Amazon Fire Phone

It's ... different — but there are still some compelling features in the new Amazon Fire Phone

Today, the Amazon Fire Phone is officially on sale. Those who preordered it should already have them in their hands, however, and that includes us. Nobody's expecting the Fire Phone to revolutionize smartphones, but there are more than a few interesting features that deserve mention.

So here we present you the short, short version of what you need to know about the Amazon Fire Phone.

Wait, so what is this thing again?

The Amazon Fire Phone, like the Kindle Fire HD tablets, is an Android-based device (Android 4.4.2, to be precise), running Amazon's custom software. It's got a 4.7-inch display at 720p resolution and is powered by a Snapdragon 800 with 2GB of RAM. It's got a 13-megapixel rear camera, 2.1MP front-facing camera, and four crazy lenses around the display that we'll get to in a minute.

The back has a glassy feel to it, not unlike the Nexus 4 or original LG Optimus G.

You can find the full specs here.

Where can I buy the Amazon Fire Phone?

It's officially available today from Amazon (naturally), and from AT&T online or in stores.

Off-contract it'll cost $649. You can get it on the AT&T Next for as low as $27 a month, or do a typical two-year plan and pay $199 for the phone up front.

So it's an Android phone? With Android apps?

It runs Android apps, but it doesn't have access to the Google Play Store or any traditional Google services. (It uses Microsoft's Bing for search, even.) You'll be downloading from the Amazon Appstore (or elsewhere, we suppose). But you won't be able to use apps you've already bought from Google Play. (Not without some hacking, anyway, and you know that it's going to happen.) You can sideload apps just like on any other Android phone, though.

What makes it so special then?

For one, it's Amazon's first public try at a smartphone. And while the Fire Phone is similar to Amazon's tablets in that it completely integrates Amazon's stores and services, most folks use their phone far more than a tablet. So it gets Amazon in front of them that much more.

That's important to remember when you're thinking about the Fire Phone. Its intended purpose is a little (or a lot, maybe) more focused. Get Amazon to you. Buy things. Buy lots of things. Do other stuff, sure. But buy things from Amazon.

OK, so what's up with all those cameras on the front?

Amazon Fire Phone cameras

Those are part of this crazy user interface that looks at you. No, really, it's looking at you. It sees your face and can tell when you're looking at it straight-on. But turn the phone ever so slightly, and hidden information appears on the screen. It's actually kind of a neat way to hide the status bar on the home screen, and to show tooltips when you're doing other things. It also allows for some cool — but gimmicky — 3D graphical effects.

All those cameras also make the front of the phone look a little silly. And if anyone's making accessories for this thing, they're going to have to look out for the lenses.

And this Firefly thing?

Amazon Firefly

Being able to use a camera to scan products to get more information is nothing new, but Amazon's done it really well here with its "Firefly" feature. Start it up, and point the phone at anything and everything. If it's recognized, you'll quickly get an Amazon listing, and from there you can buy it. If it doesn't recognize that thing, you can help Amazon build up its database by submitting the picture and info.

It's pretty cool, actually. And also a little scary.

Anything else I need to know?

This phone won't be for everyone. If you're not way into Amazon's cloud services our buying all the things from them, you'll probably want to look elsewhere. It's not like it's all that difficult to download any one of Amazon's apps to get to the same stuff. (Save for Prime Instant Video. C'mon, Amazon!) But we get why Amazon's done the Fire Phone. It brings Amazon that much closer to consumers.

It's different. It's a little weird. And in the context of your traditional Android smartphone, you'll probably want to look elsewhere. Amazon know this, though. We'd expect the Fire Phone to be much more of a long play than Facebook's two attempts at phones. Amazon has actual content and services people use.

Does that require a full phone? Nope. But unlike the other niche phones we've used over the years, Amazon's Fire Phone has a lot more to offer.


Reader comments

The Amazon Fire Phone is officially available today — here's what you need to know!


