4 stars out of 5With the Nexus 4, Google totally changed the smart phone game, offering top of the line specs for less than half the price of its technical rivals.
The Nexus 10 is the 4's 10-inch tablet sibling, which has been built by Samsung. It offers a stunning high-resolution screen, great performance and the latest version of Android, which is 4.2 Jelly Bean. Like the Nexus 4, it's cheaper than many of its rivals, but it's not beating them by quite the same margin.
You can snag it for £320 with 16GB of internal storage or £390 with 32GB. It's up for pre-order soon on the Google Play store.
Should I buy the Google Nexus 10?
If you're in the market for a 10-inch tablet, the Nexus 10 is definitely a superb option and well worth your consideration. There may be a mind-boggling array of Android slates around, but with a super high-definition screen, powerful components and the latest Android software on board, the Nexus 10 cleanly beats all its Android rivals. Better yet, it costs less than most too.
The other option of course is Apple's ever-popular iPad. It too offers an extremely high-resolution screen -- albeit marginally lower than the 10's -- but with a starting price of £400, it's quite a bit more expensive. Apple's iOS software is arguably better for apps and games for the moment, but Android is closing that gap.
Although at £320, it's far from being a casual purchase, but it offers extremely good features that puts it easily above its Android rivals. It beats the iPad too in many ways and with a lower price tag to boot, it's a very sensible purchase.
Design and build quality
Although the Nexus 10 has been made with Google's firm hand on the tiller, it's still clearly fallen from the same design tree as Samsung's other slates. It's a 10-inch beast with a buttonless, all-glass front.
At the either side of the screen you'll see two slim speaker grilles. These same speakers are present on Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 as well as its Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, so it's easy to see the family resemblance.
The speaker grilles at the edges of the screen strongly hint at the Nexus 10's Samsung heritage.
At 8.9mm thick, it shares almost identical dimensions with the Galaxy Note 10.1 and is slightly slimmer than the Tab 2 10.1. It's also got the edge over Apple's iPad with retina display, which at 9.4mm thick is slightly chubbier. Whether you'd ever notice the 0.5mm difference is debatable. You might notice the weight difference though -- the Nexus 10 weighs in 603g, knocking nearly 50g off the iPad's 652g weight.
Even though it's relatively light, it's still not particularly comfortable to hold up in one hand -- unless you've got super-strong forearms. Instead, a two-handed approach is more suitable, or just keep it in your lap as you browse around all the delights the Internet has to offer.
Build quality is impressive. The back panel has got a pleasant rubberised texture which makes it easier to grip and feels much less plasticky than the Note 10.1. There's little in the way of flex or creaks when squeezed, so you shouldn't have any concerns about breakages when it's bumping around in your bag.
Even so, it doesn't feel as sturdy as the metal casing of the iPad, and the plastic shell feels considerably less expensive. It might cost less than an iPad, but there's not a massive chasm between them and if you want the most luxurious feeling device it might be worth splashing the extra dough.
Around the edges you'll find a micro-USB port for charging and data transfer, a micro-HDMI port, power and volume buttons and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Sadly there's no microSD card slot, so you won't be able to expand the storage. The lower 16GB model will offer enough space for the essentials, but if you're a serial downloader and love having your music and videos stored locally, then you might want to splash the extra £70 for the 32GB option.
The screen is undoubtedly one of the standout features of the Nexus 10. As the name suggests, it measures 10 inches on the diagonal but more importantly packs an astounding 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution.
We were previously blown away by the pin-sharp display of the new iPad with its 2,048x1,536-pixel resolution. The Nexus 10 casually swans past that, to offer an even more refined viewing experience. At those levels though, you'd be extremely hard-pressed to notice the difference and there's really no need to try. Just be happy that they're both sharp enough to slice the front of your eyes clean off.
The Nexus 10 is blessed with a seriously crisp display.
That stonking resolution makes even the tiniest of text on web pages stunningly crisp. It's particularly noticeable when you look at some of Google's app icons, which are deliciously clear, and reading books for long periods with the Kindle app is much more comfortable than usual too. By comparison, icons like the Spotify logo, which are yet to have their graphics updated to a higher resolution, look rather fuzzy.
