The Amazon Fire Phone was never a bad phone per se, it just didn't come to market at the right price. At $199.99 with a two-year contract, the handset came in as an upstart thinking it had what it took to compete with the heavy hitters. Today, it's available at the more humbling price of $189 total.
That's not a bad deal at all for an unlocked GSM device with a 4.7-inch display, 2.2GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 13MP camera, especially when you consider the lack of a contract.
Sure, the Amazon Fire Phone still isn't your usual Android device.
Amazon is continuing to fiddle with the Fire Phone's software even after it became apparent that the device isn't selling terribly well. An OTA is going out right now to the AT&T and GSM unlocked devices with a ton of improvements to the camera, battery life, lock screen, and more.
Amazon was forced to concede that its much-anticipated Fire Phone was not a big seller when AT&T dropped the price mere weeks after it was released. When the retailer's quarterly results were announced, we learned the scale of the screw up. Now Amazon is washing its hands of the whole mess. It's unloading unsold 32GB Fire Phones unlocked for $199 off-contract. The off-contract price at launch was $650 and AT&T charged $199 with a 2-year agreement.
The Fire Phone is an odd piece of hardware with a 4.7-inch 720p LCD, face-tracking IR cameras, 2GB of RAM, and a Snapdragon 800 processor.
Until now, Amazon's Kindle and Fire devices have lacked one important feature that sets them far behind their Android counterparts: porn. Wait, that's not true, there's tons of porn on Amazon, you can hardly look on the bookstore without seeing self-published Harlequin-style short stories. But if you want to browse a bunch of sites on the less savory side of the Internet on your Kindle Fire without leaving a trail, you're out of luck.
Until now. The latest update to Amazon's proprietary Silk browser adds a private browsing mode, which won't record any history, cookies, or searches when enabled. It's basically the same thing that's been in Chrome and other browsers for years.
The Fire Phone is reportedly selling very poorly, but surely this will get things back on track. Amazon has released two new games (sort of) that include support for Dynamic Perspective on the Fire Phone. They're both free... if only you had a Fire Phone.
The Fire Phone is a tough sell when there are so many great Android devices available with Google services, and it looks like AT&T agrees. After just a few months of (reportedly) poor sales, the Fire Phone has dropped to just $0.99 with a new 2-year contract. I'm seeing shades of the HTC First here.
Amazon's first smartphone isn't that great, but the company is already moving to improve the experience with the device's first OTA update. This bumps the FireOS version up to 3.5.1, and includes a slew of new features and improvements:
The software version includes new and enhanced features:
With a double-press on the home button, Quick Switch allows you to easily alternate between or shut down running apps and tasks. To learn how to use Quick Switch, go to Switch Between and Close Recent Apps.
App Grid Collections
Create folders of apps or content right on the app grid.
By now, you've probably heard a lot about Amazon's Fire Phone. I figure that most people aren't really curious about what the overall phone is like – if you've used a Kindle Fire/HD/HDX then you already know. It's about Amazon services and a weird launcher layout thing. Most people are curious about the four front-facing cameras and Dynamic Perspective. I'm with you on that – that's exactly what I was curious about before getting this phone for review.
Spoiler alert: it's just a gimmick. A novelty. It looks flashy, but doesn't offer a whole lot of utility. Sure, it's cool for about five minutes and is something you can show off to your friends, family, colleagues, and coworkers...but that's about the extent of it.
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). Nevertheless, it's now available for purchase from Amazon and AT&T.
The Fire phone goes for a starting price of $199.99 or $299.99 with a two-year contract, depending on whether you opt for the 32GB or 64GB option.
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.
What is Kinect Syndrome, I don't hear you ask? Well, it's when any game tries to incorporate a platform's unique hardware features without any real need to do so - developers "add" game content to more or less force players to experience a console's defining add-on.