Amazon’s Fire Phone is ready to roast Apple
Years of speculation are finally over: Amazon is taking on the iPhone with a handset of its own that offers advanced features and a tight integration with Amazon Prime.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos triumphantly pulled the new Fire Phone from his pocket this morning in front of a Seattle crowd of 300 reporters and Prime fanatics, revealing a new handset that looks like an iPhone but houses tons of Amazon special features to set it apart from Apple’s and Samsung’s top wares.
To do battle with the iPhone and Apple’s enormous ecosystem, Bezos says Amazon chose a 4.7-inch screen for the device after testing models between 4.3 inches and 5.5 inches. Like the iPhone 5s, the Fire Phone uses Gorilla Glass 3 for the front display, but Amazon has wrapped the enclosure in an injection-molded rubber frame.
Bezos touted the Fire Phone’s incredible 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with optical image stabilization and an f2.0 aperture lens, as well as its quadcore 2.2gHZ processor, 2GB of RAM and Adreno 330 graphics chip, which he said makes the device as “fast and fluid” as any handset available.
Amazon is even trying to land a punch on Apple’s signature EarPods with its own “tangle-free” earbuds that are magnetic with flat cables, but they pretty much look like black EarPods.
The Fire Phone comes with built-in access to key Amazon services like MayDay, Prime Music and Video, Second Screen, X-Ray for movies, and a new ASAP feature, which can predict what you might be interested in streaming and pre-caches it so videos will start instantly.
The phone has a dedicated button for a new feature called Firefly, which is like Shazam on steroids. It can recognize songs playing in the background (with iHeartRadio integration), but can also be used as a QR scanner or recognize phone numbers, books, DVDs and even paintings. All the recognition work happens in the cloud, so it doesn’t bog down your phone’s processor, making Fire Phone the quickest “What’s that thing? I want to buy it,” machine in the world.
3-D is playing a huge role in Fire Phone’s UI and controls, using a feature dubbed Dynamic Perspective to give users new ways to access hidden information. In a hands-on demo, Bezos showed off Fire’s Maps app, which has a 3-D flyover mode similar to Apple’s. It works differently, though: Tilting the device exposes different layers of the user interface, allowing you to catch smaller details.
Dynamic Perspective knows where your head is the entire time, but it isn’t just a gimmicky lockscreen feature. Fire Phone users can use Dynamic Perspective to scroll through Web pages hands-free, access active widgets from their homescreen or control music with a simple tilt, thanks to the four front-facing cameras that track movement, even in the dark.
The Fire Phone will launch as an AT&T exclusive, with the 32GB models selling for $199 and the 64GB going for $299 with a new two-year contract. Units don’t ship until July 25 but you can pre-order yours today right from Amazon’s homepage — and they’ll even throw in a free one-year membership to Amazon Prime.