Amazon's first forray into the wildly competitive world of Smartphones. It was far from a homerunner, and certainly not their best.
After years of success with Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon has finally decided to enter the smartphone industry. On 18th June 2014, Amazon revealed Fire Phone, their first smartphone. Fire Phone is designed and developed by Amazon itself. The smartphone will be released on 25th of July this year, but pre-orders have already started. Fire Phone has a simple black design with glass back, a beautiful 720p display and a sharp 13 megapixel camera. Like the Kindle Fire tablets, Fire Phone also comes with Fire OS as its operating system.
Design and Features
With just 8.9 mm thick and overall measurements of 139.2 x 66.5 x 8.9 mm, Fire Phone has a very simple and compact design, Even though Fire Phone has a slim profile, it still weighs 160 grams which is not light at all. On the front it has a 4.7-inch 720p IPS display with polarized Gorilla Glass 3 and pixel density of 315 pixel-per-inch. Below the screen is a rectangular home button with rounded edges. The sides are made from soft rubber with three aluminum buttons on the left side, two for volume control and one for camera shortcut. The top side has a power button and 3.5mm headphone jack, while the bottom has micro-USB port, microphone and two speakers. The back is also made of Gorilla Glass 3 and has a 13-megapixel camera on it. On the inside, Fire Phone comes equipped with a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with Adreno 330 graphics chip and 2GB RAM. All this is powered by a non-removable 2400mAh li-ion battery and Amazon claims that it can provide up to 22 hours of talk time.
Amazon first introduced Fire OS with Kindle Fire tablets and after polishing the OS for years, Amazon has decided to use Fire OS on their smartphone too. Fire OS is a highly modified version of the Android OS and Fire Phone comes with version 3.5 of Fire OS which is based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Even though Fire OS is based on Android, it does not allow access to Google Play Store and users have to access Amazon App Store. Amazon’s Fire Phone has many interesting features including Dynamic Perspective, Mayday and Firefly. With Dynamic Perspective users get a sense of three-dimensional depth which is much more advanced than the 3D effect we have seen in the past. Firefly is an app that can identify over 70 million products and provide related information to the users. Through Mayday, Amazon provide 24-hour free customer support service for Fire Phone users.
Dynamic Perspective is a system based on different sensors which allows the users to interact with user-interface with gestures like tilt, swivel and peek. Users can use these gestures to navigate through menu, view notifications and access shortcuts. Not only can the users use these gestures, but thanks to four cameras on the front, users can interact with the device with their face and eyes too. Users can scroll through web pages and turn pages of eBooks without touching the screen. Some applications and games come with three dimensional depth and thanks to Dynamic Perspective, users can interact with the apps by tilting the smartphone or moving their head to peek around the edges.
Fire Phone comes with a 2.1 camera on the front for video calls and a 13-megapixel camera on the back. The rear 13MP camera has a CMOS sensor with f/2 wide aperture lens for sharp photography. It also features Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) for superior image quality. Thanks to all these features the camera takes very sharp pictures, with low noise and very quickly. Firefly is another interesting feature of Fire Phone which uses the 13MP camera and microphone to identify items like songs, movies or other household products and then provide users with useful information related to the product, which includes prices and links to purchase the product. Firefly can also be used to scan information like address and phone number.
With Fire Phone, users get basic accessories like USB cable charger and earbuds. The earbuds are tangle-free and comes with flat wire and the tips of the earbuds can magnetically attach to each other. Since the Fire Phone only comes in black color, users have the option to purchase colorful cases directly from Amazon. Fire Phone comes with apps like Amazon App Store, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Music, Silk Browser and Audible Audio Books pre-installed. With the smartphone amazon offers unlimited photo storage on Amazon’s Cloud Drive. For a limited time, buyers are being offered a year of Amazon Prime and 1000 Amazon coins with every Fire Phone
The device is available, unlocked on Amazon (of course) for $179; which makes it mind boggling that some providers are charging $500 for the phone with no contract… So if you intend to buy it saunter over to Amazon and purchase it directly from them.
Though the phone is a bit on the heavy side but it feels solid in hand. The soft sides of the smartphone makes is easier to hold. Fire Phone will be exclusively available at AT&T and a two year contract will costs $199. One thing we noticed is that after some time Dynamic Perspective feature becomes repetitive and we can’t say if the users will like this feature or will it become boring and frustrating.
With all that said, the lack of apps, as well as slower chip set, and smaller battery make this device a really hard one to recommend. This one will definitely go down as a disappointment in Amazon’s eyes; especially considering all the rhetoric about quality over cost, or how FireFox OS was going to compete iOS and Android. With that said, I’m sure the lessons learned will be well applied to any future endeavors.