The Fire, Amazon’s answer to the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and Nokia Lumia, is out now. The premium offering from Amazon is said to be comfortable, durable and beautiful with a 4.7 inch HD Gorilla Glass display and rubberized polyurethane housing that is as sleek and stylish to behold as its competitors. Equipped with a 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, the phone also comes with 2 gigabytes of RAM and twin Dolby Digital speakers. Developer specks indicate that the battery life for Amazon Fire’s mobile will withstand 22 hours of talk time, as well as an impressive 11 hours of video playback and 65 hours of audio. Amazon’s OS is Android-based, but the user interface is a signature Amazon experience; the company has bestowed the moniker Fire to their new offering, which will align with its other devices and services which continue to gain traction in ecommerce, streaming media and technology.
Dynamic perspective for the Fire is Amazon’s answer to the the iPhone, a device with a similar feature. With the dynamic perspective, a one-of-a-kind sensor system responds to how users interact with their phone using one of the many facial recognition cameras the front of the phone is equipped with in order to display the phone’s content relative to the user’s eyes. Amazon claims that the implications for this innovation are far reaching: users can tilt to navigate menus and shortcuts (such as attaching pictures to a message, swiveling the display for access to a notification center, and other feats of phone-based gravity). The biggest draw to this technology? Single-handed phone navigation. Users can tilt, flick and gesture new content onto the screen of the Fire, making this a more intuitive interface.
Amazon’s Fire Phone will also come out-the-box with a new product identification app that promises to rival simple searches by QR codes or services such as Google image search. The Firefly app, which has been deemed impressive by reviewers so far, reads products as if their image were a QR and shows a link to the product (or one like it) on Amazon. This application takes the guess work out of discovering products and helps users find what they’re searching for quickly and efficiently. Firefly will identify phone numbers, email addresses, web addresses (as well as save, initiate contact with or save this information), movies and TV episodes, songs, live TV, music, and some physical items from the user’s environment to purchase, download, call, visit the website for or add to a wish list any number of items, products and services. This app has the potential to simply the process of storing and sharing information on a cell phone. Firefly is essentially what Shazam might be if Shazam applied to more than just audio.
Using Mayday, Amazon Fire’s answer to the Genius Bar or Apple Care from iPhone, users will receive free customer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for their Amazon Fire Phone. This service, which some consumers may recognize from Amazon’s Kindle Fire advertisements, puts a tech support representative right on the user’s phone screen within 15 seconds of a query. Pressing the Mayday button on the Fire Phone will alert an expert at Amazon that users are in distress and connect via live video to troubleshoot issues. Users need not fear when it comes to calling for tech support but not looking presentable, either (whatever that may or may not mean); users can see the Amazon customer support specialist, but that specialist will be unable to see the customer placing the call or anything via that phone’s cameras.
Amazon is really hoping to catch the eye of shutter bugs with their 13 mega-pixel camera for the Fire. This in-phone camera boasts a five-element wide aperture f/2.0 to help reduce blur in photos, eliminate missed photo opportunities with optical image stabilization, capture video in 1080p, create panoramic photos, get just the right action shot using continuous shoot mode, and the phone even offers a lenticular option as well, to help users combine shots without the use of an external editor. The smart camera also suggests when users should activate HDR photos, a technology that merges multiple exposures into a more vibrant and dynamic image. Perhaps the biggest draw for those who can’t get enough of services like Instagram and 500px is Amazon’s free unlimited cloud storage for all photos taken with the Amazon Fire. What’s more, these photos can be accessed via any other Amazon device or Cloud Drive app with the Fire Phone.
For users who take advantage of Amazon Prime’s video or music collection library (which some are learning to love because of the availability for otherwise inaccessible program’s such as The Big Bang Theory or Game of Thrones), this is also a celebrated and integral part of the new mobile offering. Built-in apps are comparable to those pre-installed on other major smartphones, including a calendar and clock app, and also Amazon-based integration such as Amazon Instant and Kindle, among others. Also available will be the full course of offerings as seen on other Android devices, ensuring that there will be no (major) culture shock when abandoning ship on other premium phones (which some users have reported with the Nokia Lumia, which does not offer a comprehensive number of apps for its sophisticated first efforts at a smartphone contender).
While it remains to be seen how the Fire, Amazon’s answer to the iPhone, stacks up when pitted against the other mainstays of the booming mobile marketplace, feedback so far is optimistic, intrigued and impressed. Improvements are more than likely to come to the freshman effort in the coming months, but for now, the world greets Amazon’s Fire Phone with open arms.
By Mariah Beckman