It’s here! Meet Amazon Fire, the retailer’s very first smartphone.
Amazon has unveiled its first foray into the smartphone market, a new device called the Fire Phone that features 3D display capabilities. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took the stage to introduce the new phone at a press event in Seattle on Wednesday.
Bezos calls it ideal for one-handed use. The highly anticipated 3D display is called dynamic perspective, and it shifts the images on screen to account for a user’s angle of viewing and movement of the phone. CNET’s Roger Cheng said, “The images do look a lot better than they have in past 3D phones.”
“Amazon is doing two things that are different,” Sanjay Patel, professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and CEO at Personify, an immersive video technology company, told CBS News. “First on the imaging side, they’re using four infrared sensors to really capture and identify a users’ head position. They are getting it down to the eyeball level so that the phone knows where your eyes are relative to the screen on the phone and they’ve come up with a low cost way to do this. Second, they’ve designed the display so that it is capable of providing a 3D perspective without the need for 3D glasses or exotic technology.
Design and OS:-
Amazon’s Fire Phone doesn’t give us anything we haven’t seen before. In fact, it looks a lot like other black smartphones: a Gorilla Glass front and back, rubber-rimmed sides, chamfered edges and a physical home button. There’s a physical camera button as well which launches both the camera and Firefly, Amazon’s new scanning and shopping app.
The phone has five front-facing camera lenses. Four of these, one in each corner are infrared eyes that work in service to all the 3D and motion effects. But there’s one front-facing camera too for selfies.
At the launch event, Amazon emphasized the importance of operating the phone one-handed and the rubberized spines definitely do that. The corners were a little sharp where the back of the Fire Phone meets its spines but the slick glass backing does add a subtle premium feel.
Tilt to scroll, part of Amazon’s new dynamic camera-assisted interface is responsive but occasionally might be weird if you accidentally make a gesture. Dynamic Perspective on maps seem to work as advertised when we zoomed into the Space Needle on Amazon’s Nokia Here powered maps app.
Swipe (or rotate your wrist) left and right to pull up context menus for each app. For example, if you swipe right from the home screen, you’ll see shortcuts for apps, games, the Silk browser, pictures, audiobooks, shopping and Prime.
The Fire Phone has unlimited storage for photos via Amazon Prime. And Kindle features like Second Screen and X-Ray will be included. Amazon’s Fire Phone may not run traditional Android but HBO, Netflix, ESPN Score Center, YouTube and Showtime Anytime are among the first video apps to be available on the Fire Phone.
Amazon is taking huge risks in going against the companies like Samsung and Apple. Amazon has done it before but in a tablet space that isn’t as entrenched or as vital as smartphones.
While the 3D features and Firefly scanning app are both cool and unique, it’s unlikely that people will gravitate toward these additions.
There’s also the price to specs ratio to consider. The 32GB versions’ $200 on contract also gets you the Samsung Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8, both full-service Android phones at the top of their game with higher-end listed specs. Still, the difference among them isn’t enormous, and Amazon does back its pricing by citing the free year of Prime and unlimited online photo storage.
Other features include: headphones with ear buds that have flat cords and magnets to clasp them together, so they won’t get tangled.
Stay productive with real-time updates and take action right from the home screen. Triage email, find recent photos, access most visited websites, return missed calls, view appointments and more. Developers can customize the contents of their dynamic app and how it responds to user actions. For example, Zillow’s app in the carousel shows property information based on the location, so customers can access search results on nearby homes from the carousel without having to launch the Zillow app. USA TODAY shows headlines that are relevant to customer’s interest like someone who frequents football in the Sports section will see those related headlines appear in the carousel.
ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) predicts which movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and prepares them for instant playback before you even hit play.
X-Ray helps you to get more from books, music, movie and TV shows. Explore the bones of a book, including characters, ideas and background with a single tap on the screen, bring the power of IMDb right to Fire for trivia on movies and TV show.
Second Screen lets you fling TV shows and movies from Fire phone to your Fire TV, PlayStation or any other Miracast-enabled device. Second Screen turns your TV into the primary screen and frees up Fire phone to provide playback controls and a customized display for X-Ray, all without leaving the TV show or movie you’re watching.
