Samsung Galaxy K Zoom Review

November 13, 2014 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is a 20 megapixel smartphone with a 10x optical zoom offering a focal range equivalent to 24-240mm, complete with optical image stabilisation. The K Zoom also features a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen display with 720 x 1280 (HD) resolution, a Xenon flash, and runs the Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system with Wi-Fi, NFC and 3G/4G connectivity. The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom can record Full HD 1080 / 60p movies as well as slow-motion video at up to 120 frames per second. The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom even offers voice control - you can command the camera to zoom in, zoom out and take a shot without touching it. The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom costs around £399 / $499 and is available in white, blue or black.

Ease of Use

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is very much a device of two halves. From the front, it looks like just another compact camera, with a 10x zoom lens, handgrip and built-in flash. From the rear, it looks just like a Galaxy smartphone, with an almost identical screen and home button and the familiar Android OS appearing when you turn it on.

The Galaxy K Zoom boasts a 10x optical zoom with a focal range the 35mm equivalent of 24-240mm, supported by optical image stabilisation. There's also a 20.7-megapixel effective resolution from a standard sized 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, which is physically much larger than the sensor that you find in a standard smartphone and therefore promising better image quality. On the back is a 4.8-inch 720 x 1280 (HD) touchscreen Super AMOLED display, and the K zoom runs the Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system.

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom measures 137.5 x 70.8 x 20.2mm, which means that it can easily be stored inside a trouser pocket, and weighs a manageable 200g without battery and card. It's undoubtedly a large device that will definitely get you noticed, especially given the attractive white finish of our review sample and the large protruding zoom lens, so it's not quite as inconspicuous as a smartphone with a fixed lens. Having said that, the ability to zoom-in to 240mm using a relatively compact device means that you will be able to capture lots of moments that no other smartphone can reach.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
Front of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

With what feels like a higher proportion of plastic in the build than metal, the Galaxy K Zoom's sleek and stylish exterior certainly looks the part, even if it doesn't actually feel quite so premium. There isn't a proper handgrip on its faceplate, just a dimpled surface texture that helps a little when gripping the camera.

Other than the 10x lens, the only other features on the sparse front of the Galaxy K Zoom are a small porthole shaped window housing the AF assist lamp/self timer lamp and the Xenon flash unit, positioned to the left of the lens, and a pair of microphones to the right. If we've one gripe, the flash does seem to take an age to charge from cold before it can be fired. This wait might not be more than a few seconds, but it can take three squeezes of the shutter release before it will fire off a shot in flash mode.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
Rear of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Located on the top-plate is a thin power button. Hold this down for the first time and the Galaxy K Zoom springs into life, only taking around 2-3 seconds to extend the lens from within its body housing to maximum wideangle setting and switch the rear screen to camera mode - quite impressive for a mere smartphone.

A half-squeeze of the tactile shutter release button and a central highlighted AF point appears in green along with the customary confirmation 'bleep' that the user is free to go ahead and take the shot. Do so either by using the shutter release button or with a tap of the screen and in default single shot mode a full resolution, Super Fine (top) quality image is committed to either the built-in 8GB memory or an optional micro-SD card in one to two seconds, which is impressive. You can even take a picture using the power of your own voice, with "capture", "shoot", "smile" and "cheese" commands all available. Voice control can also be used to zoom the lens, fire the flash, set the timer options, and change the shooting mode, amongst other settings.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom's Lens Zoomed Out

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom's lens is zoomed in and out using a finger-operated zoom buttons (which are also the volume up/down buttons) or onscreen through the camera app. The lens mechanics take a couple of seconds to propel the user from maximum wideangle to extreme telephoto. While not the quickest response ever, this was still sufficiently responsive to enable us to quickly frame up the shot we saw in our mind's eye. When shooting video, the zoom takes more than twice as long to move through the same range, no doubt to minimize the already fairly quiet operational buzz.

