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Samsung's Android-powered Galaxy Camera: the most connected camera?

By dpreview staff on Aug 29, 2012 at 17:34 GMT

Samsung today launched the first true compact camera/smart device hybrid - the Galaxy Camera, with 3G/4G connectivity as well as Wi-Fi (which sets it apart from Wi-Fi-only competitors like the recently-announced Nikon Coolpix S800c).

Camera manufacturers have been seeing sales of their compact cameras fall for a long time now, challenged by a new generation of camera-equipped smartphones. As the photographic specification of phones get better, there's less need for most casual photographers to carry a dedicated camera, and if you're in the business of selling compact cameras, this is a serious problem. But Samsung believes it has a solution. Take a WB850F camera, and a Galaxy SIII smartphone, and... blend them. 

We've been talking to Samsung representatives for months about the concept of a camera running the Android OS, and the Korean manufacturer's early plans were the subject of more than one confidential briefing during a trip to Seoul earlier this year. Now that the wraps are off, the final specification is more or less in line with what we expected - a versatile, consumer-level camera running 'full strength' Android and equipped with both 3G/4G connectivity in addition to the now-standard (for Samsung) Wi-Fi. A 1.4GHz quad-core processor completes the picture and should provide enough 'grunt' to make everything run nice and smoothly. 

From the front, the Galaxy Camera's photographic lineage is obvious. An optically-stabilized 21X zoom lens (you have the option of controlling this via a conventional zoom rocker switch or via the touchscreen interface) and contoured handgrip denote a 'proper' camera.

The Galaxy Camera is a 16.3MP compact camera with a 4.8in LCD touchscreen running the Android operating system. It runs the latest iteration of Android (4.1 - known as 'Jelly Bean'), and will be available in two versions - a 3G + Wi-Fi model and a 4G + Wi-Fi variant (carrier and regional information TBC). This makes it the first 'connected camera' to offer more than just Wi-Fi connectivity.

Although we understand that the camera does not have cellular voice capabilities, it will be compatible with various VoiP apps, such as Skype, which will enable it to be used for making voice and video calls over 3G/4G or WiFi. Photographic features include a 21X zoom lens, spanning 23-481mm (equivalent) and a built-in 'Photo Wizard' for editing photographs in-camera. 

Months ago, in Seoul, we asked Samsung representatives how they envisaged smartphone/camera convergence: specifically, whether in the long-term the Korean manufacturer intended to expand the photographic capabilities of phones, or build smartphone features into cameras. At the time we received no clear answer. The fact that Samsung is calling this a 'Galaxy' product is interesting, but there's no mistaking that this is an enhanced camera, not the other way round.

Semantics aside, the Galaxy Camera is highly significant. It is the nearest thing we've seen to a true camera/phone hybrid, and as well as solid photographic specifications it contains a serious amount of DNA from Samsung's well-established line of smartphones. The key is the addition of a powerful processor, and 3G/4G connectivity. This means that just like a smartphone, the Galaxy Camera can connect to the web anywhere that there's mobile coverage, and should have enough power to run apps and browse the web without feeling sluggish. An 'Auto Cloud Backup' feature automatically saves images to Samsung's AllShare cloud storage service the moment they're taken - another benefit of 'always on' connectivity.

From the back, however, the Galaxy's massive display and three 'soft' buttons are classic Android OS. Gone are the usual buttons and dials that we'd expect on the rear of a Samsung compact camera.

Interestingly though, although the screen size is similar, the display on the back of the Galaxy Camera is an LCD unit, not the gorgeous AMOLED used in the Galaxy SIII. 

Likewise, the potential to send images captured with the Galaxy by email, or upload them directly to social network sites from pretty much anywhere is very appealing, and as Samsung knows very well, for a huge number of photographers working with mobile devices, this is already second nature. What these photographers aren't used to of course, is the sort of advanced photographic feature set that the Galaxy camera offers. In theory, this makes the Galaxy Camera an ideal first point-and-shoot for someone who's used to taking pictures on their phone, and wants to go further with photography. 