Beautiful Industrial Design & Powerful Hardware:-
Built using premium materials, including Gorilla Glass 3 for the rear and front, aluminum buttons, stainless steel details and a rubberized polyurethane grip area, Fire is optimized for beauty, hand comfort and powerful performance.
The device supports 3G with UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz). It also supports quad-band GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz). One can also expect support for 4G and it is believed to support nine bands.
The Amazon Fire Phone is neither too large nor too small with its 8.9mm thickness. It measures 139.2mm x 66.5mm x 8.9mm, which is an easy fit. The device tips the scale at 160 grams, and with Gorilla Glass on both sides, will give users a good feel to the device. It will also be fairly well protected.
The Fire comes powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU. Not the latest breed, but good enough at that price. The processor clocks at 2.2GHz and also supports an Adreno 330 GPU. It includes 2GB of RAM, which is good enough to handle all those apps and services.
Storage – 32/64GB:-
The Fire comes in 32GB and 64GB versions. Amazon has also thrown in free cloud storage for all Amazon content, as well as to store photos taken with the device.
Camera – 13MP rear and 2.1MP front cameras:-
Keeping in view other phones with a similar pricing, the Amazon smartphone comes equipped with a 13-megapixel rear camera. The company has opted for an f/2.0 5-element wide aperture lens along with support for multi-frame HDR, auto focus, optical image stabilization and LED flash. For selfie lovers, it has also included a 2.1 MP front-facing camera. Both front and rear cameras support 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps.
There is no dearth of sensors in the Fire Phone. It is loaded with a gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, barometer, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor. It also introduces the Dynamic Perspective sensor system with invisible infrared illumination.
WiFi – 802.11a/b/g/n/ac:-
The Fire Phone is WiFi enabled and comes with support for ‘ac’ draft along with a/b/g/n. It also supports Wi-Fi channel bonding.
Other connectivity options – NFC, GPS/A-GPS, GLONAAS:-
The device supports NFC as well as GPS with Assisted GPS and GLONASS. The phone comes with the slightly older Bluetooth 3.0 wireless technology. Reports point out that though the device supports Bluetooth LE, it won’t launch with the ability. This means the company could release a software update to support the feature eventually. However, there is no word as to when Amazon will do so. It is quite unlikely and disappointing to see a device with some powerful features lack a basic connectivity feature, which is now common even in entry-level Androids.
The device will be fuelled by a 2400mAh battery that offers up to 22 hours backup and 285 hours of standby time. The video playback could roughly last up to 11 hours and audio playback up to 65 hours.
Availability & Exclusive Network Partner:-
Fire ships on July 25 and is available exclusively on AT&T, the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network. Starting today, customers can pre-order Fire at www.amazon.com/Fire-Phone, www.att.com and in AT&T retail locations nationwide. Fire with 32GB is available for $199 with a two-year contract, that’s an extra 16GB of memory for the same price as many other premium smartphones or zero money down for as little as $27.09 a month from AT&T on Next 18. Fire is also available with 64GB for $299 with a two-year contract or starting at $31.25/month from AT&T on Next 18.
Limited Time, Introductory Offer:-
Starting today, customers can take advantage of an introductory, limited time offer—buy Fire and get 12 months of Amazon Prime included—FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video, unlimited, ad-free streaming and downloading of over a million songs and hundreds of playlists and over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Existing Prime members get an additional 12 months added to their account.
The top five features of the smartphone:
Amazon’s newly announced Fire phone handset sports a unique 3D Dynamic Perspective feature made possible by several cameras that track user movement. The 4.7-inch device is equipped with a quad-core processor, a 13-megapixel camera and a unique feature that the company calls Dynamic Perspective. Dynamic Perspective enables the phone to display a 3D-like interface that lends more depth and engagement to graphics and responds to user movement. Four years in the making, Amazon achieved this feature by installing four specialized cameras with a wider field of view in the front of the device to track user’s head all the time.
One area where the Fire Phone stands out is Firefly, a universal visual scanning app that uses the camera and a huge database to identify items and objects and then tell you what it is or give you the chance to buy it. It isn’t the first app to recognize QR codes, items, music and audio tracks and URLs. Most mobile OSes can do some of these and Microsoft Windows Phone has a similar capability called Bing Vision. Still, Amazon’s attempt is front and center as a secondary camera button function so it’s a lot easier to get going with a long-press. Firefly also goes even further than Bing Vision, recognizing the audio on TV shows down to the time stamp and pulling up information via IMDB .It can also tell you about famous works of art and pull out printed phone numbers and addresses. Amazon definitely wants developers on board, so it has created an SDK and already has iHeartRadio, MyFitnessPal and Vivino, a wine database taking part.
