Fire Phone Front

Amazon today unveiled the Fire Phone, its first smartphone. The device features a 4.7-inch screen, 2.2 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, Adreno 330 graphics and more. It runs a custom version of Android called Fire OS 3.5. The smartphone also has several other interesting features, including a 3D adaptive perspective mode, Firefly, ASAP predictive caching, MayDay support, screen mirroring and more.

In terms of design, the Fire Phone has a Gorilla Glass 3 screen, rubber frame and glass back. Meanwhile, the handset has aluminum buttons and injection-molded steel connectors to ensure a tight and precise fit and beautiful trim rings. Amazon says it cares deeply about the chamfered edges on its USB connectors. That’s just the tip of the iceberg… 

Amazon says the Fire Phone has a beautiful display, with a 4.7-inch IPS LCD HD screen that is optimized for one-handed use. The screen is optimized for outdoor use, with an industry-leading, ultra-bright display that has 590 nits of brightness, dynamic image contrast and a circular polarizer. The screen can also be viewed with sunglasses on, from any angle.

Fire Phone Camera

The 13-megapixel rear-facing camera has a f/2.0 five element lens and optical image stabilization. Bezos showed a comparison of low-light photos taken with the Fire Phone, Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5s, and it does look like the Amazon smartphone delivered the best results. Of course, that is probably the expected result during an Amazon media event. I’m interested in seeing further side-by-side tests.

Five Features of the Fire Phone

Head Tracking Fire Phone

Dynamic Perspective. Fire Phone has four front-facing cameras, one in each corner, that track the movement of your head. This allows you to access menus, shortcuts, and useful information by tilting, swivelling or peeking at the smartphone. For instance, you can peek to reveal restaurant ratings in the Yelp app, or swivel for access to important notifications and quick actions.

The custom-designed sensor system responds to how you hold and view your Fire Phone, allowing for immersive apps and games, one-handed shortcuts and one-handed reading. There is even an auto-scroll feature that lets you read long documents or entire books without ever having to touch the screen. With a Dynamic Perspective SDK available to developers, the feature should gain further uses.

3D effects. To compliment the functionality of Dynamic Perspective, Amazon has included 60 FPS 3D effects on the Fire Phone. This feature seems to go one step further than parallax on iPhone, with true 3D effects on the Lock screen and throughout several areas of the user interface. On the Home screen, for example, icons appear to be floating above the other layers.

Firefly Fire Phone

Firefly. There is a dedicated Firefly button on the side of the Fire Phone. When pressed, simply point the smartphone’s camera at movies, music, books, games, CDs, food and more, and it will automatically identify the item you’re looking at. Amazon will then point you to buy products where possible, bolstering its online commerce business.

Firefly also recognizes printed text, such as phone numbers, web, and email addresses on things like posters, magazines and business cards. Add recognition of 240,000 movies and TV shows, including 160 live TV channels, on top. IMDb has partnered with Amazon to provide a feature called X-Ray that shows information on actors, plot details and other relevant information.

Mayday. I like to think of this feature as Genius Bar directly on your smartphone. Fire Phone has built-in support for Mayday, Amazon’s award-winning customer service that works over live video. The tech representatives can help you by drawing on your screen or even completing a task for you. You will be able to see the person live on your screen, but they cannot see you.

The best thing about Mayday is that you do not need to wait or book an appointment. Amazon has a response time goal of 15 seconds or less, providing you with instant, convenient access to help when you need it. Mayday is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. It works over Wi-Fi and the AT&T network, and it’s completely free.

Fire Phone Prime

Prime. In addition to the standard free two-day shipping on Amazon purchases, Fire Phone users get quite a few benefits for being a Prime member: unlimited streaming and downloading of top TV shows and movies with Prime Instant Video, unlimited music streaming with Prime Music and over 500,000 books that can be borrowed for free.

Amazon is currently offering a limited time promotion, including a free 12-month subscription to Prime with the purchase of a Fire Phone. After that point, the program costs $99 per year. While the iPhone has access to movies, music, books and TV shows through iTunes, being a Prime member is a very good alternative.

Amazon is betting big on its media ecosystem on the Fire Phone, emphasizing the availability of its all-new Prime Music streaming music service. Amazon is also including free unlimited photo storage through Amazon Cloud Drive, and Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, and ESPN will be available through the Amazon App Store.

The handset also has immersion reading and Whispersync for Voice.

Is it worth switching from iPhone to Fire Phone?

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos called the Fire Phone the smartphone built for Amazon Prime customers. If you are an avid consumer of movies, music, books and other media, and often find yourself turning to Amazon for this content, then the Fire Phone and Fire OS 3.5 provide a content-forward experience tailored for you.

If content consumption isn’t your thing, I don’t see Dynamic Perspective, Firefly or Mayday as strong enough features to truly differentiate the Fire Phone from an iPhone or other leading smartphones. Amazon has found success in a niche market with its Kindle devices, and I think that the Fire Phone will attract that same demographic.

