By Adam Dickter / Mobile Tech Today. Updated November 15, 2012.
It's not a smartphone and it's not a tablet. But it has the name Galaxy on it, runs Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), features 4G data speed (with a data plan) and has access to Google Play for downloading Android apps.
It's Samsung's new Galaxy Camera, and it goes on sale Friday for a hefty $500 at AT&T stores. It can't make phone calls, but it does connect to social networks and allows users to edit and quickly transfer photos and video online or to other smartphones and tablets.
"A Connected Camera must give users the total freedom to take vivid high quality pictures and videos wherever and whenever they wish and share them instantly through their favorite social networking sites or with family and friends without the restrictions of a conventional camera," said JK Shin, president of the IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics. "The Galaxy Camera provides these luxuries and many more."
The Galaxy Camera, first unveiled at the IFA conference in Berlin last summer, features a quad-core, 1.4 GHz processor and a 4.8-inch HD SuperClear LCD screen with a 21x optical zoom lens and 16 megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor for high-quality images close-up and in low light.
"By connecting the Samsung Galaxy Camera through the AT&T wireless network, users can instantly share photos, giving family and friends a glimpse into their favorite holiday moments," said Chris Penrose, senior vice president for AT&T Emerging Devices.
As a promotion, AT&T is offering a $100 rebate on the camera to customers also purchasing a Samsung smartphone with a two-year contract and data plan.
Purchasers also get access to AT&T's Locker photo storage and sharing service, with five gigabytes of free storage. That's enough, AT&T says, for 5,000 average-sized pictures
Available data plans range from a $10 plan for sharing up to 20 GB with other devices on contract, to $50 for 5 GB of stand-alone data.
'Inverse of a Smartphone'
Dazzling cameras are an increasingly crucial aspect of smartphones. Last year, T-Mobile and HTC came out with the MyTouch 4G Slide, with an eight-megapixel camera that had a dual-LED flash and boasted no shutter lag, a problem plaguing many cell phone cameras, in an attempt to differentiate itself from similar devices.
Samsung's latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, has an 8-megapixel camera with such features as a CMOS image sensor, autofocus, face detection, exposure compensation, High Dynamic Range mode and more. Apple's iPhone 5 also has an 8-megapixel camera, with a five-element lens.
But the Samsung Camera seems to break new ground as a non-smartphone, non-tablet sold through a carrier. It may have limited holiday-gift appeal, though, since it requires a data plan.
"It's the inverse of a smartphone, in fact all it's missing is the ability to make phone calls," said Michael Gartenberg of Gartner Research.
"The idea of ubiquitous connections and an app-driven architecture make sense in a world driven by personal cloud services. Samsung, however, will need to explain this device to consumers and AT&T will need to figure how to train their staff and effectively sell cameras in a store where consumers don't typically buy them."