The 3D-Viewing, Gesture-Controlled Amazon Fire Phone Has Arrived
You can check out the full reveal here (warning: it's long), but I'll take you through all the features that sets this device apart from the rest. Before we get into that though, let's check out the specs:
- 2.2GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU, with Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM
- 4.7" HD LCD display, with 1280 x 720 resolution at 315 ppi
- 13 MP rear-facing camera with auto-focus and OIS, as well as a 2.1 MP front shooter
- 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps
- 2400mAh battery
- 32 GB or 64 GB internal memory
The device will be an AT&T exclusive (ugh!), and is available for pre-order right now. The 32 GB model will set you back $199, while the 64 GB version comes in at $299 (both prices denote two-year service agreements, otherwise the prices jump to $649 and $749, respectively). Note that, for a limited time, your purchase will include one free year of Amazon Prime (or an extension for current Prime customers), so that's essentially taking a hundred bucks off the price of the phone.
Now that the nuts and bolts are out of the way, let's dive in to what makes this device unique, and whether Amazon has any shot at dethroning Apple and Samsung.
So this is what all those camera sensors were for! Check out Amazon's promo video on their product page to see some of the 3D effects, but it'll be tough to gauge just how good it looks without having the device in-hand. That being said, it looks pretty stellar in the video, and I can imagine that gaming will be much more dynamic on this screen.
Additionally, these sensors will provide for tilt control of your device. Tilt the device forward or back to scroll while reading. When in the maps app, give a quick jerk of the device to instantly see Yelp reviews right on the map. Swivel the device for quick access to notifications and menus. They're aiming for true one-handed operation, and may have actually have it.
Imagine camera search on steroids. See a book or ad that you want information for or from, you got it. Firefly can glean phone numbers from magazines or road signs. It can present you a synopsis on that book sitting on your friend's coffee table, and suggest places to purchase it (ahem!). This will, of course, also work with every-day products, so next time you need more dish soap, just "Firefly" it.
Hear a song or TV that you want information for? Also right there, in the form of X-Ray. Powered by IMDB and other third-party services, X-Ray will provide you cast information, episode information, and the ability to add content to your watchlist. When you hear a song, Firefly will give you all the relevant info, as well as the ability to create a station on iHeartRadio or buy concert tickets via StubHub.
The best thing? Simply tap a button on the side of the device, and Firefly will launch instantly.
The on-demand customer and tech support service that we first saw with the Kindle Fire HDX has made its way to the Fire Phone.
Hit the Mayday button, and in less than a minute (but at this point, closer to less than twenty seconds), you'll be live-chatting with a real human who is ready to not only talk you through whatever issue you have, but to actually show you how to fix or do the thing you want. With remote assistance, the Amazon rep can actually control and draw on your device. This will be big for the tech-unsavvy.
With a 13 MP rear shooter with optical image stabilization and f/2.0 lens, the Fire Phone will be able to keep its shutter open four time longer than the competition.
Additionally, a dedicated camera button, like the Firefly button, rests on the side of the device, so you'll never need to fumble with unlocking and scrolling through home screens when you need that quick shot. And not only will you get automatic cloud backup to Amazon Cloud Drive, it will be in full resolution with no storage caps.
A rally against knotted headphones, the Fire will ship with a "tangle-free premium headset" with magnetic earbuds. On the device itself, stereo speakers will rock Dolby Digital Plus.
The traditional home screen will be navigated through a "carousel", allowing you to scroll, scan, and take action without needing to open an app.
And although the device runs Amazon's proprietary Fire OS 3.5, it's built on top on Android (though you'd be hard-pressed to notice), so along with all the apps in Amazon's app store, there may be the possibility to side-load apps from Google Play.
Hard to say, especially with the death grip that Apple and Samsung have on the industry. Then again, Amazon included some very unique features into their device, and it certainly is a flagship-level phone. But as was the case with Samsung's Galaxy S4, those "features" quickly turned to gimmicks, which was the main reason the Galaxy S5 swayed away from too much new Samsung trickery.
The AT&T exclusivity is a head-scratcher—it may have worked for the original iPhone, but that was a different time. Anyone remember how well the AT&T-exclusive Facebook phone did? Yeah, neither do I.
Finally, for a device that relies heavily on its cameras for gesture and graphical support, I really hope Amazon found a way to stretch life out of that 2400 mAh battery. For comparison's sake, the Galaxy S5 has a 2800 mAh battery (but also has an AMOLED display so that blacks don't require any juice to display).
Personally, I'm almost as big a fan of Amazon as I am Google, but I have a hard time seeing success for this device. The Mayday option and apparent ease-of-use could make the Fire Phone a hit amongst first-time smartphone buyers and/or the elderly, and the one free year of Prime membership is a very nice bonus. But AT&T exclusivity (which means this thing will be locked down tightly, so root may take some time, and could subsequently remove many of the proprietary advantages of this device) and the unimpressive battery capacity will leave me waiting for the next big device.