Amazon is introducing its first smartphone. The Fire Phone is a 4.7 inch handset aimed at the company’s most loyal customers: Amazon Prime subscribers.

The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, an HD display, and a Gorilla Glass, scratch-resistant screen. But those aren’t the features that really make it stand out from the competition.

It’s also tightly integrated with Amazon’s music, video, eBook, and app ecosystems and includes cloud features including unlimited online storage for your photos. Oh yeah, and it has an unusual 3D user interface that moves as you move your eyes over the screen.

amazon fire phone

The Fire Phone will be available exclusively through US wireless carrier AT&T. The 4G LTE phone will be available with an AT&T 2-year contract or as part of the AT&T Next early upgrade program.

Pre-orders start today and the phone will ship July 25th. A 32GB model costs $199 with a 2-year contract, or $27 per month with the Next plan (and no money down).

You can also buy the phone outright from Amazon for $649. A 64GB model is also available for $299 with a contract or $749 without.

For a limited time, Amazon will also include a free 12 month subscription to Amazon Prime for new customers. Existing Prime subscribers will get an extra 12 months when they buy a Fire Phone.

The Fire Phone has a 1280 x 720 pixel IPS display with 590 nits of brightness for outdoor visibility. It’s covered with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3.

Other features include 2GB of RAM, a 13MP rear camera with a 5 element lens and optical image stabilization, and dual stereo speakers. The phone has a 2.1Mp front-facing camera, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC.

Those features are all pretty par for the course in the smartphone space. Here are some things that make this device different.

Amazon also includes a pair of tangle-free magnetic earbuds with flat cables with the phone.

camera button

You can snap photos quickly thanks to a dedicated camera button that lets you fire up the camera and take a picture no matter what else you’re already doing with the camera.

Dynamic Perspective (3D display)

One of the most talked-about features of the Fire Phone over the past few months has been its 3D user interface. Amazon calls this Dynamic Perspective, and what it means is that the phone can track your eye movements so that visual elements move as you move your head.
dynamic perspective_03

For instance you could look at a 3D model of a building on a map, and as you move your eyes or reposition the phone, the view of the building will change to show it from new angles.

Amazon includes a few lock screens with dynamic 3D effects including a forest scene, hot air balloons, and more.

Third party developers can also tap into Dynamic Perspective. For example, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos showed off a game called Tofu Fury which lets you tilt the phone to view different parts of the level.

fire phone game

It takes at least two dedicated cameras for Dynamic Perspective to work. One has a 120 degree viewing angle and the other has Z-depth to figure out how far your eyes are from the phone.

fire phone dynamic

But the Fire Phone uses four cameras so that it’ll work even if you’re covering some of the cameras with your fingers. It’ll automatically use the best two cameras available.

The cameras also feature infrared lights so that they work even if you’re in the dark.

Tilt gestures

Technically, this is also part of Dynamic Perspective — but it kind of feels like a separate feature. You can control the phone by tilting it.

For example, you can tilt the Fire Phone to scroll through websites in a web browser, to switch pages while reading an eBook, or to flip through a carousel of items while you’re shopping.

fire phone dresses

When you combine the relatively palm-sized dimensions of the 4.7 inch phone with support for tilt gestures and 3D motion tracking, it could be a lot easier to use the Fire Phone in one hand than some other large-screen smartphones.

Amazon Prime

As you’d expect, the Fire Phone will have many of the features already available to Kindle Fire tablet users, including support for Amazon Prime Instant Video, Amazon Prime Music.

amazon prime videos

Like Kindle Fire tablets, the Fire Phone also supports third party services including Hulu Plus, Netflix, and HBO Go.

ASAP

The phone also uses a feature called ASAP first introduced with the Fire TV set-top-box. It will detect your viewing habits and depending on the time of day it can cache and pre-buffer select video content so that it’s ready to go even before you fire up the video player.

Mayday

Amazon’s Mayay service which launched for Kindle Fire HDX users is also available. This lets you tap a button and start a video chat with an Amazon customer support person in about 10 seconds.

fire phone mayday

They can talk to you via video window and even draw on your screen or control your device (with your permission), but they can’t see you.

Firefly

Amazon is first and foremost a store… and there’s a new shopping experience built into the Fire Phone thanks to an app called Firefly. Press the Firefly button (it’s the same button as the camera button) and point your phone’s camera at a book, DVD, or QR code and it’ll recognize it and give you more information from Amazon’s database.

firefly button

Firefly can also listen to music like Shazam or Google Play Sound Search and bring up songs on Amazon Music or third party apps… and it can recognize some TV shows as well.

The company says Firefly can recognize 100 million different items including artwork, videos, music, books, and other content. Third-party developers such as iHeartRadio can also create actions so that you could create a playlist from a song found by Firefly, for example. MyFitnessPal can give you nutritional information for foods you identify with the app.

Not surprisingly, you can buy songs, books, or other content Firefly discovers from Amazon.

firefly dialer

Firefly also uses image recognition technology to let you do things like scan a phone number on a poster and open that number in the phone’s dialer.

Home Screen and app launcher

Like Amazon’s tablets, the Fire Phone runs a custom version of Android called Fire OS. But the OS has been tweaked a bit for smartphone use. Not only is there now a phone dialer, but the graphics and UI have been optimized for smaller screens.

fire phone home_02

There’s still a carousel on the home screen, but when you scroll through it you can previews of things like the latest email messages or upcoming calendar appointments so that you have some limited interaction with apps before you even open them. App developers can create their own widgets that will appear when you see their apps in the carousel as well.

fire phone launcher_02

The app drawer includes “cloud” and “device” tabs, letting you keep apps and content you don’t need on your device stored on Amazon’s servers. You can pin frequently-used apps to the top of the screen.

