Today Amazon took to Seattle to announce their first foray into the Android phone market. Amazon is no stranger to Android devices. They led the charge for 7” tablets with the original Kindle Fire and they've expanded their lineup to Android tablets of many sizes. An Android based Amazon phone has long been rumored but has never come to fruition, until now. The Fire Phone is Amazon’s first Android smartphone and it has a couple interesting points of differentiation to say the least. The full specifications are laid out below.

Amazon Fire Phone
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974VV) 4 x Krait 400 at 2.2GHz
Adreno 330 at 450MHz
Memory and Storage 32/64GB NAND + 2GB LPDDR3
Display 4.7” 1280x720 LCD with 590cd/m2 brightness + Circular Polarizer
Cellular Connectivity 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Qualcomm MDM9x25 UE Category 4 LTE)
Dimensions 5.5" x 2.6" x 0.35", 160g
Camera 13 MP Rear Facing w/ F2.0 aperture + OIS
4x 2.1MP 1080p Front Facing w/ 120 degree FOV
Battery 2400 mAh (9.12Whr)
Other Connectivity 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac + BT 3.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, NFC
SIM Size Nano-SIM
Operating System Android based Amazon Fire OS 3.5

The Fire Phone runs Amazon's heavily modified version of Android which Amazon calls Fire OS. Much of the changes and additions involve features that work with Amazon's services. The Fire Phone uses Amazon's Android app store for downloading and purchasing applications rather than Google Play, and many of the stock applications are designed to allow integration with Amazon's cloud services such as Amazon music store streaming in the music app and Amazon Prime TV and movie streaming in the stock videos app. Amazon also includes unlimited cloud storage for storing photos taken with the Fire Phone in full resolution.

One of the big software features Amazon is touting is called Firefly. In a similar fashion to Google Goggles, firefly can use the device's camera to examine photographs and logos, scan barcodes, identify works of art, etc. It can also use the device's microphone to identify a song in a similar fashion to Shazam. The ability to utilize Firefly is always available to the user through a dedicated hardware button on the side of the device that launches the camera application immediately. Amazon is also shipping an SDK for application developers so they can integrate the use of Firefly into applications to perform actions such as playing a song in a radio app or looking up nutritional information from a logo on a chocolate bar.

The part of the software that really differentiates the Fire Phone from other devices is something Amazon is calling Dynamic Perspective. This is where the hardware and software of the phone work together to create something unique. Using the device's sensors and two of the four front facing cameras on the front of the device depending on how the phone is being held, the interface of the device will shift. Amazon is really touting how this works for navigating the interface on the device. The user can swivel the device in hand to view the notification drawer and quick toggles for settings like WiFi and Bluetooth. The user can also tilt the device to view information that may be hidden underneath labels or action bars. With this Amazon creates an sort of pseudo-3D interface which reacts to motion and movement. An SDK for working with Dynamic Perspective is available to developers who wish to incorporate these features into their applications. To ensure these features remain functional in low light situations, each front camera sensor has an IR flash which keeps the user's face visible to the camera sensors when external lighting is poor.

Amazon is also offering a selection of polyurethane cases for the Fire Phone that come in five different colors. The cases will begin to ship along with the phones themselves and they're currently listed at $29.99 on Amazon.

With the Fire Phone there's a big catch, and that's that on contract it's exclusive to AT&T. Users who want to purchase the device outside the US or on another US carrier will have to purchase it outright. The Fire Phone is available for pre-order now on Amazon at $199 or $299 on contract for the 32GB and 64GB models respectively. Buyers purchasing it off contract will have to pay $649 for the 32GB and $749 for the 64GB models. The Fire Phone will begin shipping to buyers on July 25th.

Source: Amazon

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  • althaz - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    No camera button = no buy for any phone, for me. Really, I want a 2-stage camera button for me to seriously consider it. It's one of the reasons I keep buying Nokia phones.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Maybe have a look at one of those new audio out buttons that allow you to have an extra button and configure it to act as a camera one.
  • Colin1497 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    We own 3 Kindle Fire’s (2 of which are actively used by my wife and son), and have bought a few as gifts, and I’ll say that the #1 reason I wouldn’t touch their phone at the current price is Amazon’s lousy software support. In short, Amazon doesn’t support devices that are older than 12 months. 2 of our 3 Kindle Fires were bought on price (a 2011 Fire and a 2013 Fire HD) and one (2012 8.9 Fire HD LTE) was purchased as a more premium item, and that’s a mistake I’ll never make again.

