The wait for Amazon’s long-anticipated foray into the smartphone market ended in July 2014 for the U.S. market. With release dates for other countries yet to be announced, those customers waiting to buy the phone through online retailers like eBay can reasonably expect to have to wait until the end of the year to get their hands on Amazon’s Fire Phone, and possibly until early to mid 2015.
In the meantime, it is possible to gain an understanding of the specifications and features of the phone. It is an impressive list and one that the company undoubtedly hopes will appeal to many of the world’s toughest smartphone buyers.
At 14 cm high and 6.5 cm long, the Fire Phone is slightly bigger than the iPhone 5C. Although the depth of the two phones is the same at 0.89 cm, some customers may be disappointed with the weight of the Fire Phone, which at 160 g is a full 28 g heavier than the 5C. The Fire Phone has a 12 cm screen size. This is larger than the 5C but the same as the iPhone 6 and smaller than the iPhone 6 Plus. The 2.2 Ghz Snapdragon processor, together with 2GB of RAM, means quick website loading, faster launch times for apps, and streamlined multitasking.
With an impressive line up of functions, the camera is arguably where the Fire Phone comes into its own. The custom-tuned 13 MP system takes crisp images, although customers who prefer to take video will appreciate the 30 fps spec. A dedicated camera button, together with burst capture, intelligent HDR, and a handy panorama setting, also promises a positive experience. By far, the most stand out feature of the camera is the inclusion of automatic backup and unlimited free cloud storage for photos, which should put an end to users having to delete games and apps just to take a picture.
One of the Fire Phone’s most unique selling points is a feature called Dynamic Perspective - a custom-designed sensor that is set to change how users view, hold, and move their phones. The one-handed short cuts integrated into the system allow users to access menus with a simple tilt, while a quick swivel will also result in swift actions such as turning on the flash light and opening the settings menu. The Peek feature offers an immersive experience for a variety of games and apps.
The Firefly button on the left hand side of the Fire Phone looks set to become one of phone’s best loved features. A quick press, and users are able to identify and save printed text in magazines, posters, and on business cards. The feature will also recognise movies and TV episodes and add them to a watch list for later viewing. Firefly-enabled apps, such as StubHub and iHeartRadio, allow users to create personalised radio stations, and the system can identify music being played, and display artist information. Users can also scan bar codes of more than 70 million products and instantly order from their handset.
Other Noteworthy Features
The Fire Phone comes pre-loaded with essential apps and tools such as a Kindle reader, Silk Browser, and Messaging, while installation of popular apps such as Netflix, Evernote, PayPal, and Instagram is achieved at the touch of a button via Amazon One-Click Purchase. In the US, the phone is currently shipped with a 1,000 Amazon coin credit, although it is not known whether this offer will be made in Australia and other countries. If customers have a problem or need help, on-device video support courtesy of the MayDay system is available within 15 seconds.
There are few people who could argue with the appeal of the Fire Phone. Although some features are comparable to other phones, others such as Firefly and MayDay definitely stand out. Those smartphone customers who are already fans of the Amazon ecosystem will appreciate the seamless integration with the retail site. iPhone and Android fans (and perhaps those customers who are dissappointed with Amazon’s clear preference for the U.S. market), may not be so easily persuaded.