Of all the announcements made by Samsung during its Galaxy and ATIV London media event, the one that has stood out the most is the - some would say inevitable - decision to put an Android operating system on a compact system camera. Samsung has made the leap and the much-rumoured Samsung Galaxy NX is the end result.
Pocket-lint had a chance to play with the NX before its official announcement and we have to say, adding Android to what is a fully-featured interchangeable lens camera is an interesting move. Adding LTE 4G connectivity is a masterstroke.
But let's be straight about it, this is not a phone masquerading as a camera. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, this is essentially the Galaxy Camera for amateur photographers who take their hobby seriously. One that is compatible with Samsung's existing range of NX lenses, including the 3D one. And in that it will turn many heads.
It is, in essence, an NX camera like many of its stablemates. Parallels could indeed be drawn with the NX20 released last year, and this could actually be seen as an update to that model in many respects. Therefore, it sports a 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, and a similar advanced hybrid autofocus system.
The body is also similar in style to the NX20's. Although the Galaxy NX is technically a compact system camera, measuring 136.5 x 101.2 x 25.7mm and weighing 495g with a standard battery means that to describe it as "compact" is pushing it. It's actually as large as a small DSLR and reassuringly hefty to boot. Admittedly, some of the weight in hand during our brief play will have been made up by the 18-55mm Samsung lens on the front, but we wouldn't expect this camera to be used for standard holiday snaps.
Inner specifications are impressive. Like the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Galaxy NX is powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. There is also 16GB of internal memory, with a microSD card slot allowing for expansion by up to a further 64GB.
The aforementioned compatibility with 4G data in regions that support it (3G in those that don't) is a brilliant move that will make you wonder how you ever got on without it. You will be able to instantly upload pictures to the cloud - most likely through Dropbox, as Samsung has a partnership - no matter where you are. And if you're in a Wi-Fi hotspot, all the better, as it won't come out of your network plan.
Wireless internet connectivity even comes in the form of dual-band Wi-Fi (a/b/g/n), so it should be super quick and stable too. And there's Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and GPS in-built. An accelerometer means you can even play tilt-based games on the camera, such as Real Racing 3 or the like.
The smartphone-style features don't end there. The Galaxy NX comes with a massive 4.8-inch HD TFT LCD touchscreen on the rear (the same as the Galaxy Camera) and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Google Play is accessible for app downloads (imagine Instagram being connected to such a quality camera), and many of the software features found on other recent Samsung devices are present. Photo Suggest, which gives you hints on what to snap based on your location and other photographer's guidelines, Story Album, which sorts pictures automatically into galleries, and Smart Mode 2.0 are all to be found. The last gives you a plethora of filters and options to explore and shoot in, although it will drop the resolution (by about half) to process the effects.
And there is the Galaxy NX exclusive Camera Studio. This is a widget that allows you to store all the most important applications that relate to your camera. That way you can spark it up either in the default shooting mode, or into Camera Studio without having to navigate through the OS.
Physical features include a pop-up flash, electronic viewfinder, USB and HDMI sockets and a hefty 4,360mAh battery. Plus, the camera has an ISO range between 100 to 25,600. Video can be recorded in Full HD 1080p 24/25fps, 720p video can be shot at 50fps. And finally, the Galaxy NX will come with Adobe Lightroom included in the box.
We can't wait to have a play with the Galaxy NX for real, in the Pocket-lint test labs, but just from our initial impressions we think this could set a benchmark for other manufacturers to follow. Certainly on the connectivity and sharing front.
It does feel somewhat of a sequel to the Galaxy Camera, but with picture performance at the forefront. That is very exciting. Very exciting indeed.