The wait for Amazon’s first smartphone ended in July 2014 - although not for everyone. As is fairly standard with the US-centric company, American consumers were the first to get their hands on the company’s long awaited entry into the smartphone market. Release dates for other markets including Australia are yet to be announced, although it appears that UK customers could be next in line. Those waiting to purchase a new Fire Phone from eBay can in the meantime take a look at the phone’s specifications. It’s an impressive list and one which implies that it could be worth the wait.
The Nuts and Bolts
Weighing in at 160 grams, the Fire Phone measures 139.2 mm x 66.5 mm x 8.9 mm, while the HD LCD screen comes in at a fairly generous 4.7 inches. 32GB and 64GB models are available, and with a 2.2 Ghz Snapdragon 800 CPU and 2GB of RAM, processing power is impressive. Although results will vary depending on how the phone is used, talk time and video playback is reported to be up to 17 hours and 11 hours respectively, with a 285 hour standby time. The Fire Phone uses Dolby Digital Audio and operates under Fire OS 3.6 - which essentially combines an Android base with a content-forward user interface, multiple cloud services, and built-in media libraries.
The custom-tuned 13 MP camera includes features such as burst capture (up to 100 images at three images per second), High Dynamic Range with auto suggest, and options to take panoramas and lenticulars. Optical image stabilisation helps to reduce blur, while a dedicated camera button allows users to take a shot even when the screen is locked. in addition to on-device storage, the Fire Phone comes with automatic backup to unlimited, free cloud storage for full resolution photos taken with the phone. Users who like to take videos will appreciate the HD recording at 30 frames per second.
Android Apps and Tools
The Fire Phone comes pre-loaded with a suite of built-in apps and tools. These include all the basics such as messaging, email, calendar, and the Silk Internet browser, along with extras such as maps, weather, a Kindle reading app, and the Amazon music player. When users have set up their Amazon account, one-click install allows for easy installation of other popular apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Evernote.
Technology coined as Dynamic Perspective and Firefly are probably the Fire Phone’s unique selling points. Dynamic Perspective is essentially a custom-designed sensor that enables users to access menus and open apps with a tilt or a swivel, although the most impressive function is peek which looks set to offer a truly immersive experience for some games and apps. Firefly technology allows users to identify and save printed text, recognise songs and access artist information, and scan barcodes for instant ordering via the Amazon store.
The Fire Phone is shipped with a USB charging cable and power adapter, together with a premium headset with remote and mic, and a quick start guide. The opening offer for the phone in the US is a free one-year Amazon Prime membership, and it seems likely that this offer will be extended to users in other countries. Another exciting addition is the inclusion of Mayday–free, live, on-device video support over Wi-Fi and mobile, with a response time goal of 15 seconds or less.
Worth the Price?
If the US price point is anything to go back, the Fire Phone looks set to come in a little over $100 less than the iPhone 5C. This comes as little surprise since Amazon has always shown a willingness to simply break even on hardware in the hope of making profits from subsequent sales of e-books and music. Whether it will be enough to tempt Apple users into the Amazon ecosystem is another matter. For those already invested, the Fire Phone is likely to appeal.