The Amazon Fire phone is interesting for a number of reasons. It's the company's first attempt at a smartphone. It crams Fire OS into a smaller form factor than it's had to accommodate before. It has five - yes, five - front-facing cameras, four of which serve as the backbone for what Amazon calls Dynamic Perspective. One thing the phone is not interesting for, however, is being a good deal (more on that below).
Amazon's Prime Music service, a free add-on for anyone who's already a Prime subscriber, launched to a resounding "meh." The app and service functions well enough, but with plenty of alternatives both free and paid, Amazon's boast of "over one million songs" rang somewhat hollow. As a Prime subscriber myself, I saw it as a nice perk, but it's no reason to stop paying for Google Play Music All Access as well.
You can wait on the new Shield Tablet later this month, sure, but Amazon is looking to tempt you with a killer deal on a 7-inch Kindle HDX with LTE. If you can make do with Amazon's unique take on Android, you can get $100 off the normal price at all tiers.
Last week Google released a sizeable update to Google Wallet that finally let you carry loyalty cards in digital form. Now Amazon has released its own version of... pretty much the same thing, minus all the other stuff that Google Wallet does. Amazon Wallet is currently in beta on both the Google Play Store and Amazon's own Appstore in a rare simultaneous release. Compatibility seems to be limited to phones at the moment, and since it's labeled as "for Fire Phone" on this promo page, it may be pre-loaded on that device.
Amazon wants you to buy its shiny new Fire Phone, and one of the biggest selling points is that fancy head-tracking camera system. So naturally, the first two games to come out of the company's home-bred Amazon Game Studios for the Fire Phone feature functionality that can only be done with that specific hardware. Unfortunately, both platformer To-Fu Fury (available now for $2) and Match 3 RPG Saber's Edge (free) exhibit classic signs of Kinect Syndrome.
We've heard rumblings about a possible Netflix-like service for books provided by Amazon, and now that service has come to fruition. It's called Kindle Unlimited, and it essentially offers customers access to over 600,000 titles from the Kindle Library and 2,000 on Audible, with unlimited reading or listening on both for roughly $10 a month.
Of course, Amazon isn't the only one offering a service like this, as Oyster just launched its all-you-can-read book buffet last month for the same price.
Around these parts, we like our gadgets. Unfortunately, accumulating a couple of them leaves us regularly in need of juice. Power outlets become scarce after stepping outside the house, which is why it's worth picking up an external battery pack or two. Currently you can get an Anker Astro E5 15,000mAh battery pack for $49.99 from Amazon, but with a coupon code, you can bring that down to $35.99.
This external battery comes with two USB ports (5V/2A and 5V/1A), so you can charge two devices at once.
Google Glass hasn't exactly set the world on fire, but it wasn't meant to. It and other projects under the "Google X" team were designed to be experimental, and we're still months away from seeing it hit a retail market at the very least. Even so, the news that one of the original architects of Glass is leaving for the distant shores (if not the greener pastures) of Amazon is a little disheartening.
It seems like there are just never enough electrons in your phone, right? With just a few thousand milliampere-hour, it can be easy to drain your device before there's an outlet handy, so it's a good thing portable battery packs exist. If you're carrying something extra anyway, you might as well go big. A Crave Travel Pro 13,000mAh battery that should work nicely is on sale over at Amazon.
Samsung's Gear Fit, the smaller, sleeker alternative to the company's other smartwatches, is probably the most interesting of the second generation Gears. If you've been coveting one, now would be the time to buy it: Amazon has it for just $99.99. That's a full 50% off the $200 retail price, and notably below alternatives like the Pebble smartwatch and the new Android Gear watches. As usual, Amazon Prime users in the United States can add free two-day shipping to the deal.