The handset will ship with tangle-free headphones that feature magnetic earbuds, a flat cable and a comfortable, ergonomic fit. Amazon showed a pair of tangled Apple headphones to get the point across, although I’m not sure if tangle-free headphones are a key advantage over purchasing an iPhone.

Fire Phones is $199.99 (32 GB) and $299.99 (64 GB) on AT&T with a new two-year contract. It retails for $649 unlocked. The smartphone ships on June 25th and includes a free 12-month subscription to Prime Music for a limited time.

Are you interested in the Fire Phone?

  • Markus Hudobnik

    Is going to be as crappy as the kindle product line? Maybe filled with even more bloatware and ads? And maybe an even more terrible interface?

    • Sokrates

      Another desperate competitor in the smartphone segment… All are tryin’, but nothing reaches the iPhone quite yet.

      • Kurt

        Note 3 is better in most ways. 5.5″ iPhone will be a good competitor though.

  • Matt Taylor

    Another phone with a quad core CPU and 2GB of ram! But at least Apple have a fingerprint scanner! Lol

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      It only has 2GB of ram and a quad core processor since it needs it to run the OS in an efficient manner…

      • Guest

        iOS needs more than 1GB too, unless you’re referring to apps crashing in the background when you try multitasking as “running efficiently”, in which case, Android can achieve that too without 2GB of RAM…

    • Markus Hudobnik

      You know, I wish my iPhone had 4 gb of ram and a better superpowered processor because of things and stuff and power I could use with it.

      • Sachin

        With only 1GB of Ram it still beats the exynos and snapdragons out there.

      • Markus Hudobnik

        I know haha. I was joking around

      • eXoguti093

        If you have the 5s you already have one of the fastest phones out there.-.

      • credulousgeek

        Hahaha I just laughed my ass off 😀 You nailed it

      • Sean Clark

        It doesn’t take much to reach the limits. I’m not a poweruser and I still encounter RAM limitations daily.

        It’s near impossible to keep multiple tabs open in web browsers and ProCreate cannot sustain more than ~8 layers at a time.

        I like Apple products, but that doesn’t mean I should delude myself into thinking there aren’t problems.

  • Ethan Humphrey

    I want to see these “tangle free” headphones and how they work

    • Christian Mejía

      Aren’t they just flat wires?

      • gary

        Well according to the article, the headphones are also ‘magnetic headphones’ which I’m guessing means that they somehow ‘stick’ to each other magnetically? This way they won’t tangle on each other?

      • Christian Mejía

        They updated the article with a picture of them.

  • Jason Baroni

    I wanna see the 3D thing.

  • Christian Mejía

    Ugh android.

  • Christian Mejía

    Nahh

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      Pretty much. If you want to buy Android then you’ll buy Samsung, LG, or HTC. If you want iOS you’ll get a 5s / 5c and if you want Windows (I don’t know why you would) there’s plenty of choice and if you want BlackBerry (do people still want devices from this type of fruit?) you’ll do so before immediately jumping off a bridge of some sort. But Amazon? I don’t think that name comes to anyones mind and they’ll have a tough job competing with their well established competitors…

      • justme

        emm.. 5C not for me, I prefer 5 instead of 5C I don’t like the plastic…

      • hkgsulphate

        and the weight does matter after trying out the 5/5s

      • Hyr3m

        If you want Windows Phone you get a Nokia.

        If you want a Blackberry you get a Z30. (love mine :D, its virtual keyboard beats any other smartphone’s and I’ve got plenty of android apps on it. Interface is actually intuitive, unlike iOS or Android. True multitasking for optimal productivity and awesome battery life)

        You should watch them videos of iPhone users trying out a Z30 for a week… At first they’re a bit confused, then they realize what it means to actually have a good smartphones, then they cry when they go back to their iPhones and they feel like the have both hands and feet tied together.

      • Martynet

        If you want Android… I wouldn’t put Samsung on the first place. Samsung’s modified android is slow and buggy. HTC is in similar situation… lots of silly things which makes the devices slow.
        Fast androids are Nexus, Motorola and LG…

    • Arsanny Lintang

      Get your meme right plis..

      • Christian Mejía

        No.

  • Christian Mejía

    ..

  • Jason Baroni

    So now you can use your phone better outside your building… so revolutionary!

  • CAS

    Looks ugly to me.

  • Looks like an iphone 5 running android.

    So if you came to a war with “innov…. copy” then just stop.
    You’re going nowhere. This one already born to lose.

  • Mat

    Cool, but I already have a fire phone.

    • Mat

      here it is:

  • VEGGIETORTA

    Theoretically, an interesting phone for people invested in the Amazon ecosystem. I hope real use lives up to the presentation. Competition only pushes innovation. I would have like to see more information on,
    · Security
    · Phone usage (calling, SMS, quick reply)
    · Features that rely on an internet connection
    · OS
    While I’m not interested in the phone, I do find the heavy emphasis on predictive interface to be interesting and wonder if that is the next wave in the mobile market to take off.

