Amazon's not-actually-3D Fire: Bezos' cash register in YOUR pocket
Ringtone? Ch-ching-tone, more like
A respectable bit of kit
The phone's hardware itself seems quite decent. It's inky black but otherwise mostly looks like an iPhone (careful with those rounded corners, Jeff)! The main difference from your typical smartphones is that the Fire Phone features dedicated buttons for the camera and Firefly.
Under the hood, it's based on a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU clocked at 2.2GHz, with 2GB of RAM and Adreno 330 graphics – so it should be quite zippy, but it's interesting that Amazon didn't wait until the more powerful Snapdragon 805 arrives later this year for its first device.
Amazon's new mobe lets you plug into Prime with a free year of the service
Its 4.7-inch screen isn't the largest around, either, and it only runs at 1280-by-720 resolution. But Bezos said the smaller size was designed to make the device easier to operate with one hand, and the lower resolution should give games and other graphics-intensive apps more oomph.
The smaller screen might also contribute to what sounds like impressive battery life. Amazon says the Fire Phone can deliver up to 285 hours of standby time, up to 22 hours of talk time, up to 65 hours of audio playback, and up to 11 hours of video playback – enough for a full flight from San Francisco to London.
Amazon is also touting the Fire Phone's Dolby Digital Plus audio and its 13-megapixel, f/2.0 rear-facing camera, which supports optical image stabilization, High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, and 1080p video at 30fps. The company is even throwing in unlimited storage for photos you take with the device on its Cloud Drive service (although videos will still be subject to the usual storage limits).
The device comes with the usual brace of radios, including 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, NFC, GPS, AGPS, GLONASS, and support for five bands of UTMS/HSPA+, quad-band GSM/EDGE, and nine bands of LTE, including carrier aggregation.
What it won't support, however – at least for now – are any carriers other than AT&T. As predicted, Amazon has chosen to go exclusive with the Number Two US mobile provider, which in turn has promised to support the Mayday help service over its network, in addition to its earlier Wi-Fi mode.
The Fire Phone is expected to begin shipping on July 25, but Amazon is taking preorders now, with prices ranging from $199 for a 32GB model with a two-year contract, all the way to $749 for a 64GB model with no service plan. So, cheap it ain't; but Amazon has still managed to cram quite a lot of value into a very small package – provided, that is, you still want to do business with the firm. ®
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