Samsung Galaxy Camera Hands-on: Android 4.1, 4.8-inch Screen, 21x Zoom

After being reduced to second-class citizens by smartphones that take photos, point-and-shoot cameras are striking back — by essentially having an Android smartphone inside. The latest and most ambitious model is Samsung’s Galaxy Camera, shown here at IFA 2012 in Berlin.

Why would you want such a frankengadget? Imagine the ability to immediately upload photos shot with a 21X zoom lens to Instagram. 

iPhones and high-end Android devices certainly have nice cameras. But simple laws of physics dictate that they can’t compare to functions that a “real” camera has — including zoom, ultra-wide-angle shots (starting at 23mm in the Samsung’s case) and big image sensors that let you crop way into a photo and still get a crisp image. The Galaxy Camera sports a 16-MP BSI CMOS sensor. But that’s only scratching the surface of this hybrid.

The Galaxy Camera features a 4.8-inch, high-definition (1280 by 720 pixels) LCD touchscreen on the back. The screen is super-detailed, packing 300 pixels per inch. And it has the same capacitive technology found in smartphones.

MORE: 3 Cameras That Kick Your Smartphone’s Butt

You can launch apps such as Instagram or Facebook Camera to apply effects and upload automatically. In fact, you could download any Android apps. We saw an email program on the phone for example — which is a bit odd.

The Galaxy Camera also lets you choose from a plethora of camera modes, such as one for group photos that takes three images and combines the best parts — replacing the smirking face in one picture with a smiling face from the other, for example.

How much will this device cost? Samsung representatives were vague on that topic, saying only people would buy it through wireless carriers, which would set the price. And they couldn’t tell us if it had set up any deals yet with American carriers.

A Samsung said people might also be able to buy the camera outright, just like an “unlocked” cellphone, at a price they only said would be comparable to other high-end point-and-shoots. 

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