Amazon Jumps Into the Smartphone Business with the Amazon Fire Phone

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As expected, Amazon announced its very first phone this afternoon. Much about the Fire Phone had been leaked, but there were a few interesting surprises along the way. Many of us have Amazon Prime, so we were excited to see what Bezos would present, and how they would differentiate the Amazon Fire Phone. Here’s what we now know…Perhaps the most interesting line of all was this: “We’re not trying to build service for tens of millions of customers… we’re trying to build it for ONE customer.” That’s pretty interesting, and it stands out in today’s world where customer service seems to be a thing of the past.

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After running down their current products and sharing some of the love they have received by the media and consumers alike, Bezos got to the meat of the event… The Amazon Smartphone and how at Amazon “they do things differently.”

Amazon Fire Phone

Called the Amazon Fire Phone, it is a smartphone… With a difference.

 

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With Gorilla Glass 3 and a rubber frame, it promises to be robust. With a 4.7″ IPS display in full HD, it hits the sweet spot for size in 2014, and it is optimized for one-handed use.

With a Quad-core 2.2GHz processor, an Adreno 3300 graphics processor and 2GB of RAM it should be plenty fast. The 13MP camera with f/2.0 and Optical Image Stabilization isn’t too shabby either. In fact, comparisons to the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S5 show it off to be a good shooter! The camera hardware button, something I LOVE on the Sony Xperia Z2, is a great touch.

But the first real differentiator? Free unlimited photo storage!

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As for sound, the Amazon Fire Phone has dual speakers, Dolby Digital Plus surround sound and chips with tangle-free earbuds. Of course the Amazon Music service is a key part of the Fire Phone. Currently it has just a million songs but that will grow. And, of course, you can use other services on the phone like Spotify etc.

 

 

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The second key differentiator comes in the form of customer support. “Where do you go for help on your phone?” They asked… To your phone of course. Yes, the phone has the Mayday feature that has been such a hit on the Kindle HDX. It is available 24/7 265 days a year and the wait is fifteen seconds or less. And, of course, it is free.

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The third differentiator is Firefly. The Amazon Fire Phone has a dedicated hardware button and uses the phone’s camera to recognize books, DVDs, phone numbers and an assortment of codes. It does the audio recognition thing too! And… Get this… It can recognize television shows and movies. That’s pretty cool. And, of course, once something is recognized you can quickly and easily purchase it from… Amazon. In all it can recognize over 100,000,000 items. An SDK is available so developers can incorporate the functionality into their apps.

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The fourth, and biggest differentiator, is Dynamic Perspective. It changes the view of a picture as you move the phone so your perspective remains the same no matter where you are in relation to the phone. It works with images, maps, the browser and more. The browser and ebooks also offer tilt-to-scroll similar to what we have seen Samsung do. Dynamic Perspective is only possible because there are additional cameras on the Amazon Fire Phone that track people’s heads.

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Here’s a full rundown of the specs.

 

Size 5.5″ x 2.6″ x 0.35″ (139.2mm x 66.5mm x 8.9mm)
Weight 5.64 ounces (160 grams)
Processor 2.2GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU, with Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM
Display 4.7″ HD LCD display, with 1280 x 720 resolution at 315 ppi, 590 cd/m2 brightness (typical), 1000:1 contrast ratio (typical)
Cameras 13 MP rear-facing camera, multi-frame HDR, auto focus, optical image stabilization, f/2.0 5-element wide aperture lens, LED flash
2.1 MP front-facing camera
OS Fire OS 3.5.0
Storage 32 GB or 64 GB
Cloud Storage Free cloud storage for all Amazon content, and photos taken with Fire phone
Battery Battery size: 2400mAh. Talk time: up to 22 hours; standby time: up to 285 hours. Video playback: up to 11 hours; audio playback: up to 65 hours.
Video recording 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps (front- and rear-facing cameras)
Audio playback Dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus audio processing
TV and Video Supports screen mirroring and Second Screen
Content formats supported Audio: Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, PCM/WAVE, AAC LC/ELD, HE-AAC (v1 & v2), AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AMR-WB+, Audible Enhanced format (AAX); Video: MPEG4, VP8, H.264/MPEG4/AVC,MPEG4 SP, H.263,AVI,HDCP2.x, PlayReady DRM; Images: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, GIF87a,GIF89a; Viewable docs: PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, DOC, DOCX, Kindle (AZW), KF8, TXT
Sensors Dynamic Perspective sensor system with invisible infrared illumination, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, barometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
Location GPS, Assisted GPS, GLONASS, Wi-Fi/Cellular location, and Digital compass
Cellular UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz), Quad-band GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), 9 bands of LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 17, 20), supports carrier aggregation
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, up to 300 Mbps with channel bonding; Bluetooth 3.0 wireless technology; NFC enabled
Headphones Premium, tangle-free headphones with remote and mic
Rating for hearing aids M4, T4
SIM Card Pre-installed Nano SIM card
Ports Micro USB 2.0
3.5mm headphone
Warranty and Service 1-year Limited Warranty included. Use of Fire phone is subject to these terms
Included in the Box Amazon Fire Phone with Fire OS 3.5.0
Premium headphones with remote and mic
Micro USB to USB charging cable
USB power adapter (5W)

It all sounds great, until you get to the fact that it is an AT&T exclusive, and an unsubsidized 32GB phone is $649. That makes it a non-starter for me.

How about you? Is this Amazon Fire phone in your future?

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.