Dedicated Camera Key: Yes Or No? [POLL]


Personal preference is a crazy thing. When evaluating what you consider to be the perfect phone, different people take different factors into consideration. After doing my LG Optimus 2X review I read a comment I found bizarre: one person really liked the device but the lack of a dedicated camera key really disappointed them.

My thought was, “Ummm… really?”

In my mind, dedicated camera key’s don’t serve much of a purpose any more. You can easily put the camera app on your homescreen and the on-screen picture button works just fine. If you’re trying to take a self-pic I can understand the interest, because it’s impossible to find the software button when the screen is pointed away from you. But the Optimus 2X and a lot of other phones now have front facing cameras where self-pics are equally easy with the on-screen button.

By the way, I’ve also found the action of pressing the dedicated camera key/button causes more wobble, jiggle, and therefore unintended blurriness than software keys. Perhaps I’ve just got shaky hands but I definitely prefer the software camera key.

But that’s why they call it personal preference, right? Even my own personal preferences change over time, too. I used to be a hardware keyboard fanatic and now I don’t see much of a point in using anything besides the touchscreen unless there is some ulterior motive like gaming with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play or SSHing into your server to perform administrative duties.

How about you? Do you prefer a dedicated hardware camera key or are you thinking “who needs another button?” and just want something showing on your software? Make sure you let us know WHY you voted the way you did!

[polldaddy poll=4533612]

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. I personally prefer the dedicated camera key but its not a make or break decision

  2. wtf dude get a camera lol on screen is fine

  3. Doesn’t have to be dedicated, but a HW button that snaps the shutter is preferred.

  4. I like having the key, but I only use it in ConnectBot (for Ctrl+a)

  5. I’ve found I get better pics on the MyTouch 4G using the screen. Pressing the button makes it harder to hold perfectly still.

  6. Every time I use the hardware key on the MT4G I get blurry shots. Also the software key seems to actually make it snap pictures quicker which is helpful when trying to take a picture of my son who changes directions every half second.

  7. Dedicated camera button that override the lock screen to take pictures quickly is a must! Unfortunately, I don’t think it exist in Android yet :(

  8. its preferred but not essential. if youre using the main camera lens and holding the phone up like a digital camera then its natural to want to press a button. but i agree that a poorly made button can introduce a lot of shake and wobble. they tend to be very hard compared to proper cameras, (to stop them being pressed accidently im guessing)

  9. I don’t think we need them anymore. How would you be able to access all the new controls on Honeycomb if you had to keep switching from button to screen while taking a picture.

  10. I have a camera and a 3 year old son and don’t wanna carry my camera around why the hell do you think they put cameras on phones for genius

  11. No hardware key practically makes the one hand operation impossible. On-screen is always an option, but you must use both hands (and it is not always possible or covinient).

  12. like a lot of people here, i only like it for actually snapping the picture. it’s a good place for a shutter button. it’s easier for one-handed operation.
    but it’s definitely not a “make or break” for me.

  13. Whilst it wouldn’t stop me buying a phone a button on the top for the shutter is just more functional, especially as phones get thinner and they’re harder to grip securely.

    Try holding a desire hd straight and steady with its rounded sides and virtually no bezel and have a free finger to press the on screen shutter button

    If anyone who thinks that the on-screen button is a better method can show me one dedicated camera which utilises this method I’d be very surprised.

    Yes it’s a phone not a camera and horses for courses but people want features which emulate their real life counterpart.

    I personally couldn’t care less about hardware gaming buttons but a lot of people will get excited about sony’s new phone.

  14. I’d like a dedicated button. Its annoying trying to snap a pic of yourself without the mirror and not hitting the onscreen button.

  15. i like it for the shutter button. it’s a comfortable spot for it and easier for one-handed operation. definitely not a “make or break” for me.

  16. On my windows phone 7, i love the fact i can press the camera key and it automatically opens up the camera even when the phone is locked…Perfect catching quick shots

    Me being the picture person i am, I prefer a hardware button because i have to “train” myself to memorize where the onscreen camera button is…It really all depends on the phone but now that i have a phone that can take pics with FFC i am good to go(iphone 4/mytouch 4g)

  17. I also think it’s a plus, but far from a must. I can’t imagine it would ever make the choice between 2 phones for me(unless they were the same in every other way) But more so than anything on my phone, when I want to take a picture, I want to do it NOW. Mainly because the only stuff I take pictures of are people/animals doing something that is going to be over in 5 seconds. But then, I’m a little nutty and also want answer/end buttons and a physical number pad :)

  18. Aside from speed of operation, specifically a side-mounted dedicated shutter button makes a huge difference, because it allows you to hold the phone in a far steadier position while taking a (landscape-orientated) shot. It’s where the shutter button is on a standard camera for a reason.

    When Sony Ericsson started pushing the supposed phone/camera hybrid in the K700/800 range they clearly understood this, and it’s a shame to see this lost in smartphones.

    Is it relevant to me? I guess not really – as a photographer I barely ever use my smartphone to shoot anything except business cards for Evernote…

  19. I really like the one on the Epic, but I agree with most everyone else. It’s a nice thing to have, but it’s far from a make or break feature. I think both on screen and dedicated have their pros and cons.

    This has always been a gripe about the iPhone, and I read about an ingenious solution last night. Since Apple won’t give you control to re-map the hardware button the developers listen for a tap or noise event on the mic. If you tap or swipe your finger across the mic it snaps a picture.

  20. I voted no only because the the camera button on my OG Droid has lot all of it’s bronze finish. So now have a tacky white button on the side of my phone.

  21. I’m an avid photographer. You can’t use camera-phones to take quick snapshots. The autofocus is still very slow and shutter times are generally quite long.
    This means that you miss focus quite often and, if you have focus, you’ll move too much (given the shutter time) and get motion-blur (that’s why camera apps with ‘shake detection’ won’t really work, because between the time they detect no-shake and the taking of the actual picture, your hands likely started moving again)
    A hardware button makes the phone move waaaay too much.
    If you want to take quick decent pics, bring at least point-and-shoot camera.

  22. I prefer the hardware button when it also focuses with a half press. This feature was on my OG Droid. It is helpful as it takes a quicker picture because you dont have to wait on the picture to focus & then “take”, like with on screen buttons. Much easier to take a picture of my “hard to sit still” 3 yr old.

  23. I prefer a dedicated camera button; just makes taking pictures easier, without having to focus on where the virtual camera button is… the dedicated camera button, as long as it’s well-placed and properly designed, I will take it over a virtual one anyday. However, it’s not a make or break situation for me any more; I found a program that will allow you to assign the camera action to one of the few hardware buttons on an Android phone. For example, we know the phone will have the volume up and down buttons. It can be assigned to one of them; the program is called CAMERA ZOOM FX. It’ll probably cost you a few bucks now (I got it when it was $.99), but I think it’s well worth the investment if having a hardware camera button is important to you. There are a gang of options with this programs and the developer continues to email updates to you as they come out… hope this helps. Check it out in the market. http://market.android.com/details?id=slide.cameraZoom

  24. I love dedicated camera buttons; however, since I found a program that will assign one of the few hardware buttons as a dedicated camera button, I am fine. You could assign the camera button to one of the volume keys and you are all set. It’s called Camera Zoom FX. It has alot of options too and the developer emails updates regularly. Check it out in the market. http://market.android.com/details?id=slide.cameraZoom

  25. I love dedicated camera buttons; however, since I found a program that will assign one of the few hardware buttons as a dedicated camera button, I am fine. You could assign the camera button to one of the volume keys and you are all set. It’s called Camera Zoom FX. It has alot of options too and the developer emails updates regularly. Check it out in the market.

  26. Check out Camera Zoom FX. You can assign the camera button to one of the volume up/down keys. Check it out in the market…

  27. Guess it doesnt really matter .

  28. I love dedicated camera buttons; however, since I found a program that will assign one of the few hardware buttons as a dedicated camera button, I am fine. You could assign the camera button to one of the volume keys and you are all set. It’s called Camera Zoom FX. It has alot of options too and the developer emails updates regularly. Check it out in the market. http://market.android.com/details?id=slide.cameraZoom

  29. The Galaxy S doesn’t have a camera button, but the devs on XDA has gone through a lot of pain to make the power button act as a camera button.

