No, this isn't a joke: You can get free prints from your smartphone. But, no surprise here, there are some restrictions and you have to pay for shipping. My first thought when I heard about paying for shipping was those late night commercials where the product is really inexpensive but the S&H was exorbitant. It's not that bad with the new FreePrints app, though. Shipping costs start at $1.99 and max out at $9.99.
Here's the deal. You load the free app for iOS 5.0+, Android 2.3.3+ and Windows 8 onto your smartphone. Select images from the device's camera roll/library, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr or Picasa and place your order. Free prints are limited to 85 individual 4x6 inch prints per month (no dupes of the same image), with a maximum annual of 1,000 prints. While you're ordering, the app provides other options for different products — larger prints, different substrates and therein lies the motivation behind the free product.
Fulfillment is handled by PhotoAffections, which offers even more products on their site, including wedding announcements, so it's not — as far as we can tell — some fly-by-night operation.
We did a little math and, assuming the maximum shipping cost of $9.99 for 85, 4x6 prints, it comes out to almost 12-cents a print. Not bad, considering a quick look at some other online ordering sites charge between 15-24 cents/print (with lower prices for quantity prices). But there are always sales for digital prints, so the cost-benefit will vary.
Of course, the whole idea is to get you to buy larger, more expensive prints but, even so, what do you expect when you get something for free? Not much, so we have to wonder whether it's even worth the minimum $1.99 postage to find out, although I must admit that the bargain hunter in me is really tempted.