I loaded the slate up with some of my super high-resolution snaps from the brilliant Canon EOS 5D Mark III and they all looked every bit as sumptuous as you'd hope.
The screen isn't just crisp though, it's also bright and handles colours very well too. It makes it a great device for watching your movies and TV shows on, through the likes of Netflix or rented through Google Play's Movies service.
The screen is more than capable of making the most of any films you get from Google Play's Movies service.
It really is an excellent screen and happily trounces the iPad for the best display on the 10-inch circuit. That would be a pretty impressive feat even if they cost the same, but with its cut-down price tag, the Nexus 10 certainly wins in value.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
The Nexus range of devices is designed to showcase the latest version of Google's Android operating system. As such, the Nexus 10 comes preloaded with the shiny Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on board. It's not a complete update, so it doesn't bear the Key Lime Pie moniker but it does offer some neat new features.
Look at that happy little bean. It's 4.2 Jelly Bean, the latest, greatest version of Android.
Chief among them, according to Google, is the ability to use the slate with separate user accounts. The idea is that you're able to use the tablet as normal, with your own email, Twitter and Facebook accounts activated and then allow someone else to sign in to it as a different user. They'll then see their own homescreen, complete with their own apps and accounts, keeping your own data safe.
It seems like a great idea, but sadly it isn't actually available on the Nexus 10 yet, so I wasn't able to test how it works in action. Google says it'll receive the feature on 13 November in a software update, so check back soon and we'll see just what's involved.
The homescreens haven't changed much in this version. You can still fill them up with apps and widgets.
The core interface hasn't changed much from regular Jelly Bean so existing Android users will feel at home. The standard multiple home screens are present for you to lay down all the apps and live widgets you could want. It's pretty simple to use and doesn't take much learning. If you're yet to take your first steps into the tablet world, the Nexus 10 isn't a bad option to consider.
Anything you don't want on the homescreens will be dumped in this grid of apps.
The notifications bar is still there to drag down from the top, but Google has added in a second window giving immediate access to crucial settings. You can quickly adjust the brightness, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings among others without needing to search into the menus each time.
There's a new pull-down bar providing instant access to crucial settings.
Google's also made a bunch of tweaks to its camera software too. You can use the 5-megapixel camera to capture full 360-degree photos in what it calls 'Photo Sphere' You can then swipe around the resulting image on the slate or on your computer as a long panorama.
Not only can you do a regular panorama, you can take full 360-degree photos.
There's also a bunch of editing tools built in. You can take that 360-degree photo and turn it into a bizarre -- but undeniably lovely -- mini-planet photo. It's not something you'd want to do a lot, but it's great fun. You can also add those oddly popular vintage-style filters to your snaps, as well as fiddling with brightness, contrast and various other settings as your creative heart desires.
There's also a whole bunch of built-in editing options for your snaps.
You still have full access to the Google Play store of course, and all the numerous photography apps held therein. The update does mean you don't need to jump into different apps every time you want to make your photos look like they're from the 70s. How's that for progress?
There's a bunch of other tweaks too, including live turn-by-turn GPS satellite navigation, but it's unlikely you'll find that too useful on a 10-inch slate. Google Now is also on board, bringing you personal information about public transport, upcoming events, and local businesses without you needing to search for it. It's a fun feature, but it's still more useful on phones where you have a constant data connection when you're out and about.
Google Now is still on board, bringing you personal information before you've even had a chance to search for it.
Power and performance
Inside the black shell is a dual-core processor backed up by 2GB of RAM. To the hardcore tech lovers among you, a dual-core chip might seem to be lagging behind the quad-core chips on offer on other devices. In many ways you'd be right. You'll find quad cores in the Galaxy Note 10.1 as well as the super-cheap Nexus 4 smart phone.
Considering the Nexus 10 isn't as dirt-cheap as its smart phone brother, it's easy to be a little disappointed at this offering. All is not lost however. Quad-core processors are only useful if there are apps around that can take advantage of them and most of the stuff you can get from the Google Play store doesn't.