    So yeah, it does have a market.

  30. YES.

    It doesn’t even need to be two-stage, as long as I have a quick, hardware, shortcut to the camera app, I’m statisfied.

  31. I just upgraded from an Eris to a Droid 2, the camera button was not a feature I really cared about, but I will say that I’ve noticed I can take quick pictures much faster with it.

  32. It doesn’t really matter to me. I worry more about stuff like specs and how long it takes for them to upgrade their phones….

  33. I don’t get why there’s an issue with having a button. If the phone has a hardware button you can still use the screen button. Best of both, depending on situation. My N1 has no dedicated camera button, but I can depress the trackball to snap the shutter, or I can touch the screen button. I use what’s more convenient.

  34. I’d prefer if manufacturers would make the button programable (with the default being camera). What I really want is a dedicated voice button for eithr vlingo or google voice.

  35. I always use my X10’s camera in mode when it focuses around the place I touched on the screen. So the button is a useless waste and one extra weak point of any phone build.

  36. Idea of a programmable button is great though.

  37. Its my dedicated button to turn off the alarm…

  38. Don’t necessarily need a “dedicated” camera key.
    But a hardware key is a must have.
    Meaning the volume up/down or optical button can be re purposed for the camera when in camera mode.

    Your poll should reflect this distinction.

  39. Not a big deal. They most important thing is that the camera works well…

  40. I like it, especially the “2-stage” buttons where you press it down half way and it focuses. Pressing it all the way takes the picture.

  41. I was disappointed that the Evo didn’t have one. i have a lot of things i want on my homescreens and having a camera AND a camcorder icon just takes up unnecessary space and I need both of them. it could easily just be a button: 1 press for camera, hold down for camcorder

  42. They’re a waste. The soft button is faster and less shakey. The manufacturers say they like it better than the hardware button. But its great for remapping :) besides my gold camera key is now white

  43. I like having a dedicated button but my droid takes so long to open up the camera when I push the button that it’s useless. If it was quicker it would be much more useful.

  44. I never use the camera button on my Droid. Evrrytime I press down on it I lose the grip on my phone!

  45. Having a dedicated key is a nice touch but not a deal breaker. For me, having a flash is more important and is a deal breaker

  46. LOL poor Droid users that your camera button is now white!
    That sucks

  47. They should do like blackberry. Give us a convenience key and we will decide what to do with it.

  48. I can’t believe that many people think that the hardware button is important. We shouldn’t have given this vote 3 choices :). That only weakens the other two choices which both agree that the hardware button is not that great.

  49. I agree with #1, it’s nice, it’s not make or break, but I wouldn’t want to see every phone without it.

  50. i voted “don’t care” but I’d like to take it back and vote that I do care. I love being able to hold it down and start the camera app, without having to look for a software button. Also, it’s more intuitive to press the hardware button to take pic. So yeah, I do want a camera button.

  51. For everyone asking for a physical button. Just like to let you guy know that most picture comes out bad or blurry because of Physical camera button. Taking a picture is already not a easy task for shaky hands.

    When snapping a picture the movement of your pressing a button can shake the camera more then you just touching an icon on your touch screen.

    Have you ever got a picture you try to take very still but when snapping the shot you got a blurry image even if you was holding very still. Most of this is caused by physical button. The pressure you need to put to press the button sometimes jerks your finger back causing a wobble effect that leads to a blurry image.

    Having a software button is much better for average Joe. Most people dont even wait for auto focus to line up using physical. What i mean is most camera you can press 1/2 way to get Auto focus to kick in and then press down to take the picture. Most people just hit the camera button as hard as they cant and just wait for camera to do its thing.

    I personally dont like extra buttons. This leads to opening for water, dirt and moving parts. Dont forget the ugly look of missing button.

  52. I love the dedicated camera button, as long as its not too hard to push down. That kind of button makes for a blurry set of pics.


  53. I like having one but it’s nothing that would change my mind if it has other good features.

  54. As Russ said above…doesn’t have to be dedicated, but I prefer a hardware key. Even the volume button turning into the camera button when in that mode is fine by me.

