Samsung adds Android, 3G/4G connectivity to camera; is it a phone?

Samsung Electronics says it is “creating a brand new type of device” with its Galaxy Camera, “for those who wish to shoot, edit and share high quality photographs and video easily and spontaneously from anywhere, at any time.”

While cameras equipped with WiFi connectivity have been offered for years with varying success, smart expandable operating systems such as Android are a much newer feature on consumer  cameras — and Samsung is going a step further with not just WiFi, but also 3G and/or 4G connectivity (albeit with a carrier-connected micro-SIM card slid inside). All told, this new device has the OS and connectivity of a smartphone — but it lacks standard phone functionality. You won’t be making a call with this camera.

However, the Voice Control option allows users to control basic functions such as ‘Zoom in’ and ‘Shoot’ through voice. (See our here for more on this possibility.)

As a camera, this is pretty strong contender: The EK-GC100 Galaxy Camera has a 16-megapixel, 1/2.33-inch BSI CMOS sensor. The 21x lens zooms from 23-480mm, with a f/2.8 – 5.9 aperture.

The camera is operated from its 4.8-inch touchscreen, with touch-to-focus functions, as well as intelligent scene modes such as Waterfall Trace with slowed shutter speed, and Night Trace for evening shoots of light trails. The ‘Smart Pro’ technology “makes it easy to recreate advanced photographic setups in just a few simple steps for stunning artistic results,” Samsung says. Also, the camera includes 35 photo-editing features, a ‘Photo Wizard’ that “allows users to make professional quality edits on the go.”
Additionally, the Auto Cloud backup feature uploads photos as you shoot.

It’s unclear at this time whether the camera’s capture modes use the Android 4 OS, or, like Nikon’s upcoming Coolpix S800c with Android 2, it instead relies on the company’s own firmware for capture — and merely shifts to Android for editing and sharing.

Samsung sites the “new era of visual communication” which becomes “more vivid and lively with high-quality images and instant sharing anywhere, anytime.” The Galaxy “easily outperforms any smartphone camera,” the company says, with “outstanding photography on the go:. Users never again have to sacrifice picture quality if they want to edit and share their photos instantly.”

With a bigger sensor and the ability to work as a phone, a Galaxy camera could replace both the smartphone and the quality camera in the pockets of imaging enthusiasts. This current iteration doesn’t quite fit that bill, but comes closer than previous offerings.
More information is here and here.