Amazon Fire Phone: Where It Won and Where It Lost

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The Amazon Fire phone is a mixture of a lot of old things and new features. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos doesn?t directly compete with the iPhone 5s or the Samsung Galaxy S5 in his speech about the device (he goes into art history and perspective), but pricing is a different story.

So how has Amazon handled the smartphone wars and which angle does it want to work? Here?s how we think the Amazon Fire Phone has won this round of the smartphone battles:

1. You can buy anything and everything.

With enough money or a large-enough credit card limit, your Fire Phone can let you buy anything you perceive as long as it?s in the Amazon database. Pressing the Firefly button activates the camera and mic which gathers information and points you to web pages, offers, product pages and details about whatever it?s sensing. Jeff Bezos demonstrated that it can detect music, art, photos, toys, food and other items in its 100 million product database.

2. You get sort-of 3D.

While it isn?t actual 3D on your Fire Phone, the Dynamic Perspective feature lets you control your phone through tilting. Tilt side to side to get something like swiping functions without actually swiping. Tilting up and down lets you access other features. Thanks to 4 cameras all over the device, your head movements are tracked to give you the best view of the phone?s screen. It looks like a privacy screen isn?t going to work on this one.

3. You can ?fling? video to your TV.

Again, Jeff Bezos? speech wasn?t that directly competitive with Apple or Samsung but we know an Airplay competitor when we see one. This function lets you swipe up and sync with your TV. Whatever video you?re playing on your phone gets streamed to your TV.

4. You can use apps without actually opening them.

Thanks to Active Widgets, Amazon allows users to interact with certain apps without opening them fully on the screen. Including certain apps on this carousel lets you see a little preview of the app functions below the huge icon. This means that you can delete and open emails from your home screen.

5. You get unlimited, free cloud storage.

This feature is really the best thing about the Fire Phone. Since Amazon can do cloud storage so easily and cheaply, they can offer something that no other manufacturer or carrier can?unlimited storage for your files and media.

But there was something off about how the Fire Phone is being marketed?even how it?s made and what it can do. Yes, all the features are good and welcome, but this is where Amazon dropped the ball with a phone on the same price point as the iPhone 5s and the Samsung Galaxy S5:

1. It?s all geared for Amazon.

Well, you can certainly expect a phone from the online shopping giant to cater to its customers from the get-go but I think it?s severely limiting its market. It offers Amazon Prime free for a year to anyone who buys the phone and it will most probably direct you to its own shopping service with Firefly. Technically, it?s become a really expensive marketing tool for Amazon and a handheld electronic catalogue for you.

2. It?s tied to a carrier.

If Amazon really wanted to change the game and give it it?s very own niche, they should have made the phone available only on their store without a carrier. They should have also undercut prices just like the Kindle and developed an alternative way to get the phone cheaper from their own shopping service.

3. No matter what Jeff Bezos says, it doesn?t look any different from cheaper Android devices.

Even with it?s ?chamfered edges? and earphones that never tangle, it still has the same design. Clearly Amazon isn?t looking to make a phone that?s instantly recognizable from afar unlike Samsung phones or the iPhone 5s.

4. If you aren?t an Amazon customer, the phone has no pull for you at that price point.

Again, customers outside the US and people who don?t really use Amazon are going to find this phone practically just like a generic Android smartphone. You can always buy the no-tangle earphones separately and more cheaply than getting the whole phone.

5. Four cameras and a mic means your battery is going to drain like crazy.

Using the Fire Phone?s four cameras so track your head movement and to boot up all those offers and web pages just from the Firefly button is going to give you battery drain like a punctured water balloon. It simply has 2400mAH, pretty standard for a phone that size without the bells and whistles.

In the end, the Amazon Fire Phone is still packed with features that other phones don?t have?most probably because Apple and Samsung don?t want to limit their market to the US and people who use their service exclusively. No one has tested the phone so far so we might be missing something, but how it looks right now isn?t so cool for me.

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