After finding success with the Kindle Fire, Amazon has decided to dip their toes into the smartphone waters with the Fire Phone. Their newest offering is a phone running the Android-based Fire OS 3.5 on a 4.7 inch screen, with a 2.2 GHz Snapdragon processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 32 or 64 GB storage options.
A unique gimmick Amazon includes with the Fire Phone is four sensors on each corner of the front, called Dynamic Perspective sensors, allowing the device to perform interesting 3D effects when you tilt the phone. When viewing the selection of apps, the icons slightly rotate, and the lock screens are kind of stunning. Are these effects enough to really make this phone stand out above the dominant Android and iPhone models? Let’s find out.
When you get past the visual effects, you see that the biggest feature of the Amazon phone is Amazon itself. The left side of the phone boasts a button which activates the camera feature, augmented with an app called Firefly. When you’re not taking pictures, you can scan barcodes to search for products on Amazon. I tested this out with a bottle of sports drink, and sure enough, Amazon had plenty in stock. Like Apple, Amazon isn’t just selling you a portable device; they are inviting you into an ecosystem. Amazon is as deeply integrated into the Fire Phone as iTunes is with the iPhone. Need an app? Amazon’s shop app is preinstalled, and you have instant access to many great apps, including the OverDrive app – offering access to titles available from your library’s digital collections.
Despite having Android at its core, the Fire Phone does not give you the Google experience. Amazon has clearly used Android as a foundation upon which to build an empire of their own. The question is: will you join? I think the biggest deciding factor is how invested in Amazon’s ecosystem you already are, or would be willing to be. If you’re a Prime member or you’re interested in Kindle Unlimited, this might be the ideal phone for you. Personally, I think the phone has a visual hook with the 3D effects, and it performs about as well as my Droid Maxx, but the amount of battery life devoted to the 3D effect means you need to keep your charger handy. I don’t know if this is an iPhone or Android killer, but I think the Fire Phone just might ignite its own niche.
Justin Noszek is a Support Services Specialist at OverDrive.