Amazon attempts to set “Fire” to the smartphone market

Carrie Sylvester
Jun 24, 2014

Amazon Fire Phone

June 18th marked the introduction of the Amazon Fire phone, Amazon’s first entrance into the smartphone market. The Fire phone features a 13 MP (front facing) camera with an f/2.0 lens and optical image stabilization. The base model features 32GB of storage and comes with free unlimited Cloud storage through Amazon’s Cloud Drive. The handset itself has a 4.7-inch display featuring Gorilla Glass, aluminum buttons, and a rubberized grip area. Performance wise the handset features a Quad-core Snapdragon 2.2 GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, and dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus for a virtual surround sound experience.

What is a little different about this smartphone is that although it is an Androidbased device it is using the Fire OS operating system, Amazon’s own flavor of Android “meaning this phone doesn’t use the Google Play store but instead it will use the Amazon mobile store and other Amazon-designed operating system nuances. According to the company, “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,” says Amazon’s Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

What’s new about it?

Dynamic Perspective

“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.” says Bezos. Dynamic Perspective uses four specialized cameras, which the company says are ultra-low power, and four infrared LEDs built into the front face of the phone, a dedicated custom processor, a new computer vision algorithm, and a new graphics rendering engine all meant to improve the user interface with all aspects of the phone. Dynamic Perspective features include: One-handed gestures which include “auto-scroll”, “tilt”, “swivel” and “peek”. For example, with auto-scroll, customers can read a long web page or a book without touching the screen; tilt in Amazon Music shows song lyrics while a song is playing by tilting the handset; swivel reveals quick actions; peek in Maps shows layered information like Yelp ratings and reviews. Once we get our hands on an evaluation unit we will report on how those actions actually work in the real-world.

The home screen features an enhanced Carousel, which allows for real-time updates and actions without needing to leave the home screen. With the Carousel, users will be able to do many things meant to increase their productivity including read and reply to email, find recent photos, highlight the user’s most visited websites, return missed calls, and view appointments right from the home screen without needing to launch the full app. Individual developers can customize the contents of their app and how it responds to user actions. For example, the dynamic Zillow app shows property information based on the user’s location and the USA TODAY app will show headlines most relevant to the Fire phone user’s interests all without having to actually launch the respective apps.

Firefly button

Another totally new feature is the addition of a Firefly button. The button allows users to click the button and it will quickly recognizes things in the real world like web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, movies, music, and millions of products, and lets the user take action (get more information, reserve or purchase) in real-time.

Price & Availability

The Fire Phone will be available July 25 exclusively through AT&T and the 32GB version will carry a price of $199 (2 year contract) ” $649 (no contract), depending on the level of service agreement. A 64GB version is available for $100 more ($299 with 2 year contract). For a limited time with the purchase of a Fire Phone, 12 months of Amazon Prime will be included and existing Prime members will get an additional 12 months added to their account. The Dynamic Perspective and Firefly SDKs are available immediately to the Developer community.

InfoTrends Opinion

Although the new Fire phone offers some interesting feature advancements including dynamic perspective and Firefly, InfoTrends believes that yet another flavor of Android will continue to fragment the Android market even further. Existing Android users will not be guaranteed that this flavor Android will work like the Android they are used to nor can they be totally sure that all their favorite apps will be available through the Fire OS. Amazon may have planned to set Fire to the smartphone market but it may just have heated up marketability for other tried and true Android smartphones as well as the ever popular Apple iPhone running iOS. Another potential winner in the continually fragmenting Android market could be Windows Phone where people will expect to find a similar user experience on their smartphone that they are used to with their Windows 8 desktop computers.


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