Of course, because the camera runs the open-source Android operating system this means that the camera's feature set can be expanded in the same way as any modern Android-based smartphone, via a huge number of third-party applications. We have some worries about battery life though - the Galaxy Camera's battery has roughly 50% greater capacity as the battery used in the WB850F, but around 25% less than the battery used in the Galaxy SIII, which isn't known for its stamina. Another big question mark - for now - is price. A significant amount of processing power is required to run a full smartphone OS - much more than would be necessary for a conventional compact camera - and it doesn't come cheap. At the time of writing, Samsung's pricing model, which may include carrier subsidies, is unknown. 

When we spoke to Sunhong Lim - VP Sales & Marketing in Samsung's Digital Imaging division back in March, he predicted that 'once the cloud computing era truly dawns, a non-connected device will be meaningless'. The Galaxy Camera is Samsung's surest step yet in this direction.

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Comments

Total comments: 290
123
Rob P
By Rob P (Aug 29, 2012)

"camera phone or phone camera?"

I'd say neither, since it's not a phone at all. Skype et al. don't constitute a "phone".

I'd say it's a "smartcam".

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Baxter Bad
By Baxter Bad (Aug 29, 2012)

In the U.S., all our carriers are spawns of Satan. The last thing I want is to deal with another of their "packages" just to share better photos than I can take with my phone. Please, Samsung - a WiFi-only option.

2 upvotes
Photato
By Photato (Aug 29, 2012)

3G and 4G means only Cellphone Carriers can sell this.
I was hoping for WiFi only that you can buy independent of cell phone package$

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Aug 29, 2012)

Without carrier subsidies it will probably be $700. Almost nobody will buy it at that price.

0 upvotes
McCool69
By McCool69 (Aug 29, 2012)

>> Please, Samsung - a WiFi-only option.
>> 3G and 4G means only Cellphone Carriers can sell this

Is it forbidden to sell stuff with 3G/4G-options in the US if you are not a carrier?

I'm quite sure you don't have to use the 3G/4G option if you don't want to. It should work very well on just wi-fi if that is how you would like to use it - all other Android units does.

Carriers in the US are surely strange beasts; here in Norway I can add a second (and even a third!) sim-card to ONE cell plan and just pay $5 extra a month for each additional sim-card. The carrier doesn't mind if I use my allowed traffic from my phone, tablet or portable computer.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Sergey Borachev
By Sergey Borachev (Aug 29, 2012)

Wow! The future is here! Smart cameras!

Let's hope even more capable, photographically speaking, cameras with all the goodies of Android handheld devices appear soon.

5 upvotes
Vibrio
By Vibrio (Aug 29, 2012)

how long before apple sue them over somthing lol

3 upvotes
Sergey Borachev
By Sergey Borachev (Aug 29, 2012)

Apple should think about what it has done.

I will never buy anything made by Apple if my life does not depend on it.

13 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Aug 29, 2012)

What has Apple done except protect it's own technology?
If a Manufacturer such as Samsung cannot innovate, and relies solely on copying other manufacturers proprietary technology, then it is that manufacturers fault.
If it wasn't for Apple you would not have the innovations in technology that we have today.
BTW, not buying Apple is OK as there are plenty of choices in the market.
But remember next time you use your windows based operating system, that it is thanks to Apple that you now have a more stable and user friendly interface...

4 upvotes
Boerseuntjie
By Boerseuntjie (Aug 29, 2012)

I agree, I don't know why people get so much enjoyment from bashing Apple and why they think it's cool to rip off peoples intellect and hard work, but that is the society today, we want things fast and cheap and cry fowl when countries like China and Korea earn our money with deceit and outright theft, but then again it's apples choice to manufacture in these countries and charge crazy prices for something that was made by the lowest price.
It is well known I have no respect for Samsung but Apple's antics will be the best advertising Samsuck has ever bought, what it says to the world is Samsuck makes same products as Apple but cheap and cheap people like that.
Brainless monkeys

Comment edited 5 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Bill3R
By Bill3R (Aug 29, 2012)

I will never buy anything made by Samsung if my life does not depend on it. ;-)

2 upvotes
rovex
By rovex (Aug 29, 2012)

What 'technology' did Samsung steal exactly? Nothing, thats what. Apples 'technology' is just obvious concepts that couldn't even be patented in most countries other than the US. Whereas Samsungs technology is so vital the 'i' products couldn't exist without them. The only Apple things in any Apple products are the look of the interface, everything else is someone elses.

