New Delhi: Amazon has unveiled its first smartphone at an event in Seattle near its headquarters. Fire is the latest addition to the e-commerce giant's deep arsenal of products and brings all the goodies in a compact device.
From the outside – and even under the hood – the 4.7-inch Fire phone holds similarities to other Android smartphones in the market, but Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his team have given many additional touches to make it stand out in the crowded Android space.
The standard features in the device include a slim profile, a sturdy glass touchscreen, minimalist buttons and one camera for facing toward and away from the user.
The Fire phone is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, an Adreno 330 graphics processor, and offers 2GB of RAM. The device runs Amazon's custom version of Android, called Fire OS.
The talking point of the Fire phone is its 3D-like Dynamic Perspective feature. The innovative 3D display adds a sense of perspective to some of its user-interface screens. The screen creates the illusion of depth behind the screen. This is noticeable right away on the lock screen. The device allows users to browse or scroll through the content by tilting the phone in certain ways. The 3D-like effects is created by four front-facing cameras that detect the head's position. So, if you bring you face closer to the screen, the dimension and perspective slightly changes. Amazon confirmed you can turn this function off.
Dynamic Perspective is a really cool feature when it comes to gaming, so by tilting you head to one side, you can get a different feel which gives you the sense that you are inside the game. In addition, the feature also gives deep perception when it comes to maps.
The other novel feature in Fire phone is an image-recognition system, Firefly, that allows you identify any book, movie, phone number or other object you point at your phone. Firefly is the phone's connection to Amazon's shopping engine. For instance, you can point the device to any household item, say toothpastes, and the phone instantly recognizes it and gives you an option to buy the item and have it delivered immediately. The feature is flawless and recognizes pretty much everything, offering a way to buy it on the go — from Amazon.
“Helping people take care of their shopping tasks is an important job to do in any smartphone,” he said. “But that's not what the phone is all about.”
Other unusual and useful features are Mayday, Amazon's live video customer service, which it began offering on its Kindle Fire tablets last year. It allows you call up an instant, on-screen video chat with a customer service representative at the push of a button. The other is that every photo that you take on the phone is backed up on Amazon's servers free. There's no limit to how many photos are stored there.
Despite all these amazing features, its app store doesn't offer too many third-party programs currently available on the iPhone or Android devices. There are more than 200,000 apps in Amazon's store, but almost all are designed for the firm's tablets. IOS and Android have app stores approaching a million titles. Amazon said it would make a software development kit (SDK) for the Dynamic Perspective available, so that app developers can design their apps to work with the display, which could be particularly useful for games.
The device sports a 13MP f2.0 rear-facing camera. It is a great on-the-go camera. It has a dedicated camera key on the left that will fire up the camera app, and simply tap it a second time to take a photo. The camera also features optical image stabilization (OIS) and a five element sensor, making for some great low-light photos.
The smartphone also comes with two stereo speakers on the front with virtual surround sound. The earbuds that come in the box have a tangle-free cable and they snap to each other thanks to built-in magnets.
The smartphone costs $200 for a 32-gigabyte version and $300 for a 64GB version, both with a two-year contract — higher than expected given Amazon's history of pricing its hardware relatively cheap.
During the launch, Bezos said Amazon wanted to be in the premium phone space and introduce a product that goes beyond what is already in the market.
The new device gels well with the company's aim to create a more efficient shopping experience while steering more consumers to its retail products.