Dedicated Camera Key: YES or NO? [POLL]


Manufacturers have a plethora of decisions to make when engineering a new phone. Some of the smallest decisions likely take hours of debate and discussion. One feature that seems rather trivial is the camera button, but I have a strong opinion and I’ve met many people who argue that the exact opposite of my preference is the better setup.

Let me  just come out and ask:
Dedicated Camera Keys: Yes or No?

I’m on the NO train. I find that the pictures from every single mobile camera I use look like absolute fail when using a dedicated hardware key to take pictures. When pushing down the button, the camera shakes/moves a tad when the button is pressed, causing the focus and angle of the picture to be out of whack. Perhaps image stabilization should fix this, but it often does not, and when you’ve only got a one shot deal to snap a pic I’d rather rely on a method with a higher success rate.

In my opinion, software camera keys are definitely the way to go. One light tap and your perfectly stable picture comes out clear and crisp. If pressing the software key nudges the phone in any direction, it would be minimal and a more uniformly directed movement. I have consistently better luck using software camera keys over hardware camera keys which leads me to believe it isn’t luck at all.

Then there’s a wildcard option: some phone’s offer a dedicated camera key but allow you to reprogram it so any application/function can be completed when pressed. If flexibility is your friend, the reprogrammable camera key is a swingset.

So… which way do you swing?

[polldaddy poll=5042598]


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 like it to get quick access to the camera…not necessarily to take the picture.

    If you have kids you will appreciate my point of view here I’m sure.

    You want to be able to get the camera going as fast as possible regardless of whether or not you actually use the button to take the shot.

    1. I have the camera icon on my homescreen so I’m never more than 2 taps away (Home button, Camera icon).

      1. Even faster access with WidgetLocker.

      2. Close your eyes, or suppose you cannot see the screen while you launch the camera app. A dedicated camera button allows you to launch the app without looking at the screen (or without ‘guessing’ the location of the camera icon.) This is why I support a dedicated button.

        1. Yes, and it’s useful if you’re wearing gloves or something, if you’ve got Widgetlocker, you only need to use hardware buttons to wake up the phone and take a picture

    2. Yes really.

  2. Hardware camera buttons are awesome. Holding down the camera button will instantly open up the camera app (at least on all the phones I owned so far), and can be used in other apps like in some push-to-talk apps.

    EDIT: Also, the more buttons on a phone the better.

  3. Does Phandroid need a copy-editor? There doesn’t need to be an apostrophe in “phones.”

  4. On my Droid X, the camera button is just a pain. I don’t use it. I noticed that simply pressing the camera icon on my screen loads the camera app faster than the button, oddly enough. And, since the button is “loose”, I have to press it down more than you’d expect, causing the camera to shake a little. I’m not one to really take many pictures either, so it’s not too big of a concern for me.

  5. I prefer a dedicated (though remappable) hardware button for the camera, but I don’t want a camera button with cheezy gold paint on it that flakes off after a few months and looks like trash.

    1. Droid? Haha. Same happened to me.

  6. I LOVE having a dedicated camera key. I’m in the boat where I find that tapping the screen usually moves my phone enough to make the image blurry.

    Is it a dealbreaker? Certainly not.

    All things being equal, I’d get the camera key EVERY time.

  7. WidgetLocker makes a camera button unnecessary

    1. Doubt it would help much if you’re in the middle of web browsing and need to take a photo.

      1. Shhhh Noahitall thinks he knows it all.

  8. A good deicated button would be great

    problem is the software implementation, i just don’t like my phone taking pictures in my pocket. The button should only work when camera app is launched and not launch it itself

    However, no SEARCH button would totally be a deal-breaker for me

  9. I need it. I use my camera everywhere. I used it a ton snowboarding this winter.
    I didn’t take as many as I wish I would have, because I had to take off my gloves every time.
    I also like the buttons that focus when you push it down a little, like the Droid1.

    1. great point!

    2. classic android’s Camera App  do have this “press to focus” feature

      1. i had that on my n95 too.  loved it. 

  10. I found the physical button is helpful when you want someone else to take a picture of you with your camera phone. Some friends/relatives still seem to have trouble with the concept of a software button and often end up pressing the home key or something else by mistake.

    1.  Physical keys can be remapped which alone makes them better.

    2. +1 

  11. I don’t take many pictures with my phone, but when i have a dedicated button I’m much more likely to actually take pictures.

