Camera phones are nothing new. But the idea of your handset completely replacing your compact is a relatively new concept.
Until the last couple of smartphones refreshes, snappers on phones had been by and large a good way to snap quick pics while out and about.
The quality was always ok, but never eye-poppingly brilliant. That’s all changed in the past two years or so.
The iPhone 5’s superb snapper, the Google Nexus 4’s brilliant sensor and HTC’s ultra-pixel-packing One have all helped ensure that compact cameras are becoming an increasing irrelevance for modern-day gadget fans.
The same can be said of Samsung’s Galaxy S4. However, this being Samsung, it’s not content to let its flagship do the talking.
It’s just officially launched its much-rumoured Galaxy S4 Zoom, a chunky camera phone that brings the old-school idea of a feature phone back to life.
Make no mistake, this is more like a camera with a phone attached than the other way round.
We’re talking a 16-megapixel sensor, backed up with a 10x optical, rather than digital, zoom.
It can reel off four shots per second and has an adjustable, manual zoom ring.
This is way beyond the capabilities of standard smartphone cameras, but still comes with the high-end feature we’ve come to expect from Sammy: qHD display, dual-core processor, an LTE chip and 8GB of on board storage.
Of course, it’s bulkier than your average smartphone. But at a time when cameras are becoming the key focus in handsets, that’s not a deal breaker.
The idea of having a truly decent compact in your pocket will be appealing to thousands, if not millions of punters.
It seems this is one Galaxy variant that Samsung has really nailed.
The question is, will it outsell its more bogstandard rivals? Most likely not.
But it does show the way for rivals and could lead to a spate of these devices hitting the market.
Nokia’s PureView tech is ripe for this kind of treatment and HTC will not want to be left further back in the queue.
Apple may not wish to compromise iPhone design with a big zoom lens, but it has been served notice that this is where the future is headed.
Once the zoom tech can be slimmed down, optical lenses will be the way to go, rather than digital ones.
Samsung has done an impressive job with its new blower. Here’s hoping it heralds a new approach across the smartphone space.