With the Galaxy NX, Samsung has taken its intention to unify smartphones and cameras into a unique device a step further. The Galaxy NX was the absolute star of tonight’s Samsung Premiere 2013 event in London, among nine new mobile devices with Android OS and Windows — a hybrid of a 4.8-inch smartphone and a mirrorless digital camera with interchangeable lenses. This is the first camera in the world that comes with changeable lenses, Android OS, and 3G and LTE connectivity.
As a full-blooded semi-professional camera, the Galaxy NX does not miss a single function, with its only shortcoming being the inability to make phone calls, which is actually an entirely logical decision — it would be equally unpractical and unconventional to talk with a device that is essentially a small DSLR pressed against your ear. Still, any Google Play application can be installed on the Galaxy NX (i.e. Viber or Skype) and as the device includes a microphone for recording video clips, voice communication is theoretically not impossible.
I tried this device right after its London premiere and am convinced that this really is the most serious harmony of these two types of devices to date. The Galaxy NX is a far more convincing hybrid between a smartphone and a camera than the now ten-month-old Galaxy Camera. This is not a device for Instagram fans and smartphone photography enthusiasts, but rather an actual camera with bonafide advanced options that will find their application in a wide array of professional situations due to its connectivity with fast mobile networks. Instead of posting photographs on social networks, which was the case with the Galaxy Camera, photographs recorded by Galaxy NX can now be sent to photography agencies, newsrooms, and many other places via LTE and 3G networks (or Wi-Fi, of course) as soon as they are taken.
This is aided by the fact that all advanced setting options are available on the device, as well as some 30 preset modes for various typical (more or less) situations. Furthermore, Galaxy NX is compatible with all lenses that can be used with previous Samsung cameras of the same type.
The device seems exceptionally convincing and robust when held in hand and provides a premium feeling, regardless of whether it is used as a camera or for browsing the Internet, for instance. Its 4.8-inch HD Super Clear TFT LCD screen is identical to the Galaxy Camera’s. This means that it does not provide the same superior level of sharpness, brightness, and color vivacity as a Super AMOLED display. But on the other hand, its contrast stability is immaculate and remains unaltered whether the device is exposed to direct sunlight or indoors.
The quad-core Pega-Q processor running a 1.6 GHz clock perfectly handles all of the tasks I tried on the Galaxy NX, however there are some issues regarding the amount of time it takes for the device to turn on. Several seconds will pass before the first click.
On the other hand, the automatic focus takes place relatively fast, just like on “real” cameras of the same class. The device has 16 GB of internal storage and the option of expanding its capacity with microSD cards, which is sufficient, even with the maximum image resolution of 20.3 mega pixels. Still, it should be kept in mind that applications take up memory, not just photographs.
Samsung Galaxy NX comes with Android OS 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) and a user interface modification that is tailored for frequent photo shooting. The shooting application can be easily started from the classic smartphone mode and it is exceptionally abundant with options (as it should be with a camera of this caliber). However, the reverse process is rather complicated and it is often hard to return to the classic Android OS interface after viewing photographs.
After playing with Galaxy NX for half an hour, it is clear that this hybrid is closer to a camera than a smartphone. Everyone who acquires it will have to have a “regular” smartphone as well, but they will also get more than they would if they purchased a “regular” camera with exchangeable lenses.
For more information about the camera features of the Galaxy NX, head over to our preview on our sister site DigitialCameraReview.com.