The Samsung Galaxy Camera is one of the most exciting devices to come out of IFA. It's not the first Android-powered camera, but even if it manages a tiniest fraction of the Galaxy S III sales, it will give Android solid footing in the point-and-shoot market.
Guts-wise, the Galaxy Camera is based on the Galaxy S III. It has a 4.8" 720p screen, though it's an Super Clear LCD instead of S III's Super AMOLED screen, which had excellent sunlight legibility (an important feature for a camera). Unfortunately, we couldn't test how this screen handles sunlight (it's quite late here in Berlin), but Super Clear LCDs have pretty decent record, too.
To give you a feel for the size of the camera, it's actually a bit shorter than the S III - 128.7mm vs. 136.6mm. This is because Samsung cut out the hardware controls and moved the Android keys on screen.
Make no mistake, the Samsung Galaxy Camera is a big digicam and handling it doesn't feel anything close to handling a smartphone. At 19.1mm in its thinnest point, it's rather thick, and at 305g, it's rather heavy, too. The extra thickness was needed to enable goodies like a pop-up Xenon flash and 21x optical zoom lens.
The top of the device features a standard hardware shutter key with a zoom control around it. The control serves as a volume rocker when the camera is not active. A longer press on the shutter key activates the camera.
The bottom of the device is pretty standard fare for point-and-shoots - you get a standard tripod mount and a big flap that covers the microSD and SIM card slots and the removable battery.
There are two things we wish were different here - having a regular-sized SD card and a battery with a bit more juice than 1,650mAh (even the Galaxy S III battery is 27% bigger).
The right side of the camera has a traditional grip, which adds to the thickness, but really improves your hold of the device.
We quite liked the Expert mode on the camera. It presents a user interface that's modeled after a DSLR lens - you get several spinners that can adjust things like aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation. The max aperture of the camera is F/2.8, which isn't quite ideal. There is full manual mode as well as Av (aperture-priority) and Tv (shutter speed priority) modes.
Even though the devices present at the event are not finalized, we managed to run some benchmarks and snap a few sample shots. You can find the benchmarks on the previous page, here are the camera samples (they were shot in 16:9 mode, so their resolution is 12MP):
The good news is you're not limited to using Samsung's camera app if you find it too confusing (some of us did). You can use Instagram, or any other camera launcher from the market, but chances are it won't give you the kind of control the default app does. The optical zoom doesn't work with other apps just yet, but there's an update coming that should fix it.
We also shot a video of the Galaxy Camera in action, to give you a better feel for device itself, the gallery app and the camera interface.
First, let's take a look at the device:
And here's the highly-customized camera interface: