When Amazon launched its Prime Exclusive Phones program in 2016, the proposition was pretty straightforward: Amazon Prime members could save some money on a carrier unlocked smartphone if they were willing to put up with ads on the lockscreen and home screen.

Starting February 7th, the deal will get a little better… sort of: Amazon is disabling lockscreen ads on Prime Exclusive phones.

On the down side, an Amazon spokesperson says the company will raise the price of Prime Exclusive phones by $20 across the board (meaning if you buy a phone today you’ll save $20 and have lockscreen ads disabled via a software update).

You’ll still save money by picking up a Prime Exclusive variant of smartphones like the Moto X4, Moto G5 Plus, or LG6+. But the discounts won’t be quite as big.

The good news is that customers who buy a Prime Exclusive phone won’t see ads or “offers” on their lockscreen anymore. Existing customers will also get a software update that removes them.

Amazon says the update is designed to make sure “customers can easily use features such as the phone’s mobile unlock technologies like facial recognition and fingerprint sensors,” and to personalize their lockscreen with pictures or wallpapers.

Another way of looking at it might be that if you used a fingerprint to unlock your phone and turn on the display simultaneously, you probably never saw the ads on the lockscreen anyway.

So what exactly is a Prime Exclusive phone without the lockscreen ads? It’s still a phone that’s offered exclusively to Prime customers, and it still comes with some Amazon features pre-loaded, including:

  • Amazon shopping
  • Amazon Video
  • Amazon Prime Music
  • Amazon Prime Photos
  • Amazon Widget

That last one will show up on the home screen and offer “personalized offers and deals,” which means that the phones aren’t exactly going ad-free. You just won’t see ads the second you hit the power button anymore.

Amazon says the ads and offers app will actually still be installed on Prime Exclusive phones. They just won’t show up on the lockscreen anymore.

Oh, and I also asked if Prime Exclusive phones would continue to ship with locked bootloaders. The answer is yes.

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6 replies on “Amazon Prime Exclusive phones scrap the lockscreen ads (and raises prices)”

  1. I was “This” close to signing up for Amazon Prime today and purchasing the Motorola G5+ 4GB/64 GB, then I saw this news. 4/64s were new.

    Guess what?

    New G5+s are gone, only used.

    The 32 GB model with ads was always used. What do you want to bet that tomorrow New 4/64s are back on the web site ?

    1. Sometimes the non-Amazon models are on sale. I recently saw the 4/64GB models on Newegg for a decent price.

      But I think the stock may be low due to the G6’s coming out soon. Just a guess.

  2. “Amazon Prime members could save some money on a carrier unlocked smartphone if they were willing to put up with ads on the lockscreen and home screen.”

    Geez really? The “new” lower price on the Amazon Prime Moto X4 is $329. That’s still way too much IMO. Project Fi’s current price for the Android One Moto X4 is $249, which is a decent U.S. price for a SD6XX equipped SoC device in this category (Moto X4 seems to be SD630). Project Fi’s new U.S. data plan for large users goes a long way to making their service more competitive too in my opinion. But maybe I’m not comparing apples to apples here. Not living in the U.S., I’m not sure about issues like lock-in with Project Fi hardware, although I do think there’s no ball-and-chain contract associated with the Fi compatible phones (but can you use a Fi phone with a non-Fi SIM?)

  3. I recently bought an Amazon Fire tablet with advertising. It’s less of an issue than I expected it to be.

  4. Odd they mention fingerprint scanners, because they don’t interfere with that.

    I wonder if this is related to those “fake news” stories about there being a security risk to the lock screen ads–the ones where the websites reporting the story didn’t realize the behavior was related to the SmartLock feature. That was only about a week or two ago.

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