“Amazon”, the world’s largest online retailer, has taken a drastic step by making a debut in the smartphone market with its first entrant Amazon Fire Phone. Amazon’s Fire Phone aims to compete with other high-end highly popular smartphones equipped with best components. With the company’s first foray into the smartphone market, Fire Phone is not as remarkable as one expects to be coming from the world’s retailer giant. If we go by the mixed reviews, Fire Phone is just another smartphone loaded with features, but not enticing enough to lure Android or iOS lovers. It is similar to a black iPhone; but oversized, build that is rectangular and narrow, curved corners, glass panels located at back and front.
However, it also has certain unique features. It has side edges of rubber, as well as speakers located at both the bottom and the top, not found in other smartphones. The most distinctive feature of the Fire Phone is four infrared-based LED sensors present on every corner in the front side. These are “ultra-low power specialized cameras”, as termed by Amazon, meant to detect the relativity of the user’s head with respect to the phone position. This feature is called “Dynamic Perspective”. It helps users to take control of their gadgets by providing varied 3-D effects to the interface. It might attract the avid Amazon readers, but it is quite gimmicky that may lead developers not to give emphasis to the feature.
One more innovative feature in the Fire Phone is “Firefly”. It makes use of microphone and camera to detect music, television shows, movies, products, text. Users can activate this feature by holding the left side camera button. Once the feature is on, users can point towards the phone so that they can detect whatever they want to. However, what is annoying about the Fire Phone is the fact that they try to escalate Amazon sales by recommending similar products to buy at every single point. Swipe an app that is recently used, and you will be recommended with similar kind of apps to buy. Access the song recently heard, and you will be recommended with similar songs to hear. And so on.
On tablets, laptops, or desktops, this is not much of a problem as the website real estate is good enough. However, that is not the case with a 4.7-inch smartphone. Here everything looks congested and cramped. Recommendations every now and then might irritate the users so much, that they can eventually switch it off to go back to their home screen for getting some room. Good thing here is, in case the users do not know how to switch off the recommendations, just tap on the icon saying “Mayday”, which will trigger a video calling based customer service wherein an Amazon representative will be available for the users. The feature was introduced right back in 2013 in some of Amazon’s tablets.
Fire Phone runs on “Fire OS”, derived from Android after few modifications. However, it is still different from how Android works. In case of Fire OS the main screen displays carousel that sorts the most recently used content and apps. Favorite items can be pinned, for featuring in the front. However, navigating things this way is not that effective. Luckily, there are ways to tackle such situations. Users can pull up the apps and can organize in whatever ways they want. When the phone is tilted on the left hand side, a menu is prompted that offers shortcuts to audiobooks, movies, music, apps, content, and lots more. Right hand tilting will let users to find other useful menus.
The phone also features a 13-MP rear camera ideal for clicking pictures and shooting videos. However, what is unique is the backup of the clicked images taken by Amazon in the cloud. This is highly useful when you want to take videos or photos at an event, and you run out of memory. You can delete the images taking up the memory knowing that you already have a copy on the Amazon cloud. Apple users get 5 GB free cloud storage after which they need to pay in order to extend. In addition, users also get a full 1-year membership of the Amazon Prime that includes access to Prime Music and Instant Video free. In addition, users get a 2-day delivery advantage on certain $99 items.
Having said all that, Fire Phone is not ‘cheap’. Users have to pay $649/$749 for 32GB/64GB respectively, buying phone without any contract. Users can buy this phone at a price of $199/$299 for 32GB/64GB on a 2-year contract with AT&T. If you are a shopaholic, especially on Amazon, then Fire Phone might just be the perfect smartphone for you. But if you are not, and if you are used to the Android & iOS ecosystem, then Fire OS simply won’t impress you even with its unique features such as unlimited images backup, Firefly, or Dynamic Perspective. Amazon still needs to go a long way for competing with the likes of Google & Apple.