This was a service that was launched on Kindle Fire tablets which basically gave users access to 24/7 support via video chat. Customer representatives can take over the screen on user devices to show them exactly how to do something. According to CEO Jeff Bezos, “the service is available 24 hours and service representatives will respond to requests within 15 seconds.”
Mayday is accessible from any screen on the Fire Phone via simple drop-down menu from the top of the screen, similar to how you access notifications on Android or iPhone. The inclusion of this service could prove to be a big help for inexperienced smartphone users or for someone porting out of a different smartphone ecosystem.
Users who buy this smartphone will get access to Amazon Prime service free of charge for a year. Users who are already Amazon Prime members get another 12 months free. The service offers multiple shipping benefits including a free two day shipping for eligible purchases.
Users also get access to Amazon Instant Video and the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Amazon has been making exclusive deals to block shows from Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services for Prime users and some of these are available for free.
With the Prime Music Service, users get access to a million songs available for streaming. In some cases, you can download songs for offline playback. It should be noted that the free books, video and music collection is limited.
Amazon Cloud Service:
The Company is offering unlimited free storage of photos taken with the Fire on its Cloud Drive service. This is probably one of the best features since users will find that post smartphones, no amount of cloud storage space is enough.
The most obvious missing piece on the Fire phone will be the Google Play Store itself which contains more than a million apps. Instead users will have to rely on Amazon’s own app store, which has only a subset of the apps: 240,000.
That’s still a large number but when you consider some of the apps that are missing from the Amazon store, it’s enough to make you think twice about using Fire as your main phone.
Most Google apps, such as Chrome, Drive, YouTube, Newsstand, Google Play Music, Google Hangouts, even Google Maps aren’t there. Nor are third-party apps that require those Google apps such as apps that embed Google Maps into their interface. Amazon has its own mapping service that can provide maps to third-party apps, but they must be rewritten to take advantage of it.
BLACKBERRY’S SAFER PLATFORM
BlackBerry’s military-grade security would almost certainly have made it a safer platform for Amazon’s e-commerce ambitions, and the novel operating system would have solved Amazon’s problem of having an inferior version of Android. With BlackBerry OS, it could have had a major point of differentiation and would have been able to strike out on its own away from Google’s clutches. As it stands, its version of Android is only going to appear feeble over time, as Google Play services take on more and more importance with every passing year.
Curiously though at roughly the same time Amazon announced the Fire, BlackBerry announced a deal with Amazon that will have the Amazon app store running on the next version of the BlackBerry operating system.
It helps to solve BlackBerry’s problem with Android, because BlackBerry’s own Android fork has even fewer apps than Amazon’s Android fork, but mostly it just serves to remind us of what might have been.
An Amazon Fire smartphone running BlackBerry OS? Now that would have created some smoke at the very least.
“Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand, instant access to Amazon’s vast content ecosystem and exclusive features like the Mayday button, ASAP, Second Screen, X-Ray, free unlimited photo storage, and more,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “The Firefly button lets you identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, artwork and over 100 million items, including songs, movies, TV shows, and product and take action in seconds. We invented a new sensor system called Dynamic Perspective that recognizes where a user’s head is relative to the device, we use it to offer customers a more immersive experience, one-handed navigation and gestures that actually work. This is only the beginning, the most powerful inventions are the ones that empower others to unleash their creativity that’s why today we are launching the Dynamic Perspective SDK and the Firefly SDK and we can’t wait to see how developers surprise us.”
In a nutshell, the Amazon Fire Phone doesn’t come with the best of specs for a device at this price point. Moreover, its exclusivity to AT&T further limits its reach. However, Amazon is banking on the gesture-enabled features with Dynamic Perspective and the several Amazon services including the latest Prime music service that company plans to bundle with the device. Take a look at the five key features of the Amazon Fire Phone.
While on paper it does comes across as a complete decent package but let’s wait and watch if these fancy features match up with the actual performance of the device.