Shruti DhapolaJun 19, 2014 08:55:26 IST
Amazon's Fire phone is out and for now it's retailing only in the US with an AT&T contract. The device isn't a cheap one as some might have hoped. It's starting at $199 for a 32GB version and $299 for the 64GB version. The smartphone ships on 25 July and the company is also throwing in 12 months of Amazon Prime service free with Fire.
In terms of specs, the phone as a 4.7-inch HD screen (more on this later), a 13MP camera with optical image stabilization and 1080p HD video, a 2.2 GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, dual stereo speakers, and Dolby Digital audio. The smartphone uses the same forked Android OS that Amazon's Kindle Tablets do, so users will not get access to the Google Play Store. It will however have access to the Amazon App Store.
In terms of connectivity, the smartphone comes with Bluetooth 3.0 and the company has promised to update the device to also support Bluetooth LE, which means it will be possible to link the device to your smart wearables. (If you own any that is)
So what are the top five features of the smartphone? We take a quick look:
Dynamic Perspective: This uses a new sensor system to respond to the way you hold, view, and move the phone. What this means is that some apps on the phone will have a three-dimensional depth to them, and tilting the phone will let you peek around the edges. According to The Verge "It's miles away from the accelerometer-based gimmicks we've seen on older 3D phones."
This new perspective also allows for one-handed navigation and gestures like auto-scroll—read long web pages and books without ever touching the screen. The fours sensors on each corner of the phone are also accompanied by infrared LEDs for depth perception to work even in pitch darkness.
Firefly:This has a dedicated button on the smartphone and you will recognise things in the real world from QR and bar codes, movies, music, etc. It is a way to scan and identify products and media around you just by pointing a camera at something. Once you snap a picture of a product you like, the smartphone will show you where to buy it from. It can even direct you to more information, such as pulling up a Wikipedia entry on a painting might have clicked. The feature will also let you snap bar codes, email addresses, phone numbers.
Firefly has gone further from other smartphones, which have this feature, by bringing in audio recognition as well.
Mayday: 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 a simple pull-down of the 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 eco system.
Amazon Prime: 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 close 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. Read the review of this service here.
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.
Other features include: headphones with earbuds that have flat cords and magnets to clasp them together, so they won't get tangled.
As far as specs go, the Amazon Prime doesn't really stand out from the crowd. But what Amazon Fire does offer is a new Dynamic perspective and Firefly for scanning real-life products. Add to that the bundling of key Amazon services means that for anyone in the US, who's dependent on Amazon products, the smartphone could be a worthy choice.
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