Apple iCloud’s drastically low free storage offering and problematic cross-platform support capabilities present a persistent problem. That’s why I’m always on the hunt for that perfect third-party cloud storage service. Thus for a while, I’ve been using Amazon Photos in place of iCloud for photo backups.
So what about Amazon Photos? It is a standalone photo management and cloud storage service presented separately from the core Amazon Drive experience. Just like how Google Photos works.
But does it have what it takes to replace iCloud on the iPhone? Let me share my experience, and then you can decide for yourself.
In my experience, I found both the Amazon Photos web app and the desktop client to work flawlessly. Especially on Windows, this is a game-changer. In contrast, iCloud.com is slow and clunky, and the iCloud app is prone to numerous issues.
And unlike iCloud, Amazon Photos is also available on Android. That is terrific if you want to take a back up of all your photos and videos across devices to store them in a single location.
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When it comes to available free storage, Amazon Photos doesn’t differ from iCloud — you get access to just 5GB, which is sure to run out in no time. The same holds true for the majority of cloud storages as well (OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.), with the exception being Google Photos' 15GB of free storage.
When it comes to available free storage, Amazon Photos doesn’t differ from iCloud
However, things change if you have an Amazon Prime membership. You get unlimited free photo storage at original quality, which includes support for the RAW format. A pretty sweet deal if you want to store images with a lot of details in them. But that aside, you are still restricted to just 5GB of storage for videos.
If you don’t have an Amazon Prime membership (costs $12.99/month), or have lots of videos, you will have to shell out cash for a storage plan. Surprisingly, the Amazon Photos storage tiers are cheaper than what you get with iCloud.
For example, the base storage tier of 100GB starts at $11.99/year, compared to $0.99/month for 50GB of iCloud storage. In other words, it’s twice the amount of storage for the same price.
The next Amazon Photos storage tier starts at 1TB ($59.99/year), while iCloud’s offering lies at 200GB ($2.99/month). Although not directly comparable, Amazon Photos offers more bang for your buck in terms of storage from a cost per gigabyte perspective.
After that, however, things fall in line with Amazon Photos’ 2TB ($119.99/year) and iCloud’s 2TB ($9.99/month) storage plans. Practically the same both storage and cost-wise.
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On the iPhone, photos and videos that you shoot are saved in the HEIF and HEVC formats by default. Usually, this is a concern since the format isn’t all that popular outside the Apple ecosystem.
But thankfully, Amazon Photos supports both formats, and you can readily view them even on unsupported devices with minimal issues. It even converts files to a compatible format when sharing them to other apps.
However, you can’t download HEIC photos in the JPG format locally on Windows or Android. That can be quite annoying unless you are prepared to convert them manually. On the other hand, both iCloud.com and the iCloud desktop app on Windows lets you download photos in the JPG format easily.
That aside, Amazon Photos has a limit on photo bursts — it only uploads the first frame of a burst. So if you shoot a lot of photos using burst mode, you need to keep that in mind — it could be a deal-breaker.
The Amazon Photos app is simple and easy to use. It neatly categorizes all uploaded images by date, and you can flick through them easily. You can also use a range of editing options to crop and enhance your photos.
In addition to that, Amazon Photos lets you create photo albums which are easily shareable, and order physical prints of your photos in various sizes via Amazon.com from the app. Neat stuff.
But aside from using Amazon Photos merely as a backup tool, it’s best to use the default Photos app on your iPhone for serious photo management. Especially on iOS 13, it’s far superior to anything that Amazon Photos offers with better image categorization and editing capabilities.
It’s best to use the default Photos app on your iPhone for serious photo management
If there’s a concern when it comes to using Amazon Photos, it’s the problematic background uploads associated with the app. Usually, third-party cloud storages struggle when it comes to backing up photos in the background due to iOS restrictions, and Amazon Photos is no different.
iCloud follows seamless uploads of all photos automatically. So you may have to open the Amazon Photos app once every while to ensure that it’s backing up your pictures without issues.
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Which Is the Best Solution?
I find Amazon Photos to be a solid photo backup alternative to iCloud. That holds true if you have access to an Amazon Prime membership. And the base storage tiers are priced cheaply too, although they lack the flexibility of iCloud’s monthly payment plans.
If you love easy access to your photo bursts, and prefer seamless background uploads, then sticking to iCloud is your best bet.
Next up: iCloud’s My Photo Stream functionality lets you sync photos without using up any cloud storage. Learn what to expect when using it.