A nippy dual-core processor can still offer enough power for anything you're likely to chuck at it, while hopefully being a little less demanding on the battery. Indeed, I found the Nexus 10 to be more than capable of handling what I threw at it.
That right there is an absolutely stunning performance.
To see how it stacks up against the tablet competition, I booted up the Geekbench benchmark test and was given the astounding score of 2,376. That is easily the best score I've seen on that test from a mobile device and is leaps and bounds above the Note 10.1's 1,828 or the Asus Transformer Infinity's 1,931.
With such an impressive score, it's unsurprising that I found it be extremely accomplished throughout my testing. Swiping around was responsive and swift and opening menus and apps was immediate without any of the annoying delay that signifies a struggling processor. It was perfectly able to handle demanding 3D games like Riptide GP,Grand Theft Auto 3 and Shadowgun.
There was very little I could find that slowed this tablet down, so rest assured that it'll be able to cope with whatever you ask of it.
On the back of the tablet you'll find a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash. I found the results to be perfectly acceptable for a tablet. The below shot is fairly sharp when viewed at full-screen size, with only the detail on the pool cues in the background being lost.
The Nexus 10 isn't going to replace your compact camera, but it's good enough for some quick Twitter snaps (click image to enlarge).
It's not able to give a totally even exposure though. The bright sky outside the window has been totally blown out. It's important to remember however, that it's not really not designed to be a dedicated camera -- you're not likely to carry it with you on a photography expedition. Instead, the camera is there to get quick snaps of whatever you fancy to edit and share on Facebook or Twitter. For that, it does the job just fine.
There's also a 1.9-megapixel snapper on the front to take those vain self-portraits, check your hair or video call with your friends over Skype.
The Nexus 10 might not have quite the same teensy price as its smart phone sibling, but it offers a lot to get excited about. The stunning, crisp screen and lightning-fast performance, together with the great software tweaks in 4.2 Jelly Bean make it possibly the best 10-inch slate if you don't want an Apple logo on it.
Android phones typically offer either dull specs and an affordable price, or high-performance components and a price tag suitable only for oil barons. With the Nexus 4, Google and LG have smashed that tradition to pieces.
It packs in a ferocious quad-core processor, a whopping 2GB of RAM, a glorious 4.7-inch display and the latest Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software, which boasts some really cool new features. With a starting price of only £239, it's just half the price of its technical rivals.
£239 will snag you the 8GB model, which will be up for pre-order direct from Google soon. The 16GB model will cost you £279. Both will be available from networks on contract, although the initial deals I've seen have hardly been great value. My advice is to save up, buy it SIM-free and stick in a cheap unlimited data SIM from GiffGaff or Three.
Should I buy the Google Nexus 4?
The Nexus 4 isn't particularly remarkable to look at. It's perfectly inoffensive, sure, but it's hardly pushing any boundaries in terms of cutting-edge design. The front is dominated by a single piece of glass while the back, also glass, has a subtle sparkly effect. In between is curved matte plastic.
Turn it on, though, and its screen jumps out at you. Measuring a spacious 4.7 inches, it's wonderfully bright and bold. Images and videos look great on screen and fine text is kept sharp thanks to the high resolution.
Inside the phone is a 1.5GHz quad-core processor along with 2GB of RAM. Those specs are more impressive than even the Samsung Galaxy S3 and are typically reserved for top of the range mobiles. Unsurprisingly, I found it gave an excellent performance on benchmark tests and there was no task I could find that slowed it down.
Nexus devices always run an untampered version of Android, which means you'll always be first to get the latest update.
It's running on the latest version of Google's operating system, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The interface is basically the same as earlier versions of Jelly Bean, but it brings new features including settings shortcuts in the notifications bar, turn by turn GPS navigation, and various other tweaks.
The most important change is to the camera software. Photo Sphere allows you to take full 360-degree images to either swipe around on your phone, Street View-style, or view as one wide panorama on your computer. Built-in editing software lets you turn this into a cool 'tiny planet' picture, as well as add numerous filters and effects tweaks to any of your pictures.
No, it doesn't have 4G, but I can't say that's a particularly painful omission. You can only get 4G on one network, it's only available in a handful of cities and it's outrageously expensive -- and that situation is unlikely to improve until at least next summer.
The Nexus 4 isn't just amazing for its price, it's just plain amazing. It outstrips the Galaxy S3 in power and screen resolution, and is less than half the price. Add on to that the great updates to Android Jelly Bean and the amazing photo features on board, the Nexus 4 isn't just the best Android phone on a budget, it's probably the best Android phone full stop. Should you buy it? You can't afford not to.
Design and build quality
The front of the Nexus 4 is made up of a single piece of glass stretching right up to the edges. It's not interrupted by physical buttons or fancy company logos -- it's an unusually minimal design. Whether you like that sort of simplistic style is a matter of taste, but I found the way the glass curves at the edges to meet the chrome effect surround particularly attractive.
If you want a bit more going on in your design, flip it over. The back panel has been given a shimmering effect. In the right light, it appears as though it's made of tiny sequins. It's very subtle, but it's not at all unpleasant. I think LG could have taken a risk and made it even shinier -- it's definitely more interesting to look at than the standard black matte plastic found on most phones.
The Nexus 4 is a respectable 9mm thick and its screen is protected from scratches by Gorilla Glass.
It measures 134mm long and 69mm wide -- a very similar size to the Galaxy S3. At 9.1mm thick though, it's a tad chubbier than the S3 and considerably fatter than the iPhone 5's 7.6mm. It's chunky, but far from cumbersome.
It might look smart from a distance, but get it in your hand and it suffers in comparison to more expensive phones. The casing feels a little on the plasticky side and it doesn't have the same solid feel as its plutocratic rivals.
The casing doesn't offer much in the way of flex when you squeeze it, however, and the buttons offer a satisfying click, without any of the unpleasant rattling that smacks of cheap construction. The glass front is made from Corning Gorilla Glass 2, which is toughened to be more resistant to scratches and breakages.
It doesn't feel at all poorly put together though. Feeling a little cheap may even remind you of how little you paid for it. Let's face it -- most of us would happily sacrifice a cutting-edge design to save a few hundred quid.
Around the edges you'll find a power button, volume rocker, 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro-USB port for charging and data transfer.
There's sadly no microSD card slot so there's no way to expand the internal memory. That's a problem if you're hoping for the cheapest model, as it only offers 8GB of storage. You'll have to be very careful about what music and photos you keep on board, and big games likeNova 3 or Real Racing 2 are pretty much off the cards.
If you're an app addict and prefer to store music files on your phone rather than stream them, you'd be better off going for the 16GB model. It's £40 more expensive, but it'll give you much more flexibility with what you can install.
The Nexus 4 comes with a 4.7-inch screen, giving it more display room than the iPhone 5's 4 inches and just a tiny bit less than the Galaxy S3's 4.8 inches. That makes it less portable than the iPhone, of course, but the added screen real estate makes web browsing, typing and playing big-screen games much easier.
The display's resolution is a stonking 768x1,280 pixels. That's slightly higher than the S3's resolution and, due to its smaller size, results in the Nexus having a pixel density of 320 pixels per inch over the S3's 306ppi. That means that the Nexus is packing in more pixels into the same space, resulting in a slightly sharper image.
It's not a huge difference, of course, so I doubt you'd be able to tell much difference between the two. Considering the Nexus is so cheap, I'd be happy to forgive it for having a lower-resolution display. The fact that it's packed in so many many pixels and sliced the price in half is just astounding.
Those thousands of pixels make it extremely sharp. Text is beautifully clear, so reading for longer periods in a web browser or in the Kindle app is perfectly pleasant. Watching high-definition video is a joy.
It's very bold too. The black levels are deep, resulting in rich colours and good contrast. It made my favourite video Art Of Flight look lusciously vivid, with the flurries of snow crisp and clear. It's certainly good enough to enjoy TV shows on Netflix or the odd movie rented through the Google Play store.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
The Nexus range of devices are designed to showcase the latest version of Google's Android operating system. As such, it's loaded up with the brand-spanking new Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
The core structure of Jelly Bean hasn't been changed so existing Android users will feel right at home.
