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Amazon has joined the ranks of Google and Apple with its just-announced, AT&T-exclusive Fire smartphone. But before you dismiss this handheld as just another smartphone competitor in an already-crowded market, you may want to take a closer look. The Fire phone packs features that could put some of today's best handhelds to shame.
Freebies can make any deal seem sweeter. For a limited time, anyone who purchases the Fire phone will get a free year of Amazon Prime. Even better, current Prime subscribers get a complimentary year when their membership expires. Considering how essential a Prime account is to the overall enjoyment of this phone, we think this is a freebie that's actually useful and — because it now offers both movie and premium TV and music access — it's similar to receiving a free year of service from your favorite music and movie-streaming service.
Amazon launched its Mayday service with the release of the Kindle Fire HDX. With the push of a button, users were instantly connected with a customer support rep who could take remote access of the consumer's tablet to troubleshoot any problems. Now Mayday is making its debut on the small screen, making this smartphone a huge draw for non-techies who need the extra assistance.
One of the Fire phone's most interesting features is a built-in program called Firefly. Scan a book, DVD, or any device with a QR code and Firefly tracks that object for you, pulling up relevant information along with a link to that object in Amazon's storefront. And it doesn't end there. Like Shazam, a popular app that recognizes media playing around you, Firefly can also listen to music and TV shows making it easier than ever to buy songs or shows on Amazon. It's creepy, cool, and futuristic all at once.
They may not be holograms, but Amazon's smartphone offers a unique interface among its peers. Thanks to its four front-facing cameras, the Fire phone can conjure up images in 3D, or what Amazon calls, Dynamic Perspective. This gives the phone's screen a 3D-like effect, letting it render 3D images based on how you view or hold the phone. Alternatively, the phone's Web browser can also utilize Dynamic Perspective, letting you scroll through pages with the tilt of the phone. Amazon says this 3D-like feature can also be used for upcoming games.
Amazon is betting users will snap plenty of pics with their Fire phone, which features a 13-megapixel lens. To keep the phone's storage in the green, Amazon is offering its phone users unlimited photo storage via the company's Cloud Drive. It's a small gesture, but it sets them apart from the likes of Apple's iCloud and Microsoft's OneDrive, which have a 5GB and 7GB cap, respectively.
While the Amazon phone didn't come with the sponsored data plan the Internet buzzed about, it does offer something most smartphones don't — a better starting price. The $199 price tag buys you a 32GB handset, whereas typically $199 buys you just 16GB.
Despite the crowded market and the AT&T exclusivity, Amazon's debut phone still manages to impress. Unique features, useful freebies, and an intriguing app that showcases the Amazon ecosystem all combine to make this a sure-hit phone for the Seattle giant. Now all we need to see is if consumers are willing to buy.
Are you planning to get the Amazon Fire phone? Let us know in the comments below.