Wednesday saw the launch of the first smartphone from Amazon, the Fire Phone, and there are quite a few unique features that should get the public to purchase it.
The Fire Phone has an amazing set of front facing cameras, which create a brilliant 3D effect on icons and some text. The 3D ‘Dynamic Perspective’ works by sensing where your head is in relation to the screen, so when you move your head, the screen automatically changes, giving the 3D effect.
Fire also incorporates Firefly, which enables the camera to recognise objects and text so that the user can quickly buy the product, go to the website or make a call.
Looks-wise, the Fire Phone is similar to the iPhone 4, as it has the same glass panels on the front and back. Size-wise it’s about the same size as the new iPhone 6.
Operating the new Fire is great fun, as you can use many different ways to view screens, scroll down or switch between content. For instance, the Fire has a neat tilting system where tilting the phone to either the right or left will bring up the menu, and you can hide this by simply tilting the other way.
There’s also an auto-scrolling function in which tilting the phone up or down will scroll the page for you. The more you tip the page the faster the content will scroll. You can also rotate the phone to bring up Amazon’s tech support service, the torch and notifications. By slightly tilting the phone you can view extra information, such as larger pictures of items that you are browsing.
As for the touchscreen, swiping in from the right-hand side or left-hand side will bring up different menus and information, depending on which app you are using.
So does the new Fire have enough great features to convince people to lock into Amazon’s products? Those people who already have Fire Kindles will certainly be used to the operating system, and if buying physical products quickly and easily from Amazon is a priority, then this is definitely the phone for you.
What might put people off however is that the Fire does not have Google, which means no Google Play store so no games, maps, YouTube or Gmail. Amazon has made its own maps app, using the 3D effect of Dynamic Perspective, but although there are 3D buildings, the landmarks have little detailing. The maps do give you directions for driving, walking and public transport however.
If you sign up to Fire before 2015, you get a year’s free membership to Prime, the dvd service worth around $90 annually. So is it likely to appeal to everyone? Cameron Janes, Amazon’s director of the Fire phone, told the Guardian:
“We think the Fire Phone will be a great phone for Amazon customers, amazing for Prime customers, but it’s a very competitive phone and good for people who want a new phone in general. It’s amazing value with a bundled year of Amazon Prime giving access to 15,000 videos and 500,000 books, plus free unlimited photo cloud storage and customer support from the built-in MayDay feature.”
The Fire has been on sale in the U.S for a month already, and is set to reach the UK and Australia at the start of the fall. But early feedback from tech experts has not been favourable, with some bemoaning the poor battery life, and others stating that it is too gimmicky and too expensive ($200 on-contract, $650 off).