The Samsung Galaxy Camera is a point-and-shoot camera that runs Android 4.1. It isn't a phone, although it has a microphone and it could run Skype if you really wanted it to. We have hands ons from IFA and last month's Photokina already, but I got to take a bunch of photos with the Galaxy Camera, and I wanted to show them to you.
The first thing to realize: it works like a camera, not like a phone camera. So, you get fast autofocus, 21x optical zoom, no shutter delay, and the ability to focus on pretty much anything.
Coming from a realm of phone cameras and cheap point-and-shoots, the 21x zoom impressed me the most. Take a look at that shot of the street corner, which I took from a 20th-story hotel penthouse, through a window. (It's a foggy day and the photo is through glass, which is why everything looks very pastel.) It's sharp, and it's spy camera-like.
The camera handles backlighting much better than phone cameras do. That photo of Alex and Eugene in the demo room? It would have been so washed out on a phone camera.
I also really liked the manual and scene settings on the Galaxy Camera. There are a bunch of filters; you can pre-enhance colors, or create silhouettes on backlights. But what I liked most was the manual mode, which popped out very clear rings to let me set shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation and ISO. Hooray! As a guy who's often been stuck using whatever camera PCMag photo analyst Jim Fisher gave me that day, it was thrilling to see a manual mode so clear and easy to operate.
The mundanity of the camera experience is what's extraordinary about the Samsung Galaxy Camera. It works just like a camera. But it's a full Jelly Bean tablet. Will that make sense to people? I'm not sure. But I like it.
The Samsung Galaxy Camera will be available from AT&T sometime before the end of the year, and I'm desperately hoping it won't require a contract. It has HSPA+ and Wi-Fi and could operate entirely over Wi-Fi, so it'll work even without AT&T service.