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First Android-based camera with interchangeable lenses

Jun 20, 2013 — by Eric Brown 2,163 views

Samsung unveiled a quad-core, 20-megapixel Galaxy NX camera with 4G LTE and a 4.8-inch display, billed as being the first Android-based, connected interchangeable-lens camera, as well as an Android-powered 16-megapixel, 10x-zoom Galaxy S4 Zoom. Also today, Samsung unveiled the Ativ Q, a dual-boot 13.3-inch convertible tablet that runs Android and Windows 8 on an Intel “Haswell” Core processor.

Almost all Android smartphones are cameras, and lately high-end models have been sporting higher-resolution 12- or 13-megapixel cameras, as well as higher quality image sensors and lenses. We’ve also seen some high-megapixel, Android-powered cameras that lack telephony, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Camera, which shipped last year with 16 megapixels and a 21x zoom lens. Last week, Samsung introduced a slimmed-down Samsung S4 Zoom camera that adds telephony (see farther below), and today in London the company unveiled a high-end Android powered camera called the Samsung Galaxy NX.

Samsung Galaxy NX camera
(click images to enlarge)


Like the original Galaxy Camera, the Galaxy NX runs Android on a quad-core system-on-chip and lacks telephony. However, it is notable for offering a micro-SIM slot that supports 4G LTE and HSPA cellular data, in addition to WiFi. Even more so than the Galaxy Camera, the NX looks like a camera, not a phone, and offers a deep handgrip.


As reported by various hands-on reports from the event, from sources including Engadget, PCMag, and Imaging Resource, the NX uses the same mirrorless, interchangeable lens technology as Samsung’s high-end, non-Android but very similar NX300 camera, which can now be found for as low as $698. The Galaxy NX is said to be compatible with up to 13 different NX-style lenses available for the NX300.

The Galaxy NX runs Android 4.2.2 on a quad-core, 1.6GHz “Pega-Q” system-on-chip, a new variation on the Exynos line of ARM Cortex-A9 SoCs, which also powers Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 8.0. With the help of a Drime IV Image Signal Processor, the camera can capture still images at a rate of 8.6fps (frames per second). The Galaxy NX also includes the same “DSLR-class” 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor found on the NX300, and supports ISO settings from 100 to 25,600.

The camera features an outdoor-optimized, 4.8-inch, 1280 x 720-pixel touchscreen, identical to that provided by the Galaxy Camera, and also offers a separate SVGA-resolution EVF viewfinder. The device offers 16GB of onboard storage plus a microSD slot, and provides both micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports.

The Galaxy NX is equipped with 30 “smart modes” that apply different setting profiles for novice photographers. Advanced photographers can use features like aperture and shutter priority, as well as manual modes. Other features include a hybrid autofocus system, providing both phase detection and contrast autofocus. The camera supports Raw and JPG image capture, and a license for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is also said to be included. Aside from telephony, a full Android Jelly Bean interface is available, complete with Google Play access and a web browser, enabling instant uploads of images.

Based on their initial hands-on tests, Engadget and PCMag praised the camera except for its slow start-up times, which may well improve by the ship date. Imaging Resource also had nice things to say, with reviewer Mike Tomkins noting: “Huge kudos to Samsung for being so open with their source code, especially for exposing elements of the image-processing chain, an area of camera operation manufacturers normally treat as highly proprietary. The Galaxy NX looks like a photo-hackers dream product, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rich ecosystem develop around it, as the most programmable, open camera system to date.”

No pricing or availability information was provided, but the camera is expected to ship in the second half of the year.

Galaxy S4 Zoom

The Galaxy S4 Zoom announced by Samsung last week looks like what it is: a smartphone with a protruding zoom lens. Unlike the Galaxy Camera and Galaxy NX, the S4 Zoom offers a full Android phone with telephony in addition to a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS camera sensor and 10x optical zoom lens. Other camera features include a Xenon flash and Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) technology.

Samsung Galazy S4 Zoom
(click images to enlarge)


The Galaxy S4 Zoom runs Android 4.2.2 on a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU with 1.5GB RAM and 8GB of internal storage, expandable via a microSD slot. The cameraphone features a 4.3-inch qHD display, and offers a front-facing 1.9-megapixel camera in addition to the main 16-megapixel camera.

Samsung touts the Galaxy S4 Zoom for offering a new manual Zoom Ring feature, which in addition to providing zoom controls, activates the phone’s In-Call Photo Share feature. By twisting the Zoom Ring, users can capture and send an image directly via MMS to whomever they are speaking with on the phone. According to Engadget’s report, the S4 Zoom will arrive in the U.S. and Europe in the fourth quarter.

Samsung Ativ Q dual-boot, convertible tablet

At today’s London event, Samsung also announced several “Ativ Book 9” Ultrabooks running Windows 8, as well as a hybrid, dual-boot Ativ Q tablet that can switch back and forth between Android 4.2.2 and Windows. As reported by AnandTech in hands-on coverage from the launch event, the convertible tablet offers a snap-on QWERTY keyboard and features a 13.3-inch touchscreen with impressive 3200 x 1800 resolution.

Samsung’s Ativ Q dual-boot, convertible tablet
(click images to enlarge)


The tablet boots into Windows, but users can optionally activate the Android dual-boot function, which runs Google’s OS using virtualization technology. You can switch back and forth between operating systems and access the same files and photos from both.

The Ativ Q runs on Intel’s new Android-compatible, 4th Generation Core i5-4200U processors, using the low-power “Haswell” architecture. The processor offers dual 2.6GHz cores with 3MB of L3 cache and an Intel HD 4400 GPU. According to AnandTech, the demo system offered 4GB of DDR3L memory, and ran on an internal 47Wh battery. Additional features are said to include a USB 3.0 port, a microSD slot, and a micro-HDMI port. No pricing or availability information was available.

Other recent Android/Windows hybrid convertibles include the recently announced Asus Transformer Book Trio. The Trio runs the 11.6-inch tablet portion on an Intel Atom Z2580 (“Clover Trail +), but runs the Windows-based keyboard dock on a 4th Generation Core i7-4500U Haswell processor.

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One response to “First Android-based camera with interchangeable lenses”

  1. Zubin Parihar says:

    Samsung is on fire!

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