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Samsung Galaxy K zoom review: the point-and-shoot with a phone

By Anton D. Nagy August 11, 2014, 2:51 am
Samsung Galaxy K zoom review

It was just about this time last year that we were asking some valid questions about the Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom: Is it a phone? Is it a camera? Who would buy it? Why?!? One year later, its successor has reached the market with the same functionality and almost the same form factor. Now we’re asking the same questions in our Samsung Galaxy K zoom review below, though we’re not quite sure we’ll be able to answer this time around, either.

Samsung Galaxy K zoom review

If you don’t know what the S4 zoom was, and what the K zoom is, just take a look at the images below. You see, you have to look at both of them, because if you only peek at the back of the device, you’ll think it’s a point-and-shoot. If you look at the front alone, you’ll say it’s a Galaxy phone, like all the others. No, it’s some sort of Frankenstein combo (and we were looking for a better way to describe it).

K Zoom front and back

We’ll be blunt: it’s big, it’s ugly, and it’s hefty. Would you put up with all that for the same picture quality you’d be likely to get from other phones? The Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Sony Xperia Z2 come to mind at first, but the Galaxy S 5 isn’t far behind at all on the list, and neither is the LG G3. Probably not, but if you’re into optical zoom, then it’s a different story! Let’s take a closer look at this niche device, its capabilities, and what it has to offer as a whole, in our Samsung Galaxy K zoom review below.

Video Review · Specs & Hardware · Software · Camera · Performance

Pros/Cons · Pricing/Availability · Conclusion · Scored For Me

 

Samsung Galaxy K zoom Review Video

Index

Performance

After more than a week using the K zoom, we can tell you that our battery concerns from the initial unboxing and first impressions video were spot on. The 2,430mAh battery is simply too small for this device. Prepare to run out of juice by the end of the day, even if you use this guy as a regular smartphone. Open up the camera app and shoot your way through the day, like Samsung wants you to, and you’ll have to recharge halfway through, or replace the battery with a fully-charged one.

K Zoom front in hand

We have no complaints on the performance side of things, though. We’ve experienced no lag or hiccups while performing day-to-day activities whatsoever. These include phone calls, texts, emails, chats, social media interactions, music and video streaming, navigation, and document editing. You can also play graphic-intensive games without a problem. Need for Speed Most Wanted ran without problems, though the battery was depleting fast.

K Zoom speaker

Call quality and signal strength are not stellar, but they’re not on our list of complaints, either. The phone delivers average results, in line with most of the smartphones you’ll find on the market. We’re a bit disappointed by speaker performance, though, regardless if we’re talk about phone calls or multimedia. With such a bulky form factor, Samsung could have equipped the K zoom with a more capable speaker. The fact that its backfiring doesn’t help, either; luckily, the speaker is positioned on the top, so you won’t cover it up with your hand in portrait mode.

And when it comes to the battery, we just have to reiterate our thoughts: it’s too small for such a device, but that’s the price you have to pay for trying to keep the form factor at a decent size, while packing (relatively) capable hardware and a powerful camera inside it.

Index

Pros

+ optical zoom lens
+ optical image stabilization
+ solid camera performance
+ decent specs
+ good performance

Cons

– bulky, ugly, hefty
– only 8GB of internal storage (5GB available)
– no LED notification light
– shutter button won’t wake the device (unless you combine it with the volume up key, which takes up two hands)
– poor battery life

Index

Pricing and Availability

K Zoom settings menu

While the Samsung Galaxy K zoom hasn’t yet been picked up by any North American carrier, those of you who want to purchase this device can easily find it on Amazon, eBay, or other online outlets, with prices ranging from $460 to $490, depending on your luck.

If you’re outside the US, you might want to check in with your online Samsung store, or other retailers, where the phone (errr, camera) might be available. In our particular case, we purchased the device unlocked for $712, but the price since has been reduced to $580 (at the same retailer, which also happens to bundle a 64GB Samsung microSD card).

We’ll definitely have coverage on the K zoom once it lands in the US (which should happen later, just like in the S4 zoom’s case), so make sure to check back, if not for a full review, at least for a review rebuttal or similar coverage.

Index

Conclusion

We had a lot of complaints last year with the Galaxy S4 zoom. Needless to say, most of those issues return on our 2014 K zoom list as well. While Samsung has definitely improved the specifications on paper, it has still not addressed some rather important aspects, like the LED notification, or the simplest, no-brainer capability of waking the phone into the camera app with the camera button (alone).

K Zoom front top

That being said, we’re still not sure we’re able to answer our fundamental questions about this device, but we’ll try our best. Is it a phone? It definitely is a smartphone, and a rather capable one at that, being able to handle most of today’s tasks without a problem. Is it a camera? It surely is, and a good one at that. Who would buy it? The person who doesn’t care about added bulk, is not a spec-head (but rather a casual smartphone user), is relatively light on using the phone, and cares a lot about his or her on-the-go photography. Why? Well, you tell us why you’d buy (or skip) the Samsung Galaxy K zoom, in the comments below.

Index


Scored For Me

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