Correction: don't buy it now. If you don't have a ton of money tied up in Play Store purchases, this could be a pretty neat phone... in three months when it costs a third of what it costs now due to shit sales.

Edit: I can't believe I missed a perfectly good opportunity to make a "Fire sale" pun.

Not sure I'd recommend it even at $150 off contract... Not when you can get a Moto E or G. If the phone had come out a year or two earlier, maybe; but Firefly is lousy (doesn't seem to work much better than something like Goggles, despite the hooplah) and the 3D effect is, well, another 3D gimmick. I'm surprised it gets decent battery life despite it tho, or at least initial "reviews" haven't complained about it.

i'd like to see a review of this new Fire phone accessory -

Amazon Premium Headphones

Price: $24.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
Engineered by Amazon to work perfectly with your Fire phone
Designed with magnetic earbuds and a flat cord to keep your headphones free of tangles
Features a mic and multi-function button to allow you to control your calls, music, and more
Delivers clear, crisp sound through ergonomically-designed earbuds

Ouch thats a bit pricy I'll wait for more reviews. Tangle free is nice, but if they are anything like iPhone headphones I'd have to replace them like 3 times a year. Good thing the local apple store just lets me swap headphones no questions asked.

$25 is pricey? for tangle-free flat cord and magnets? i use the Apple Earpods too and they are good but i'm always looking for something better (value added). my Earpods usually last me about 2 years and that's with daily use. i like white because people can see them in my ears and usually don't bother me.

For a product I haven't experienced myself yes $25 is pricey when I already have other headphones that work just as well. Without prime you would have to add shipping cost too cause it doesn't meet their $35 minimum before sales tax.

Didn't really peak my interest, and as soon as I read that it uses bing for search, that sealed that I will never buy it.

Posted via Android Central App

It's good to try and be different. Unfortunately, this is just a bit too different. It's an Android phone that doesn't really utilize the Android software. What's the point of running Android and if you have no access to the Google Play Store? If this had access to the Play Store, MAYBE it wouldn't be such a complete and utter disaster.

Posted via my Huawei Ascend Mate 2 :)

Remember though, many said the same as you when Amazon released their first tablet. It did pretty doggone good in sales. Generally, only people in communities like this care about Android looking like Android.

Apples and Oranges. Amazon had developed a huge Kindle following. That group of folks were already used to a closed, limited environment with the eInk Kindles. For them, getting full color, Web browsing, media consumption, and some apps was a bonus. Amazon was simply extending a market they already owned. The same can't be said for phones.

That same group that is now invested in the Amazon ecosystem won't be interested in extending to another kind of mobile device like a phone? It's apples and apple sauce, not oranges. The biggest mistake is the carrier exclusivity.

Odds are they already had a smartphone and invested in another platform as well. So this may not be able to lure them away

True.. Odds are though, the exclusivity will kill this phone. It worked for Apple when they were the only game in town. It won't work in 2014.

Yeah, they need to throw in like $25 Amazon app store credit with purchase. That would cover re-purchase of paid apps for most people, I'll bet.

$25, more like $250 rebate for apps plus emotional distress of using this phone.

The other difference with Apple is that they have access to Google's suite of apps at least.

We don't really know that the Fire tablets did well in sales, Amazon is pretty tight lipped with those numbers. They did well enough for Amazon to keep making follow up models, but it may be part of a larger strategy. Amazon as a company has actually been losing money left and right, despite immense growth.

Fire tablets didn't have much going for them besides price point, and even that is no longer true with plenty of GOOD Nexus and non Nexus tablets going for $150-300. I honestly hope Amazon gives up on first party hardware and focuses on what they're good at: ecommerce and services.

Why did Netflix grow so fast and why does it continue growing despite Hollywood's best efforts? (and even Netflix's own mistakes) Cause it's on nearly every device on the planet.