  12. On the nexus s there is options to make the other buttons into a camera button like the
    Volume rocker and power button I believe so to me dedicated is useless in that regard that’s my opinion anyways

    That’s is they give all phones that option

  13. What I’d REALLY love is for more manufacturers to use trackball alerts like the Nexus One did. Every N1 owner I’ve ever spoken to says it’s their favorite feature.

  14. Only if the camera is worth taking pictures with!!! I have an EVO and the picture quality is nothing to write home about, but if there was a phone that had iPhone quality picture yes because there’s always times you really need to pull out your cellphone and snap a really good picture

    1. No, the Evo has better picture quality than the iPhone (non 4g data and only a small 3.5 inch screen) 4th gen.

  15. i prefer a programmable button (hybrid). i’m those that prefer a hardware button. those that don’t like the button to be used for camera can actually program it to say launch an apps or something…

  16. It’s the one thing I really miss having moved from the OG Droid to the EVO 4G.

  17. I have a real camera I carry for taking photos. Personally I think some of the newer Android phones have TOO many buttons already. Don’t need anything more than power, volume rocker, home, back, and menu.

  18. Not only do I prefer a dedicated camera key, but I prefer to have dedicated buttons period. The trend of copying the iPhone and removing all the buttons has made certain android phones suck in my book.

    1. I’m loving that the Charge appears to have real buttons! (I haven’t seen it in person yet, but I’m looking forward to checking it out.) I also really rely on my Droid1’s physical keyboard, so to potentially lose that when I upgrade may be a big adjustment.

  19. A hardware camera button on a phone just results in pictures that are more blurry on average (‘cept in bright light) since it shakes a little bit when you press/depress it.

    The *ONLY* way I’d consider using a hardware camera button over touch, is if there was a setting to add a few hundred milliseconds of shutter lag between depressing the button and taking the picture, to eliminate most of the blur. As it is, no ROMs that I’ve heard of support that, so I don’t bother using my phone’s power/camera button mod.

    1. not really. I’ve used a hardware button on mine and it doen’t take blurry photos. It actually has NOTHING to do with the fact that it’s a hardware button or software button, Jizz Farrell. A button is a button is a button, dumbass.

      Motion compensation is (or at least should) be built all cameras nowadays regardless if they’re on a phone or pas. It’s the level and accuracy of the motion compensation and the amount of movement that determines if it ultimately ends up blurry. Most camera phones have rudimentary hardware, yet with each new year, new camera phones tend to get better and better. Or so we hope.

  20. Modded SGS camera will zoom in with volume buttons and take pictures with power buttons. Of course this only really works with the power button where Samsung likes it (I prefer it there) but it’s nice to cut down on buttons but keep functionality.

  21. I find either or to be great…. I have a G1 and find myself always ruining the picture to apply pressure to the camera button. I also have a Nexus S and Vibrant, I actually took better pictures than with something like the Droid, even then it’s still nice to HAVE that feature, you don’t want to assume that every person doesn’t need something in a device, because then you might have some disappointed consumers. Honestly, what’s wrong with just having it? You use, you use it, you don’t use, you don’t use it. I don’t really care, I find it easier to unlock my Nexus S and tap on the camera app shortcut on my homescreen rather than unlock my G1 and hold down a button. Now if Android got a feature like WP7 has, then most likely I would care a WHOLE lot more, but for Android, it just doesn’t matter.

  22. I’m sorry, but if you manage to shake the focus out of a shot using a 2 stage button, you’re doing it wrong.

  23. Having a dedicated camera button makes it quicker/easier to get to the camera, then I use the software/touch button to actually take the photo.

  24. camera toggle button yes. camera shutter button no.

  25. I’d also like to see them pay a bit more attention to the placement of the lens and the flash. If the lens is to close to the edges it difficult to get a decent grip on the phone. And the flash everyone puts wayyyyyy to close to the lens and it completely washes out pictures. A point and shoot quality camera on an android would be the most exciting announcement to me.

  26. I prefer hard buttons because having a Camera AND a Camcorder icon on your homescreen is such a waste of space and not to mention annoying. I’m so glad the Evo 3D has a hard button

  27. I’d actually prefer a dedicated music button– but changing the camera button to music never works– it always makes the music turn on when I don’t want it. So make that a dedicated music bump.

  28.  Also, hardware buttons are great when you’re feeling awesome and need to take a self portrait. The software button is kind of hard to hit sometimes.

    1. Yes, this is the reason I would have a hardware button for the camera. But this reason will be obsolete as more and more phones move to having an  additional front-facing camera. 

