Amazon have unveiled their first ever smartphone, the Fire Phone, which is currently only available on AT&T in the States. It’s unique features (apart from close integration with Amazon) are Dynamic Perspective and Firefly.
It’s not exactly 3D and you won’t find a mention of 3D in Amazon’s press release, but that’s the effect the new phone gives. Rather than true “pop out at you” 3D, the Fire Phone gives the impression of being able to look around objects and the phone responds to where you look and how you move. Dynamic Perspective uses four ultra-low power specialized cameras and four infrared LEDs built into the front face of the phone to give features such as:
One-handed gestures: Auto-scroll, tilt, swivel and peek, (similar to Samsung Galaxy 4 and from experience while fun to play with in reality often your smartphone will accidentally do weird things you didn’t intend like scroll when the bus goes over a road hump and you jolt your phone!)
Immersive apps and games: Dynamic Perspective enables a new class of apps and games that are more immersive, and make it quicker and easier for the user to access information. For example, peek to instantly see close-up front and back views of a dress in the new Amazon Shopping app for Fire. In games, take on the character’s viewpoint and move your head to look around corners, obstacles, and other objects.
Enhanced Carousel: Stay productive with real-time updates and take action right from the home screen. They aim to make doing all the normal things you use your smartphone easy – triage email, find recent photos, access most visited websites, return missed calls, view appointments, and more.
Firefly combines Amazon’s deep catalog of physical and digital content with multiple image, text and audio recognition technologies to quickly identify web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, plus over 100 million items, including movies, TV episodes, songs, and products. Simply press and hold the dedicated Firefly button on the side of the phone to discover helpful information and take action in seconds.
Firefly recognises: Printed phone numbers, email, web addresses, QR, and bar codes; 245,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels; 35 million songs; 70 million products, including household items, books, DVDs, CDs, video games, and more.
The Fire Phone, as you’d expect comes with a host of Amazon uses, including the exclusive Mayday button which promises to connect you to a human at Amazon with 15 seconds to help you use the phone’s features.
ASAP streams music and video to your phone ready for instant playback based on your previously listening and viewing habits. X-Ray can display triva for movies and TV shows along with synchronised lyrics for your favourite songs. You can display your screen on your Fire TV with second screen and all your photos and files are backed up to the Amazon cloud for instant access anywhere from other devices.
- Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.2 GHz processor and 2GB RAM for excellent fluidity and image rendering
- 4.7-inch HD display with an ambient light sensor and Dynamic Image Contrast that delivers better outdoor viewing.
- Global LTE and connectivity with nine bands of LTE, four bands of GSM, five bands of UMTS for better voice coverage and faster data speeds, 802.11ac support, Wi-Fi channel bonding, NFC, and Bluetooth.
- Dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus for a virtual surround sound experience.
Advanced imaging system with custom-tuned 13MP rear-facing camera with backside illumination, LED flash, 5-element f/2.0 lens, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), and high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities for beautiful, crisp photos, even in low-light conditions. Fire also includes a 2.1MP front-facing camera. Both front and rear-facing cameras record smooth 1080p HD videos.
- Reliable backup and restore leveraging the experience and operational excellence of Amazon Web Services and its cloud technology
Should you buy one?
There are several things for the phone if you’re an Amazon customer and already use Amazon Instant Video, Kindle and shop on Amazon. You’ll get everything you could possibly want. There’s also a limited time, introductory offer—12 months of Prime included.
If you’re not deeply entrenched into Amazon be aware that Amazon’s phone runs a bastardized version of Android and apps are severely limited in scope (less than a quarter of the apps on Google Play) compared to the Android experience you’ve been used to.
You’re tied to AT&T, if your contract isn’t already with AT&T it means a new contract or porting your mobile number.
What’s it going to cost?
$199 with a two-year contract for the 32GB version or $299 with a two-year contract for the 64GB version with AT&T.
What’s in it for Amazon?
Well if you thought it was handset sales you’d be mistaken. Amazon are going to be living you life with you when you use this phone. They’ll know what books you read, what music you listen to and which TV shows you watch, what products you view, where you look on maps and where you go.
The Fire Phone is not just about getting you to shop on Amazon, it’s giving Amazon a ton of data about how you live your life and enabling Amazon to know so much more about consumers than ever before. Product recommendations should be better than ever.
There is already speculation about Amazon sending you things before you buy them in anticipation that you will want them, they filed a patent to this effect. With the Fire Phone you might just find that the movie poster you pointed your phone at and hit the Firefly button triggers a DVD to be delivered in the expectation you’re happy to pay for it!