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June 21st 2013 7:59 am

Samsung Galaxy NX is the first smart-ILC. But why not Sony?

Samsung has just unveiled new products from the Galaxy and ATIV lines during their "Premier" event. Arguably the biggest launch of the day was the Galaxy NX -- a mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera that runs Android Jelly Bean and supports LTE connectivity -- along with some Android-based devices that have already been announced (including another smart camera, the Galaxy S4 Zoom), some Windows 8 tablets and notebooks, and a mixture of both with the ATIV Q.

While watching Samsung's representatives talk about the Galaxy NX, I could not stop thinking about what it would be like if Sony had done it first. Sony is much more established and trusted in the photography field than Samsung is -- especially with their award winning Alpha NEX line of mirrorless ILC's, -- and it's also one of the top Android smartphones manufacturer in the world. It makes a ton of sense that such product could be so much better, and loved by photographers, if it came from Sony.

Maybe they didn't do it because they've seen Samsung struggle with the Galaxy Camera, which was one of the first point-and-shoot cameras to also feature Android and more connectivity options than your average connected camera (which includes GPS and a horrific implementation of Wi-Fi). Some of the criticism it received was based on the nature of point-and-shoots as compact cameras that you can take with you everywhere you go without having any other device along with it, while the Galaxy Camera was bulkier than most cameras in that category, and Samsung did not do a good effort of explaining it to consumers: it's not a camera-phone, nor it is a camera-first-phone-second device - it's a camera. People who weren't satisfied with the picture quality of their Galaxy S III, or people who've always craved for optical zoom on their smartphone's camera, could not replace their current smartphone with the Galaxy Camera, as it could not make the simplest, most ancient and most forgotten action a smartphone needs to be able to do - make phone calls.

Now that Samsung has the Galaxy S4 Zoom, they can stop worrying about that, and make a great camera that also has awesome, not necessarily camera-related stuff. If the price is right, Samsung might have a real winner in their hands. It is apparently based on Samsung's NX20, as far as I can tell, with similar specs and design all around. That camera has only 3 reviews here on gdgt, with a 7.8/10 rating in image quality. It's quite lower, yet not that far away from the gdgt Must Have Sony Alpha NEX-5R, which scored 8.4 in that department.

The Alpha NEX-5R has some connectivity already, in a not-so-terrible implementation of Wi-Fi, and it also has a touchscreen and several "apps", though it's still heavily inferior to the Galaxy NX's offerings of LTE and the latest version of Android with full Google Play support. The latter's display is also way larger, though the former makes room for physical controls on the back, while the Galaxy NX relies on purely on the touchscreen for all of those actions.

Imagine a mashup of Sony's Xperia Z and Alpha NEX. I think it would be much more appealing to photographers than Samsung's smart-ILC, as Sony's imaging chops far exceed Samsung's. Here's hoping Sony does make an effort to compete with Samsung in this category and doesn't leave it there alone for a monopoly. Xperia NEX, anyone?

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3 replies

First of all...wayyy too long. I recently bought the NEX 5R. It's a gorgeous product, but I haven't used it much.

With my limited use, I've connected to the internet and tried to log into my Sony account. There are only a few apps available and typing on the screen with your fingers is very frustrating. The NEX 5R is definitely not Android powered, whereas this Samsung device is.

I think that's where the line becomes clear.
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By no means did I say that the NEX-5R is a Galaxy NX-competitor. I said that, IMO, Sony has the potential to produce a superior product, as it's much more established in the photography business, and its Xperia smartphone line is quite popular.

If Sony made a special edition of the NEX-6 or NEX-7, for example, with a capacitive touchscreen and Android Jelly Bean with full Google Play Store support, will you choose that over the Galaxy NX?
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I already chose the NEX 5R so my saying that the Galaxy NX had more apps doesn't make a difference to me. With all the settings on the 5R I see myself mainly using autofocus and superior autofocus so.....I am still a beginner with this stuff.

In a few years when there are reasons to have apps on a dedicated camera I will be more on board. For now, with the most popular photography app being Instagram, a service that IMO ruins the advances in technology over the past decade or so, I really don't want apps on my dedicated camera.

I don't mind having the wifi on the 5R, but I don't see myself using it too much. I haven't tried to transfer my photos from the camera to my PS3, but that's about the only situation that makes sense. Taking the card out and sliding it into my laptop is just too easy to fidget with the touchscreen on the 5R.
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