It's a point-and-shoot digital camera, with the back side replaced by a smartphone-sized tablet. It's a smartphone that can't make voice calls, and has a big camera lens sticking out of the back. It's the Samsung Galaxy Camera, and it combines the equivalent of a $199 digital camera with the Android OS and hardware performance of Samsung's Galaxy S III smartphone.
Tech gadget reviewers like The Verge's Aaron Souppouris like the concept, and agree that the Galaxy Camera has many advantages over a normal point-and-shoot. But they also point out some huge disadvantages, for holiday buyers to consider.
The price tag
"Image quality is no better than a $200 camera," Souppouris' review lists as one of the Galaxy Camera's cons. But it doesn't cost $200; its $499 price tag puts the Samsung Galaxy Camera in the same pricing tier as Apple's full-size iPad.
On top of that, expect to pay a lot for AT&T's HSPA+ data plan, because the Galaxy Camera uses a ton of bandwidth to upload its 16 megapixel photos. Reviewer Liam Spradlin of the Android Police blog "used close to 2GB in data simply syncing photos and videos" while reviewing the camera, an amount which you would need at least a $30 AT&T plan to cover. It's possible to take photos at lower resolutions, he says, "but that kind of defeats the purpose of such a dense sensor."
$499 plus $30 a month is still cheaper than buying an unlocked Galaxy S III and a normal AT&T plan. However, besides the fact that it can't make voice calls there's also ...
The size and shape
The Samsung Galaxy Camera is not a smartphone with an exceptional digital camera, the way the Nokia Lumia 920 is. It's more like a point-and-shoot digital camera, complete with protruding handgrip and lens, which can run Android apps like Instagram. Unfortunately, some of them don't work that well on a gadget that's shaped like a camera. Souppouris reports having to "cradle the inch-thick camera in one hand" while being careful not to smudge the lens, because Instagram would only run in portrait mode.
The battery life
Cramming an Android device with an Exynos quad-core processor into a digital camera's chassis severely reduces its battery life. Mashable's Pete Pachal found that his Galaxy Camera review unit was down to less than half of its battery life after "a few hours of taking pics, on and off." It's roughly on par with Android smartphones, but can't go for as long without recharging as a typical camera can. The battery door is about as easy to open as a camera's is, but you can probably expect to pay as much as you would for an extra smartphone battery if you're thinking of buying a spare.
One way Samsung tried to save battery life is by putting the Galaxy Camera into "a sort of hibernation," according to Spradlin, where it takes a few seconds to start up and start taking pictures if you've left it alone for too long. This feature is optional, however.Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.