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Amazon's first and only smartphone to date, was a dud

Posted: , by Alan F.

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For years there had been rumors that Amazon was going to release an ambitious smartphone. That dream finally reached fruition on June 18th, 2014 when the Amazon Fire Phone was introduced to high hopes. With a 4.7-inch LCD screen carrying a 720 x 1280 HD display, the device featured the Snapdragon 800 SoC carrying a quad-core 2.2GHz CPU and the Adreno 330 GPU. 2GB of RAM was inside with 32GB/64GB of native storage. A 2400mAh battery provided the power. The 13MP rear-facing camera provided an aperture of f/2.0, and the front-facing selfie snapper weighed in at 2.1MP.

The Amazon Fire Phone did come with four front-facing cameras and infrared LEDs to shoot pictures in 3D. There were four sensors because Amazon figured that uses would cover two of them with their fingers. Amazon also counted on a huge response for its Firefly feature. A long press of the side-mounted camera button would open Firefly. At that point, items like books, QR codes, UPC codes, web addresses, phone numbers, music and more would be scanned by the application, and identified. For example, scan a book and the title and author's name would appear on the display. The information from Firefly also showed how much the book cost if purchased from Amazon.

Other nifty features on the phone included dual stereo speakers,  the Mayday 24/7 live video chat with customer service, and Auto Scroll which alowed text on the screen to scroll up by tilting the phone. Buyers of the phone received one free year of Android Prime which included access to millions of  movies, TV shows and songs that could be streamed.

But Amazon, like it did with its tablets, decided to use a forked version of Android. That meant no Google Play Store. Instead, the Amazon Appstore offered a limited number of apps, and that was one of the reasons why the Amazon Fire Phone was practically DOA. An AT&T exclusive, the Fire Phone was priced at $199.99 with a two-year pact for the 32GB model. The 64GB variant was priced at $299.99 on contract. A few months later, the 32GB Fire Phone was priced at $199.99 with NO contract required. The device hardly sold, and despite Amazon's talk of producing a sequel regardless of the Fire Phone's weak sales numbers, so far a second-gen model has never appeared.

We gave the phone a score of 6 out of 10 with our review. You can read what we thought of the Amazon Fire Phone by clicking on this link


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