Amazon sells Fire Phone in UK ... on CONTRACT

Hooks up with O2

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

Hasn’t Amazon sold mobile phones before? Wasn’t the first third party deal Amazon did in Europe with Carphone Warehouse back in 2001? The answers are no... and yes.

Amazon UK has been selling mobile phones for more than a decade and there are lots of resellers who will sell you anything from a Samsung Alpha to a Sony Z3, but never before have you been able to buy a contract phone from Amazon.

The new deal is with Amazon’s new BFF, O2. The UK network is the only place you can buy the Amazon Fire phone – you can’t even buy it SIM-free from Amazon themselves – and now you can buy over 90 different handsets from O2 with contracts.

One model is conspicuously absent: there are no iPhones listed.

The cheapest phone is a Doro 508, which will set you back £13 a month on a two year contract. This seems pretty steep compared with the SIM-free price of less than 30 quid. A BlackBerry Passport will set you back £38 a month, again for two years.

The store is a hybrid of O2 and Amazon sales processes. You can upgrade an existing contract and port numbers across, but there is the Amazon reviews and “people also bought” mechanism. If you've a complaint about the phone, you ping Amazon – which will respond in its usual manner. If the complaint is with the service or contract, you contact O2, which will respond in its usual manner.

Deals Amazon and O2 want to highlight are:

  • HTC One M8 for £0 upfront on a £28 per month tariff, with unlimited minutes and texts and 1GB of data
  • Huawei P7 for £0 upfront on a £20 per month tariff, with 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 300MB of data
  • Nokia Lumia 735 for £0 upfront on a £15 per month tariff, with 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 300MB of data

Of course, what Amazon really wants you to buy is the Fire phone with its pseudo-3D – which is called Dynamic View. Users also have the ability to point the camera at something and buy another one of those, as well as the online help line called Mayday. Just as Microsoft has doubled OneDrive storage for Windows Phone users, Amazon offers lots of space for people wanting to upload pics. Indeed, Amazon customers get free unlimited cloud storage for photos taken on Fire.

“We’ve taken our years of experience selling mobile phones on Amazon.co.uk to make it as fast and easy as possible for customers to purchase a new pay monthly phone or upgrade an existing contract,” said Xavier Garambois, veep of EU retail at Amazon. “We’re focused on helping customers choose the right phone, at the right price, with fast delivery and are celebrating the launch with a host of great value deals.”

For O2, it’s a powerful route to market. There must, however, have been significant haggling behind the scenes. Amazon was not willing to be drawn on the topic of this opening up contract sales to other vendors. ®


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