• Amazon Fire Phone – The Ultimate Shopping (and Tracking) Device



    Welcome to the future. A future where everything around you is available for purchase, and your phone never stops watching you.

    This is the future promised by Amazon and their new Fire Phone, revealed this morning by CEO Jeff Bezos at a live event in Seattle. If you're on the AT&T network in the United States, this future will shortly be made available for $199 on a two-year contract. Everyone else, for better or worse, will have to wait.

    I wasn't able to get an invite to Amazon's livestream, so I made to with this liveblog from The Verge. If I ended up getting any of this wrong blame them, not me.

    Basic Specs

    • Gorilla Glass 3 with a rubber frame. Also glass on the back.
    • 4.7-inch screen. "The perfect size for one-handed use."
    • 590 nits (?) brightness, circular polarizer enabling wide-angle viewing outside with sunglasses.
    • Quad-core, 2.2GHz processor, Adreno 330 graphics. 2GB of RAM.
    • 13MP rear camera with f/2.0 lens and optical image stabilization.
    • Unlimited photo storage from Amazon
    • Dual-stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus virtual surround sound.
    • "No-tangle" magnetic earbuds with flat cables.
    • $199 on a two-year term, 0 down and $27/month with AT&T Next.
    • Amazon Prime included free for 12 months.
    • Pre-orders start today, ships July 25th.

    Media Support

    As with previous Amazon tablets (which apparently have sold in the "tens of millions") this new device from Amazon was made to make it easier for you to buy more stuff from Amazon. So expect deep integration with Amazon TV and Amazon Music Prime.

    But wait, there's more...

    Firefly

    An app called Firefly is basically a scanner on steroids. It goes far beyond translating 2D and 3D bar codes; by pressing a dedicated button on the side of the phone you can basically point it at anything and, ultimately, be presented with the listing for said thing on Amazon.

    There's a bit more to it than that, but the examples given on stage this morning were mostly about analyzing music or pointing your Fire Phone at your TV screen and getting high-level information about what your watching—plot synopses, cast info... and don't forget that Amazon DVD listing!

    One nice thing about Firefly is that is scrapes images and uploads only what it needs to Amazon's cloud servers for analysis.

    But wait, there's more...

    Dynamic Perspective

    This is what Amazon calls their brand-new 3D interface for the Fire Phone. The home screen, lock screen and apps—like maps and certain games—change perspective as you move your head and/or the device. In addition, you can interact with your device by tilting it. The obvious example is auto-scrolling through a web page or ebook. Yes, Samsung did this on the Galaxy S4, but apparently Amazon does it better.

    How?

    Computer Vision

    Here's the part that's either scary-cool or just plain scary. The Fire Phone has a total of four front-facing cameras tirelessly devoted to figuring out who you are, where you are, how far your face is from the screen and what it is that you're trying to do in that particular moment. The data that these cameras capture is directly uploaded to Amazon's servers for analysis—facial recognition, sharing with the NSA, that type of thing.

    Also, this quartet of cameras has infrared, so they can "see you" even in the dark.

    So that's Amazon's Fire Phone. More details, hands-on videos, etc. are being posted as I write this, so check some of that out then come back here and discuss.

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    This article was originally published in forum thread: Amazon Fire Phone – The Ultimate Shopping (and Tracking) Device started by acurrie View original post
    Comments 33 Comments
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Should be interesting to see how well this does. Given the price point I'm disappointed that it only comes with a 1280x720 display though 32GB of storage is nice.
    1. SnowyWhite's Avatar
      SnowyWhite -
      Jeez, those front facing cameras tracking your every move has put me waaaaaay off wanting anything to do with this gem.
      No laying around in your birthday suit on your couch relaxing drinking Dr Pepper on a hot afternoon with that thing sending pics to Amazon and everyone else who they have signed in to you and your Amazon account.

      It's specs sound pretty nice otherwise.

      AT&T not so much.

      Sent from my Fantastic Galaxy S2
    1. acurrie's Avatar
      acurrie -
      FYI, there's some more coverage of the Fire Phone in today's news round-up. Enjoy!
    1. spdracer5g's Avatar
      spdracer5g -
      I have been looking forward to this release for a while now, and have been putting off deciding what phone I would upgrade too, hoping for something special from the Fire Phone. Amazon has really set the bar low on this one, and made my decision on which phone to upgrade from my Lumia 521 to, either the Lumia 925 or the LG G2, both are cheap enough to buy off contract, and both have an OS that isn't crippled by design.

      I have an Amazon Fire HDX tablet, a Kindle, and a Fire TV, and fully intended to own a Fire Phone, but just can't do it. The crippled OS, being locked to AT&T and the fact that it just doesn't offer anything other than what is likely a novelty in the 3D features is going to be the fatal flaw in this phone. You can't offer a group as price conscious as Amazon Prime members a phone this expensive and expect them to lap it up just because it is an Amazon product.

