Samsung has had broad success with the Android operating system in the smartphone and tablet space, and last year introduced a long-zoom camera with Android and cellular wireless capability. Samsung now brings Android to its NX mirrorless system with the Galaxy NX. The new camera uses most of the same essential elements as the NX300, including the NX lens mount, the 20.3-megapixel sensor, and DRIMe IV imaging processor, but it also includes a large 4.8-inch 921K capactive touchscreen, the largest display on any interchangeable lens camera so far, and several forms of wireless communication.

Samsung was the second company to announce an Android-based camera in 2012, but it was more ambitious than the Nikon S800c, which ran Android 2.3, while the Galaxy Camera ran 4.1. The Galaxy Camera also had a 4.8-inch LCD, and a wider and longer zoom, ranging from 23-481mm equivalent. What the Galaxy NX offers over the Galaxy Camera is interchangeable lenses, an APS-C sensor, dedicated processors, and a larger battery, among other things.

Samsung Galaxy Camera NX key features

  • 20.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor (same as NX300)
  • 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens
  • ISO 100-25600
  • 4.8-inch 921K LCD with capacitive touchscreen with Gorilla Glass
  • SVGA electronic viewfinder with diopter control
  • JPEG, RAW, RAW+JPEG capture
  • Movies 1920x1080@30fps, 1280x720@60fps
  • Built-in GPS +GLONASS (A-GPS supported)
  • 16GB Memory, 2GB RAM
  • MicroSD card slot supports up to 64GB
  • 1.6GHz Quad-core processor
  • DRIMe IV imaging processor
  • Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • 4360mAh battery
  • Enhanced voice commands
  • Advanced Hybrid Autofocus: 105 points on-chip phase-detect; 247-point contrast-detect
  • Focus peaking
  • WiFi a/b/g/n 2.4GHz, 5GHz
  • Bluetooth 4.0 (LE)
  • NFC
  • 4G LTE/3G HSPA+42Mbps cellular data
  • Bundled with Adobe Lightroom
  • 1/6000 second top shutter speed
  • 8.6 fps

While it looks like an ordinary SLR or mirrorless EVF camera from the front, from the back the Galaxy NX looks more like a big smartphone. Samsung decided to rely primarily on the touchscreen for most settings, leaving only one dial on the back, which also serves as a button, the shutter release, movie record button, plus power and flash pop-up button, and the i-Function button on more recent NX lenses.

Though there is no telephone application, the Galaxy NX can run essentially any Android app, according to company representatives, including Skype, so there's potential to use the phone as a communication device. Of course, the primary form of communication intended with the Galaxy NX is uploading images and videos to servers and social media sites via its WiFi and 3G/4G cellular radio. The Galaxy NX can also transfer images to smartphones and tablets for storage, editing, and upload.

The advantages to a camera that is also an Android device are wide-reaching, potentially omitting the need for a computer, at least for the initial phases of a photoshoot. Application of filters and edits are limited only by the programs available on Android. Our initial impression is that the camera doesn't need a SIM card or contract to work.

The Samsung Galaxy NX Camera will come either body-only or kitted with an 18-55mm O.I.S lens. The new camera will work with all NX lenses, including the company's 45mm 2D/3D lens.

Dedicated processors

Unlike the original Galaxy Camera, the Galaxy NX Camera has two separate processors: one for Android (the 1.6GHz Quad-core processor) and one for images (the DRIMe IV), which promises to make both Android and image processing faster.

Size compared

The Galaxy NX camera is noticeably larger than the NX20, which also has an electronic viewfinder. The size increase is likely due to the considerably larger LCD, which literally dominates the back of the Galaxy NX, leaving no room for buttons and just enough for a slight thumb grip.

From the front, the Galaxy NX looks like a larger version of the NX20, though it's not immediately obvious why it's bigger (that becomes more clear below). There is no depth-of-field preview button on the Galaxy NX.
The top view reveals a larger grip - which helps pull your hand forward so your thumb isn't as prone to encroach onto the large rear LCD. The Galaxy NX also uses a power button instead of the power switch that rings the NX20's shutter release, and there's no Mode dial (by default the rear dial functions as a Mode dial on the Galaxy NX). Note the large diopter adjustment knob left of the EVF.
The LCD on the back leaves no room for other control types, save for the dial upper right, which also serves as a button to confirm selections. Naturally the LCD is also a capacitive touchscreen, which cell phone users will find quite familiar.