Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Amazon looks to take on Samsung, Apple with Fire Phone

Philip Michaels | June 19, 2014
Amazon jumped into the smartphone fray Wednesday, unveiling the Fire Phone at a press event in Seattle.

Amazon jumped into the smartphone fray Wednesday, unveiling the Fire Phone at a press event in Seattle.

In taking the wraps off the much-anticipated phone, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said it was built out of premium materials. The Fire Phone features Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides, along with a 4.7-inch LCD screen. The phone has a rubberized frame and aluminum buttons.

On the audio side, the Fire Phone boasts dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus virtual surround sound. The phone's magnetic earbuds come with a flat cable that doesn't tangle easily, according to Bezos.

But the Fire Phone's calling card looks to be its software and services. Because this is an Amazon device, you can expect lots of access to content, such as the Kindle Store for buying books as well as the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, in which Amazon Prime members can share books. The phone will also have access to hundreds of magazines and newspapers as well as Amazon's recently purchased Comixology digital comics reader and storefront. Apps such as Netflix, HBO Go, and ESPN's sports content will also be available on the phone.

As you would expect, the Fire Phone includes features aimed at readers. An immersion reading feature lets you read the story and listen to narration at the same time, while WhisperSync for Voice lets you switch between text and audio without losing your place in the book.

The Mayday customer service feature — a popular addition to the Kindle Fire HDX tablet — makes its way over to the Fire Phone as well. It'll be a free feature with 24-hour support and — Bezos added in a clear dig at Apple's Genius Bar — no need to make appointments or go to a store.

Other Amazon-driven features in the Fire Phone included unlimited cloud photo storage via Amazon Cloud Drive and an adaptation of the Fire TV's ASAP feature that uses predictive caching and prebuffering for streams that start instantly.

We'll have more details on the Fire Phone — including a spec breakdown and its pricing and availability — as the Amazon press event continues.

Updated at 11:27 a.m. PT with more Fire Phone features.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit


Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.