      The success of previous Amazon electronics has been based on Value, typically offering a more powerful product at the same price point as competitors, with this phone there is no Value, you are paying flagship prices for a device that lacks a status symbol image, standout core hardware or anything else really.
    1. Volaris's Avatar
      Volaris -
      Quote Originally Posted by spdracer5g View Post
      The success of previous Amazon electronics has been based on Value, typically offering a more powerful product at the same price point as competitors, with this phone there is no Value, you are paying flagship prices for a device that lacks a status symbol image, standout core hardware or anything else really.
      This is my biggest disappointment with this phone. I expected Amazon to deliver a cheap ($299 or less) but excellent value unlocked phone in exchange of being stuck to their ecosystem (which they profit off of). I just felt that was Amazon's way of selling products (much like their tablets - they may not lead in features, but they're a good value). Instead they delivered a so-so phone (it doesn't even have Bluetooth 4.0 LE [something that's been common since the iPhone 4S in 2011] which is important for wearables and other devices) at high tier (iPhone 5s/Samung S5) prices. To add insult to injury, it's for AT&T.

      Given that, I am interested in seeing how well it sells.
    1. mogelijk's Avatar
      mogelijk -
      Quote Originally Posted by Volaris View Post
      This is my biggest disappointment with this phone. I expected Amazon to deliver a cheap ($299 or less) but excellent value unlocked phone in exchange of being stuck to their ecosystem (which they profit off of). I just felt that was Amazon's way of selling products (much like their tablets - they may not lead in features, but they're a good value). Instead they delivered a so-so phone (it doesn't even have Bluetooth 4.0 LE [something that's been common since the iPhone 4S in 2011] which is important for wearables and other devices) at high tier (iPhone 5s/Samung S5) prices. To add insult to injury, it's for AT&T.

      Given that, I am interested in seeing how well it sells.
      I agree, it is much too expensive. I really expected, since they decided to do a higher end phone, that they would price it closer to a Nexus. And this phone is only 720p, and no Bluetooth LE (though I suppose the extra "cameras" for the gimmick cost some extra money). It just isn't worth a high end price, particularly since it is a sales platform for Amazon.
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      I agree, I remember there was talk that the Amazon phone might be free.

      When the Kindle tablets first came out, one of the reasons why they were so popular (and had a significant 6% marketshare at one point) was because they were very affordable compared to other tablets. While the newer Kindles are competitively priced, they are tablets available which are cheaper and their marketshare has shrunk.

      So it should be interesting to see how well the Fire phone does. Price-wise, I'd say it's priced similar to the competition. While it does come with a smaller, lower resolution display, it does come with 32GB of storage which IMO is actually a better trade off than a 1920x1080 4.7" display with 16GB of storage.

      Quote Originally Posted by Volaris View Post
      This is my biggest disappointment with this phone. I expected Amazon to deliver a cheap ($299 or less) but excellent value unlocked phone in exchange of being stuck to their ecosystem (which they profit off of). I just felt that was Amazon's way of selling products (much like their tablets - they may not lead in features, but they're a good value). Instead they delivered a so-so phone (it doesn't even have Bluetooth 4.0 LE [something that's been common since the iPhone 4S in 2011] which is important for wearables and other devices) at high tier (iPhone 5s/Samung S5) prices. To add insult to injury, it's for AT&T.

      Given that, I am interested in seeing how well it sells.
    1. futurephone's Avatar
      futurephone -
      It sounds fascinating and I'd love to see one in person, but I'm with Snowy. The tracking cameras are too creepy.
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Quote Originally Posted by SnowyWhite View Post
      Jeez, those front facing cameras tracking your every move has put me waaaaaay off wanting anything to do with this gem.
      No laying around in your birthday suit on your couch relaxing drinking Dr Pepper on a hot afternoon with that thing sending pics to Amazon and everyone else who they have signed in to you and your Amazon account.
      Sent from my Fantastic Galaxy S2
      If it catches you doing that it will pull up Amazon's pages for underwear and Dr Pepper. If it wants to get extra creepy it might even bring up Amazon's page for male 'enhancement'
    1. mogelijk's Avatar
      mogelijk -
      Quote Originally Posted by howard View Post
      If it catches you doing that it will pull up Amazon's pages for underwear and Dr Pepper. If it wants to get extra creepy it might even bring up Amazon's page for male 'enhancement'
      That is a scary thought -- users might want to be careful about Amazon's privacy policy with all the extra cameras on this, especially since it seemed like they implied they might use user data to improve their display.

      Quote Originally Posted by howard View Post
      I agree, I remember there was talk that the Amazon phone might be free.

      When the Kindle tablets first came out, one of the reasons why they were so popular (and had a significant 6% marketshare at one point) was because they were very affordable compared to other tablets. While the newer Kindles are competitively priced, they are tablets available which are cheaper and their marketshare has shrunk.

