The jokes were inevitable, of course. With the news that Amazon was sticking its mitts into the smartphone world once again — selling the new Moto G4 and BLU R1 HD for cheap in exchange for lock screen ads — it had to happen.
Return of the Fire Phone.
I own a Fire Phone. It's buried deep in box somewhere, probably next to my HTC First Facebook Phone. Or maybe I shipped it up to West Virginia. Same difference, really. But the point is we paid good money to have one around, just in case the damned thing took off and we needed to write more about it.
And that's not to say that I don't have questions about these two sponsored phones. The BLU R1 HD (I still can't decide if license plate names are better than froo-froo names for phones) is just $49 for Amazon Prime members. The Moto G4 will run you $149. In exchange, you'll have to put up with lockscreen ads, and some preinstalled Amazon apps. The latter doesn't bother me as much as the former. You find Amazon apps bundled with carrier-branded phones all the time. That doesn't mean I like it — it just means I'm used to it.
Lock screens are a little more sacred. They're generally the first thing you see when you wake a phone. And since the Moto G4 doesn't have a fingerprint scanner (that luxury is reserved for the higher-spec'd Moto G4 Plus) you're going to be seeing the lock screen a lot, just like the bad old days.
So that's question No. 1. Will you be able to install a replacement lock screen app? I've never used any, but there are plenty of folks who have — and we've got a good list of 'em right here. Question No. 2 has to do with the software as a whole. The first three generations of the Moto G had unlockable bootloaders. I could see where this Amazon version — that's what it is at this point — wouldn't want that to be available, as you could buy a $149 phone and essentially get the same software as one that wasn't on sale. And at that price point it's a real consideration. On the other hand, it could be wide open.
But neither of those things would turn either the Moto G4 or BLU's new phone into the dumpster fire that was the Fire Phone.
For one, both of these phones still have access to Google's apps and services. While Amazon has done a great job of building out its own app ecosystem, it's just not the same. Then there's the matter of the software itself. Even lock screen ads and a few pieces of bloatware are better than the weird 3D thing Amazon was pushing on the Fire Phone. It's not that it was horribly executed — it was just unnecessary and distracting.
So, no. Just because Amazon's doing its thing to a couple of phones doesn't mean the Fire Phone is returning from the puddle of slag it quickly became. Far from it.
On the other hand, maybe a little more Fire in our lives wouldn't be so bad. 'Cause we could always use a little more of this guy.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
Twitter experiences widespread hack in coordinated cryptocurrency scam
A number of high profile Twitter accounts have sent scam-related tweets encouraging users to send Bitcoin to an unknown account.
Microsoft Launcher's big 6.0 overhaul is here with new features
Microsoft today launched Microsoft Launcher 6.0, a massive overhaul of the codebase and design of the launcher. There are also several new features tagging along for the ride, including landscape mode.
Preview: Assassin's Creed Valhalla is familiar, but it has Vikings
After watching a 3-hour demo of Assassin's Creed Valhalla, I only want more. It'll be a packed week when it launches just days ahead of Cyberpunk 2077.
Charge faster than ever with these fast chargers for the Fire HD 8 (2020)
Amazon finally smartened up and brought both USB-C and fast charging capabilities to the new Fire HD 8 (2020). As the rest of the world has largely moved away from microUSB, this is a long overdue change, but a welcome one nonetheless. Now that you'll get fast charging on your Fire HD 8 (2020), you'll need a great fast charger and these are our favorites.