still got the Touchwiz UI customisations which can only be overcome by rooting and installing a custom ROM.
You also have the ability to change Settings View from Grid View (OK), Tab View (Yuk!) or List View (Best). List View is the closest thing you will get to vanilla Android but it comes with Joseph’s Technicolour Dream coat icons. The hardest thing about the Settings Menu is finding what you are looking for as there are almost 60 options to choose from and some are duplicated under different Headings.
To change the default launcher you have to select Default Applications in Settings and select clear the TouchWiz Home. This is somewhat different from stock KitKat where you can just select Home in the Settings and select whichever launcher you wish to use.
It comes with the same bundled group of apps as the Galaxy S5 with the exception of a few features missing such as toolbox, multi-window, air gestures, s-health and the fingerprint scanner. The Camera UI is pretty much the same as on the Galaxy S5 with the exception of the Pro Suggest mode.
Samsung Galaxy K Zoom SM-C115
- Operating system – Android 4.4.2 KitKat
- Processor – Exynos 5260 Hexa-core processor (Quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex A7 & dual-core 1.7 GHz Cortex A15)
- RAM – 2GB
- Networks – Quad-band 2G, Quad-band 3G, LTE Cat 4 (150/50mbps)
- SIM – MicroSIM
- Screen – 4.8-inch Super AMOLED with 720×1280 (720P) resolution (306ppi)
- Camera – 20.7MP rear with 10x optical zoom, OIS and Xenon/LED flash, 2MP front
- Storage – 8GB (microSD expandable up to 64GB)
- Connectivity – Dual-Band 2.4 + 5GHz Wi-Fi, 3G/4G, USB 2.0, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0
- Battery – 2430mAh Removable battery
- Dimensions/weight – 137.5 x 70.8 x 20.2mm/200g
- Sensors – Accelerometer, Geomagnetic Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor
ConclusionThe Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is a solid hybrid camera/smartphone for taking great photos and video whilst also having smartphone technology built in. It would be a fantastic device to take with you on holiday to capture those special moments as well as keep in touch with family and friends.
Towards the end of my time with the Galaxy K Zoom I started to miss the larger 5.9-inch screen of my LG G Pro 2, because it is hard to go back to a sub 5-inch screen when you’re used to using a phablet.
The invention of the smartphone has revolutionised the way we use technology and has made a lot of our other electronic devices redundant. We already carry smartphones with larger screens that take video and access the internet which has resulted in some of our video cameras and tablets gathering dust. So rather than carry a smartphone and camera with you why not just carry a hybrid camera/smartphone that does everything.
To my knowledge, there aren’t too many other devices out there like the K Zoom at the moment and I wouldn’t be surprised if other manufacturers start making similar products soon.
If you’re in the market for a new camera with smartphone technology built in or a smartphone with 10x optical zoom and a 20.7MP camera, the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is a the device to buy.
Where to buy
Ausdroid would like to thank Expansys Australia for providing the device for review.
You can purchase a Samsung Galaxy K Zoom from Expansys Australia for $559.99 with shipping for $18 (via DHL) or $22 (via Toll). It comes in black or white.
If you’re going to order a Galaxy K Zoom you may also wish to pick up a Samsung Protective Cover+ for Samsung Galaxy K Zoom for $36.99 plus shipping . The protective cover comes in black, blue or white.