  29. i would of been a firm yes up until i got an android phone.   but ive recently found myself using the onscreen button more and more. its just so much quicker and much more stable.  the camera is so good it doesnt really need the two stage hardware button. it just focuses and takes the picture instantly over an over again.     but if they can add a hardware button then they might aswell do it, no point puttin off potential customers for the sake of a few pence.

  30.  Dedicated camera button affects weather or not I buy the phone. Just to have a shortcut to the camera not to take the photo. photo.

  31.  Personally i don’t care for hardware buttons…
    I prefer all capacitive….Looks attractive to me

    But at best, there should be a hybrid(both soft and hardware keys)

  32. Yes a button please. 

  33. I use the camera on my phone about once a month on average.  And that monthly camera use is more often than not an accidental discharge, hitting the button or icon by mistake.  So I’m happy with no camera button.

  34.  I have never used the camera button to take a picture I hardly ever take pictures. I do however use it as a pause key for my music which makes it useful

  35.  Um…? How impossible is it to take a picture of yourself using the software? I mean, I tried that once, and end up recording a video in sepia tone. I was like what the truck. I was proving my point saying I’m glad I have a camera button. I know for certain that I’m taking the picture by doing so.

    And not to change the subject, but EVERY camera app, and I do mean EVERY camera app should have the feature, time. So the camera can do a count down then take the picture, thus making the hole, shake issue go away. You can have a 2 second count, then the camera button becomes the best shortcut ever.

    The HTC G2 doesn’t have a timer, and I am thoroughly pissed. But that’s a different story. Let me not troll. LoL!!

    1. I think the dedicated camera button is a dying feature. Benefits: decreased moving parts, decreased expense, decreased need. By that last I mean with front-facing cameras becoming more prevalent, we have less need for the hardware button because we can see ourselves when taking those photos with a friend.

      1. It’s a pain to use my Nexus S software key with the ffc. Trying to frame a picture one handed and find a stable way to hold the phone and touch the on screen button is a chore.  It would be much easier with a dedicated button.  

  36. didnt you guys run this poll quite a while ago? were ya not satisfied with the previous results?

  37. Physical keys seem to work pretty damn well on my compact and SLR so I don’t see why they can’t eventually get them to work on a mobile once the cameras improve  :D 

  38.  None of my android phones had a dedicated camera button. The closest thing I had to a camera button is the trackball on the Nexus one.

    Thing is, most of the camera’s on phones have “touch focus” which seem to be more flexible and useful than the preshutter. There are pro-s and cons to each, but i voted “i don’t care” cause I’m fine with either.

  39. Hey guys – i have an og desire, can the trackpad button be turned into a camera button ?!

  40.  I think there should be a remote trigger for taking pictures, like on some DSLR cameras.

  41. Dedicated camera key is absolutely a must
    It is the fastest way for me to go to camera
    It can even be the easiest way for android phones to switch to camera when we are running other application
    Without a dedicated camera I have to take a few more steps to get to camer and that’s a waste of time

  42.  I have a hardware camera key…. I forget its there. a a 

  43.  i have no problems focusing with the camera button on my arc.  The shutter isn’t instantaneous, so if you’re still having issues due to pressing down it means you’ve just got an incredibly shaky hand.

  44. I like to have a physical button- like somebody already said, if I get somebody to take a picture of me and they’ve never used my phone they don’t “get” the soft key.  A real button is also helpful if you’re doing self-photography (I swear I’m not that vain, don’t do it often!  I’d like to start blogging about makeup, it’d be handy to snap a pic of my face of the day.).

  45.  Have you never used an actual camera?  The hardware button is much easier for taking pictures.  You can use both hands to stabilize the camera an just use a single finger to take a picture.  Software buttons ten to be at the bottom or to the side which means you only have one hand to hold the camera with.

  46. There is absolutely no reason to not have a dedicated camera key. First of all, in my opinion, the best reason to have one is for launching the camera app (from a screen off situation so you dont have to unlock the phone, otherwise u could just press the icon on ur screen). Send of all, any good manufacturer would have the camera actually take the picture a second or split second after the button is actually solving this issue of image stabilization. In theory, would tapping the screen be worse for stabilization than the button? Of course, but camera’s don’t take the picture immediately after tapping the screen. Point is that a camera button can’t hurt.

  47. Camera button?  How about a bloody dedicated PHONE button?  Nobody cares about these anymore?  Is it supposed to be a freaking mobile phone, or isn’t it?

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