The Samsung Galaxy has an array of beginner and more advanced shooting modes. The subject recognizing Auto setting is point and shoot all the way, the camera getting it mostly right, although - typically - busier scenes can confuse the auto-focus and the shutter will still fire even if the image is noticeably soft, so you can occasionally come away with blurred results. No matter, re-compose the shot and simply try again. The Smart setting is essentially a range different clever scene modes, including the useful Macro, HDR and Panorama modes. There are also creative filters available, useful for previewing and adding a not-too-cliched effect.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
Top of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

The other available shooting modes are the familiar Auto mode plus the unexpected bonus of Program and Manual modes. We did miss having dedicated Aperture-priority and Shutter-priority modes, as offered on the Galaxy Camera.

The Wi-Fi options here are many and varied, and include the ability to sync up with a handset in order to use your phone as a remote viewfinder. There's also the ability to let the camera search for a local wireless network in order to directly upload imagery to the likes of Facebook, Picasa, YouTube and the ilk, or connect to a wireless network to email a selected picture to an email account - the address input within the camera with the aid of an on-screen 'qwerty' keypad. There are further automatic wireless back up (either to your desktop or a cloud service) and TV link options for those who have the relevant tech at their disposal.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom In-hand

Pressing the Home button fires up the Galaxy K Zoom's default screen, which displays the time and date, allows you to perform a Google Search, includes icons for the Paper Artist, Instagram, Photo Wizard, Video Editor, Camera, and Gallery apps, plus Dropbox, Play Store and a further Apps icon which accesses all the default apps and the Widgets screen. Having the ability to connect to a wi-fi network or cellular data if using as SIM card, then edit your images and video with either the Samsung apps, Instagram or any one of hundreds of other Android apps, and then upload them to your favourite online network quickly becomes compulsive and makes the traditional process of downloading to a computer seem laborious and old-fashioned.

With the 4.8-inch screen swallowing up the entire backplate of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, there are very few other physical controls. There's a microSD card slot (up to 64Gb capacity), a tiny hoop for attaching a wriststrap, a headphone port, and the aforementioned zoom, shutter release and power on/off buttons. Note that there's no screw thread for a tripod, which is a shame. Note that the battery can't be removed, so charging is most definitely done in-camera.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 20 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 7Mb.

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom produced images of above average quality during the review period. Noise already becomes obvious at the relatively slow setting of ISO 400, along with a softening of fine detail, and this only becomes progressively worse at the still modest settings of ISO 800 and 1600. The fastest speed of ISO 3200 simply isn't worth using.

Chromatic aberrations were pretty well controlled, with some purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The 20 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting and require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera sharpening level.

Macro performance is good, allowing you to focus as close as 3cms away from the subject. Commendably barrel distortion is well controlled even at the 24mm wide-angle focal length. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure.

The anti-shake system works well when hand-holding the Galaxy K Zoom in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range, while the maximum shutter speed of 16 seconds allows the camera to capture enough light for most after-dark situations. The HDR and Panorama modes are the best of the so-called Smart scene modes.


There are 6 ISO settings available on the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg

Focal Range

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom's 10x zoom lens provides a versatile focal range of 24-240mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

File Quality

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom has 3 different image quality settings available, with SuperFine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

16M SuperFine (7.51Mb) (100% Crop) 16M Fine (4.50Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_superfine.jpg quality_fine.jpg
16M Normal (2.96Mb) (100% Crop)  


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom handled chromatic aberrations quite well during the review, with some purple fringing mainly present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 3cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The flash settings on the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom are Off, Fill In, Red-Eye Reduction and Auto. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (24mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (240mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (240mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. Both the Fill-in and Red-Eye Reduction modes didn't cause any amount of red-eye.


