Why did Amazon make a phone?


Crappy specs, high price, tied to AT&T, novelty display and a glorified QR code reader/Shazam combo.





Hey, I don’t know about the rest of you; but I’m constantly asking myself “How can you buy enough stuff from Amazon with such a busy schedule?” And now Jeff has the answer! This is going to change my life more than anything since Sergei helped me stop being emasculated by my cellphone by letting me strap it to my face!


The real price of the phone is not $200, it’s $200 in addition to a monthly contractual price subsidy, or $650/$750 off contract up front. It’s a $650/$750 answer to a high-end Nexus 5 Android phone at $350 - and that’s off contract.

As stated before, middlin’ specs, tied to AT&T, and you could have the Nexus 5 for about half that price on any GSM carrier, or the LG G3, Note 3 or HTC M8, the highest-end Android models, for the same $200 + Contract if you just gotta tie yourself to AT&T.

It’s the second coming of the Facebook Phone, but less useful because there’s no Google apps and services, which is a big reason to pick Android.



Compared to the Nexus 5, they defintely bloated the BoM a bit with all those cameras and tilt-sensing whatnot. We’ll see if this is actually interesting, or whether they achieved a mobile version of Microsoft’s “Let’s make our console $100 more to add a cool camera thing that nobody cares about” strategy.

I’ll be watching the fight from a safe distance.

If I understand correctly, the display is a completely standard smartphone display. It’s just that certain “3D” types of objects (really 2D w/ multiple views?) will display their different views based on the angle you look at the phone at, or hold the phone at.

Am I misunderstanding, or is this, well, idiotic? Or at the very least, not as novel as their marketing makes it out to be?

The article is a great example of editorializing through formatting!

I, for one, am not surethat it’s afair way toargue against a relatively benignproduct of a company you don’t agree with

Wait, what were we talking about?

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Well, it’s no Facebook phone, that’s for certain.


Not just that - the phone is pointless without Prime, but only includes a 1 year subscription vs a 2 year contract, so there goes another hundred bucks…

It’s a genius move on Amazon’s part. They hope to lock every aspect of your entertainment life into Amazon’s garden. Prime for video, music and cheap shipping, Firefly for more shopping, the Amazon OS to lock you in to their app store - it’s not 100% clear yet whether you will be able to side load apk files from the play store. Perhaps now, but not later? Zero percent chance I’ll get one, and early polling results on engagdet show most agree, with about 40% in the ‘not sure, let me think’ category. The Amazon app store doesn’t have the ‘core’ android apps - gmail, etc, so they will see some reluctance from that set of potential adopters.

1st year of prime free = first taste free, then you pay for the candy, friend. We’ll see whether this works or not, but I bet their marketing team ran some numbers based on current Prime subscribers converting to the Kindle Phone, and the board felt it looked good.

There was a tech demo for the iPad that did something similar–i3d.

Since the firephone has purpose built head tracking hardware, one might expect it to be somewhat more reliable.

Sorry if the following question seems stupid / obvious / trollish to people that are familiar with USA cellular market, but I am from Europe and I am aware that things are … different … over there.

So, how does the AT&T network work?
Can this phone be used with a different SIM card, for a different provider when the contract is paid of?
Can this phone, when purchased for full price “over the counter” be used here in Europe with a standard SIM card from one of many competitive cell phone providers?

I have tried to read Wikipedia on AT&T coverage and now I am even more confused.

Some areas do not have native AT&T coverage, such as much of the state of Nebraska, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Maine.

Can people living in those states in USA get and use the Fire phone?

That… Depends.

As with any GSM(used generically, classic ‘GSM’ being mostly extinct; but if it’s a successor to GSM and it uses something that looks like a SIM, it’s ‘GSM’ to me) AT&T can and sometimes does SIM-lock devices.

Their description of the conditions under which they will deign to unlock a humble petitioner’s device is not exactly terse; but it could be considerably less readable than it is.

IFF your pleas are accepted, your AT&T device will at least attempt to interact with a heathen, commie, euro-SIM.

Now the fun begins: AT&T is active on 850MHz and 1900MHz for UMTS/HSPA+ services and
700MHz, 1700MHz, 1900MHz, and 2300MHz for LTE (though not necessarily all bands in all areas). So, if a phone doesn’t support at least some of these, they probably don’t sell it, though a phone that they sell may not support all bands that they use and may support additional bands that they don’t use; but that the handset manufacturer included because they sell to other carriers as well.

So consult the rows for Operating Band 2 and Operating Band 5 on this chart to see if your region overlaps with AT&T on UMTS service and rows for Operating Band 2, 4, 17, and 30 on this one for LTE overlap.

Despairing is optional; but understandable.

In practice, you are probably better off just assuming that if AT&T sells it, it obviously works in their home market, then checking their ‘please sir, I want to remove my SIM lock’ page to see if you are eligible, then checking with the device vendor for frequency support.

In the case of this device, “UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz), Quad-band
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), 9 bands of 4G-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3,
4, 5, 7, 8, 17, 20)” quoth Amazon.

So, if AT&T will unlock it, Europe is probably a go(assuming your vendor of choice will issue you a nano-SIM, or you feel like cutting one down).

Isn’t RF allocation neat?


“I think this wireless thing is going to be big.”

What a remarkably visionary thing to say in 1994.

That is pretty shameful.

It’s not the phone for me, but I’m glad to see that someone is maintaining a “fork” of Android that does not use the full Google services package, and so does not try at every turn to store your life on Google’s servers.

This becomes more important with every Android revision. I’m not an Android dev, but those that are tell me that it’s with every version GOOG deprecates more and more useful Android programming functions and creates more useful versions as part of monolithic Google applications package. Unfortunately, that package also contains privacy threats like contacts sync, Google Now, and G+ messaging.

If this continues, it’s likely that an Andorid device that refuses the Google apps package won’t just be missing GMaps and the Play store, but also won’t be able to run a lot of third-party applications. If Amazon can create a viable competitor, it will encourage developers to stick to the generic Android APIs, and make it more possible for us to have useful phones with at least some privacy protection.


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