Samsung Galaxy Camera announced: 16 megapixels, 21x optical zoom, and Android 4.1

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What happens when you combine a pocket camera with an Android smartphone? Samsung's answer is the Galaxy Camera. Running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on a massive 4.8-inch HD LCD display, the Galaxy Camera aims to take the best of Samsung's camera and phone departments and mix them up for something altogether unique. There's a 16-megapixel backside-illuminated sensor within what is otherwise an unmistakably camera-shaped body, equipped with a retractable lens that provides 21x optical zoom.

On the inside, we can look forward to a 1.4GHz quad-core processor, Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G wireless options, although disappointingly there's no SD card compatibility. If you want removable storage, you'll have to go for microSD cards. The Galaxy Camera will accept Micro SIM cards only. The display is described as using scLCD technology and has a 308ppi pixel density thanks to its 1280 x 720 resolution.

Samsung has really gone to town with its software automation, giving you 10 so-called Smart Pro modes, designed to ease the process of taking professionally-styled photos. A good example of that is the light trails that you see in long-exposure pictures of moving traffic in low light. Samsung has a mode for that, helpfully dubbed Light Trace. A Smart Content Manager will create folders and tag faces automatically, while also suggesting bad shots for deletion. You'll be able to search by people's faces, time, location and other photo data. A Photo Wizard is included for sprucing up your pictures effortlessly, plus there's a Best Group Shot feature that creates a composite image out of a continuous shot, stitching together the best captures of each person's face.

"Stop worrying about Android, it's just tools under the hood. It's what it enables in the devices that's the important part."

Completing the S-E-E-S quadriga of software features is Sharing (the other three being Shoot, Enjoy, and Edit), which is facilitated by the wealth of wireless connectivity, a Share Shot option for connecting to other nearby Galaxy devices, and Auto Cloud Backup. That last feature is essentially the same thing you can do with Google's auto-upload to Picasa, though it sends the pics up to Samsung's cloud and not Google's. Samsung wouldn't say whether this is the first step of its previously rumored S Cloud service, but it's there if you want to use.

The Galaxy Camera will be going on sale in the fourth quarter of this year, to be marketed and launched in partnership with mobile operators, much like a smartphone, though Samsung's Ryan Bidan tells us the device is still a camera first and foremost. For Samsung, the Galaxy Camera is just a point-and-shoot enhanced with the goodness of Android. In Ryan's words, we should "stop worrying about Android, it's just tools under the hood. It's what it enables in the devices that's the important part."

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