During tonight’s event called Samsung Premiere 2013, held in London, I had the opportunity of testing three Galaxy S4 offspring: the Galaxy S4 Zoom, Galaxy S4 Active and Galaxy S4 Mini, so I thought I would jot up some preliminary thoughts on them.
Galaxy S4 Zoom
The most interesting of the group is the Galaxy S4 Zoom, of course — a smartphone that has a 10x optical zoom on its 16-megapixel back-facing camera. The device can be seen as the successor of the Galaxy Camera that, apart from the aforementioned advancements in its camera options, includes another novelty: the ability to make telephone calls. The Galaxy S4 Zoom is noticeably slimmer and has more compact dimensions than the Galaxy Camera, even when its lens is fully out of the body. And it seems entirely logical that Samsung would add the option of making calls, as keeping Galaxy S4 pressed against your ear is not unnatural or unpractical at all.
Still, in order to do this, several compromises regarding practicality need to be made when the device is used as a smartphone. Thus, it has “only” a 4.3-inch display with a 540 x 960 resolution, which are specs that have long since been surpassed in the smartphone top class. This is why it is a bit meaningless that this device has the bearing S4 in its name, but when it comes to hybrids between smartphones and compact digital cameras, this is convincingly the best device there is and there is some justification for such a name. As I was testing the device, I could not get over the impression that it would be much more comfortable working with it if it had a larger display.
The dual-core Cortex-A9 processor running a 1.5 GHz clock had no problem performing the tasks I wanted, without any lag or glitches at any given moment. The device performed especially well while using a rather complex application for taking photographs and was fast when shooting and sending a photograph during a phone call. It even went as far as suggesting the person on the line as the default recipient. However, everything slowed down once I zoomed the shot in to the maximum 10x. This is when things get really slow, but as soon as the zooming ring on the lens is returned to its initial position, without the zoom, the software reverts to its former speed.
Galaxy S4 Active
I also tried the Galaxy S4 Active while in London. This is a smartphone which is almost identical to the “real” Galaxy S4 as far as internals are concerned. As such, it comes with a quad-core Snapdragon 600 (this time running a staggering 1.9 GHz clock) and a 5-inch Full HD display, but with “common” TFT, not Super AMOLED. In addition, it is covered in Gorilla Glass 2, not 3 and has an 8-megapixel back-facing camera, not a 13 megapixel one. The feature that makes it special is that it is waterproof.
It provides a premium feeling when held in the palm and at first glance it is evident that this is a flagship phone (it actually seems much more convincing than the regular Galaxy S4), with the only difference being that the screen does not provide such superior brightness and contrast. No objections can be made regarding the sharpness, given the impressive 441 ppi pixel density.
The display is identical underwater as on dry land, which is praiseworthy, but the touch screen does not work in this situation, of course. This is why Samsung has added the so-called Aqua Mode to its user interface and photographs can be taken by hitting the volume control switch. Still, when the phone is taken out of the water the screen still does not respond to touching until it is fully dried or patted dry and this isn?t terribly convenient.
Galaxy S4 Mini
Lastly, I tried the Galaxy S4 Mini. The device comes equipped with a 4.3-inch 540 x 960 Super AMOLED screen and a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 running a 1.7 GHz clock, which seems the optimal choice for the reduced version of the “big” Galaxy S4. Physically, Galaxy S4 Mini really does look like the popular flagship?s little brother and it also acts like it in practice — it offers excellent imaging, it is very sharp with fantastic contrast and color vivacity, but on a smaller surface.
Its speediness, however, is identical to the one its big brother sports, which is logical, given that a smaller resolution means fewer demands for the chipset. Weighing just 107 grams, Galaxy S4 Mini really is exceptionally compact and light. It seems fair to say that the Galaxy S4 Mini is convincingly the most powerful smartphone with “small” dimensions at the moment.