3 upvotes
Valentin Hertz
By Valentin Hertz (Aug 29, 2012)

I have been working in telecom close to 15y now. The only thing original about the iphone is the shape and OS (interface). The "non so important" things (I'm being sarcastic) like radio related things, communication etc, are all because of Moto and Nokia.

Comment edited 29 seconds after posting
1 upvote
chromablind
By chromablind (Aug 29, 2012)

Boerseuntjie wrote:
> It's no surprise to me that Sergey would say that, we all know his country love knocking off everything. if it wasn't for the German tech they stole, they would not even have running water

Australia stole plumbing from Germany??

0 upvotes
Boerseuntjie
By Boerseuntjie (Aug 29, 2012)

Sergey is very Australian just like Henk Van Den Berg is very Canadian, Australia has pluming?

0 upvotes
Devorama
By Devorama (Aug 29, 2012)

Wouldn't your thumb be resting right on the touchscreen when you hold the camera normally?

2 upvotes
Jan Kritzinger
By Jan Kritzinger (Aug 29, 2012)

No, the strip on the right only looks narrow - remember, this thing has a 4.8" screen!

1 upvote
Photato
By Photato (Aug 29, 2012)

A shame Skype cant be used with it nor it has a front facing camera like the Galaxy Players.

Waiting for Apple to come with an Ipod/Cam Hybrid and then Samsung will sure copy them.

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 29, 2012)

We understand that Skype can be installed and used.

2 upvotes
photofan1986
By photofan1986 (Aug 29, 2012)

Well, if Apple comes with an Ipod/Cam hybrid, THEY would actually copy Samsung! And it's a more characteristic design than the stupid rounded-corner box Apple patented.

2 upvotes
shademaster
By shademaster (Aug 29, 2012)

agreed... I use the front camera on my iPhone for Skype/facetime a LOT. This camera/skype-phone looks REALLY interesting, but it's such a shame they didn't put a low-res screen-side camera on it.

How much effort would it be for them to stick the cellular-radio stuff onto the NX cams (they should have room in the NX20 at least!)?

0 upvotes
Photato
By Photato (Aug 29, 2012)

To Barney: But I dobt see the Mic or Ear piece anywhere. Besides this is probably gonna be available from cell phone carriers.

0 upvotes
Ryan_Valiente
By Ryan_Valiente (Aug 29, 2012)

INSTAGRAM GOT SERIOUS.

2 upvotes
Retzius
By Retzius (Aug 29, 2012)

Cool. So, in an instant, Nikon's new android camera that lacks a phone instantly becomes obsolete, before it even hit the market.

11 upvotes
Boerseuntjie
By Boerseuntjie (Aug 29, 2012)

No the Nikon one will take better pictures

2 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Aug 29, 2012)

And based on market share, Nikon will sell significantly more units.

2 upvotes
Lan
By Lan (Aug 29, 2012)

Except that this boondoggle doesn't have a phone in it either... The article says: "Although we understand that the camera does not have cellular voice capabilities". It can run Skype, but that doesn't make it a phone IMO.

If you want a smartphone and a great camera, there's still only one choice so far - the Nokia 808 Pureview.

3 upvotes
jj74e
By jj74e (Aug 30, 2012)

Well Nikon's take will probably be a cheaper, budget type option.

As far as market share, I would say Nikon's compacts have been crapping out lately; moreover, Samsung definitely has much bigger market share in connectivity options and its brand name itself resounds with consumers toward more connectivity style electronics, while Nikon is known more as a conventional camera company.

I'm pretty sure Samsung will be the leader in this new hybrid compact market, if anything because of their brand name and already connected products, particularly their smartphones and TVs.

0 upvotes
mpgxsvcd
By mpgxsvcd (Aug 29, 2012)

What I want is a Panasonic GH3, with Android, 4G, Bluetooth support, and a really big battery. Then I could get rid of my phone and just carry my camera.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Aug 29, 2012)

I can imagine you walking on a street talking to your 2lbs camera/lens combination (plus a few for "a really big battery"). Surely a lot of pictures will be made. Of you. On iPhones.

2 upvotes
dylanbarnhart
By dylanbarnhart (Aug 29, 2012)

Lol peevee1 :-)

"Surely a lot of pictures will be made. Of you. On iPhones."

0 upvotes
meshal
By meshal (Aug 29, 2012)

long live android.

