The Cloud Is Key To Amazon Fire Phone’s Ambitious Plan To Win Over Smartphone Photographers

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Amazon Announces The $199 Fire Phone, The First Smartphone With Head-Tracking Technology

Amazon unveiled its new smartphone today, the Amazon Fire Phone, and the first thing it talked about after going over the design specifics was the camera. Jeff Bezos said that “our phones are also our primary cameras,” and went on to describe the Fire Phone’s camera hardware, which includes a 13-megapixel, rear-facing shooter.

The 13 megapixels match the Samsung Galaxy S5, and the Fire offers a wide 2.0 maximum aperture with built-in optical image stabilization that can adjust up to 100 times per second to decrease blur from shaky hands and other movements. This helps it take better photos than the competition, according to Bezos, who threw it up against the reigning kings of smartphone photography at today’s event.

Side-by-side shots supposedly taken in similar conditions purported to show that Amazon’s phone is less noisy than the iPhone 5s in low-light settings, and less blurry than the Galaxy S5 in the same light-poor conditions. It’s a big claim to make, as these are definitely the weak points in smartphone and mobile photography today; even pocket cameras and entry-level DSLRs still face challenges with low light. But we’ll have to test it out to be sure. On paper, a lot of Android phones seem to be able to beat iPhone, but none have yet done so in practice.

A dedicated hardware camera button is another huge advantage – one press opens the camera app and a second one takes a photo, even if you have the screen turned off. But the biggest advantage of all might not reside on the phone at all — but in the cloud.

Each Fire Phone comes with unlimited uploads and storage to Amazon Cloud Drive for life for free. There are no conditions on that offer, which makes it much more attractive than either the paid offering from Apple (iCloud Photos) or Google’s Drive offerings, which also use paid tiers to limit how much you can upload at once.

It’s a huge advantage when you think of the recurring cost that you agree to when you start using the competing cloud-based backups from other smartphone makers. It might be enough to make up for any deficiencies in photo quality, too, if the Amazon Fire can’t live up to its claims in that regard.