We know that the smartphone has eaten the compact camera's lunch, but Samsung thinks it still has one or two tricks up its capacious sleeves before the plates and cutlery are finally cleared away.
The South Korean company - never shy to try any combination of size, specs and features in its line-up of devices - has followed up last year's Galaxy S4 Zoom with the Galaxy K Zoom, once again attempting to bring consumers camera-quality optics in a mobile-sized frame.
The intention behind this second phone-camera hybrid (as opposed to the camera-phone hybrid - keep up at the back) is to provide the best of both worlds, but in practice there are compromises on all sides.
The camera technology here isn't terribly advanced, and the phone gets lower specs, extra depth and more weight as a result of including it.
Phone-wise, we're looking somewhere between the aforementioned Galaxy S4 Zoom and the latest Galaxy S5 flagship in terms of specifications. Like its direct predecessor, the K Zoom features 8GB of internal storage which you can expand via a microSD card but everything else has been given a bump.
The 720 x 1280 pixel Super AMOLED screen may not match the latest and greatest phones on the market, but it's a welcome upgrade from the S4 Zoom. There's 2GB of RAM here too, as with the Galaxy S5.
The processor inside is a hexacore Samsung Exynos 5, with two high-performance 1.75GHz A15 cores and four less powerful high-efficiency 1.3GHz A7 cores. The dual-core configuration is used for day-to-day tasks, while the quad-core capabilities kick in whenever there's some heavy lifting to be done.
That's the same strategy used by the octacore Galaxy S5, but with two fewer cores, obviously. There's NFC and 4G on board, so all of your connectivity options are taken care of. The removable back case gives you access to the battery and the microSIM slot, while the tiny microphone in the base completes the picture.
Unfortunately, you're not going to get much change from £400 (around $680, AU$730) if you want to buy the K Zoom SIM-free, and that's a big investment considering the middling specs on offer. It's about 10% cheaper than its predecessor, but it still feels overpriced.
On contract, most deals are in the £20-30 per month range, and aren't particularly appealing in terms of bundled goodies.
Samsung has promised that the Galaxy K Zoom will arrive in Australia later this year. As yet there's no word on if or when it will turn up in the US.
The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom feels top-heavy thanks to that larger lens, tipping the scales at 200g — while that's 7g lighter than the S4 Zoom, something like Google's svelte Nexus 5 comes in at 130g. You will notice the difference.
Thinness and lightness are significant considerations for most mobile phone buyers, but it's not difficult to get used to the K Zoom after a day or two, and I wouldn't say the extra size or weight were dealbreakers from a personal perspective.
They're noticeable for sure, but you can still slip the phone into a pocket, use it one-handed and do everything else you can with the super-slim super-light handsets on the market.
It's 16.6mm thick across most of the body and 20.2mm thick at its widest point (where the camera optics are installed). Perhaps the biggest difficulty is learning to rearrange the default position for your fingers around the back of the device so you're not constantly interfering with the lens casing.
It does look a bit odd propped up on a table or desk but you don't care about strange looks down the pub when you have all that camera power to fall back on, do you
Aside from the obvious key feature, the Galaxy K Zoom is neat and tidy, with the 4.8-inch screen offering bright, sharp, clear colours.
Viewing it in sunlight isn't always easy, and the 720p resolution is a bit of a shame - particularly when you're framing shots with the cameram - but again it's not going to ruin the phone if you've bought it because of its photo-taking prowess. You're paying your admission fee for the camera, so average specs don't matter as much as they otherwise would.
There's a dimpled, textured effect around the back, which feels nice to the touch and gives some extra grip. The standard microSD port is on the bottom left as you hold the phone - Samsung says cards up to 64GB in size are supported.
If you're looking to match your next mobile with your socks, the Galaxy K Zoom is available in white, black and blue, and a chunky metal trim around the edges (kept from the S4 Zoom) completes the look.
Samsung has done well with the design of the K Zoom and it's a significantly nicer-looking bit of kit than the S4 Zoom device that preceded it. As with the latest Samsung handsets, a central home button sits between capacitive buttons for going back and viewing recent apps (replacing the menu button).
Down the right hand side you'll find volume and power controls, plus a dedicated button for the camera. We have a standard 3.5mm audio jack on top, and an equally unexciting USB charging port underneath.
Taken as a whole, the Galaxy K Zoom impresses just about as much as you would expect: it looks like a neatly designed mid-range mobile, and while the camera optics do inevitably add some heft, it's by no means ugly.
It can be hard to pick out the unique selling point on some phones, but there's no such quandary with the Galaxy K Zoom. The 20.7MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor is one of the best around, but only "one of" - it seems to be the same one installed in the Sony Xperia Z2.
Despite all of those megapixels, the sensor at the heart of the handset's camera isn't going to blow other high-end smartphones away for image quality.