Specs

Here’s a run-down of the phone’s hardware:

  • 4.7 inch, 1280 x 720 pixel, 315 ppi display with 590/cd/m2 brightness
  • 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU
  • Adreno 330 graphics
  • Fire OS 3.5
  • 32GB or 64GB of storage
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 13MP rear camera with HDR, auto-focus, optical image stabilization, f/2.0 5-element wide aperture lens, and LED flash
  • 2.1MP front-facing camera
  • 2400mAh battery with up to 285 hours standby time, 11 hous video playback
  • Free cloud storage for photos and all Amazon content including books, music, and movies
  • Support for screen mirroring
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • NFC
  • GPS
  • UMTS/HSPA+ and quad-band GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz) and 9-band LTE (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 17, 20)

You can watch the entire launch event here:

 

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33 replies on “Amazon Fire Phone available for pre-order $199 and up (AT&T exclusive)”

  1. why would anyone in their right mind get locked into a 2 year jail term with att when you can buy this phone every 2 weeks or so at 199 right on Amazon….someone help me out here.plus you get a year of amazon prime (99 dollars) free, essentially making the phone 99 bucks,,i got one last month,,for 99 clams its a ********* steal.and no damn contract,,,,you people need to figure out 2 years at their rates does NOT make the phone free for you,,are you really that dumb (did you vote for obomba also)

  2. What happened to “we don’t make money off of you buying the device; we make money off of you USING the device.”?

  3. Similar specs to the Nexus 5, but for twice the price. Thus the disappointment, especially coming from Amazon where the expectation was that they would offer it nearer to cost and make money from the services you will be roped into.

  4. I don’t get the disdain in the comments. It’s an Android phone competitively priced with additional features not available anywhere else. It’s not my cup of tea, as a Blackberry guy, but I’m hardly going to push it aside without taking a second look, and a really close up second look at that. If Apple had done this it would have instantly been ‘the next big thing’.

    Must be a brand issue?

  5. I never cease to be amazed at how much people are willing to spend on their mobile phones, kit and plan combined.

  6. Four cameras watching you and analysing your eye movements and distance constantly. That’ll run the battery down nice and quick.

    1. I doubt it will make much difference over having the screen on during that time.

  7. What a pile of Rubbish..Amazon why did you botther with the Gimmick..price would have won you the deal and even the spek isnt great.

    1. Except for screen resolution, the specs are right up there with the competition.

  8. Seems interesting. The 3D and eye tracking concept is nice but I’m going to guess it’s going to have a lot of issues out the door like with most anything that’s new. Plus, this is Amazon’s first phone so there’ll likely be some bugs with it in general that other phones won’t have. I’ll keep an eye on this phone but I certainly won’t be buying the first generation.

    I guess there wasn’t anything with giving away “free” data with these phones. For example, streaming Amazon videos and music and downloading apps from the Amazon store won’t count against your monthly data quota. Now that net neutrality is gone in the US and there was talk about AT&T promoting this “sponsored” data concept not too long ago, I thought they’d do it with this phone.

    1. I was thnking that the sponsored data would have been a nice selling point. Maybe not unlimited, but 5gb per month or something along those lines. Without that I just don’t think the lack of play store access can be overlooked enough to put up with this phone for 2 years.

  9. good first attempt. I’d like to see a pro version with thinner bezel and updated soc.

  10. Bezos has probably spent too much time in Colorado, if he thinks people will pay $650 for this Fancy bar code scanner that only sells from his store!

    1. What’s wrong with the price? That’s the same pricing for other flagships in the US.

      1. I think that’s what some people are unhappy about. They’d been hoping Amazon would sell a phone at or near cost the way it does with tablets, hoping to make revenue off digital media sales.

        1. I see. That makes sense. Thank you for your insight. I forgot about the tablets being sold at/near costs.

          1. No problem. You definitely have a point as well. There are just some people who figured the *only* reason to buy an Amazon phone would be the price.

            But I think the company makes a compelling case that it’s got a phone that should appeal to heavy Amazon users… or folks who really like 3D visual effects, I suppose.

            For everyone else, the phone looks like an interesting option, but I doubt it’ll tempt many die-hard Android or iOS users to switch.

      2. The problem with the flagship pricing is that It doesn’t have flagship specs.
        Also, the pricing is identical to the Galaxy S5 at AT&T.

        1. I don’t see the spec reasoning. Especially when it comes to real world performance of Snapdragon 80x SoCs. The main thing that’ll affect perceived performance would likely be how bloated the customized OS is. For example, the S5 is known to lag/stutter more often than a Moto X.

          I guess higher numbers will affect the perceived value among the few spec heads out there who are unable to understand how it actually relates to real world performance differences.

  11. If it was $650 with 10 minutes of prime talk and 200mb of prime data monthly “free” for life I might have bought it. As it is it is way too expensive. No one is going to buy this.
    They could have even given you more talk/data the more you spend on amazon via the phone or something like that.

  12. Wow, at $200, they gonna have to convince users to get this over S5, iPhone or G 3. That’s a hard sell.

    1. Hard is an understatement. I might pick one of these up when thy are going for $200 off contract in 6 months.

  13. it’s pretty much lame. Well, atleast new phones will get eye perspective too. I was hoping for a 3d phone.

    1. What kind of 3D were you looking for that’s not the same kind of 3D the Amazon Fire phone offers?

      1. parallax screen, like the evo 3d but I was hoping that the eye tracking would make it much easier to see the split data. I enjoyed the evo 3d… it was just difficult to keep it in 3d because of eye movements.

  14. Hmmm. Interested to see how much it’ll cost and how it’s sold. Whether direct or through carriers. Shouldn’t think carriers would be too interested unless they’re getting a kick back from Amazon.

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