In terms of its core interface it's no different from standard Jelly Bean you might -- if you're lucky -- have already seen on your current phone. The usual multiple homescreens are there for filling up with apps and live widgets, or you can dive into a grid of apps to see all the stuff you don't want up front.
What a happy little Jelly Bean. That's the latest version right there.
Jelly Bean brought a few neat features such as improved frame rates for smoother swiping and the live information service Google Now. Both these features are present and correct and Google Now has been given a couple of updates to boot.
The multi-tasking bar is still on board, making it simple to switch between currently open apps.
It still brings you information based on your day to day actions without needing to search for it, but it's added extra info for nearby events and notifications about flights. Nothing popped up while I was testing it, so I can't say it was particularly useful, but it learns from your habits and searches, so give it time to get to know you and I'm sure you'll find it useful.
The notifications bar is similar to the existing Jelly Bean one too, showing detailed information about events, emails and text messages so you know what's worth reading now or saving for later. Importantly, it's added an extra section that gives immediate access to settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and screen brightness.
The notifications bar shows information about events and now lets you change critical settings to do with Bluetooth or screen brightness.
Some phones, such as the Galaxy S3, offer these buttons in the notifications bar, but it hasn't been a standard Google feature until now. It allows you to quickly change critical settings without having to dive into the settings menu.
Google's Maps service is not only packed full of information about local businesses -- trouncing Apple's latest maps offering in iOS 6 -- it also offers full turn-by-turn GPS navigation. Boot up the Navigation app, pop in your location and you'll be met with an angled map view, allowing you to drive along, receiving voice updates on which way to turn.
Jelly Bean offers turn-by-turn GPS navigation -- great for those of you who get lost easily.
It can send you along a number of different routes, so if you fancy taking the scenic way round it's easy to switch. You can also see detailed, step by step instructions, so there's no confusion about exactly which junction you need. I found it very easy to use and, thanks to the wealth of information in Google's database, super helpful for finding my way around the cramped streets of London's Shoreditch.
You can select different routes if you want and view a detailed list of instructions.
Considering the price of some dedicated in-car sat-navs, the free Google alternative is an excellent addition, packing yet more value into an already dirt-cheap device.
The standard Jelly Bean 4.2 keyboard is fairly comfortable to type on and brings up suggested words as you type. It was mostly accurate and helped speed up writing long emails by automatically correcting my frequent spelling and grammar mistakes. It also adds a swipe feature, letting you trace a line between letters to form the word without taking your finger off the screen.
Swoosh your fingers over the letters in one motion and Android figures out which word you mean.
It's exactly the same as the technique offered by third-party keyboard Swype. It's remarkably good at figuring out which word you're typing and only on a couple of occasions did it bring up the wrong word. If you're not great at typing on a touchscreen, it could be really helpful, but I found I could type more quickly using the traditional method.
Most excitingly, Google has added a boat-load of features to the camera, which I'll come to later.
Power and performance
Stuffed inside the sparkly jacket is a 1.5GHz quad-core chip, backed up by a muscly 2GB of RAM. The Galaxy S3 boasts a similarly burly processor, but a lesser 1GB of RAM. The S3 is one of the most powerful smart phones in the business, so I was very keen to see what the Nexus 4 could achieve.
It put in a staggering performance on the benchmark tests.
To see how it stacks up against the competition, I booted up my benchmark test and hit go. On the Geekbench test, it returned a frankly astonishing score of 1,975, putting it just below the powerhouseGalaxy Note 2 and far above the S3. It did similarly well on the CF-Bench test, where it managed to achieve 13,207, again well clear of the S3.
Clearly, the Nexus is a proper shirehorse and that's exactly what I found in my day-to-day testing. Swiping through the homescreens and loading menus was immediate and free of any lag, as was switching between running apps using the multi-tasking bar.
It handled intense 3D games without breaking a sweat.
