Amazon had us all hyped up with their new smartphone, is it really that good ?. “Can we build a better phone for our most engaged customers?” is what CEO Jeff Bezos said when they were developing it. Well that depends on how they define “better”
Let me give you the dessert first, Some of the interesting features are
- Dolby Digital Plus – The Fire has Dolby Digital virtual surround sound, admirable but the addition of a renowned brand isn’t going to bring in a surge of customers.
- OIS – To eliminate the motion blur that usually comes from a user’s unsteady hand while taking a photo, the Amazon Fire has an optical image stabilizer in its 13-megapixel camera. When compared to digital image stabilization, having an OIS means there is a physical component (in the Fire’s case, “tiny motors”) that adjusts and counteracts against the movement of a user’s hand.This isn’t a real biggie though as we’ve seen this a few times over in phones like the Nexus 5, Lumia 920, Lumia 1020 and the HTC One.
- Tilt Scroll and Eye Tracking – As you can see in the image above Amazon has employed 4 specialized cameras on the front to track a user’s eye and head movement, this also brings about a unique 3D interface for graphics and gameplay. Samsung’s S4 debuted with this kind of tech and LG followed suit, the difference here is that Amazon have seem to be taking it to the next level as it incorporates infrared trackers to enable functionality in poor light.
- Firefly – Firefly is one of those features that solves a problem for Amazon – how can we get people to buy more stuff? it is a visual recognition app that aims to help shoppers,it’s primarily designed to help users to shop on Amazon and tailor suggestions based on your purchases.
- 3D – In the Fire Phone’s dictionary means things like a holo lock screes, 3D imaging on maps and a contextual menu that can be seen when the device is tilted and the interface icons on the home screen and app tray get the same perspective-shift trick. Amazon refers to these, a little clumsily, as Low Motion controls, which you can customize in the phone’s settings if they’re not your thing. So far, the most impressive display of 3D prowess comes in the form of a collection of wallpapers and gaming (on select titles so far), where the layers of richness and dimension could help forge a deeper visual and emotional connection with the phone, this does seem to be a redeeming feature.
Now let me give you the veggies
- Price – This is a major reason that it might end up a failure, It costs $199 on a two year contract (AT&T only) or a whopping $650 off-contract. That puts it in the same bracket as the Samsung Galaxy S5, the LG G3, and the iPhone 5S. Leaving the iPhone out of context if we compare it to the S5 and G3 It has a smaller screen with a lower pixel density, it has an older, slower processor, and there’s no microSD card slot. It’s also heavier in comparison and has no unique design to it, the camera is on par with the G3 but pales in comparison to the 16MP 4K-shooting bad boy on the S5.
- Software Aspects – There’s a MayDay feature for instant tech support aimed at the less tech savvy crowd but it seems pointless anyway.One of the biggest gripes is the free one year membership of Amazon Prime, usually $100 per year. It gives access to a sizeable library of movies, TV shows, music, and e-books, not to mention two-day shipping on any Amazon purchases. Although it does say “for a limited time” so there’s no telling how long that promotion will last.
- 3D – It just reminds us of Apple’s parallax effect on steroids and it was hardly a popular feature. Motion sickness complaints will start flooding in, Ars Technica already reported that the feature goes haywire if two faces are close enough to the phone to confuse it. Maybe Amazon would have been wiser if it just made do without it and cut the cost.
- Platform – It’s the Nokia X story all over again, the good folks at Amazon have had a good going over with the Android ecosystem and thrown the Play Store and other Google services out the window, the lack of Google Maps itself can be a deal breaker for some. The customization is very limited and rooting doesn’t seem a viable choice as the phones target buyers wouldn’t be interested in rooting and the hardware isn’t very luring in that aspect.
- It’s aimed at Amazon fans – if we compare it to mainstream flagships we could consider it an utter flop but as i quoted earlier “Can we build a better phone for our most engaged customers?” is what Bezos said. so its really not for people who are interested in the phones hardware and customization capabilities, doesn’t this remind us of the HTC First AKA the “Facebook Phone” but in this instance Amazon is a very different kind of company they just might find a niche market with their loyal fans.
I wouldn’t recommend this as a mainstream phone and i don’t think many others will either..
Stay tuned for more..