Samsung is in a unique position among Android smartphone manufacturers, which allows it to create devices like the Galaxy S4 Zoom, a rumored S4 variant that showed up for certification at the Bluetooth SIG this week (via UnwiredView) as the “SM-C101.” The S4 Zoom is reportedly going to resemble the unreleased S4 Mini, but boast a 16 megapixel rear camera with optical zoom.
Optical zoom is really the one remaining advantage that point and shoot cameras have over smartphone shooters, at least from a hardware perspective. Other companies, including LG and Huawei have been working on building smartphone optical zoom tech, too, but if Samsung brings this one to market with its rumored 10x zoom, it’ll be the strongest one currently available, beating the Nokia 808 PureView’s measly 3X power.
Samsung has the luxury of experimenting with different form factors, and using its flagship branding to offer a range of devices that potentially cut off competitors by giving users a complete device to match ever competitive advantage. Like the S4 but want a more manageably sized screen like on the iPhone 5? Get the S4 mini. Like the S4 but want something a little better able to withstand the environment and harsh conditions like the Xperia Z? Get the rumored rugged S4 variant. Want an S4 but with the best smartphone camera in the business, which exceeds even Nokia’s most ambitious efforts? Get the S4 Zoom.
Samsung’s lineup variety strategy may be more about blocking the competition and casting a wide net than anything else, but a big zoom on a mobile camera will have a lasting effect on the industry if it goes over well and produces impressive results. More importantly, it could bring about even bigger changes for the dwindling standalone point-and-shoot camera market, which means other smartphone OEMs won’t be the only ones watching to see if and when the Galaxy S4 Zoom makes a splash, which could happen as early as June according to release date rumors.