      So it should be interesting to see how well the Fire phone does. Price-wise, I'd say it's priced similar to the competition. While it does come with a smaller, lower resolution display, it does come with 32GB of storage which IMO is actually a better trade off than a 1920x1080 4.7" display with 16GB of storage.
      I really thought, when I heard about the AT&T exclusive, that they would try to market it as a free phone with contract. While the 32GB does add value, the fact you are tied to their appstore which limits your choices (such as no Google books/video/etc, no Barnes & Noble, etc.) lowers the value below that of high end phones, at least to me. Especially, as you point out, that they can advertise on the phone -- in fact, I'm surprised there is no lower price "with ads" version like with the Kindles.

      Out of curiosity, do we know if the phones sold without a plan by Amazon will be locked to AT&T. It is interesting, to me, that the phone does have a 3G AWS radio -- so it does support T-Mobile's frequencies.
    1. SnowyWhite's Avatar
      SnowyWhite -
      Quote Originally Posted by howard View Post
      If it catches you doing that it will pull up Amazon's pages for underwear and Dr Pepper. If it wants to get extra creepy it might even bring up Amazon's page for male 'enhancement'
      If it did suggest male 'enhancement' they obviously weren't paying attention since I am not even remotely male at all.


      Sent from my LG Optimus F3
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -


      The next version will have quad 8MP front facing cameras, that will be able to tell if you're a girl or boy.

      Quote Originally Posted by SnowyWhite View Post
      If it did suggest male 'enhancement' they obviously weren't paying attention since I am not even remotely male at all.


      Sent from my LG Optimus F3
    1. mogelijk's Avatar
      mogelijk -
      Quote Originally Posted by SnowyWhite View Post
      If it did suggest male 'enhancement' they obviously weren't paying attention since I am not even remotely male at all.


      Sent from my LG Optimus F3
      And yet I'm guessing you still get "male enhancement" and "Viagra" spam in your email.
    1. kirt's Avatar
      kirt -
      I know that Amazon has the resources and smarts to do their homework, so why so many unforced errors? The way I see it:

      Pros:

      It is an awesome, one of a kind device
      Unlimited cloud storage

      Cons:

      Limited to Amazon ecosystem
      Carrier exclusivity
      Essentially same price as iPhone, which is the demo that they are going after
      Haven't seen any info on battery life, but all those cool features must use a lot of juice

      Unless they basically start giving them away - I think it will flop.
    1. SnowyWhite's Avatar
      SnowyWhite -
      Quote Originally Posted by mogelijk View Post
      And yet I'm guessing you still get "male enhancement" and "Viagra" spam in your email.
      Gmail does a pretty good job and only one of my Gmail accounts gets spam, it was the one my ex used to write to me at.
      I don't think that is a coincidence.
      It's almost always for online casinos and fake Rolex watches.
      I don't get spam at my Yahoo or NetZero or Live.com email.
    1. mogelijk's Avatar
      mogelijk -
      Quote Originally Posted by SnowyWhite View Post
      Gmail does a pretty good job and only one of my Gmail accounts gets spam, it was the one my ex used to write to me at.
      I don't think that is a coincidence.
      It's almost always for online casinos and fake Rolex watches.
      I don't get spam at my Yahoo or NetZero or Live.com email.
      I typically don't see Spam on my Gmail, Gmail does a good job of filtering those and sending them to the Spam folder automatically. Unfortunately, it sometimes has done "too good" a job and filtered some legitimate emails. My Yahoo! gets a ton of junk emails, though it is a very old account -- probably close to 20 years old at this point. I believe my email address actual predates Yahoo! mail, it was a mail service that Yahoo! bought out in the late 90s.
    1. TelecomZombie's Avatar
      TelecomZombie -
      Are they selling the user experience or the user?
      Welcome to the future. A future where everything around you is available for purchase, and your phone never stops watching you.
    1. dragon2knight's Avatar
      dragon2knight -
      Pros:
      None, not even price....
      Cons:
      AT&T only, low res screen for the price, no Google anything, gimmick's galore, no real incentive to buy it at all.
      Result?
      Major Fail.
    1. uncreative's Avatar
      uncreative -
      I wonder how long it will take someone at XDA to flash it to vanilla android. Probably much longer as the price is too high. I can see many people purchasing this phone because they love the kindles. My parents would buy one as they are so closely tied to amazon.

      Amazon....the next Apple.
    1. cvs8floz's Avatar
      cvs8floz -
      Just looked at the technical specs for this phone and it clearly states that the phone features 9 bands of 4G-LTE:

      UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz), Quad-band GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), 9 bands of 4G-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 17, 20), supports carrier aggregation.

      Please correct me if I'm wrong, but is this the first phone to offer so many bands, I have never seen anything comparable. If this phone can be unlocked, it could operate on virtually any 4G-LTE network around the world. All other phones I have seen offer different versions for different parts of the world and it is difficult to acquire a European model in the U.S. for example. This feature could set this phone apart from anything else out there and make it very valuable to international travelers who care about data speed.