Can we bring back the physical camera button?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: March 7, 2014

If you switch between phones often, you probably have certain features about each phone that you like. If you're anything like me, you probably wish that you could take all of the features that you like in both phones and mash them into one super device. Alas, such a dream isn't an option right now, and we pretty much have to deal with what we're given. While that isn't to say that what we are given isn't phenomenal in its own right, I do find that I'm experiencing a lot of first world problems when I switch between platforms in that I do wish that certain phones had certain features.

For the past couple of months I've been using Windows Phone as my "daily driver". However, during this time I have also been supplementing my Windows Phone experience with Android; there are just certain things that I think Android (or iOS for that matter) do better than Windows Phone. On the other hand, Windows Phone has redeeming qualities of its own that I find I will miss when I am using an Android device. The feature that I miss the most? Definitely, definitely the physical camera button.

And it sounds silly to say that, because it wasn't that long ago where the physical camera button was pretty standard across the board. Why manufacturers ditched it for an on-screen one beats me. In my opinion, a physical camera key allowed for more control over a photo and how a subject is focused in on. Also, when it comes to taking the popular "selfie" shot, you're not limited to sub-par quality with the front-facing camera. As a victim who is still suffering from the MySpace Selfie Revolution of '04, I much prefer higher resolution selfies. The only reason I use the front-facing camera on any other phone is simply because I can never manage to hit the virtual button where I need to. Alternatively, if the camera is able to take shots by pressing anywhere on the screen, I still have trouble focusing in. With a physical key, none of that is an issue. I know exactly where and how to press to get a good photo nearly every time. 

Even when it comes to taking pictures in general I find that I prefer the physical camera key. Perhaps it's because actual cameras have their button placement in the same fashion and it just seems more natural to take pictures this way, but there's still just something about the physical click of a button after snapping a photo that seems almost satisfying. It's kind of like how I feel about physical keyboards; I like the physical confirmation that what I wanted to happen just happened. However, when it comes to keyboards I have found that despite the satisfying click, virtual keyboards have grown on me and are better for faster and more accurate typing. As for virtual versus physical camera button? It's somewhat of a different story for me.

Even if a physical camera key isn't your thing, one other feature that I used to really enjoy about phones that featured one was that you could usually program that key to open a different application if you wanted. The social network addict in me used to program the key to use Facebook from time to time, and even on occasion a calculator or a calendar. The option was nice to have, and I think it would be nice to have again. 

Although Samsung seemed to have a more modern solution by adding a camera sensor to the side of the Galaxy S5, I still don't feel like it's the same thing. Granted I think the side sensor will make taking a photo easier than a virtual button on the screen, but the physical camera key just felt good, and I miss it whenever I'm not using my Windows Phone. In fact, given the announcement Microsoft made during MWC to loosen the reigns on the hardware requirements for Windows Phone (including not requiring a dedicated physical camera key) I might miss it when I am using Windows Phone in the future.

Much like my stance on the lack of phones supporting microSD cards anymore, I feel like nixing the physical camera key didn't serve much of a purpose either, and I wish that more manufacturers would bring that back.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the physical camera key? Is it something you miss in your current phone, something you require to have, or something you don't necessarily care if it's present or not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Images via Gadget Helpline, Lets Bakar

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