Amazon has taken the wraps off its evasive Fire Phone at last, and here’s everything you need to know about its software, hardware, pricing and availability.
They say there’s no smoke without fire (pun intended), and as far as Amazon’s fabled first smartphone is concerned, the speculation flames have been muffledly burning for years. Literally for years. In which course Jeff Bezos & co. probably altered strategies multiple times, until finally delivering a deeply flawed yet strikingly charming 3D-centric handheld.
Enter the Amazon Fire Phone (yes, really), possibly the most elusive gadget since the highly anticipated but miserably inadequate “Facebook Phone”, aka HTC First. Coincidentally, the 4.7-inch Fire is likewise headed exclusively for AT&T, which is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its imperfections.
Another major defect that surprises no one is the on-board software, theoretically based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, but looking nothing like Google’s stock OS. Obviously, there’s no trace of Big G’s Play Store or any of its thriving proprietary apps, the UI functions and services instead leading unavoidably to Amazon’s own Appstore, Prime, Mayday, etc., etc.
Speaking of Prime and Mayday, the Fire Phone offers for a limited-time only a free one-year subscription to the former and unrestricted, 24×7, 365 days a year easy access to the latter. Neato, and that’s just the beginning of Amazon’s outstanding unique endeavors with which it’s trying to light a fire under its rivals.
Even more dazzling, the AT&T-locked gizmo introduces Firefly, a service that can allegedly recognize over 100 million items you throw at it, including music, movies, TV shows, books and everyday objects and commodities.
Once you scan… whatever and the smartphone identifies it, you’re automatically directed to Amazon.com and supplied with a purchasing link in case you want to have it. So yeah, it’s basically a big, shiny endorsement for the commerce website, but it can definitely come in handy every now and then.
Also gimmicky yet potentially useful – Fire Phone’s quirky six camera setup. Why six? Well, one for taking your everyday photos (with a 13 MP sensor), one for selfies (a 2.1 megapixel unit), and four to track your every move and gesture and act accordingly.
That’s the 3D interface I’m sure you’ve heard so much about, and at least at first glance, it looks deeply integrated with an array of apps and games.
What’s really interesting is, although it’s not meant as a spec buster, the Fire Phone is no pushover hardware-wise, packing a quad-core 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 chip, 2 GB RAM and 32 or 64 GB of storage space. Too bad there’s no microSD support, and the 4.7-inch 1,280 x 720 pix res display sounds a wee bit underwhelming.
One last complaint – pricing. AT&T is to charge $199 and $299 respectively with two-year contracts for the 32 and 64 GB flavors, with outright retail costs starting at $649. ETA? July 25.
That reminds me of another slightly underwhelming 4.7-inch 720p device that tried to make waves with unique software functions rather than mind-blowing hardware: Motorola’s Moto X. Which ultimately failed. And it wasn’t even tied to just one US carrier. It sounds like you’re playing with fire, Amazon (cue rimshot).