While smartphones have yet to encroach on the DSLR market, they have all but devoured point-and-shoot cameras. As more and more individuals adopt smartphones over less adequately equipped feature phones, fewer individuals need to tote around a dedicated camera to capture those perfect moments. Best of all, smartphones are capable of capturing some pretty amazing shots, given the right circumstances and lighting.
The fact that the term "iPhonography" has been coined should serve as a valid testament to what some smartphones – not only Apple's creations – are capable of preserving with their image sensors. And as absurd as they may be, interchangeable lenses for smartphones are surprisingly fun to tinker with.
But they also come with capabilities that not just any camera has, especially not that budget point-and-shoot you ditched when you bought your first (or most recent) smartphone. For instance, only a handful of bottom tier, dedicated cameras offer wireless connectivity to either stream your photos to another device or to an online account. And, of course, an Eye-Fi card can be added to just about any camera that accepts the widely accepted SD card standard. Still, smartphones are much more adequately equipped to handle images after being captured.
By not utilizing the abundance of connections and services at your fingertips from a mobile operating system, you are all but asking to lose your favorite pictures and only using a fraction of your smartphone's potential. (We all know how I feel about that.)
Aside from sending each and every picture you take to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or whatever network you prefer (and ultimately losing a questionable amount of quality along the way), there are dozens – if not hundreds – of cloud services that you can send your pictures for backing up. If you are an iPhone user, the iCloud Photo Stream is a built-in option that works well for some. And if you're on Google+ using an Android phone or iPhone, you can have all your pictures automatically upload to your account (privately, of course) for sharing or saving to your computer. But those are only the tip of the iceberg.
If you are using an existing cloud storage service, such as Box or Dropbox, you can have every picture instantly uploaded to your account. Box doesn't offer the option natively, but there are applications available (such as CameraSync on iOS) that will send your images to your cloud account of choice. Dropbox, however, offers the Camera Upload feature in its native Android and iOS applications and will upload all of your shots immediately or whenever you connect to Wi-Fi (depending on your preferences).
Personally, I'm a little paranoid about losing my pictures. Last year about this time, I was caught using an outdated iOS 5 beta when the newest beta update was pushed by Apple. My version expired and my iPhone was wiped before my eyes. In an instant, every last photo, every application, text message and all other data was gone.
Now I'm probably a little excessive when it comes to backing up pictures and other data. I use a combination of cloud services to backup my phones.
My first line of defense is Google+ Instant Upload. Pictures are uploaded to my Google+ account automatically, in the background and in high resolution. Those pictures are either available from Google+ or my Picasa web albums. The next service I use is Dropbox. I turn on Camera Upload every week or so and backup a backlog of pictures, which are then easily accessible from essentially any device. I quit using Box after I uploaded somewhere around 3,000 pictures to my free account and learned I would have to pay to download them all at once.
And then I transfer locally. From my Android phone, I use WiFi File Explorer Pro to transfer all pictures into a Zip file on my computer using a local connection. With the iPhone, I simply connect it to my MacBook and import using iPhoto. From there, I move all of my pictures onto an external HDD.
I know it's a bit crazy, but it's never a good idea to only backup once. And I don't fully trust the cloud, so I use multiple services in the event one fails me. Also, it's nice being able to merge all the pictures from my various devices so effortlessly while making several backups with literally zero effort.
If you do any level of photography with your phone, or if you simply take priceless pictures of your kids and loved ones, do yourself a favor and start backing up your pictures. I've lost mine – thousands at a time – on more than one occasion and it can be devastating. If you do, however, backup all of your pictures, how do you do it? Tell us where you send your photos for safekeeping below.