I still remember the first time I bought a camera phone. It was the year 2004, and the device was the Motorola V600 back when the words “smart” and “phone” had never been put together officially. Having a camera on a phone back then was cool, because even though it could never beat any point-and-shoot camera, it did come in handy when you weren’t carrying one.
Today’s editorial is mainly focused on that paradigm. How often do you carry a camera with you? I’ll admit I gave my old point-and-shot to my son after I bought the iPhone 4S, and I’m sure that many of you that own either that phone or a Galaxy S III don’t feel you need a point-and-shoot any more. I upgraded to a DSLR since I figured that if I ever felt the need to carry a camera, I was going to carry a real one.
Point-and-shoots are a dying breed. As smartphone technology has evolved with devices like the Nokia 808 PureView, there’s just no point in carrying the extra bulk of a small camera that will only perform a little better. Still-image quality is still being perfected when it comes to smartphone cameras, but I feel they nailed it with video. My HTC One X can film far better video than the 1080p camcorder that cost me $700 back in the day.
An interesting thing happens when an OEM wants to revive a category of products by merging it with features. Surely the Nokia 808 PureView was a Camera-Smartphone (in that order of importance), but Nikon and Samsung are trying to push a new type of product that intends to bring smartphone features into a camera by adding an Android operating system.
Samsung touts that their new Galaxy Camera is “The Camera Reborn”, since it’s more of what I’d call a Smart Camera. It allows you to use Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to share what you do through a ton of existing options. This sure does beat the Eye-Fi Wi-Fi SD cards I would never dare to buy again, so I do know it is a cool solution for many people.
The problem is that I do feel that Sammy fell a little short when it came to the features they included in the device. The product may have a future, but share my thoughts on why I feel it has a rough road ahead:
Why o why is it also not a phone?
So wait, Sammy just released a Camera that runs on the latest version of Android, has 3G and 4G connectivity included, but it can’t make phone calls? A couple of years ago I would’ve told you that making phone calls on something so thick would’ve made you look stupid, but I don’t see anybody that owns a Galaxy Note to be embarrassed.
This camera would’ve been the perfect product if Sammy would’ve also included phone call functionality. The reason why is because of convenience. I do know that there is still an existing market that is willing to carry a point-and-shot camera along with their smartphone, even if it has a good camera. The problem is that the market is quickly fading with the power of devices like the Galaxy S III. That said, I will admit that there are certain moments where I do want the versatility of a point-and-shoot when trying to zoom into a subject or whenever I need to take night photos.
If Samsung would’ve sold us a unlocked option to make calls, we could simply choose to leave our typical smartphone at home on a certain occasion to carry the Galaxy Camera. Just swap the SIM card and you’re good to go. No need to carry two devices to go to the beach, when the Galaxy Camera would’ve served you well enough for that specific occasion.
To take full advantage of the Galaxy Camera, you’ll need to pay more
So the whole idea of the Galaxy Camera is to have a device where you can easily share your photos on the go. That’s what’s made smartphones popular, right? Sammy was even nice enough to slap a 3G and 4G modem on the device that’ll likely require a SIM Card to work. The question is, would you be willing to pay for the extra data plan of a camera you won’t always carry with you?
If you have a smartphone, then surely you can share your device’s Internet through the wireless hotspot feature and give the camera some data, but you know that isn’t free either. That’s the main reason why I feel they fell short in not making this camera a phone too. Why pay extra data, when I can carry it as my daily driver on specific days when I need a good camera along with me?
Other than that, you’re stuck with only being able to share your stuff through Wi-Fi, just like you can already do with certain point-and-shoot cameras that are most likely much cheaper than the Galaxy Camera is going to be. Even if you can share to your smartphone through Wi-Fi direct, give the feature a try for more than 10 minutes, and tell me if it’s really a better experience than just snapping the photo with your smartphone and uploading instantly.
It’s just too late
If this device was launched around five years ago when we were still using 2 megapixel cameras and video recording was optional, it would’ve revolutionized the camera industry. Smartphones and even tablets have grown-up just a little too much to let this Galaxy Camera become popular.
The bottom line
There is, however, still a market for point-and-shoot cameras. There are still people that don’t want a complicated smartphone, or that can’t afford one, and who can’t afford a DSLR either. For the budget-minded, having an entry-level smartphone along with a point-and-shoot is the perfect combination.
I feel that here’s where Sammy has to innovate. This Galaxy Camera has to be affordable to succeed. If you were given a choice between a dumb camera and a smart camera at the same price, you’d definitely have to be stupid not to buy one. This smart camera has to be the future of point-and-shoots. If it plans to be a separate category that competes at a higher-end price, then entry-level mirror less cameras like the Sony NEX line will kill it, and the cheaper dumb cameras would do the same.
I sadly don’t feel excited about this product enough to buy it, but hey, I’m just one human in this market. How about you? Would you buy one? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments down bellow.