They are just trying to see how much money a company can lose. Facebook did a bad phone , but I'm sure we can make one worse!

Posted via Android Central App

I'm sure all you posting negative comments had no issue heading over to the contest article to drop a comment and enter though. Probably a glowing comment as well.

It'll suck more, you can't just install Play without completely paving over the stock ROM and the few unique features the phone has. There's no saving grace, making it a loss leader like the Fire tablets is the only thing that made sense.

There will probably be a stock/cyanogen ROM for it. But it will render the phones only interesting "features" useless.

Posted via Galaxy ace plus running Speedmod 2.5 with Xposed

Amazing line of crap from Amazon. I rooted my android just to remove their crapware from my phone as well as Samsungs. Why would I want to buy a phone that is crapware and spyware from end to end. Just another way of targeting sales to people and ripping off. I have never purchased from them nor will I ever.
Just my opinion.

Posted via Android Central App with my rooted Galaxy S4

I'm WAY into the Amazon ecosytem and have literally zero interest in this thing.

Been a Prime member for like 8 yrs, buy most everything from Amazon on a daily basis. Have two kindles, buy books, etc.

Firefly is simply an app. Amazon should just bolster it's current apps that are already on millions of phones/tablets right now rather than try launching a phone. And the retail price? LOL

Massive forked flop incoming.

I agree with you. I have been a Prime member since Prime started and I have a Kindle Fire HD and Fire TV. Use the Amazon store app daily to check daily deals. I will not be purchasing the Fire phone. It is a mid-tier spec'd phone priced like a high-end phone. Also, have no desire to go back to AT&T. I have a brand new LG G3 that costs less than the Fire phone and works great on T-mobile's 4G LTE network in my area.

Firefly is a gimmick. How many brick and mortar stores willing to put up with people snapping pictures of their merchandise just to buy it on Amazon?

Having spent so much on the Google ecosystem it saddens me that there are no Play Services, but I was able to get around that on my Kindle Fire. I am already tied to AT&T, so that doesn't bother me. This phone has potential if Amazon and Google could play nicer together. I'll admit it. I am interested in this phone/ecosystem.

Only potential this has is if Amazon gives it away for $100 off contract, or like $150 with Prime... It's a dud as a high end phone regardless of the exclusivity or even the hardware. Amazon didn't start off by making any significant money off the Fire tablets, dunno why they felt they needed to with the phone... The whole project budget must've ballooned out of hand.

What I needs ta knows is hows you gets the Amazon Prime video apk offs it sos I can puts it on my Nexus 10. Dats whats I needs ta knows.

Posted via Ash William's Boomstick

So much this. It is a huge slap in the face to all owners of Android phones and tablets that they have not released an amazon instant video app.

Posted via Android Central App

Ridiculously overpriced especially without google services. It's simply ridiculous. I'd rather buy a BlackBerry, no joke.

Posted via Android Central App

Just had an invite and ordered my One Plus One, seems to out spec the Amazon offering and is certainly a lot less expensive. I think Amazon have priced themselves out of the market.

Posted via Android Central App

649 rupees is a pretty good price for a premium phone made by a leading tech manufacturer...don't know what all the fuss is about...

Not worth the money...Unless you're an amazon nut. I can do without the "3D". Plus there's no Google Play Store? Lame.

Posted via Android Central App

Can this be used with a chromecast without sideloading? I don't see a chromecast app in the amazon app store.

Posted via Android Central App

What you need to know: THIS phone...and ALL of LAST year's Top-Of-Line ANDROID phones are cheaper and better than the iChump 5s,a,b,c,g,z, etc...

Amazon's not trying to sell you a phone here...
...they're trying to sell you a device that'll make you buy more stuff from Amazon.

Anyone who tells you any different is lying.

Amazon phone Google play store search engine ..
Ha ha ha ha ...ERM ..
Think I'll pass thanks ..
This phone is gonna die a slow painful death ..

Posted via Android Central App