Amazon could fight Fire Phone failure with new ‘Ice’ devices

Amazon’s first and only stint with making a smartphone did not go so well. But, rumor has it that the company may be taking another swing with new Android devices codenamed “Ice”.

While we haven’t seen any leaks showing off what the phones will look like, the biggest difference between the new effort and the Amazon Fire Phone appears to be the adoption of a less customized take on Android and the ever-popular Google Mobile Services suite, containing apps like Gmail, Google Play Store and more.

According to insiders familiar with the project, Amazon is currently testing 5.2-inch and 5.5-inch devices for release in emerging markets. Inside of the phones is reported to be a 13MP camera, Snapdragon 435, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, which is half of what the Amazon Fire Phone had back in 2014.

While Amazon’s early phone efforts went up against the flagships of the time, these are rumored to launch around the sub-$100 price point. That said, they are said to be currently testing with Android Nougat, which would make them among the cheapest phones to come with the latest software. 

Can Ice put out the Fire?

If you remember (maybe it’s best that you don’t), the Amazon Fire Phone ran a heavily customized version of Android, like it does with the Amazon Fire tablets. As such, the amount of apps available was limited by a tremendous deal. 

While this seems to work well enough in the tablet space, it didn’t go over well in the phone market. But given the new rumors, Amazon could be changing its practices. The source stated that not only do the test devices run Android Nougat, they feature the Google Assistant.

Mysteriously out of sight is Alexa, Amazon’s own virtual assistant that has popped up on the scene following the Fire Phone’s demise. It seems odd that these new phones wouldn’t feature Alexa, but that is likely to change in the future. That is, if we hear more about these devices. 

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.