Editing photos was swift, and demanding 3D games such as Riptide GP played with extremely smooth frame rates and absolutely no jitter. There was basically nothing I was able to find that would slow this thing down. Not only is it leaps and bounds beyond similarly priced mobiles, it's above this year's top of the range handsets too.
On the back of the Nexus you'll spot an 8-megapixel snapper with an LED flash. I climbed the terrifying ladders that lead to the roof of CNET UK Towers and gave it a whirl.
The camera results were roughly on par with higher-end phones such as the Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5 (click image to enlarge).
For standard shots, the results are pretty much even with the other big players in the top-end phone arena. Exposure is even and colours are fairly bold. This delightful shot of London's Shard is acceptably clear, but when viewed full screen, there's not quite as much clarity on the fine details as I'd hope for. It's a good effort though, and made all the better when you think about your healthy bank account.
The real joy of this phone's camera, though, are the software features Google has added to this version of Android. Chief among which is Photo Sphere.
This builds on the existing panorama function, allowing you to take photos in a 360-degree circle, creating a 3D ball around you, as you swipe around on your phone in every direction. It takes some time to take all the photos, but the resulting image is extremely fun to swipe around on your phone's screen.
Photo Sphere creates 360-degree panoramas (click image to enlarge).
You'll need think about where to use it though. My first attempt was inside our office, which resulted in an image resembling some kind of cubist nightmare. Up on the roof however, the London skyline was captured much more pleasantly. When you view the phones on a computer, they're displayed as a full 360 panorama. On your phone, you swipe around in all directions, in much the same way as you would on Google Street View.
My attempt inside our office didn't come out quite as well, to put it mildly (click image to enlarge).
It doesn't stop there though. Once you've captured your 360 image, you can then turn it into a bizarre -- but totally amazing -- mini planet, reminiscent of Mario Galaxy. It's probably not a feature you'd want to use all the time, but it's great fun and definitely something worth experimenting with.
When you've captured your 360 panorama, you can edit it into a bizarre mini-planet (click image to enlarge).
But wait, there's more! Rather than force you to download apps like Instagram to edit your snaps, Google has built in numerous editing tools straight into the core interface. You can apply vintage-style filters, crop and rotate your images and tweak settings like brightness, contrast, sharpness and add borders to give them the final artistic touch.
Google has built in a host of photo-editing features to help you snazz up your snaps.
You can still use any of the photography apps from the Google Play store of course, but the built-in editor is now so fully featured you might not even need to. If you fancy getting all arty with your holiday snaps, Android 4.2 will most certainly appeal. You also get the existing functions of HDR, panorama and various others.
Inside the Nexus 4's chunky body is a 2,100mAh battery, which is the same size as you'd find in the Galaxy S3. Indeed, I found it to give a similar level of performance.
In fairly heavy use -- including sending and receiving numerous texts, using GPS tracking and browsing the Web on Wi-Fi and 3G networks -- the battery dropped to 70 per cent within about 2 hours 30 minutes. That's not amazing, but if you're careful about how you use it and keep the screen brightness down, you should be able to squeeze a day out of it. I'll update this section with a more thorough test very soon.
Unlike the Galaxy S3's battery though, the Nexus 4's is not removable. For the most part that won't present a problem, but it does mean you can't buy a spare to keep on you in case of emergencies.
The Nexus 4 can charge wirelessly if you have a compatible mat -- so you don't need to plug it in to top up. My test device didn't come with one, so I couldn't test this nifty feature, but I'll do my best to get hold of the necessary kit and update this section.
Like it did with the Nexus 7 tablet, Google has completely re-written the rules on what to expect from an Android phone.
The Nexus 4 offers not only astonishing power from its quad-core chip, but an excellent screen and exciting updates to the Android operating system. Most importantly, it comes with a price tag at least half that of its technical rivals.
It's not only the best phone to get if you're on a budget, it's one of, if notthe best Android phone to get, regardless of how much money you have to splash around. The lack of expandable storage and removable battery are a little disappointing, but it more than makes up for it in every other way.
