Yesterday, Amazon unveiled their new Fire smartphone at a special press event in Seattle. The Fire phone is Amazon’s first-ever hand-set, and the first phone to feature head-tracking technology, and with only being out for less than 24 hours, the unveiling of this amazing piece of hardware has caused quite the buzz throughout the internet.
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The Amazon Fire features a simple and sleek black glass rectangle with a rubber frame and aluminum buttons. The screen on Amazon’s phone is larger than Apple’s iPhones but smaller than phones made by Samsung Electronics. The Fire phone’s front-face signature, curved edges, and shiny back with an oversize logo too closely resembles an iPhone, which led NewDealDesign President Gadi Amit, designer of the Fitbit, the Lytro camera, and Google’s Ara phone, to say this:
its design approach shows little consistency with other Amazon products, and is downright generic. With the Fire phone, Amazon has clearly privileged a service—the ability to buy stuff from Amazon with ease—over industrial design.
Specs & Features
Although the design isn’t anything special, the specs and features Amazon introduced with their Fire phone say otherwise. The Fire phone has a 4.7-inch Gorilla Glass display with an HD-resolution screen of 720p, a quad-core 2.2GHz processor, Adreno 330 GPU, and 2GB of RAM. Though this doesn’t match up to the latest Android flagships, it’s enough to provide a great user experience. The phone is also equipped with a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with an f/2.0 lens and optical image stabilization and the ability to capture 1080p video. The phone’s display will have 590 nits of brightness, dynamic image contrast and a “circular polarizer,” which will likely be used to combat glare. There’s also a dedicated camera key.
As for the features, it includes global LTE and connectivity with nine bands of LTE, quad-band GSM, five bands of UMTS, 802.11ac support, WiFi channel bonding, NFC and Bluetooth. It even has a “great battery life”, promising nearly 285 hours of standby time, 22 hours of talk time, 65 hours of audio and 11 hours of video playback.
The Fire can be used with dual stereo speakers which provides support for virtual Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. It comes with earphones with tangle-free, flat cables plus magnetic earbuds that clasp together. The phone also features an X-Ray for second-screen functionality, ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) support and the ability to fling videos to Miracast devices, and it supports all of the Prime offerings like Music and Video. With the Fire you also get Audible, the Kindle Newsstand, and Comixology.
Last but not least, the Fire will include free unlimited cloud storage, Firefly, a 3D interface, and 24/7, 365-days-a-year live customer service support!
Free Cloud Storage Service
Unlike Apple, where you are forced to pay expensive amounts for extra storage or delete precious content on your iPhone to make room for new content, Amazon has already eliminated this issue and frustration for its customers by providing free and unlimited storage for your photos and videos.
Amazon also introduced Firefly with its new Fire phone. Firefly can detect, through the camera, phone numbers, movies, books, games, CDs and food. It allows Fire Phone owners to buy things instantly that are found in the world. More specifically, the feature that uses the phone’s camera to recognize books, DVDs, phone numbers, QR codes, CDs, URLs, games, bar codes and more. It also uses the phone’s microphone to listen to songs. If it detects an item, you can quickly tap a button to purchase it from Amazon. Firefly can also recognize art. It recognizes over a hundred million items, including street signs. It’s such a key service to the Fire that there’ll even be a dedicated Firefly button. It’s Amazon’s version of Flow and undoubtedly a big marketing hook for Amazon.
3D Interface with Head-Tracking Technology
3D interface will follow you around thanks to Fire’s unique head-tracking system that CEO Jeff Bezos calls Dynamic Perspective. It works by having four 120-degree field of view, front-facing cameras on each corner. At any moment, two of them are working to constantly know where you head is at any given time. Even if you’re using the phone at night, each camera has it’s own infrared light to shine on you so the phone knows what’s going on. They also use a global shutter instead of a rolling shutter.
Amazon has also introduced 60fps 3D effects, which they are currently using to provide interesting 3D lock screens, and the effects are littered throughout the UI. For example, icons in the user interface float above other layers of the screen to provide a parallax-like effect. Pairing these effects with tilt controls will let users switch between web pages and perform other commands, too, by simply tilting purposefully to the left or right. As we’ve seen with other phones, you can tilt to scroll through an article or web page vertically, as well.
So is the Fire an Android?
The Fire runs on Fire OS 3.5, an Android-based operating system that’s customized for Amazon. So like the Kindle, it can run most Android applications, but not all.
The Fire Phone will only be available through a two-year contract under AT&T. Pricing will be $200 for the 32GB version and $300 for the 64GB one. The Fire will ship on July 25th of this year, and for those who pre-order Amazon is offering a deal that gives Prime and non-Prime users either an extra year of membership or a one-year complimentary one, respectively.
This is some exciting news for Amazon fans, but would you swap out your Android or iPhone for one of these? Let me know what you think in the comments below! Also, be sure to follow the discussion on other topics here.