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Amazon Introduces “Fire” – Entering the Smart Phone Fray

Amazon’s brand new smart phone is slated for release July 25th. It’s aptly named the Fire Phone, and it has a few features that may bring customers in droves.

One aspect of smart phones that’s been lacking overall is camera quality. Nothing beats a device made only to take great pictures, but since many more of us use phones than real cameras, we have to make due. The Fire Phone comes jam-packed with five infrared cameras, four of which are strategically placed in the front four corners. They’re designated to work in sweet harmony to enable the plethora of 3D effects. The fifth eye is the front-facing camera.

Gorilla Glass, placed on both the front and back of the phone, are intended to give the phone a high-quality feel. Another cool feature is tilt-to-scroll; simply tilt the phone forward or backward to scroll the page. You press the screen with your finger to stop it. The more you tilt, the faster the screen will scroll. Scroll speed can also be chosen and locked. This feature has been offered by apps in the past, but Amazon is the first to offer hands-free scrolling for every phone they produce.

The Fire Phone implements an Amazon-heavy version of Android, Fire OS 3.5, which highlights mostly Amazon goodies. You’ll notice that well-known Google services, including Google Play Services, are missing here. As it runs on Android Jelly Bean, there are some Android KitKat 4.4 features that are included, like storage compression.


It appears that the Fire Phone’s biggest pull will come from Prime customer; unlimited photo storage is available for Prime customers, and the X Ray app and Second Screen app from Kindle will be included as well. If those pluses weren’t enough, the phone comes with a free year of Amazon Prime; if you’re an existing Primer, a free year is added to your account.

The Firefly app is yet another lane in which Amazon can lock in new customers. Firefly is a visual-scanning app that allows users to scan and identify various objects to either identify them or determine their availability on Amazon. That ability isn’t breaking new ground; Bing Vision, offered by Microsoft Windows Phone, scans QR’s, music and audio tracks and URL’s as well.

One ability Firefly has that the Bing Vision doesn’t is that it recognizes TV shows and pulls up info through IMDB. On top of that, the Firefly button doubles as a secondary camera button that you can access with a brief long press. The 3D interface shows promise in everyday apps, like maps, but the possibilities in gaming are vast. The results here are definitely better than the HTC Evo 3D and the LG Optimus 3D; it’s evident that smart phone camera technology has come a long way in the past four to five years.

In the United States, AT&T will offer the Fire Phone exclusively for $299 with 64GB storage or $199 with 32GB storage, with a two-year contract. You can pre-order the Fire Phone now.



Photo:  C|Net / Amazon

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