  55. I like having the button to quickly open the camera app. I very rarely use it to actually take the picture though. I guess i could put a shortcut on my homescreen but prefer not to waste the space.

  56. I can’t find the camera app when i’m drunk so a vote for camera button.

  57. Dedicated camera keys are a waste of space and make it a lot easier to end up with fuzzy shots.

  58. When I had a phone with a dedicated button I was always taking pictures by accident. That may have been a function of where the button was located or maybe just the way I grip my phone. Anyway, I only use the phone camera for convenience shots, so the on-screen button is fine. For real picture taking I grab my camera.

  59. I very much enjoy the hardware camera key but I could learn to lice without it. I wish more phones had it. Love my g2

  60. I have a Droix X and the hard camera key on it is garbage so I never use it. I would prefer to have a hard camera key though if it were a nice button that worked properly.

  61. the only feature i miss from my Omnia was that it had a mappable hardware button. You could map press or long press. I think having that on any phone would be perfect. Someone always has an app they would love to launch quickly.

  62. I am a bit disheartened that pointing devices seem to be on the out. Serving double duty as a shutter button on my DInc is good enough for me. I voted yes for a dedicated button, but would really just rather have a pointing device instead.

  63. I like it as others have said already, the two-stage system helps you time the picture correctly and control the focus.

  64. So is there no news today? And to contribute to this article, I have never had a dedicated key but I think I would like it better.

  65. I was about to write that I like it because I like the two stage operation but then I thought, maybe it could be made to focus on touch and take when you let off. Next I decided to test before I said something stupid and low and behold, it’s already like that.

    tl;dr: I like two stage but the onscreen doesn’t take that away :D

  66. These polls never work on my DInc though the phandroid app.

  67. I like the dedicated camera button but I wouldn’t let it be the deal breaker on a phone… but if there is a dedicated camera button I would like to be able to reassign it to Camera 360… I still haven’t figured it out on the G2…

  68. To be honest, couldn’t care less.

    While it is more convenient, I don’t see it being much more difficult or time consuming than tapping the screen a few times. Or, if you have a shortcut on your home screen, just once.

  69. I got a dslr no need for a camera button. PS: I picked no.

  70. I tend to agree with most. My android has a trackball that can act as the camera key but I tend to get blurry shots when I use it. The only thing it’s good for is refocusing the camera by pressing halfway. And while it’s not a deal breaker (and not present on new phones), I love the trackball for text editing or clicking tiny links that I usually fatfinger.

  71. It should be mandatory just so you can launch the camera app. Then whether you use the screen or the button is on you.

  72. I have one on my original droid and it is useful but I don’t use it constantly and wouldn’t miss it if it was gone. The cool thing is in CM7 that button can be dual function so that when the screen is off and your playing music it can be a play/pause button.

  73. First off, the majority of the population is completely ignorant. They have no clue as to the downside of the dedicated camera button on a phone. “Shutter” speeds are not fast enough to accomodate any slight movement of the device what so ever. A physical button does just that….shake/move the device just enough to give blurry pictures.

    Try this. Take 6 pictures with your phone using the mechanical button (if you have one obviously) and then 6 pictures using the on screen virtual button. Be conscious of, and try to minimize, your movements as much as possible for both methods.

    Now, lets review your shots. Don’t be a dumb/lazy ass and review them on your phones display, but rather on your computers display where you can see the detail.

    I am sure many will flame this post, but honestly I expect ignorant commentary. It is, after all, what TV watching couch potato’s do!


  74. I had a dedicated button for my K750i .. the button stopped working and so has the ability to take pics !

  75. I almost always holding my phone one handed with only a few fingers when taking pictures. To move one of them to the screen creates a LOT more shaking than pushing the button I’m already resting my finger on.

