Amazon Fire Phone: flaming mess or hot stuff?

Amazon Fire
Amazon Fire Phone gets the inflame treatment

Years of leaks, rumours, guesswork and quite a few lies-for-attention were put to bed last week, as Amazon revealed the Amazon Fire Phone, a little smartphone friend for the successful Kindle Fire tablet series.

Most of the pre-launch excitement from phone nerds quickly disappeared, though, when Amazon's boss revealed the pricing strategy for the phone's US launch. There is no 'free with Prime' option many had hoped for; it's a high-cost, high-end model, priced similarly to the top-drawer Samsungs and HTCs of this world.

Those hoping for stellar performance on a tiny budget from the delivery logistics specialist were disappointed, while many others were simply confused by Amazon's baffling head-tracking tools that surely won't add much to the phone -- or the buying stuff from Amazon -- experience.

As is commonplace on the internet, no one was particularly happy about anything.

The price may very well be wrong

Beneath a report on the Guardian, reader Naa27 is already predicting some heavy discounting due to the Amazon Fire Phone's hefty launch price, posting: "The Fire tablets worked because they were cheap. Not sure why anyone would pay a premium for this. The specs aren't anything to shout about and benefit of the added features are arguable. Be surprised if this succeeds - though less surprised if a huge price cut happens early on."

Jeff Bezos

Jeff wont be looking quite so smug if he reads the comments about his Amazon Fire Phone

And Phaser isn't exactly a fan either, bemoaning the lack of the core Android apps that arrive pre-loaded on the army of other Google-based phones it's competing with, saying: "I really do not like Fire OS from trying it on tablets, and this is very expensive for what it is, while missing best in class services like YouTube and Google Maps. None of the other stuff feels very significant to change my mind on that."

Rakbeast had a business plan for Mr Bezos, but it's not a particularly kind one: "They are the least strategic company around, financially successful due to their dodgy tax dealings and their only strength is the online store. They would be best placed buying Argos, instead of making a damn phone."

Overseas readers should know that Argos is a mainstream household goods shop, where men go to buy last-minute presents for family members and shower curtains. That is therefore perhaps meant as a bit of an insult.

Heading for trouble

On The Register, things were as cynical as usual. Reader R11 won't be trying the Fire Phone out no matter how much it's discounted to by Q2 of 2015, scoffing: "Moving your head a lot is typically uncomfortable. Try tilting your head and keeping it at an angle for a minute. To me at least, this user interface sounds exhausting at best, and downright painful at worst."


Amazon: you are good at selling things, but this phone might not be one of them

He finished his exclusive hands-nowhere-near-it review with: "I really can't think of a worse way to navigate a phone than moving my head."

Reader JDX came back with some facts, or at least some authoritatively-typed words that appear like they might be proper facts, explaining how bodies work with: "People move their head constantly when interacting with the real world or talking to people. Whereas sitting still with a fixed, unblinking stare at your screen is proven to be bad for your health."

And besides, it's all about the apps anyway, as reader Joe K put it: "One of the main reasons that WinPho fails for most people is the lack of app store. Amazon's app store is like a random scattering of apps, some you've heard of, most you won't have, and whose only criteria is their devs who decide to give some money to Bezos."

Gadgets with benefits

The tight integration with Amazon, which even goes so far as to include a physical button to let you scan and buy items, was another sore point for many. Gizmodo reader Dinsy Jones summed up the thoughts of many, with: "So this whole thing is a tool to get me to buy more stuff from Amazon... and I have to pay £500 for the privilege? Right, I can't wait to buy one."

Make sure you buy it via Prime if you're that excited, Dinsy, it'll come quicker.

Amazon Drone

Postal workers everywhere should watch their backs, Amazon wants to replace them with Prime drones

In response, reader ScyBy would clearly rather Amazon had announced a £100 budget marvel, agreeing: "Exactly, it should at least be subsidised. Their tablet offerings stand up as media consumption devices, but this? I can't see why it exists other than to benefit Amazon more than it does the consumer."

A more aggressive response was offered by Nenslo, who mocked: "This phone seems completely useless and here I thought Samsung touted useless gimmicks!"

The most sarcastic comment came via Eurogamer reader Sadakos_fury, who doesn't feel particularly empowered by the one-click item barcode-scanning and ordering system that's built into the Fire Phone.

He painted this sad picture of modern-day retail: "Hold on - so now I can make my way into town, go into a bookshop, scan a book, order it online a bit cheaper, put the book back on the shelf, leave the shop with a happy wave, go all the way home and wait for a few days (give or take) for the book I previously held in my hands to drop through the door, all the while enjoying the feel of the one pound seventy-nine that I saved rolling around in my hands? Amazing. What an age we live in."

Just you wait until the drones are dropping all your stuff on your doorstep. Then you won't want to carry things home like a caveman.