Our first reaction to the Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom was "It's smaller!" You probably want to hear about the optics or the image sensor, but the simple fact is that the Galaxy Camera was the size of a micro four thirds, which people that are even remotely serious about photography would prefer.
The Galaxy S4 zoom on the other hand is closer to a point-and-shoot in size, with similar camera specs and unmatched flexibility even by "smart camera" standards. You could bring it anywhere and it can be the only device you carry.
It's a camera, sure, but it's also a fully featured smartphone and Android 4.2 offers any functionality you can dream of, from messaging through social networking to unrelated things like gaming or navigation.
It's this versatility that makes the S4 zoom special. Where a new generation camera will bring features missing in the camera you bought last year, with the zoom you just need to grab an app from the Play Store. This makes sure it won't go obsolete quickly, actually it will be ahead of regular cameras for at least a few years.
With such heavy focus on photography, telephony took a step back in terms of ergonomics. It's not impossible to replace your handset with the zoom, but it's just not as convenient as a regular smartphone for everyday use.
That aside, the Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom is as good a smartphone as the Galaxy S4 mini, which is shaping up to be a solid midranger.
It all comes down to pricing - the S4 zoom needs to be priced around the S4 mini to stand a chance of being successful. Midrange droids are cheap and point-and-shoot cameras cheaper still. You can even throw in an Eye-Fi Mobi to glue the two together and still come in under budget (money wise that is, the Wi-Fi connection will eat into the battery life budget and is not always the best solution).
The Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom will never topple smartphones or point-and-shoot cameras, but with an agreeable price tag it can be the perfect travel companion.