    That being said, if I switched to two hands or really switch my grip I can use the screen fine. But I would certainly prefer to hold it like I always have when taking pictures on a phone or otherwise…

  76. To all you people who say “just get a camera”: I have a DSLR, but it doesn’t fit in my #^&*$%& pocket. Since my cellphone is the only camera I carry with me at all times, why wouldn’t I want it to be the best it can be for what it is? Touching the screen works if you’re holding the phone certain ways, but sometimes you have to hold it such that you can’t see the button on the screen. A dedicated button is a must for that. I bought a phone without the dedicated button, and it’s something I simply won’t do again, based on how often I use the phone’s camera in my day-to-day life.

  77. Slow news day???

  78. I used to think a hardware camera key was a must and I do still prefer a hardware key. However like you said, a hardware camera key causes wobble so I’ve started using the soft key lately. So if the rest of the hardware rocks I wouldn’t miss the hard key.

  79. more buttons always means better. I also use the camera key as a push-to-talk button in Mangler.

  80. As an amateur photog, I highly prefer a hardware button.

    I have ran into issues using the software button, specifically: unintentionally hitting one of the ‘back’ or ‘search’ fixed buttons on my D1.

    But if I am wanting to take a serious picture, either my pocketed Leica based TZ, bagged K20. My phone is for ‘spur of the moment’ shots if I wanted to remember a note, or a product – quick snap – done. Anything that I care about will be done on either of my actual cameras.

  81. I totally agree with bobthebuider just get a freaking camera

  82. I don’t like how phandroid writers always try to bash anything someone doesn’t like about android or anything iphoneish or android.

    That said, how could you NOT prefer a dedicated camera key on a “perfect” phone. This is a silly question. Yeah, I have the camera app button on my homescreen but that requires turning the screen on. It would be quicker to just press a camera key. More importantly is the self portrait problem. It is literally impossible for me to take a self portrait with my samsung captivate. The only way to do it is to turn on the timer and let it countdown…again requiring more time.

  83. On my Droid I couldn’t survive without the key. No matter where I am I just press the camera key to bring up the app and again to take the pic.

    A camera key on the edge of a phone is a must if you ever want to take a one-handed shot which I do ALL the time.

    When my droid broke and I opened it up to fix it the camera button got messed up to the point where I removed the camera button altogether. The whole phone felt broken without it. I eventually bought a replacement button and all is well. Camera buttons are a keeper!!

  84. a) makes it easier to take a steady picture than tapping on the screen

    b) ROM devs like Cyanogen give options to use it to pause and play your music without turning on the screen. love love love it.

  85. Yes. Phones should DEFINITELY have a dedicated camera button. It should be the rule, not the exception. Try taking a picture of yourself using a circular on-screen button that you CAN’T SEE. On my N1, it’s a nightmare. I often hit the menu or home button trying to take a picture. Let alone how shaky it makes it to try and hit an onscreen button.

  86. Galaxy S lacks a physical camera button, but there are a couple of apps in the market that will allow you to use the volume rocker, so it’s no longer an issue. Besides, how many times to you need to take a picture of yourself??

  87. A plus, not a must

  88. LOL! I totally forgot that my G2 even has a camera button until I saw this post. I agree with you, pressing a hardware key causes more wobble resulting in blurry pics. I never use it and as a result, I forgot that it even existed!

  89. I’d rather have a function button, for example if you press down the function button and the search button camera opens, but if you press down function button and home internet or something like that opens

  90. I wouldn’t mind it, but I much prefer having a touchscreen shutter button. My current phone has a hardware button and no touchscreen button and every time I use it I push down and shake the entire phone, blurring the picture. My old phone I could just hold the phone tightly and steadily with both hands and lightly tap with my thumb to take a non-blurry picture. I never understood the purpose of those two-step shutter buttons. If it is autofocus, why can’t it just auto-focus and THEN snap? Why do I have to hold it halfway and then push again? It wastes a lot of time and pretty much blurs every picture I’ve taken because I shake the phone in the process.

  91. I prefer voice command. “Focus”,”shoot”,”open gallery, boy” there, no shake at all =D

  92. Before I would’ve agreed with everyone that felt that a hardware button was something useful to have. Since I purchased my Vibrant, I’ve found that I rarely take pictures of myself so the on screen button works just fine. (for my uses). If i ever find myself taking a picture of myself or with friends with the rear camera I set the timer for 2 seconds. I also have a ffc installed so that eliminates the problem as well

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