Samsung's S4 Galaxy Zoom -- which combines an Android smartphone with a 16-megapixel camera and 10x zoom lens -- is real.
The model isn't likely to appeal to the mainstream smartphone buyer. But in an Android market crowded with options, a niche that caters to a particular subset can be a reasonable approach -- especially if that subset is as passionate, enthusiastic, and willing to part with money as photographers often are.
The Korean electronics giant announced the new smartphone Wednesday, the latest in a series of S4-branded phones that began with the Galaxy S4 flagship model, continued with the smaller, cheaper Galaxy S4 Mini, then the rugged Galaxy S4 Active.
The company had dipped its toes in the Android camera waters last year with the $550 Samsung Galaxy Camera, which has an Android interface, a 4.8-inch touch screen, a 21x zoom lens, and mobile-network connectivity. Though its camera is better than what's in the vast majority of smartphones, it's not a real smartphone, even though the full potential of photo and video sharing requires customers to pay for a new monthly data plan.
The Galaxy S4 Zoom is a real smartphone, though -- something to go up against Nokia's 808 Pureview and, more realistically, the Windows Phone-based but still officially only rumored Nokia EOS.
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The S4 Zoom has Android 4.2, aka "Jelly Bean;" a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED 960x540-pixel screen; LTE network connectivity; a 1.5GHz dual-core processor (though that will vary by market, Samsung said); 8GB of internal memory, a microSD card slot for up to 64GB more capacity; a 2,330mAh battery; and Samsung's range of extra software.
In the camera department, the Zoom delivers an image-stabilized lens with an 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 24-240mm. Its aperture ranges from f3.1 to f6.3. The sensor can shoot at ISO sensitivity ranging from 100 to 3,200. It's also got a flash and, on the front side, a 1.9-megapixel camera for video chat.
The S4 Zoom will be available this summer in the U.K., but customers in the rest of Europe or in the United States will have to wait until the fourth quarter, Samsung said. The company didn't share a price tag.
Updated at 7:25 a.m. PT with U.S. and European availability information.