Putting months of speculation to rest, Amazon unveiled its Fire Phone today.
On a two-year contract with AT&T, the 32GB version will be priced at $199 and the 64GB will be $299. Without a contract, the two versions will be $649 and $749, respectively.
The Fire Phone is expected to ship July 25.
On the surface, its technical specifications are similar to high-end Android smartphones on the market today. It features a quad–core 2.2GHz processor, 720p 4.7-inch screen, 2GB of RAM, and a 13-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization and a hardware button.
Its frame is made of Gorilla Glass 3 and rubber, with aluminum buttons. The earbuds are magnetic to stick to each other, and their cable is flat to cut down on tangles. Speakers are positioned at the top and bottom for stereo sound in landscape mode.
Firefly & Mayday
The phone also features Firefly, which recognizes art, products, music, and video with its camera and microphone – and helps the user buy it on Amazon. Firefly recognizes phone numbers and email addresses as well, connecting to contacts and messaging apps. The camera hardware button below the volume rocker also serves as the Firefly hardware button.
There’s also the Mayday (software) button, first introduced on Kindle tablets, providing live video support 24 hours a day.
Dynamic Perspective 3D
One unique aspect of the Fire Phone is the head- and eye-tracking system enabled by four cameras on the front. It gives the screen a slight 3D effect called Dynamic Perspective: showing the “sides” of icons, shifting the background, and revealing hidden information when the user moves his or her head.
The real focus of the Fire Phone, though, is its integration with Amazon content and services – which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos called the “Prime Ecosystem”. The camera comes with unlimited photo storage on Amazon Cloud Drive, and of course the phone is connected to all multimedia features of Amazon Prime. It also comes with 12 months of Prime included.
Amazon raised the price of its Prime service a few months ago from $79 to $99 per year, for the first time in seven years. In addition to free shipping, Prime now includes ebook borrowing and video and music streaming.
Bezos said that more than 60,000 people applied for an invitation to the launch event, but only 300 were able to attend.
What do you think? Does the Fire Phone live up to the hype?