Amazon Unveils the Fire Phoneby Brandon Chester on June 18, 2014 2:44 PM EST
- Posted in
- Fire Phone
Today Amazon took to Seattle to announce their first foray into the Android phone market. Amazon is no stranger to Android devices. They led the charge for 7” tablets with the original Kindle Fire and they've expanded their lineup to Android tablets of many sizes. An Android based Amazon phone has long been rumored but has never come to fruition, until now. The Fire Phone is Amazon’s first Android smartphone and it has a couple interesting points of differentiation to say the least. The full specifications are laid out below.
|Amazon Fire Phone|
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974VV) 4 x Krait 400 at 2.2GHz
Adreno 330 at 450MHz
|Memory and Storage||32/64GB NAND + 2GB LPDDR3|
|Display||4.7” 1280x720 LCD with 590cd/m2 brightness + Circular Polarizer|
|Cellular Connectivity||2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Qualcomm MDM9x25 UE Category 4 LTE)|
|Dimensions||5.5" x 2.6" x 0.35", 160g|
13 MP Rear Facing w/ F2.0 aperture + OIS
4x 2.1MP 1080p Front Facing w/ 120 degree FOV
|Battery||2400 mAh (9.12Whr)|
|Other Connectivity||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac + BT 3.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, NFC|
|Operating System||Android based Amazon Fire OS 3.5|
The Fire Phone runs Amazon's heavily modified version of Android which Amazon calls Fire OS. Much of the changes and additions involve features that work with Amazon's services. The Fire Phone uses Amazon's Android app store for downloading and purchasing applications rather than Google Play, and many of the stock applications are designed to allow integration with Amazon's cloud services such as Amazon music store streaming in the music app and Amazon Prime TV and movie streaming in the stock videos app. Amazon also includes unlimited cloud storage for storing photos taken with the Fire Phone in full resolution.
One of the big software features Amazon is touting is called Firefly. In a similar fashion to Google Goggles, firefly can use the device's camera to examine photographs and logos, scan barcodes, identify works of art, etc. It can also use the device's microphone to identify a song in a similar fashion to Shazam. The ability to utilize Firefly is always available to the user through a dedicated hardware button on the side of the device that launches the camera application immediately. Amazon is also shipping an SDK for application developers so they can integrate the use of Firefly into applications to perform actions such as playing a song in a radio app or looking up nutritional information from a logo on a chocolate bar.
The part of the software that really differentiates the Fire Phone from other devices is something Amazon is calling Dynamic Perspective. This is where the hardware and software of the phone work together to create something unique. Using the device's sensors and two of the four front facing cameras on the front of the device depending on how the phone is being held, the interface of the device will shift. Amazon is really touting how this works for navigating the interface on the device. The user can swivel the device in hand to view the notification drawer and quick toggles for settings like WiFi and Bluetooth. The user can also tilt the device to view information that may be hidden underneath labels or action bars. With this Amazon creates an sort of pseudo-3D interface which reacts to motion and movement. An SDK for working with Dynamic Perspective is available to developers who wish to incorporate these features into their applications. To ensure these features remain functional in low light situations, each front camera sensor has an IR flash which keeps the user's face visible to the camera sensors when external lighting is poor.
Amazon is also offering a selection of polyurethane cases for the Fire Phone that come in five different colors. The cases will begin to ship along with the phones themselves and they're currently listed at $29.99 on Amazon.
With the Fire Phone there's a big catch, and that's that on contract it's exclusive to AT&T. Users who want to purchase the device outside the US or on another US carrier will have to purchase it outright. The Fire Phone is available for pre-order now on Amazon at $199 or $299 on contract for the 32GB and 64GB models respectively. Buyers purchasing it off contract will have to pay $649 for the 32GB and $749 for the 64GB models. The Fire Phone will begin shipping to buyers on July 25th.
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anactoraaron - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - linkAt $649 and $749 off contract, anyone wanting android would be better off with the S5, One M8, or even better yet - a Nexus 5. I don't see this selling that well at those prices.
LordConrad - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - linkAgreed. I got the Google Play edition of the HTC One M8 and I love it. The screen is gorgeous, and the front facing speakers are awesome. Would be nice if the rear camera had OIS instead of that extra "depth camera". I was worried about battery life since this is my first phone without a removable battery, but so far battery life is very good.
Deelron - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - linkThe only thing that' s appealing to me is the dedicated camera button, I typically take pictures of my son 1 handed and it'd be easier and faster to do so with a button to launch the app rather then swipe on the screen.
Other then that it seems like it's a lot of compromises to have 3D features I'm not interested in, particularly on a phone.
Bkord123 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - linkI think the 3D is all gimmick. Do I actually care that the background moves when I tilt the phone? The degree to which America will buy useless gimmicks staggers me. All fluff, no substance.
MrSpadge - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - linkIt has to be used for more than just a moving background. If done right this pseudo 3D should be able to extend the information density available on this small screen by.. well, extending things to another dimension. Extend GUIs, view 3D models.. there are certainly some interesting use cases for this!
Judgesurreal777 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - linkThey haven't bought it yet
Deelron - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - linkYeah this, it seems "America" has rejected buying 3D gimmicks in numerous forms so far.
fic2 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - linkMoto X for the camera feature. Flick your wrist to activate phone. Snap pictures to your hearts content. And save $300+.
ZPrime - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - linkYou should check out the Moto X. It doesn't have a dedicated button, but all you have to do is twist your wrist twice with the phone in-hand and it turns on the screen and fires up the camera. It's nearly impossible to accidentally trigger, but it's very easy to do when you want it.
Deelron - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - linkThanks I'll have to check one out and see how it works with me.