13 upvotes
mpgxsvcd
By mpgxsvcd (Aug 29, 2012)

It's not a phone unless it supports bluetooth devices? This is going to be a pain to hold as a phone with the lens on the other side like that.

It is not so much that it will slip out of your hand as it is that it will be uncomfortable.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (Aug 29, 2012)

That's what we need!
What Nikon introduced earlier is not a prefect one. This Samsung is exactly what we need.

1 upvote
CG33
By CG33 (Aug 29, 2012)

Good news. People did not want to pay attention or believe me when I told them about this, but I am still saying it: Soon we will find phones on any camera or electronic device. ...I hope these phones don't vibrate while taking pictures... :)

16 upvotes
Light Pilgrim
By Light Pilgrim (Aug 29, 2012)

Comment of the day!

3 upvotes
tinternaut
By tinternaut (Aug 29, 2012)

Yep, get's my "like " too. Convergence is inevitable. We've seen videography revolutionised through convergence with the stills camera. Now we're seeing a revolution in how photos are published thanks to the convergence of the camera and comms tech. I'm sure the next generation of pro cameras will all have built in 4G.

2 upvotes
micdair
By micdair (Aug 29, 2012)

Eh, that's... ...weird... :)

2 upvotes
SHood
By SHood (Aug 29, 2012)

Is this a 1/2.3" sensor or smaller?

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Aug 29, 2012)

1/2.3" - it's essentially a WB850 glued to a Galaxy SIII.

6 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (Aug 29, 2012)

> it's essentially a WB850 glued to a Galaxy SIII.

Wait what. They should have released the glue you speak of instead!

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
1 upvote
absentaneous
By absentaneous (Aug 29, 2012)

awesome!

0 upvotes
wkay
By wkay (Aug 29, 2012)

lets have netflix and youtube available on a phone next

0 upvotes
Suave
By Suave (Aug 29, 2012)

Uhh, do you live in the woods? It's been there for quite some time.

0 upvotes
photofan1986
By photofan1986 (Aug 29, 2012)

And what's this thing exactly for?

2 upvotes
bbwttr
By bbwttr (Aug 29, 2012)

Valley Girls

2 upvotes
Dafffid
By Dafffid (Aug 29, 2012)

Making calls and taking photos... which bit of the story confused you?

1 upvote
photofan1986
By photofan1986 (Aug 29, 2012)

Oh sorry, I thought it already existed...and it was called a Smartphone!

1 upvote
Richard Shih
By Richard Shih (Aug 29, 2012)

The camera/phone won't be able to make calls on regular carriers through the 3G/4G connections. You can install Skype to make calls through the data connection, but it will probably be a bit awkward considering the placement of the mic and speakers.

4 upvotes
Antonio Rojilla
By Antonio Rojilla (Aug 29, 2012)

So when Honda unveils a new car you also ask what is it for just because there were already more cars in the market? LOL!

1 upvote
tombell1
By tombell1 (Aug 29, 2012)

Not for me , but I think Samsung are extraordinary ... they are producing some very good cameras to no applause from anyone ....if they had put their NX210 with an articulated screen i would have bought it in a flash ... this is very clever .. i bought the 750 for a friend for less than £100 ..bargain

0 upvotes
Boerseuntjie
By Boerseuntjie (Aug 29, 2012)

Exactly you are cheap that is why you like Samsung, you would not recognize a quality product if it hits you in the face, a Lada is cheap buy one its a bargain

0 upvotes
bbwttr
By bbwttr (Aug 29, 2012)

Oh my god!!!!!

0 upvotes
ianp5a
By ianp5a (Aug 30, 2012)

One problem with most cameras today is you cant press "Send" when you have taken a picture. This has been available on phones for at least 6 years. Why have 20 clicks and delays when 3 click will do the same? It's just bad usability.

Another problem is you choose a great camera then discover they have left off some important features. If you are a techie you can hack the firmware. But soon you will be able to pick an app to suit you. EG my Canon G9 has no display of Aperture and Shutter before you lock exposure. No video exposure +/- control. That bad usability and lack of control will be a thing of the past.

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
ianp5a
By ianp5a (Aug 31, 2012)

I just went to look at the specs to see if the camera has aperture or shutter priority or program shift. But then I remembered, you just need the right app and you are ready.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 290
123