  • Tony

    13 Megapixel camera, flat headphones and 32gb to start. All 3 of those things are pretty impressive. As for the rest of it, not so much. But Apple should start all their new devices at 32gb as well.

    • Rowan09

      I agree, but after seeing the significant price in iCloud with more space I doubt it.

    • mav3rick

      Currently their phones start at 8GB storage… with OS taking at least 1.4GB…

      • Tony

        But for 199.99 iphone you only get 16gb.. for 199.99 with this you get 32gb. That’s the pricing structure Apple needs to implement as well.

  • cordell

    Phone makers need to step it up. No less then 120GB on a phone its 2014!!!!

    Every phone should come with a cloud

    • Rowan09

      This is why they are selling cloud storage so they won’t have to make a 120GB phone.

      • s0me

        Can you record a video directly to the cloud? Can you install apps on cloud storage?

      • Rowan09

        In IOS 8 I believe you can. My point is since they are pushing cloud storage I doubt it

      • YTMT

        No, it’s the opposite. They don’t make 128GB phones because they want to sell you cloud storage. Otherwise the argument could be as good for scrapping the 64GB one too…

      • Rowan09

        Since streaming music is big and cloud storage is cheaper, it doesn’t make much business sense.

      • cordell

        but the cloud depends on your phone coverage speed & data plan

      • Rowan09

        Yes and if you are low on space you would save your items to the cloud on wifi or with good signal. If they make a 128GB phone that would be good but I and many others usually purchase the 16-32GB. I once owned a 64GB 4S and most of the apps weren’t being used, so I went back down to 32GB with my 5s since I buy out of contract. I just don’t see them making a 128GB phone with cloud storage being pushed so hard.

      • DogeCoin

        Why would they make 120gb, its NOt achievable with 2^n

      • Rowan09

        I meant 128

  • Yujin

    #D is a gimmick…apple many people complaint about the 3d effects when iOS 7 came out and now it is off…i guess amazon will soon see that 3d in your hand is cool, but not practical….specially when driving.

  • h4nd0fg0d

    How bout 2GB of RAM, Apple? Oh ya, ur Apple, I forgot. Tssssss…

    • Guest

      Never say never. iPhone 6 will have some nice surprises.

      Also prejudice is a bad thing.

  • adal.javierxx

    Money waste

  • Brian Voll

    I hope iPhones get that price point. Would love 32gb at $199 w/contract.

  • Alberto Espinal

    Apple should make the power plug magnetic like the Mac

  • mlee19841

    Good to see other compention but I’m good where I’m at.

  • mlee19841

    They found a nice angle. Where u can snap a pic and instantly buy it on amazon.

  • justme

    mm… ‘Dynamic perspective’?
    I saw first on iOS7 springboard & lockscreen …

    • Kurt

      First on Android though. And this is an android phone.

      • DeAndre Enrico

        First I ever saw this was a jailbreak tweak.

      • Kurt

        I used that tweak too from Ryan P. But it was first on Android. Pretty we’ll know fact.i knew it well before I got an android phone

  • Ryan

    It’s only available on AT&T?

  • Dao Sasone

    Nice

  • Technocrz!

    Joke of 2014, but we have ppl who try and buy, then they say FML

  • Biscuit

    At least he was honest and said it’s more for Prime users, instead of saying everyone needs to get this now. I respect that. If I was in the amazon eco system, I’d definitely give it a go.

  • gittlopctbi

    Well, I have an iPhone 5 and am happy with it, but I will differ from the majority of posts here (and including the article’s author) and say congrats to Amazon for a very, very impressive first foray into the smart phone business. I find the features to be very compelling. Particularly all of the one-handed operations. And these are truly one-handed operations. More accurately, one-handed and no-fingers operations. That’s forward thinking. I think the design is pretty smart looking, too. The specs are pretty impressive. I like the Firefly feature. I also like having a dedicated hardware button on the side that can fire up the camera in one second, even if the phone is off. Did you guys look at it on their website? Watch the video? Probably not. Because many, not all, of you will just diss anything not Apple. And that’s OK. But it sure is annoying. I think it is an impressive phone. Priced competitively. AND a 4.7″ screen. (Well, we’ve had that debate on another thread, haven’t we?) I’m an Amazon Prime customer, have been for years. If it wasn’t AT&T and it was Verizon, I would be giving this some very serious consideration.

    • Dan

      Nice post, I was going to post something similar but I’m too lazy.
      Most people on iDB are iSheep and don’t consider anything that’s not made by Apple.

      I think this phone has a lot of interesting features and the price is very competitive. If it were available in Canada, I would check it out.

  • tariq

    If you really want freedom and speed you buy sony xperia. It’s almost flawless. But if you want no freedom but ultrafast, you get iPhone.

  • Chris

    I like this part

    Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos called the Fire Phone the smartphone built for Amazon Prime customers

    That’s one way to market a phone not to mention the vast majority of Prime customers live in the U.S.

  • Alain

    This is just messed up ! 😛

  • iPodDroid

    I like Android, but I seriously don’t see myself using Amazon’s skinned version of Android….