While Samsung's Galaxy S5 only has 16MP to offer, for example, it's using the superior Isocell technology, which the K Zoom doesn't have. Instead, its main strengths lie in other areas.
First and foremost, there's the 10x optical zoom to let you get closer to the action, whether that's the local flower show or your kid's sports day. That's a big improvement on other smartphones and better than a lot of compacts too.
Despite being a little fiddly to use (you can zoom with the volume rocker or with two fingers on the screen) it works very well. For those of you who think you'll be making a lot of use of the zoom capabilities, it's one of the biggest plus points of the handset.
If you're used to smartphone photography the idea of a zoom feature might seem a little redundant, but it can make a huge difference: whether you're filming a squirrel, a racing car or a best man's speech, being able to zoom in on the action rather than having to move towards it is a big bonus.
Second - and less impressive - is the Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) technology. In theory this should make images crisper, with more well-defined edges, but I found it difficult to see the difference. Smartphones are well-known for fuzzy edges and blurring and these problems were in evidence here.
Not that this was a serious problem or distracted from the overall image quality to a great extent, but if you have OIS installed on a device you would expect to see better results when putting it to the test.
Thirdly, there's the Xenon flash. Whereas most smartphones struggle along with an LED replacement, the K Zoom employs the same illumination technology you'll find in a dedicated camera. Here you definitely can see the difference - images taken with flash look like they've been shot on a regular compact camera rather than a smartphone.
The camera offers an equivalent focal length of 24-240mm and an aperture range of f3.1-6.3, so think mid-range rather than top-end compact camera. Shutter start-up speeds are impressive, with the lens out and ready to go in about a second or so.
You're not going to suddenly turn into the world's best wildlife photographer just because you've got the Galaxy K Zoom in your pocket, but you have much more room to experiment than you do with most other smartphones.
It's worth mentioning that the optical zoom may not be accessible from all of the apps you use. The feature is supported by Vine, for example, but not by Instagram. If there's an app you use a lot, check with the developer to see if it's compatible with the K Zoom's more advanced features.
In certain scenarios the best smartphone snappers will outperform the K Zoom, but what you're getting for your extra heft is better zoom, better flash performance, and more stability in your shots. The device has one more card to play though, and that's the wide variety of scene modes and manual settings offered to the user, of which more shortly.
Overall it's hard to fault the images captured by the Galaxy K Zoom, whether up close or far away, well-lit or gloomy. It's certainly very capable - the only question would be whether it's capable enough to make you plump for this rather than any other top-end phone.
Video capabilities top out at 1080p/60fps, so again the K Zoom can produce very good results in the right hands. The optical zoom can be used during filming if required. There's also a 2MP camera at the front for video calling and Snapchat selfies.
Even if the K Zoom's images aren't streets ahead of the competition, it does have the edge in terms of options and modes. Like the phone as a whole, the integrated Scene Modes are for those who want to do a bit more with their photos but who aren't serious professionals (those are the folks who all have DSLRs anyway).
There's a huge range of choice when it comes to modes - more so than in any other camera, including Samsung's S5 - and it's up to you how you arrange them on the camera interface. You can hide the ones you never use, which makes life much easier.
From staples like macro and food to more exotic choices such as dawn and waterfall, almost everything is covered, and while it wasn't possible to test them all, I found them to be on the money in the majority of situations. Silhouette is particularly handy for dealing with backlight.
For more advanced users there's an AF/AE mode that enables you to pick out different bits of the image as reference points for exposure and focus — handy for those times you want to foreground something or lighten up part of a scene that's in shadow.
There's also an intriguing Pro Suggest option that lets you depress the dedicated shutter key half-way and then pick from the suggestions presented, which are all Instagram-style filters rather than modes as such. More Pro Suggest/filter options can be found in the Pro Suggest Market app.
The manual mode provides options for shutter speed, aperture size, exposure compensation and ISO speed, but the choices are limited in each case. The dedicated hardware shutter button (top right as you hold the phone in landscape mode to take a photo) is very welcome, giving you a two-step process for framing and then capturing your snaps.
Also of note is the Selfie Alarm mode, which automatically takes a snap when your face is in the right position. If you're trying to line up a shot with your best pal or a passing celebrity, then it makes the process more straightforward, but it feels a bit gimmicky.
All things considered, it's a good stepping point for those who want to start taking more control over their shots. For beginners used to the point-and-tap smartphone world the options provided by the Galaxy K Zoom will be more than enough to start tinkering. But for seasoned photographers who already know their way around ISO speeds, they are likely to feel a little limiting.
Samsung has kitted out the Galaxy K Zoom with the S5 version of TouchWiz, sitting atop Android 4.4.2 KitKat, and there's nothing new of note to report here. We covered Samsung's newest software release in our comprehensive Galaxy S5 review, and you can find all of the main details there.