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Camera at IFA, Berlin in August, that launched in India last week. You saw the unboxing of the Galaxy Camera recently. The Galaxy Camera is a Smart Camera that runs on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). It has a 4.8-inch (1280 x 720 pixels) HD Super Clear Touch LCD Display. It is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Exynos processor similar to the S III. Let’s dive into the complete review.
Since this is a camera with a large sensor, xenon flash and other components, you can’t expect to come in the size of a phone. It is thicker and heavier, if you compare it with a phone, but has a larger camera sensor, similar to the other point and shoot cameras.
There is a large 17 Megapixel camera sensor that can capture images at 16.3 Megapixel resolution. The camera has 21x optical zoom, unlike the digital zoom in the smartphones.
There is a AF-assist light and Samsung branding next to it. There is a large bulge on the left with Galaxy written on it.
At the back there is a 4.8-inch HD Super Clear Touch Display with 1280 x 720 pixel resolution instead of a Super AMOLED Display that was present in the Galaxy S III. It is bright and offers nice colors for viewing pictures, videos and playing games.
You have at power button at the top, microphone at the right and a metal shutter button / zoom / volume dial next to it. You can press it to capture images or move it to either side to zoom in or out in the camera and also to increase or decrease the volume in Android.
On the right there is a 3.5mm audio jack along with a micro USB port. There is a lanyard hole below that.
There is a Flash release button on the left, that opens up the xenon flash at the top when pressed. The loudspeaker is present below that.
At the bottom there is a tripod mount, HDMI port and a battery cover.
When you open the battery cover, you can view the micro SIM card slot at the left and a micro SD card slot at the right. The 1650 mAh is of less capacity for a camera running on Android, compared to the Galaxy S III and Note II. Samsung also offers an additional battery, which is good.
The 16.3MP shooter captures nice shots. You can change the camera resolution and change aspect ratio from the 4:3 or 16:9. There are also voice features that lets you take images, zoom in and do lots more just by voice. You can set a timer to take automated shots.
The Smart Pro feature has 15 modes (Beauty face, Best photo, Continuous shot, Best face, Landscape, Macro, Action freeze, Rich tone, Panorama, Waterfall, Silhouette, Sunset, Night, Fireworks, Light trace). The Macro shots and light trace came out well. The Rich tone feature is just the HDR mode. The 21MP optical zoom doesn’t reduce the image quality.
The light trace adjusts the shutter speed so that you capture the trace of light.
It also has an Expert mode (Auto+, Aperture Priority, Speed Priority, Camcorder and Manual) to control the settings manually. There are no hardware buttons to control these features, everything needs to be adjusted using this on-screen interface. Expert modes include, manual mode where you can adjust aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity, program mode that lets you adjust ISO and exposure value, aperture priority mode that lets you adjust aperture, ISO sensitivity, and exposure value and shutter speed priority mode to set shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, and exposure value.
There is a Red-eye or Red-eye fix option in the settings to prevent or correct Red eye in the images while shooting in low lighting conditions. You can also adjust white balance (Auto WB, Daylight, Fluorescent H, Fluorescent L, Tungsten and Custom set), add filter effects (Sepia, Black and white, Negative, Old photo, Sunshine, Vintage, Retro, Faded colours, Nostalgia, Comic, Pastel sketch, Gothic noir and Impressionist). Once the filter is applied the image and video resolution is down to 1920×1080 and 720p, respectively. You can enable Geo tagging for photos, activate or deactivate OIS (anti-shake) from the settings.
Here are some image samples (Click to view the full samples)
The Galaxy Camera can record videos at 1080p Full HD resolution. You can also reduce the resolution to 720p and record in slow motion. You can also use the optical zoom in the videos and use any of the auto, smart or manual features. You can also capture images while taking videos. Here are video samples
Here is a slow motion video
The Galaxy Camera runs on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) with a TouchWiz UI. It has the Nature UX with the sounds. The lockscreen shows time, date, weather and has Camera shortcut to open the camera quickly. You can swipe to unlock the screen, to got the home screen view. There is a camera and Apps menu icon on left and right. There are widgets and shortcuts in the center.
There are touch screen buttons for back, home and menu. You can pinch the home screen to add up to 7 home screens. You can press and hold the home button for multi-tasking view that also has a Task manager and Google Now.
