How long have we been talking about the Amazon smartphone? More than two years? We’ve repeatedly been told – unofficially – that it’s on the horizon, and now it’s finally landed. Meet: the Amazon Fire Phone.
In a move that’ll surprise few, the Amazon Fire Phone will initially be exclusive to the US, specifically AT&T, where it’ll cost from $199 on a two-year contract. Are we bothered? Read on!
Diving into Amazon Fire Phone specs, we have a 4.7in 720p display (just as the big names turn their attention to QHD (2560 x 1440)), quad-core Qualcomm processor with Adreno 330 GPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 13MP rear camera with optical image stabilisation (OIS) that CEO Jeff Bezos reckons outperforms the Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5s.
The Amazon Fire Phone also boasts stereo speakers, in a world where HTC is really the only one shouting about them (see BoomSound), and – perhaps most interesting of all – Bezos unveiled tangle-free headphones. We’ll believe it when we see it!
Needless to say, with Fire OS 3.5, the Amazon Fire Phone is barely recognisable against fellow Android handsets like the Motorola Moto G, which is pretty much stock.
Conversely, the Amazon Fire Phone is very much focused on Amazon content, while you’re invited to make use of tilt navigation to do stuff like scroll through options or change the view in Maps.
Turns out the front camera rumours were right on the money, too. In addition to the bog standard front and rear cameras, the Amazon Fire Phone has an additional four cameras on the front – one in each corner – for tracking your big head and changing the on-screen content accordingly. “Dynamic perspective,” they’re calling it.
Getting back to those Amazon services, we have X-Ray for Movies, which works in conjunction with IMDb to bring up content about whatever you happen to be watching; Prime Music, Prime Video, WhisperSync for Voice, and something called ASAP, which caches video content so you can start streaming it instantly.
Amazon’s Mayday service makes the leap from the Kindle, too, so you can call up that foxy Irish bird (yeah, as if she actually works there) and ask for advice on what your Fire Phone can do.
Meanwhile, Amazon Firefly makes it stupidly easy to buy content from Amazon.com in an instant, whether it’s recognising real-world objects like a jar of Nutella (as seen in the on-stage demonstration), or identifying music (shades of Shazam) or even TV Shows – down to individual episodes.
Bezos noted that response to the Amazon Kindle Fire was initially lukewarm, before it really caught… fire (badum tsh!). It was really the first tablet-based success story after the iPad, and paved the way for similar-sized devices like the Google Nexus 7.
Only time will tell if the Amazon Fire Phone can match the Kindle Fire’s success, but as I mentioned before, we’ll have to watch from across the Atlantic and see what uptake is like on AT&T.
Perhaps crucially, that $199 Amazon Fire Phone price tag is the same as AT&T’s pricing for the Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5s, though with Amazon’s offering you’re getting twice the storage (32GB vs. 16GB).
Early backers of the Amazon Fire Phone are getting 12 months of free Amazon Prime, too, making it even easier to buy goodies and get them delivered post haste, though beyond the first year it’ll cost $99 per month. Clearly Amazon is hoping to get people invested in their whole ecosystem.
What do you think, Mobotrons? Worth the wait? Gutted it’s not coming out here? Or shrugging till your shoulders fall off?