The geometric layout and circular icons ushered in with the S5 are all present and correct, giving the software a pleasant and premium feel that earlier editions of TouchWiz lacked.
If you're used to a stock or HTC version of Android, be prepared for plenty of Samsung branding: that Calendar app you're looking for is actually called S Planner, for example. Speaking as a long-time Nexus user, the My Files app is a welcome addition, making file management much more straightforward.
Overall I found the switch from stock Android to TouchWiz less problematic than I'd feared. Samsung likes to pack a lot of stuff in there certainly, but for the most part it's well laid out and intuitive enough. I wouldn't be tempted to switch from stock Android, but it's perfectly fine.
The likes of S Voice and Dropbox come pre-installed (link your Dropbox account for an instant 50GB boost for two years) but there was no sign of S Health Lite, despite the phone's press information suggesting they'd be there. It's possible that this was just a glitch with our review unit - I've contacted Samsung and will update this review when it replies.
Contacts does a great job of syncing information about the people you know from various disparate networks, while Samsung's own messaging app is still here despite the onward march of Google Hangouts.
One of the newest features in this section of the company's OS is the addition of a space for 'priority senders' at the top of your inbox. If you have contacts you really, really like keeping in touch with, then you can pin them here.
The Galaxy K Zoom achieved a GeekBench single-core score of 868 and multi-score score of 2051. That's a long way south of the S5's 2909 and the HTC One M8's 2899. Even the Galaxy S4 managed 2325, so you get some idea of the level of power we're talking about here.
Does it matter anymore? I didn't notice any major performance problems with the K Zoom, even on demanding games or with several apps open - certainly no more issues than I usually get with the Nexus 5. Performance is perfectly acceptable. But be warned; if you want the latest and most powerful tech inside your smartphone, this isn't the handset for you.
Finally there's a pre-installed Studio app for getting creative with your photos and videos, presumably designed to take on the built-in editing capabilities of the iPhone. It sticks to the basics, but it's slick and friendly, and definitely a welcome bonus.
Battery life and media
There is one benefit to having internal specifications that are some way short of the very best on the market, and that's superior battery life.
The Galaxy K Zoom does very well in this regard, particularly when it's used just as a phone: a few calls and a bit of web browsing and you'll get well over a day's use out of it, if not two.
The traditional TechRadar 90-minute HD video test knocked the phone's battery level down from 100% to 88% - compare that to the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S (84%) or the HTC One M8 (77%). Impressive, especially considering it has a middling 2430 mAh battery installed.
When the camera and the flash start strutting their stuff, battery performance is less stellar. If you're going to disappear for an all-day photo-taking expedition then it's likely that you'll be out of juice and hunting for a power socket by the time you get back.
It's not a disaster, but it's worth bearing in mind if you're considering the K Zoom as your next purchase.
I went out for an hour's worth of photo and video capturing, and when I came back the battery level was down to 78%. Multiply that by four or five hours and you'll start having problems, but to be fair to the K Zoom, the camera is a big battery drain on all smartphones.
Other intensive tasks, such as watching movies, listening to music and gaming didn't seem to use up too much juice.
Presumably that lower resolution screen and the CPU speed management present in the K Zoom helps in this regard. It's another area where there's substantial improvement over the S4 Zoom.
Media and the essentials
With hardware that's solid and software that's been refined over many years, the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom has no problems when it comes to fulfilling its duties as a standard smartphone.
Making and taking calls is a breeze, with both incoming and outgoing volume levels nicely balanced, and as we've already mentioned Samsung's contacts management system is one of TouchWiz's best features.
Elsewhere there are no surprises good or bad. There's the usual Android and Samsung medley of media apps: Photos, Play Movies & TV, Play Music and YouTube from Google, plus Gallery, Music and Video from Samsung. As far as your music goes, both Samsung and Google apps alike offer playback controls from the notifications pull-down and the lock screen.
Whether you're using the supplied headphones or integrated speaker (sitting at the top of the rear of the phone when held in portrait mode), audio quality is decent without being spectacular, which is more or less par for the course for the majority of handsets out there.
If you're anything like me, you'll want to switch off Samsung's pop, whizz and crackle system sounds at the earliest opportunity, but this is easily done.
Watching movies on the 4.8-inch screen is about as good as you'll get from a mobile phone handset. Colours are crisp, sharp and vibrant, and high definition video (whether 720p or above) looks great based on the film trailers I browsed through.
It's not the biggest or highest resolution screen on the market, but the video watching experience is a good one thanks to the Super AMOLED technology installed by Samsung.
As for the Samsung apps themselves, they're functional and friendly: as noted in our Galaxy S5 review, the Gallery app pulls in pictures from a variety of sources, while the only notable innovation in the Music app is a Mood Square that lets you queue up tunes based on tempo and feeling.
