Amazon Fire: Um… no.

Posted by & filed under Technology.

fire phoneSo, the Amazon has now introduced its very own kinda-Android Fire Phone. Neat. Except I keep wondering, why?

One of the primary differentiating function is, apparently, the Dynamic Perspective. Which requires several cameras and lets you “look” at kinda-3D things in your phone. It’s interesting but not really ground-breaking. Remember all those apps for iPad from 2010? Yeah, just like that:

Okay, maybe it’s a new thing for Android phones? Well, not really. Looky here:

So you don’t really need all those cameras, it just adds expense (though some of those parallax live wallpapers do cost a dollar on Play Store).

Tilting and twitching to get menus is not for me — I sometimes use my phone on the go so accidental page flips and menu toggling would be rampant. I don’t even use auto-rotate because of that.

Firefly is a very interesting app — like Google Goggles on steroids, plus insta-buy ability. But the question is — will they really never release it for regular Android, or incorporate the functionality into regular Amazon app for Android or iPhone? Remember, the idea is to help Amazon customers to buy something they’ve found in the real world. Forcing them to buy a phone to do that is a bit silly, so I expect this app to go Android-wide in a few months at most.

Mayday is a good service, and that could entice some people not familiar with technology to buy the phone. Or they could get an iPhone and get help from Apple — not in real-time over the video chat, but in person instead. I can’t objectively judge if this would be crucial for non-tech-savvy users, as from my perspective you only need such service a few times at the beginning when you are learning how to do something on your phone. It’s a crutch for weird and non-intuitive interfaces, mostly — users can’t figure out how to find music, or disable ringer or something so they are forced to ask online assistant — that’s a total UX failure right there.

Good camera and a dedicated camera button is great, and I hope we’ll see f/2.0 camera in other phones. Dedicated button is common on Sony phones, but that’s about it.

So hardware-wise I don’t see any significant reason to buy new Amazon phone. A year worth of Prime service is enticing, but $650 for an unlocked version of the phone? No way. And it’s just on AT&T — I thought we were past that ever since Facebook Phone? If it’s a GSM (+ LTE) device, it has to go on T-Mobile too. I can imagine all those wonderful sync services and FireFly (and even Mayday) sucking up data at an alarming rate, so users that have no chance of buying unlimited data from AT&T might get a very unpleasant surprise.

Ideally, I hope Amazon will have a fire sale on Fire phone soon, where the price will be dropped to more reasonable Nexus-like levels (after all, we get castrated version of Android, with full Amazon lock-in on services and apps). Then it might make some sense. But for now — no. Either a Samsung or LG flagman would be a better choice.

Too bad, though, I had high hopes for Amazon device.

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