Amazon pushes KitKat-based update to Fire Phone, some added features bring it up to 2013-era specs

Amazon pushes KitKat-based update to Fire Phone, some added features bring it up to 2013-era specs
While Amazon works on the lessons learned from the Fire Phone in order to deliver a more impressive successor (expected next year), it is heartening to see that the online retail and web services giant is still actively pushing enhancements to its first generation product.

The Fire Phone was a big first step for Amazon, but it was also a big sales failure, forcing the company to write down over $80 million of unsold inventory.

Amazon knew the Fire Phone was a gamble, but given the company’s success with tablets and e-readers, it would be unwise to write them off with smartphones just yet. That said, the latest update to Fire OS, Amazon’s forked version of Android, shows how much work there is to be done if the company wants to be a serious contender in the smartphone space.

Fire OS is now at version 4.6.1. The latest enhanced features include Bluetooth LE support, the ability to change the wallpaper of the home screen, color emojis for the Amazon keyboard, and the ability to print from your phone. If these “new” features brought on feelings of deja-vu, do not be troubled, as we have been enjoying those features on other platforms for a while.

The new Fire OS is also makes the leap from being sourced off Android 4.2 Jelly Bean to being based off Android 4.4 KitKat. Welcome to 2013.

All kidding aside, we give credit to Amazon for continuing to trudge this difficult road. Competing in mobile is hard, and Amazon has already done more with the Fire Phone than HP managed to do with Palm and webOS.

There were some business oriented features added with Fire OS 4.6.1 too, most notably support for secure Wi-Fi networks and AES-256 bit hardware encryption. Amazon cites “dozens” of “other bug fixes and user interface improvements.”

Perhaps the best development from the crawling sales of the Fire Phone is its now “fire sale” price. A 32GB SIM-unlocked Fire Phone can be had brand new for just $189. That includes a year of Amazon Prime, which itself is worth $99.

Check out our review of the Amazon Fire Phone. Despite our misgivings in some areas, the Fire Phone delivers a bright and color-accurate display, has all of Amazon’s services baked in, and is a fast performer. Having a new interface to work with may attract some folks who are tired of other UIs too, but your mileage may vary. For the money, the Fire Phone is definitely worth having on your list and besides, 2013 was not a terrible year.


sources: Amazon via ZDNet

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21 Comments

1. TechNeck

Posts: 651; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

What's a Fire Phone? o.o

3. dimas

Posts: 3363; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

The phone that made Amazon's negative sales went on fire.

4. dimas

Posts: 3363; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

PA made me look at the phone design again. I guess we can say that iPhone 6 copy their dolby's speaker placement?

6. vincelongman

Posts: 5691; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

I think iPhones have always had a bottom facing speaker

2. dimas

Posts: 3363; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

$189? Still expensive. Give it a stock lollipop or kitkat for OS then sell it for $100 to 150 online worlwide and they can get some out of their lost profit. Ever heard of redmi 1s Amazon? Believe it or not they still have the hype on developing countries for lower price.

5. jalebi2000

Posts: 181; Member since: Mar 01, 2015

ever heard of snapdragon 800? it crushes the red 1s in speed, by a lot. The specs on this phone are even far ahead of what xiaomi can offer, in terms of value to performance ratio. add you can just custom rom the fire phone and get the play store, or just sideload the plaster and be just fine

8. dimas

Posts: 3363; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Fair enough. But just checked and they're still selling the 64gb for $549. Maybe I'll just wait for the price to go down more then try custom roms on just to test it.

7. Hitokage

Posts: 103; Member since: Mar 01, 2015

Is there a way to flash stock android onto these?

9. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

If Amazon just put stock Android on all of the Fire phones they would sell much better...

10. gaming64 unregistered

This phone is really forgetable. Really had negative reviews.

11. meanestgenius

Posts: 22033; Member since: May 28, 2014

Guess I really am the only one on PA to have purchased an Amazon Fire Phone....

12. gaming64 unregistered

How was it despite the crappy specs, ecosystem, OS, and the multiple cameras to make a Parallax type effect already found on iOS?

13. meanestgenius

Posts: 22033; Member since: May 28, 2014

I actually like it. It has decent hardware specs. The design is nice. Kinda reminds me of the iPhone 4/4s, just a little longer. Looks a little thinner, also. The Fire OS isn't that bad. It's Android, just without the Google services. I'm not a fan of Google services, so using the Fire OS is no problem for me. It's just as flexible as Android. The Amazon ecosystem is actually pretty good. I use Amazon services all of the time. Love it. Amazon Prime is awesome! Their music and video library is vast. I don't mind paying for music. The Prime Music streaming services is good. Lots of old school songs that I listen to. Prime Video is awesome! There's a lot of movies I get to stream for free since the Fire Phone comes with a year of free Prime. The perks of Prime are great. Free two day shipping, discounts on merchandise, and more. I actually like the "3D" effect and the gestures used in the OS. I can hold my Fire Phone up in the air and it will automatically tell me what the weather is. Their "Firefly" services is nice! Very useful. Not only does it read barcodes/upc codes and such when enabled, but it will also listen for music, movies and tv shows and give you all the pertinent information on them. It matches what it "hears" with their extensive database. The "Mayday" button is awesome. It's a great customer service tool. I've used it twice when I've had issues with the handset, and you get a live response in seconds. The camera is decent. Amazons Silk web browser is fast, responsive and feature rich. The only downside for me with this handset is the battery life. It flat out SUCKS! A 2400 mAh battery DOES NOT do justice to this, especially concerning the OS and "3D" effects and gestures. I also wish it were a little bigger. 5 inches would have been the sweet spot for this phone.

14. Jklaz

Posts: 159; Member since: Jul 01, 2013

Sounds like they did try hard on the software and customer expierence so maybe the next device will gain some traction

15. meanestgenius

Posts: 22033; Member since: May 28, 2014

That they did. And hopefully, the next Fire Phone will gain some traction. I know I'm gonna get it!

17. gaming64 unregistered

Well it is Amazon's first entry into the smartphone market so you cant blame them. I like the look of the Fire Phone. Reminds me of the Nexus 4.

19. JaneChenLong

Posts: 374; Member since: Mar 18, 2015

No surprise at all. You like a phone with no future. It's your nature.

16. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

No one is gonna buy this device, and it appears on All About You - Hilary Duff's music video.

18. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Meh, just another overpriced SmartPhone. If you're considering this, you'll gain a lot more for less with the OnePlus One.

20. tokuzumi

Posts: 1898; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Where are they on sale for $189? Amazon's site shows the cheapest price is $449.

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