Fill-in (100% Crop)

flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red-Eye Reduction

Red-Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Optical Image Stabilisation

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, we took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. With anti-shake turned on, the images are noticeably sharper than with anti-shake turned off.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/8 sec / 24mm antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg
1/4 sec / 240mm antishake2.jpg antishake2a.jpg


The High Dynamic Range scene mode captures more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining multiple exposures into one image.



hdr_off.jpg hdr_on.jpg


The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom allows you to take panoramic images very easily, by 'sweeping' with the camera while keeping the shutter release depressed. The camera automatically does all the processing and stitching. The main catch is that the resulting image is of fairly low resolution.


Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom camera, which were all taken using the 20 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 30 second movie is 103Mb in size.

Product Images

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Front of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Front of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom / Turned On

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Front of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom / Zoomed Out

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Side of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Side of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Side of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Side of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Rear of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom / Image Displayed

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Rear of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom / Turned On


Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Rear of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom / Shooting Modes

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Rear of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom / Main Menu

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Rear of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom / Front-facing Camera

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Rear of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom / Home Screen

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Rear of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom / Apps Screen

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Top of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Bottom of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Side of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Side of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Front of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
Memory Card Slot


The Galaxy K Zoom is Samsung's latest attempt at fusing together a smartphone and a 10x compact camera, and it's a definite improvement on last year's very similar Galaxy S4 Zoom. The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom still isn't the best smartphone or the best camera, so you'll really want to have both devices in one to justify the rather steep asking price.

By compact camera standards, the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom's image quality isn't particularly noteworthy, suffering from obvious noise at relatively slow ISO speeds and chromatic aberrations. It is perfectly fine for cropping and resizing for posting on Facebook or Instagram, or for making regular-sized prints, and is a marked improvement on the majority of smartphones with their much smaller sensors. You also obviously get the benefit of that versatile 10x zoom lens, something that no other smartphone can offer, although it does make the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom relatively heavy and bulky.

While we like the slimmer design of the Galaxy K Zoom, as photographers we did miss the Galaxy S4 Zoom's handgrip and especially it's tripod socket - removing them makes the Galaxy K Zoom more smartphone-like, but at the expense of its photography credentials. Ultimately the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom still comes across as a mid-range device in both the imaging department and as a smartphone - only you can decide if the merging of both into one is a logical step - we're still not quite convinced...

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 3.5

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom.

Google Nexus 5

The new Google Nexus 5 is one of the cheapest flagship smartphones on the market, but also one of the most powerful and full-featured too, running the latest KitKat version of Android. But what kind of experience does it offer photographers? Read our Google Nexus 5 review to find out...

HTC One (M8)

The HTC One (M8) is a new flagship smartphone with not one, but two cameras, using the second one as a depth sensor that allows you to change the point of focus after taking a photo and achieve DSLR-like shallow depth-of field effects. Does this make the HTC One (M8) the best smartphone for avid photographers? Read our HTC One (M8) review to find out..

Nokia Lumia 1020

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a new 41-megapixel smartphone - yes, you read that right, 41 megapixels. The Lumia 1020 also offers built-in optical image stabilisation, a 3x loss-less zoom for stills and 6x for movies, a 26mm fixed lens with fast f/2.2 aperture, and 1080p video at 30fps with stereo sound. Read our Nokia Lumia 1020 review to find out if it can replace a compact camera.

Samsung Galaxy S5

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the latest edition of one of the most popular flagship smartphones of all time. Find out what it has to offer photographers by reading our Samsung Galaxy S5 review, complete with full-size sample photos, test shots, videos and more...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 is a completely new type of device that adds a 10x zoom lens and 18 megapixel sensor to your smartphone. Priced at around £179 / $250, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 review to find out if it's what every smartphone user has been waiting for...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 is a new “lens camera” device that adds a 30x zoom lens and 20 megapixel sensor to your smartphone. Priced at around £250 / $350, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 review to find out if it's the smartphone photographer needs in their life...


