The Amazon Fire was riding a wave of hype in the past few weeks. People were anxiously waiting for a smartphone from the company that gave the masses a true competitor tablet to the highly competitive Google Nexus 7 not to mention an ebook reader that truly made ereading mainsteam. And now, the Amazon Fire has finally been unveiled for us, in all its glory. First impressions are that it’s nothing like we’ve ever seen before on a smartphone.
The headline grabbing feature of the Amazon Fire is this small smartphone has 6, you read that right, 6 cameras. There’s your primary rear camera as the main shooter, and a front video camera. But the rest of the front cameras are there primarily to track your movements. The data from these cameras is processed, and the user interface of the smartphone reacts to any changes in the movement of your face. Sounds very Kinect-like and futuristic, but how it translates to actual user experience is a whole other story.
The user interface of the Amazon Fire Phone has been dubbed the Dynamic Perspective. Dynamic in the sense that it responds to changes in the position of your body. This will work in interesting ways for communicating with the smartphone. For example the wallpaper changes its perspective when viewed from different angles. It also finds use in games, granted that the games actually make use of this tech. For example, moving your head upwards will make a character jump, while moving it downwards would make it slide/crouch. We’re not sure whether it would be practical to keep shaking your head for prolonged periods of time. Some users may even feel dizziness while interacting with this unique interface.
The other feature that Amazon is counting on for its Fire Phone is the Firefly module. This feature basically brings the user closer to Amazon’s main business – retail. Firefly uses the smartphone’s microphone and camera to recognize any product. For example, if you want to buy a book your friend is reading, simply take a picture of the book and Firefly will take you directly to Amazon’s listing for the respective book. Sounds amazing, for Amazon. People who make a lot of impulse buys will definitely appreciate the ease with which they can buy products with this feature. For the rest of us though, this sounds awfully selfish, as it only serves Amazon’s main purpose of making more money.
Surprisingly, the Amazon Fire Phone’s internals haven’t been much hyped about. And with good reason too. It’s got a pretty standard Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor and 2 gigabytes of RAM. The rear camera has a 13 megapixel sensor and the main display is a 4.7 inch unit with a 720p resolution. Sounds pretty underwhelming doesn’t it? But then, Amazon didn’t want this to be the next miniature super computer. They wanted a smartphone that would extend Amazon’s reach even further into a potential customer’s pockets. For that purpose, it’s a great phone. Even as a technological showcase, it’s admirable because of the image processing. But overall as a modern smartphone, we’re not sure this is the next big thing.