Amazon surprised everyone by announcing a new smart phone last week. “Fire is the only smartphone to put everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand,” read the front page of Amazon, in a special letter written by the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos. Of course, he touted all the obvious advantages of the Fire phone — apps, music, movies and TV shows, plus “exclusive features” like a 3-D interface and some cool new software tricks.
But here’s six of the Fire Phone’s biggest hidden surprises…
32 Gigabytes of Storage
Wait, what? It starts at 32 gigabytes of storage — that’s the minimum. And there’s also 64-gigabyte version. My last Android phone boasted that it could be upgraded “up to 32 gigabytes” — followed by the dreaded disclaimer in parentheses: not included. (I’d have to purchase an additional memory card — sold separately….)
And besides the on-device storage, Amazon’s Fire Phone is offering another even better alternative…
Unlimited Photo Storage in the Cloud
My current smartphone keeps running out of memory — I think every smartphone eventually hits a limit. You can try storing your photos in the cloud, but besides Google’s free storage service, even the iPhone has a 5-gigabyte limit (unless you’re willing to pay extra). But not Amazon’s Fire Phone. “Free, unlimited photo storage definitely sets Amazon apart from Dropbox, Apple’s iCloud and Microsoft’s OneDrive,” reports the technology blog Engadget.
Of course, there’s a reason that Amazon’s upping their specs and giving away cool features for free…customers.
“Users will pay for all the data they use through AT&T as well as being sucked into the two-year service contract through the carrier,” warned one technology blog. With their Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon offered a much cheaper alternative to the high-end tablets that were being produced by Apple. But Amazon’s smartphone costs the same as the other Android smartphones — not just for the intiail purchase, but also in its monthly servic chrages.
But Amazon did come up one more great interesting incentive…customers.
A Free Year of Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime normally costs you $100 — but it’s free for a year when you buy a Fire Phone. (And if you’re already a Prime member, Amazon will extend your current subscription by another 12 months.) And Prime doesn’t just mean you get free two-day shipping (plus a big discount on one-day shipping). Prime subscribers also get access to Amazon’s library of free digital movies and TV shows (which includes some great classic TV shows like the original Star Trek and The Twilight Zone). And there’s also over 500,000 books now in the “Kindle Owners’ Lending Library”, which lets you borrow one popular ebook each month for free. This month Amazon also announced a new streaming music service which is free to all Prime customers.
A 3-D Interface — and a 2-D Interface
Repeat after me: “Dynamic Perspective” is optional. A site called Digital Trends ran a fascinating article called “5 things we’ve learned from people who have fondled the Fire Phone,” And it found lots of enthusiasm for Amazon’s new three-dimensional interface. In fact, I thought it was a little misleading to summarize it with the headline “Dynamic Perspective might get annoying.” Although I’ll admit that that was my first thought, too.
I mean, while it’s cool to see screensavers with real depth, do you really want to see the time of day in a shifting, three-dimensional perspective? But all my concerns vanished when I also read that if you don’t like it, you can turn it off. So it’s a feature — not a permanent gimmick standing between you and your icons!
Ah, and about those icons. On the Fire Phone, the e-mail icon doesn’t just sit there waiting for a tap before it checks up your inbox. It will actually gives you real-time information about what’s in your inbox, before you even tap. It’s similar to the “live tiles” innovation that Microsoft tried with Windows 8 (and their Windows Phone), and it’ll be available for lots of other icons that’ll appear on the home screen of the Fire Phone. For example, the web browser’s icon lets you go straight to recently-accessed web sites. And the app for USA Today shows you headlines — based on your own selections of the kind of headlines you’d prefer…
Check out Amazon’s new smartphone at this shortcut: