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Will Samsung's SM-C101 be a Camera sequel or a new Galaxy S4 Zoom smartphone?

The long rumored Samsung SM-C101 may be a proud member of the Galaxy S4 family but also a Galaxy Camera sequel. We put all existing speculations head to head to figure out which one makes the most sense.
June 4, 2013
Samsung Galaxy Camera front zoom flash
The Samsung Galaxy Camera is an Android-powered digital camera that features a 16-megapixel sensor, 23mm F/2.8 lens, 21x optical zoom, and 4.8-inch capacitive touchscreen. The camera connects wirelessly through WiFi and mobile data for image backup and uploading to social networking services.

I’m sure that until now you’ve heard us on repeated occasions mentioning a rumored Samsung SM-C101 device. Samsung’s upcoming creation is said to have a camera powerful enough to beat even Nokia’s camera phones, a medium size screen with modest resolutions and, most important, phone capabilities.

From how we see it, there are two possibilities for this unconfirmed device. First, we may see Samsung bringing to market yet another Galaxy S4 family member, this time called Zoom. The phone could have an impressive camera but modest specifications all-around. The other road leads to a Galaxy Camera sequel and towards the possibility of establishing a brand line, which may be updated on a yearly basis. But which one will it be?

A Zoom member of the Galaxy S4 family?

It all started with a report stating that the Korean manufacturer plans to release its very first camera phone. Right from the start, sources claimed the phone would pack an optical sensor with 16-megapixel resolution, just like the one found on the current Galaxy Camera model.

A few days later, a Russian website added a 10x optical zoom to the story, which would be quite an improvement compared with existing competitors. For instance, Nokia’s bulky 808 PureView is only capable of 4x zoom at great qualities and it requires a Hubble-like accessory to reach higher standards.

On the other hand, the existing Galaxy Camera is quite a thick device that has a 21x optical zoom. But would offering half of that zooming performance mean that the phone should be rather bulky, as it would be packing a lot of lenses hidden under the hood? Fortunately, the source of the optical zoom rumors also noted the handset to be as thin as the Galaxy S4 Mini, thanks to new technology used by Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, another rumored member of the proud family.

As far as specifications go, we have reasons to believe this would be a mid-ranged phone sporting a 1.6GHz dual-core CPU, Android Jelly Bean and 8GB of included storage upgradeable via micro-SD support. The Zoom should come with a sufficient 1900mAh battery, the usual connectivity options but no LTE support. All these sacrifices could have been made to accommodate a more advanced camera sensor on an affordable handset.

Several days after the rumored specs hit the web, a UA profile containing more details about the screen was leaked. Supposedly, the display will render content under a maximum 540 x 960 resolution with the help of a vague ARM11 CPU. Coincidence or not, this is the same resolution offered by the Galaxy S4 Mini which leads us to believe that the Zoom could also come with a 4.3-inch qHD screen and a mere 256 PPI pixel density.

Another confirmation of the Zoom name within the Galaxy S4 family surfaced two days ago on Samsung’s website, on a page detailing a VIP service for the Kazakhstan region. In addition to the Galaxy Note 3 and models of the third edition of the Tab family, the Galaxy S4 Zoom was also mentioned. An interesting point is that the SM-C101 model number was also spotted.

It could also be a Galaxy Camera

Until now we had no real reasons of believing that the Samsung SM-C101 may be the Galaxy Camera sequel. Even though the product arrived at FCC and a Samsung employee snatched a picture with it, there was no clear indication towards this possibility. Just pure speculation.

But just recently @evleaks, a regular source of leaks, referred to Samsung’s future SM-C101 product as the “Galaxy Camera,” see tweet above. Moreover, it once again added the previously mentioned 4.3-inch screen size and phone capabilities.

Why not both?

The last, and perhaps the most logical theory is for Samsung to actually release a Galaxy S4 Zoom smartphone with state-of-the-art optics in the following weeks, while delaying Camera’s successor for a September IFA announcement in Berlin. We have reasons to believe that autumn may be a more profitable season for this kind of product, with the proximity of Black Friday and Holiday season in mind.

Furthermore, it may be too early for Samsung to launch a Galaxy Camera sequel ten months after its original release, considering the unit was not so successful.

What are your thoughts on the matter?