On to gaming, and a quick ten minute blast of Dots barely troubled the battery level meter, while the same amount of time on the more demanding Real Racing 3 saw a drop of 4 percent - not great but not wildly out of line from what you'd expect from other handsets.
The special hexacore setup inside the K Zoom doesn't seem to have too many difficulties with games that demand higher frame rates - perhaps due to that lower resolution screen. However, trying to control a game with a chunky camera lens around the back of the device isn't always easy.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom
Weighed against last year's predecessor the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, the K Zoom is undoubtedly a step or two in the right direction. If all you're asking is whether this year's model beats last year's then it's a four-to-five star verdict: absolutely, yes.
The camera specs have been upgraded but it's the phone specs that have received the biggest boost, and the device looks a lot more stylish as well. It's faster, with more RAM and better battery life, and a much better screen, and on top of all that the price has dropped a little as well.
Ultimately, despite a largely positive review, James Rogerson concluded that the S4 Zoom "commands a premium price tag... despite not being a premium example of either [a phone or camera]" and this still rings true for the K Zoom even with the progress Samsung has made.
It's possible that the 2015 version of the K Zoom will be right on the money but even with the extra bulk of the lens and optics, you're still getting internal components inferior to most dedicated cameras out there, which negates the point of having this handset in the first place.
Nokia Lumia 1020
Then there are the smartphones with the very best cameras, such as the Nokia Lumia 1020. With Nokia's PureView technology, a Xenon flash and 41 megapixels to play around with, it's a superb option if you can put up with Windows Phone and all that it entails.
Like the K Zoom, there's some additional heft around the lens that you'll have to live with in return for superior shots, though you don't get the large optical zoom range than Samsung's offering has - the Lumia 1020 effectively has a 3x optical zoom rating.
The screen isn't quite as big, and you don't get all of the Samsung and Android apps of course, but the Lumia 1020 is available for much less if you hunt around on the web. A big saving for a comparable camera, but there are pluses and minuses as far as the smartphone half of the equation is concerned.
Sony Xperia Z2
The Sony Xperia Z2, meanwhile, offers both a great smartphone and a great camera. You'll need to pay for the benefits it brings, but it has specs to drool over with 3GB of RAM and a quad-core 2.3GHz processor.
There's a huge 5.2-inch 1080 x 1920 pixel screen, better internal components and Sony's lightly skinned version of Android - it lacks the bells and whistles of the TouchWiz UI but whether that's a good or bad thing is up to you and how attached you are to Samsung's take on Google's OS.
As we mentioned earlier, the 20.7-megapixel sensor inside the Z2 looks likely to be the same one Samsung is using for its K Zoom model. That means unless you're using one of the K Zoom's special features (like zoom or flash) your shots will be on a par in many situations.
The K Zoom has its slew of manual settings of course, and is significantly cheaper, but the Xperia Z2 is ahead in terms of phone power and screen resolution. What the Sony and Nokia flagships prove is that you don't have to install a chunky camera lens to get good shots from a smartphone.
As you probably could have predicted before you started reading this review, the K Zoom is a decent smartphone that sacrifices some style and weight in return for a few extra camera capabilities.
Pick up this handset and you're not necessarily buying better pictures: just more flexibility and polish for your shots. This far down the line Samsung isn't going to drop the ball in terms of hardware or software, both of which are fine, but its biggest problem is going to be finding a market.
It's great to be able to play around with manual settings, zoom in and actually rely on the flash on a smartphone. You could spend a long time experimenting with all the modes and features Samsung has packed in here.
As a smartphone the K Zoom is decidedly mid-range, but in a market where mid-range hardware is good enough for the majority that's not a huge problem. The screen is bright and crisp and the handset does a decent job with movies and music.
There's no getting away from that bulky chassis, even if it is an improvement on the Galaxy S4 Zoom. It doesn't make the phone unusable but to my mind the quality of the snaps aren't quite worth the compromise in the size and shape of the handset.
Other than that there are actually very few niggles with the Galaxy K Zoom. If it was just a phone with a standard camera module you'd expect a lower price, but it's snappy and comfortable in use, and there are no major drawbacks to put you off purchasing it.
The K Zoom makes sense for someone who wants to get a bit more serious about photography - with zoom settings, ISO control and the rest - without having to carry two devices around. That's a very small amount of buyers though, between those who just want to point-and-shoot and those who are ready to invest in a DSLR or top-end compact.
You wouldn't have to spend much money at your local camera shop to get a device that could take better pictures than the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, so it's up to you whether you want a bulky mobile or the inconvenience of having to take two devices around all summer.
To Samsung's credit, it's a step up from the S4 Zoom, and if you specifically want zoom, flash and manual settings on a phone-and-camera combo then it's pretty much the only game in town.
That said there are several smartphones capable of taking pictures that are just as good, albeit with a higher price tag, which leaves the K Zoom struggling to justify its existence.