On June 18th Amazon showed off their Fire Phone to the world, and what a phone it is. High end specs, custom features, and a nice big shiny screen. It also has some nifty features you aren’t going to find on any iPhone or Galaxy S5. Amazon wants us to know that this awesome gadget is not just another android phone either, but the question is do we care?
So first the specs because everyone likes to see big impressive numbers. Coming from Amazon’s own site this beast is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU with an Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM. Pretty impressive but a little slower than the 2.3GHz on the HTC One or the blazing 2.5GHz of the Galaxy S5. It comes with a 2.1MP front camera for all your Skype calls and selfies, a 13MP camera to take great pictures, a nice big 4.7 inch screen to see them on, a 32GB of storage to save them on, and even a more spacious 64GB option is available. That’s pretty much inline with other high end devices but amazon doesn’t want it to just be all about the specs.
Amazon wants you to know the specs are great, but what really sets this phone apart are the custom features. As you’d expect it’s tightly linked with Amazon’s own app store and other services just like the kindle fire. Of course most of those services can run on other smart phones so it’s really more of a convenience. Also just like the recent kindle fire this device has the mayday feature which, while nifty, probably won’t be the deciding factor in too many purchases. One thing you won’t see on other phones are the 4 extra front cameras which are used for a feature amazon calls “Dynamic Perspective”. With this feature the phone responds to how you hold it, giving it a kind of 3D effect if you tilt it while looking at something like a map though amazon is hoping developers will come up with more apps that take advantage of this feature and make it a must have phone. The other big feature is the firefly button which allows you to identify things like books, songs, and TV shows. If you think about it, at the moment it just seems like a cool way for Amazon to sell you more stuff, but they are hoping that developers will take advantage of this new functionality and come up with something that makes you want this phone.
So how does this bad boy compare to all the other smart phones out there? Obviously every phone is compared to how it does next to the iPhone, and on that front it’s a lot like comparing another high end phone like the Galaxy S5 to the iPhone. In raw specs it sure looks like the current iPhone 5s comes up short compared to the fire phone, but when looking at other phones Amazon’s latest creation is not at the top of that heap either. It’s certainly not trying to win out on price or value either and AT&T is the only carrier. Instead amazon looks to what Apple does for the iPhone. Amazon makes sure that everything on the fire phone feels well integrated and that the apps in their store presented to the fire phone work great with it. That’s something other smart phone makers can’t always do when they need to rely on Google’s app store and Android code base. That doesn’t stop them from trying of course. HTC Sense UI anyone?
What does all that leave us with? On the surface it just looks like a rather nice, if not a bit overpriced, android phone with a few nice features and it’s own app store. For the user it promises a great user experience especially if you really like the services Amazon offers now. For Amazon it offers another point to integrate with us, build a relationship with us, and of course sell us more stuff. It’s too early to tell if this phone will be a great competitor to the Apple and Google ecosystems, another phone to go the way of the Blackberry, or something in the middle. We just need to see what app developers can do with what Amazon has given them and what unique experiences Amazon can provide on this phone that it’s competitors can’t.
By Onisha Bradshaw