The Sony ILCE-QX1 is a completely new type of device that converts your smartphone into an interchangeable lens camera. The Sony QX1 is a smart lens device that features a 20 megapixel APS-C sensor, Sony e-mount, RAW support, full 1080p video recording, and built-in wi-fi and NFC connectivity. Priced at around £249 / $398, read our Sony ILCE-QX1 review to find out if it's what every smartphone owner is looking for...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom from around the web. »

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is a phone-camera hybrid, and not Samsung’s first. Last year it made the Galaxy S4 Zoom. Both phones are based on the same rough idea: a phone with the lens of a 'proper' camera. But the K Zoom offers better specs and sensibly distances itself from the Samsung Galaxy S5 in its naming. Just like last time, though, it is only really for people who must have an optical zoom.
Read the full review » »

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom certainly has its strengths, but ultimately neither the phone nor the camera are distinctive enough to appeal to the masses.
Read the full review » »

If you absolutely must have a phone with an optical zoom, the K Zoom is basically your only option. It's bulky though, and the pictures it takes aren't any better than the Galaxy S5's. You'll be far better off with a cheap Android phone and a decent compact digital camera.
Read the full review »


  • OS

  • Display


    4.8" (121.9mm)
  • Camera

    CMOS 20.7MP
  • 4G

    B1 (2100), B2 (1900), B3 (1800), B5 (850), B7 (2600), B8 (900), B20 (800)


  • Multi-SIM


  • SIM card size

    Micro-SIM (3FF)

  • Network


  • 2G GSM

    GSM850, GSM900, DCS1800, PCS1900

  • 3G UMTS

    B1 (2100), B2 (1900), B5 (850), B8 (900)

  • 4G LTE

    B1 (2100), B2 (1900), B3 (1800), B5 (850), B7 (2600), B8 (900), B20 (800)


  • USB Version

    USB 2.0

  • Location Technology

    GPS, Glonass

  • Headphone socket

    3.5mm Stereo

  • MHL


  • Wi-Fi

    802.11a/b/g/n 2.4 + 5GHz, HT40

  • Wi-Fi Direct


  • DLNA Support


  • Bluetooth Version

    Bluetooth v4.0

  • NFC


  • Bluetooth Profiles


  • PC Sync.


Operating System

  • Operating System



  • Technology (Main Display)

    Super AMOLED

  • Size (Main Display)

    4.8" (121.9mm)

  • Resolution (Main Display)

    720 x 1280 (HD)

  • Colour Depth (Main Display)


  • S Pen Support



  • CPU Speed

    1.7GHz, 1.3GHz

  • CPU Type


General Information

  • Colour

    Charcoal Black, Shimmery White

  • Form Factor

    Touch Bar


  • RAM Size (GB)

    2 GB

  • External Memory Support

    MicroSD (up to 64GB)


  • Video Recording Resolution

    FHD (1920 x 1080) @60fps

  • Main Camera - Resolution

    CMOS 20.7MP

  • Front Camera - Resolution

    CMOS 2.0MP

  • Main Camera - Flash


  • Main Camera - Auto Focus



  • Sensors

    Accelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor

Physical specification

  • Dimension (HxWxD, mm)

    137.5 x 70.8 x 20.2

  • Weight (g)



  • Internet Usage Time(3G) (Hours)

    Up to 7

  • Internet Usage Time(LTE) (Hours)

    Up to 7

  • Internet Usage Time(Wi-Fi) (Hours)

    Up to 9

  • Video Playback Time (Hours)

    Up to 11

  • Standard Battery Capacity


  • Removable


  • Audio Playback Time (Hours)

    Up to 47

  • Talk Time (3G WCDMA) (Hours)

    Up to 14

Audio and Video

  • Video Playing Format

    MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM

  • Video Playing Resolution

    FHD (1920 x 1080) @60fps

  • Audio Playing Format


Services and Applications

  • Gear Manager


  • S-Voice


  • Mobile TV


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