Amazon enters the smartphone market with the Fire Phone


For a while now, speculation was rife that Amazon was working on its own smartphone in order to go full circle in its service-centered approach which it started with its Kindle tablets. Actually if you follow, this is the longest-running rumour in the recent history of smartphones. It was not until early this year when we started having almost definitive hints as to where Amazon was headed with its smartphone plans thanks to exclusive leaks from TechCrunch and BGR. We have since gone from strength to strength on not only what the purpose of the phone would be in today’s crowded smartphone market to finer details like its 3D features and other specs. At a highly publicized press event this evening, Amazon announced its first ever smartphone, the Fire Phone.

Following in the footsteps of the Fire Kindles, the Fire Phone’s central goal is to better serve those who are deep into Amazon Prime, the company’s famed service that guarantees its subscribers lots of goodies at affordable rates, more specials and discounts and faster (2 day) shipping of products purchased. From this night, Amazon has gone from selling other people’s smartphones to actually making one. Yes and those unique 3D features we were hearing about are real. The phone has a 3D UI called Dynamic Perspective. The Dynamic Perspective 3D UI is achieved by use of multiple (4) front-facing cameras that track your eye movement as you use the device resulting in the display being updated 60 times per second to create a special “parallax-like” effect in order to make the interface work. Its simply an impression at best since the display is just standard 2D like any other smartphone out there.

Amazon went for the same Qualcomm made Snapdragon 800 chip which is already in use in its most recent Kindle tablets instead of the newer SoCs we’ve seen announced by Qualcomm like the Snapdragon 801 in use on devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Xperia Z2 or the new Snapdragon 805 that we’ve just made acquaintances with on the Korea-only Galaxy S5 LTE-A. After all this phone is not meant to go head to head with the best on the market but to be the go-to device for consumers of Amazon’s services.

Other specifications of the device like the 13 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization are also on point for a device positioned more for consumption rather than explicit creation of content. The 4.7 inch HD display means it has a manageable (not too small and not too big) space for enjoying any visual content streamed and of course it will still feel like a phone instead of getting closer to the 7 inch Kindles.

Of course Amazon’s heavily forked version of Android is at play here as expected. Fire OS.

Amazon Fire Phone Logo

Here are the main specs of the device:

  • Display: 4.7 inch HD (720p) IPS
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.2 GHz with an Adreno 330 GPU
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Camera: 13 MP with OIS/ 2.1 MP (both have 1080p video recording)
  • OS: Android (Fire OS 3.5.0)
  • Network: Global LTE and connectivity with nine bands of LTE, four bands of GSM, five bands of UMTS, 802.11ac support, Wi-Fi channel bonding, NFC, and Bluetooth
  • Others: Unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive, 24 hour customer service support to help users who can’t find their way around the phone – named May Day, Firefly – built-in feature that allows users of the phone to point their camera at an object like a book, a DVD and it will look it up in Amazon’s database and provide you with pricing information incase you want to buy it, two front-facing stereo speakers with virtual surround sound, “tangle-less” cubed earbuds that snap to each other thanks to built-in magnets.

The Fire Phone will be sold exclusively through AT&T in the United States at $199 for the 32 GB model and $299 for the 64 GB model on a 2 year contract. We have no information on if Amazon will be availing the device in other countries too but that should be on the cards for countries like the United Kingdom and a few others. Also, it is worth noting that there was no talk of Amazon Prime Data, a service that would have seen Amazon pay a carrier like AT&T the data costs for certain apps and services that users will access on the device since it is service-centered as had been previously rumoured.