There is a drop-down notification bar that has shortcuts for toggles such as Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth etc. You can also adjust the brightness.
In the settings there is Blocking mode that would let you disable notifications, alarm and timer for a period of time. There is power saving mode to switches off the camera if it is not used for a certain period. Fast power-on option starts the camera quickly with the USB.
There are different screen modes such as Dynamic, Standard and Movie that automatically adjusts the colors based on your choice. You can also change font size, download a new font and also change the font size.
There are several lock screen options in the settings. There is a new feature called Motion, which lets you unlock the screen by holding a finger and tilting the camera to the front. You can also change lock screen settings to change screen lock type, add weather and set wake-up commands so that you can just speak to unlock the screen. The motion feature in the settings let you pan to move icon to another page by holding it and moving it, zoom and pan into images, swipe your palm to capture screenshots, touch with your palm to mute or pause.
The camera comes with several pre-loaded apps including the Samsung’s ChatON messenger, S Planner, Samsung Apps app store, S Voice personal assistant, Game Hub, S Suggest that suggests apps.There are also Google apps such as Gmail,Google Maps, Google Search with Google Now, Google Talk and Google+.
The S Voice has settings that lets you change language, show body of a message while driving, enable wake up command for listening, set your home address, Check missed events and Facebook and Twitter integration to post status updates.
The My Files app lets you manage files, Paper Artist that enables you to add effects to images or capture the photo with effects, and edit it after that.
There are several camera-oriented apps such as Photo Wizard (to edit photos and add effects), Video Editor (to edit videos and add themes) and Instagram app. You can download more apps from the Google Play.
The device can play MP3, AAC, AMR, WMA, OGG, FLAC and WAV audio files. The music player is similar to the other Samsung Android phones that lists all songs, Albums and Artists. It also has playlists and equalizer such as Pop, Rock, Dance, Jazz, Classic, Vocal, Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Virual 7.1 ch and more. Some EQ settings work only when headphones are plugged in.
The video player offers live preview of the videos in the thumbnail view. It can play 1080p Full HD videos in AVI, MP4, 3GP, WMV, FLV and MKV formats.
Contacts, Messaging and Browser
You can view contacts and can also import them from your SIM card. You can send text messages, but can’t make or receive phone calls since there is no dialer or an ear piece in the camera. There are contact groups and favourites. The Messaging is in conversational view. You can also send MMS by attaching an image or video. There is a portrait QWERTY and 3 x 4 T9 keyboard. It also has continuous input that lets you enter works without moving you finger (like Swype) and other keyboard options including Auto capitalisation, Auto-punctuate, character preview and key-tap sound. You can also enable voice input that lets you enter words just by voice.
The Browser is pretty fast. It has several features including Option to save a web page for offline reading, print a page using a compatible Samsung printer, Bandwidth management for preloading pages and images, Quick controls, full screen view and more.
The connectivity features include, 3G (HSPA＋ 21Mbps), WiFi a/b/g/n, WiFi HT40, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI 1.4 and GPS/GLONASS. There is a data usage indicator in the settings that lets you keep track of the mobile data used. The DNLA feature lets you share the media files with other DNLA-capable devices. AllShare Cast lets you share the screen of the Galaxy Camera with other device wirelessly. The Kies via Wi-Fi enables you to connect to the Kies app on your PC if you are connected to same WiFi network.
If you want a camera with additional features such as apps, option uploading photos online and watching videos, this is a good choice. There are several point and shoot cameras in the range including the Samsung NX1000 with WiFi support and Sony RX100, but Samsung’s idea of bringing the Galaxy Camera running on Android Jelly Bean with 3G support is definitely appreciated. Since this is a camera running on Android OS, 1650 mAh battery does not last a whole day if you want to shoot photos and videos, but Samsung India offers an additional battery with the device. Samsung Galaxy camera is available in India for Rs. 29,900, but the Galaxy S3 got a price cut recently and is available for Rs. 34,900. If you are looking for a camera running Android 4.1, and fine with the large size, go for it.