Amazon has unveiled a new high end smartphone and is basically your gateway to storing all of your data and shopping on their website. It incorporates most of their standalone systems, like Dash, to scan UPC codes and have produce delivered to you from Amazon Fresh, X-Ray, the Lending Library and Cloud storage. Obviously most of these systems are US only and international users will find no value.
The Fire phone features a 4.7 inch 720p HD display and is optimized for outdoor viewing. It is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 13 MP rear facing camera and 2 MP front facing.
Amazon is relying on gimmicks to sell the phone, much like car commercials focus on 1 year free access to Pandora, or Beats audio built in! They have magnetic headphones that want tangle in your pocket! WOW!
When you take photos they are stored in the Amazon Cloud Photos. If you have a problem with your phone, you can initiate a call to a MAYDAY rep, that will help you troubleshoot your issues for free. You can listen to an audiobook as you read the book and have the words highlighted at the same time and also the plentiful benefits of Amazon Prime.
So far, it seems like a phone version of the Amazon HDX tablet line, sans the incorporation of Amazon Dash. Well, there is a few new things that may be the deciding factor for some users.
One of the most interesting element is a hardware button called Firefly, that can listen to music or TV shows using technology similar to Shazam or Soundhound to recognize them and pull them up in Amazon’s digital shop. It also has four small cameras around the edges for a parallax peak effect that allows people from multiple viewing angles to see what’s on the screen. It is built with the intention for shopping, but an SDK will be released for developers to incorporate it into their apps.
The Amazon Fire Phone is only relevant in the US, much like Amazon Dash, Fresh, Instant Videos, ditto with X-Ray for Movies and other key features. You can really tell Amazon is selling this phone to hustle more subscriptions to Prime and act as a gateway to selling you even more stuff online, whats next an eBay Phone? Even Bezos was tepid saying the Kindle e-reader and tablet did not do well out of the gate, and is holding a long term view.
The only way this phone will be relevant at all, with its woeful specs and gimmicky nature is if they give it away for FREE for Prime members. I see this device going to the same way as the ill-fated Facebook phone, the HTC First, that was bundled with Facebook Home.
Amazon’s Fire Phone is exclusive to AT&T and will be priced at $199/$299 for 32/64GB of storage with a standard contract or carrier agreement. The price includes the phone, stay-flat cables, and premium magnetic earbuds. It can be pre-ordered from Amazon.com and is expected to begin shipping in July.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.