    The 2011 Fire still runs an OS based on Android 2.3.3, even though the 2012 version that is the same except for increased RAM runs a 4.0.3 based version. Amazon abandoned the first gen device even though it certainly would have been viable to update it with an image similar to the 2012 version, as is evidenced by the good support the device has gotten in the XDA Developer community.

    The 2012 Fire HD still runs the 4.0.3 based OS, even though the 2013 budget model Fire HD got a 4.2.2 version running on the same basic hardware. Note that Amazon is STILL selling this 8.9” Fire HD device with the 4.0.3 based OS, almost 2 years after it was released, even though they’ve essentially already done the work to develop the 4.2.2 based Fire OS 3.0 for a very similar device. Really, Amazon!?

    Essentially, Amazon has made it clear that they will not support their hardware any better than the worst of the big Android OEM’s. There is no hope that you will EVER get a major new OS version. At best you will receive fixes for the worst bugs that are discovered during the months following release, but that’s it. You won’t even get security patches after that.

    So, I’m OK buying a 2013 7” Fire HD for my 6 year old. It was $139 for a 16GB tablet (they had a $30 off promotion). He can use it for 12-18 months and move on. I have no real problem buying a Fire HD 8.9” for my 80 year old father for $269 like I did Christmas 2012. It’s good enough, gets him on Facebook, etc. Both are solid budget purchases. The Fire HD LTE wasn’t such a budget purchase. Granted, the cheap LTE plan for 12 months helped make that decision, but I expect a device like that to receive better support than it has. A $650 phone isn’t a budget purchase, and Amazon has shown they can’t be trusted with this sort of purchase.

    I wanted to like the Fire Phone, as I’ve been thinking of getting a new personal phone to use alongside my company purchased iPhone, but if I’m paying $650 for it, it’s not going to be from Amazon.
  • kkwst2 - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    Nobody is going to pay $650 for it. You pay $200 for it with a contract. I replace my phones way more often than my tablets so that logic doesn't hold for me. What kills this for me is the stock software. Navigation is inferior to stock Android and no Google apps. I put up with it on my Fire HDX for the Prime integration.

    The reasons I prefer Android for my phones are Google maps, other google integration, removable battery and SD card. This device has none of those. I can't imagine traveling without Google maps anymore. Not sure, maybe it can be side loaded but that is a pain.
  • mkozakewich - Monday, June 23, 2014 - link

    No, but you DO pay that price. One of the reasons North America has some of the highest rates in the world is that the prices of the phones are rolled into the plans. You can think of it like a loan, really. These devices are very expensive, so the carriers will give you $500 off if you agree to stick with them for three (or two, now?) years, but will add some of that back into the monthly amounts.

    If I got a phone unlocked, I could get a $20/month plan with everything I needed, or get a simple talk/text plan for $8/month.

    The carriers do give you a slightly cheaper deal with a multi-year contract than you'd get with an unlocked phone and a month-to-month plan with a non-contract carrier, but you have to understand that they aren't just waiving $400-$500 entirely away.
  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    I don't see any killer features that would make me consider this phone over the competition. If they subsidized the phone to make it much cheaper, it would help. Or if they gave you some truly stupendous add-ons with the phone (something way more valuable than 1 yr of Prime), that would help.

    I was expecting something along these lines: A Nexus 5 price (e.g. $350) AND 2 years of Prime and other Amazon-specific goodies.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    I was also expecting a more budget oriented approach. That seemed to have worked okay for their tablet line. And considering all the short comings their Android provides, it is needed in my opinion to compete with the N5, LG G2 etc.
  • Stuka87 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Sounds like the 3D gimmick is going to do nothing but suck battery life, and/or make people sick. First thing I did when I updated to iOS7 was turn off the perspective mode.

    Plus, good luck getting any OS updates after 6 months or so. Amazon has shown they pretty much refuse to update their devices.
  • HardwareDufus - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    But it's a rectangle with rounded corners.
  • aryonoco - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    This is going to flop faster than you can say "HTC First".

    Bezos is going to find out what a brutally tough market the smartphone market is. Not even the might of Amazon is going to move this unless the price is cut in half in one month.

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