When Amazon.com announced the Fire Phone, its first foray into the smartphone market, it was the kind of moment that everyone knew was going to invite a mountain of scrutiny. A similar phenomenon happened back in 2007 when Apple first broke the silence on its original iPhone, and we all know what happened there: the phone redefined the mobile experience for an entire generation. Could the Amazon Fire Phone be the next iPhone? Is this device going to change the way we look at smartphones? Or will it merely be an expensive pretender to the throne, a phone that can’t quite break into an already busy market?
The Pros: What’s Good About Amazon’s Fire Phone?
The good news is that – at least from the publicity released so far surrounding the device – the Amazon Fire Phone is characterized by a lot of great ideas. Perhaps the greatest of these is what Amazon is calling “Dynamic Perspective.” This feature essentially gives the Fire Phone the capability of judging space in more dimensions than the average mobile device. All smartphones react to tilting and flipping to a certain extent, but with Dynamic Perspective, the Fire Phone will be even more responsive to movements.
There’s a reason for this motion sensing development: Amazon wants the Fire Phone to be optimized for use with one hand, and to make one-handed movement a viable possibility, the company has developed three basic “controls” that can be activated just by moving the phone around. These controls – “Tilt,” “Swivel,” and “Peak” – allow users of the Fire Phone to do everything from navigating menus to accessing apps without even touching the screen of the phone.
It’s an idea that could end up being clunky and dysfunctional in the wrong hands. However, since Amazon has proven itself adept at developing tablets and e-readers, we’ll give the company the benefit of the doubt here. If a first-time smartphone developer could manage a concept as groundbreaking as Dynamic Perspective, then Amazon would be that developer.
The Cons: What Could Bring the Fire Phone Down?
Like any smartphone, though, Amazon’s forthcoming Fire Phone has a few eyebrow-raising issues that could counteract any of its cool new features. The biggest of these is the price: at its cheapest, the Fire Phone will cost $199. While that price isn’t too steep compared to other top-market smartphones, like Apple’s iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy, it ignores a big part of the business model that has made the Kindle Fire tablet a successful competitive alternative to the iPad: undercutting Apple’s high price-points.
If the Fire Phone is going to cost as much as the iPhone, then it is going to need to find its appeal elsewhere. That won’t be in aesthetics, as the phone has a bland exterior design that pales in comparison to the sleeker, more modern Apple, Samsung, and HTC designs. The phone also wants to make users jump through hoops to get apps from the Amazon store, even though it is technically running on an Android operating system – and should therefore be allowing access to the Google Play store. Finally, the Fire Phone is launching exclusively with AT&T, a fact that didn’t kill the iPhone, but one that could be more difficult to overcome now that there are so many options available on the smartphone market.
The Amazon Fire Phone arrives on July 25th. Do you think the device has what it takes to compete with the iPhones and Samsung Galaxies of the world, or do you fear Amazon will be struggling to find a foothold in this industry? Share your thoughts in the replies!