back to article What's MISSING on Amazon Fire Phone... and why it WON'T set the world alight

Having a headline piece of consumer tech crash and burn in the US market is every company's nightmare – and that's exactly what happened to Amazon’s Fire Phone, whose price has just PLUNGED from $449 to $199 Stateside. Amazon Fire Phone top and bottom bezels. Pic: Alun Taylor Hefty bezels: Amazon's Fire Phone is pretty …

  1. Cuddles Silver badge

    Crap screen, crap hardware, crap apps, crap price.

    I'm truly amazed this hasn't been selling well. At a more sensible price this... still wouldn't be particularly attractive since there's plenty of competition in the low-to-mid end of things and this doesn't appear to have anything to make it stand out. But at the same price as one of the best high-end phones currently available? It's like they're deliberately going out of their way to make this fail.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hmmm

      This will be the Palm Pre all over again.

      O2 put the Pre as a premium phone at a similar price point to the iPhone. (3GS I think). Was anyone surprise that people bought the better known and supported iPhone rather than the Pre?

      It does not matter how good the phone is O2 and Apple will heavily promote iPhone, People have Apple apps bought, and while Amazon may have deep pockets, the fact this is an O2 exclusive it will probably see it smoulder on for a while then burn out.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        ye gads how much? So decide between an iphone, note 3, s5 or this?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          or as pointed out, the Sony Z3....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm

        The Pre was ahead of the iPhone in some ways. It had decent multitasking, some of the people who worked on it were ex-Apple.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "The Pre was ahead of the iPhone in some ways."

          Kinda missed the point there AC.

      3. bjr

        Re: Hmmm

        You're being really unfair to the Palm Pre. Palm OS was way ahead of anything else at the time, it's multitasking was better than today's version of Android let alone anything in 2009. The Pre came out a month before the first Android phone (it was supposed to come out 8 months before but Palm was chronically incapable of executing, if they had met their schedules the world might be different today). The Pre was a ground breaking product, the Amazon Phone is just a medocre phone at a high price (although in the US they are have a fire sale, $200 unlocked, bet they don't sell any even at that price).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          Sounds like Betamax cry-babies to me.

        2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          You've touched in the thing that absolutely drives me further into my insanity is this; some modicum level of multitasking. In the early to mid-eighties and I had a real simple requirements list: Multitasking, yes, WIMP, if possible, software including games, nice to have but I'm willing and more than able to DIY. In the January issue of Byte featured the Amiga 1000. It had the real deal, true preemptive multitasking, and dit it with style. And it could take the workload of all me mainframes, no problem.

          So, I'm irritated as frag all that this device I've got in my hand (Nexus 7) can barely multitask in userspace after modifications that should wake any OS. Hell, to die for in the Windows world to die for. Remind me again how long it's been since those heady days.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          Sorry you missed my point.

          I wasn't saying the Pre was good or bad, simply that as an O2 exclusive it saw far less marketing and exposure against the iPhone, the iPhone was on all networks and so being heavily advertised by the networks and Apple.

          All I remember of the pre was the waving people advert, a triumph of obliqueness, I knew what the phone was, I suspect that thousands didn't.

          The Pre (or the Kindle phone) could be the best in the world but confining it to a network will be contractually obligated to promote rival devices is not going to win anyone over.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          The trouble was the hardware on the Pre was poor. The Pre 2 was a lot better (I still have one and it works), but the Pre 3 was really either a year too late or with inadequate processor, memory and screen, depending on how you looked at it.

          Being owned by HP didn't, I imagine, help. In those "Teach the elephant to dance" management courses of the late 90s, HP was the horrible warning not the shining example.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm, your timing may be out?

          I bought a HTC magic (not the first android phone) because even I, a PalmOs stalwart, had got sick of waiting for the pre to hit the UK stores.

      4. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        As with O2 there, so with AT&T here or more accurately with myself. Give the phone gratis and I'd ship it back out of pocket.

        It still begs the question, why the exclusive arrangements? I actually like the idea of the Fire Phone and I'm not committed at all to Amazon. (Newegg, &c, yeah) The instant lookups would suit the extended families just fine. Betcha I'd want a commission on each additional phone. No AT&T, period, from all of us to all of Amazon. I conducted a survey.

        1. Kepler
          Headmaster

          "It still begs the question, . . . ." (Re: Hmmm)

          Raises the question, Jack of Shadows, not begs!

          Begging the question is a logical fallacy — essentially, assuming one's conclusion. But it has become all-too-common today for people to say "begs the question" when what they actually mean is that such-and-such raises the question.

          You also refer to a January issue of BYTE without bothering to specify a year. (Plus if my guess is right, you actually mean August of 1985?*) But since you mention the Amiga and distinguish real multitasking from pale imitations, all is forgiven. You're all right.

          .

          * http://archive.org/details/BYTE_Vol_10-08_1985-08_The_Amiga

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No Guardian App!

      So you admit to being a Guardian reader!

      Just say it as it is, the phone is crap value, stop being wishy washy.

  2. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    Amazon should lower the price

    They may be taking a loss on the hardware if they do, but then they've pretty much ensured that the buyer is wired into their ecosystem, which should pay dividends well beyond any loss on the phone. They should market this one dirt cheap, follow it with a better sequel once a significant number of people have bought in, then it might stand a chance. This is likely what they're going to be stuck doing anyway if they have a warehouse full of these.

    1. Sheep!

      Re: Amazon should lower the price

      Agreed, this is the approach everyone (including El Reg for a while) thought that MS was going to take with the Surface. They didn't, they priced it to compete with the iPad and then had to take a write-down of $1 billion on it. I've got a Kindle Fire (mother bought one thinking it was a Kindle e-reader, so I got her a paperwhite and took the Fire on) and rooted it and it's an "ok" tablet, seriously lacking in features (no GPS, no bluetooth, no expansion, crap on-board storage but with an ok screen and reasonable speed as long as you don't have an app or 2 running in the background) but the Amazon app store is pretty awful, I crowbarred the Play store on there but it's very hit-and miss as to what apps think they're compatible, side-loading is also seems quite hit-and-miss. Unfortunately this review seems to confirm that that the Fire-phone is much like the Fire tablet - overpriced and not containing enough value even to those who've invested heavily in Amazon wares.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Amazon should lower the price

      Now available in the US for $199, unlocked, including a year of Amazon Prime. If you're a big Amazon user that could be a good deal, since the year of Prime would be quite valuable.

      Doesn't do anything for me,1 but I know a number of Amazon Prime customers who could do much worse than buy the unlocked Fire for a couple hundred dollars. In effect they're getting a decent2 subsidized phone without a contract.

      1I don't buy enough on Amazon for the free 2-day Prime shipping to be worthwhile - and if I really need something delivered quickly, I have my wife buy it with her Prime account. I'm not interested in streaming video or audio so no Prime benefit there. And I wouldn't buy the Fire anyway because it doesn't have a physical keyboard, removable battery, or SD card slot.

      2I know, not by gadget-freak standards. Plenty good enough for most people.

  3. 0laf Silver badge

    I has originally thought that this would be much like the original Kindles - decent hardware discounted because it's effectively an extension of the Amazon store.

    But it's not. Why would I want to pay through the nose to be effectively locked into the Amazon ecosystem?

    1. Captain Queeg

      > Why would I want to pay through the nose to be effectively locked into the Amazon ecosystem?

      That's a really good point, but Apple seem to have been able to achieve it and if anyone should be able to, it should be Jeff?

      Maybe the iPod>>iPhone migration path is just more compelling than the Kindle>>Fire Phone. Certainly the kindle seems less like a natural feed to a phone than the iPod classic does, but not massively so.

      The thing that puts me off is Firefly - very clever for sure, but the idea of paying Bezos top money to allow me to buy more from him more easly just grates.

      1. M Mouse
        FAIL

        Chalk and Cheese

        How can you compare Amazon with Apple, when one considers the range of apps available for iOS and Android, vs the Amazon cut-down range? It's easy to see the iPhone is likely to be popular with a range of people, partly because of the hype and the higher cost making some think they have a better product.

        I have a number of iMacs but none is less than 5 years old - I think Apple pricing is a rip-off for new items, which is shown in their current market value. As for Amazon, this not-too-hot phone might have sales at 199 GBP but 399? Not when I could buy a 4G or dual-SIM (mutually exclusive for now) Moto G, or go for the Moto X, instead.

  4. JDX Gold badge

    Price

    I don't even follow why the price is high. They have done brilliantly with the Kindle by keeping the cost low and the Kindle Fire range also offers a great spec for the cash. The idea with both being, you then buy content from Amazon. So why not follow the same patter with the phone, especially after they saw it tanked in the US?

    1. goldcd

      Additionally, I can't find fault with the Kindle.

      Sure there are other ereaders out there, but if I ignored price, I'd still go with Kindle (love the worldwide 3G). Price of it's just the icing on the cake.

      On my regular android phone I have my amazon app, my kindle app (and I assume there's nothing to stop there being a Firefly app in the future).

      I am just completely bemused as to why Amazon even attempted to make this phone. There's absolutely nothing unique about this I want, and mediocre specs and insane price..

  5. Detective Emil
    Flame

    Oldie but goldie

    Glad your subs are, um, mature enough to remember The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Or maybe they watch TOTP reruns.

    Hmm. Suppose I'd better RTFA now.

    1. unitron
      Headmaster

      Re: Oldie but goldie

      Someone's* memory is a bit off, though, because I remember the line as "worked hard", not "fought hard".

      (* in the event that they are right and I am wrong, you'll see that the sentence still works)

  6. FartingHippo
    Megaphone

    A free speaker worth £199

    Having seen (and heard it), I can promise you that it 'costs' £199, but it is far, far, faaaaar from 'worth' it.

    My icon has only marginally worse sound reproduction qualities.

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Re: A free speaker worth £199

      And what about the journalists' bribe?

      Is there a tech journalist that DIDN'T have Amazon Prime membership yet (except for possible refuseniks that will get very annoyed at the bribe)?

    2. D@v3

      Re: A free speaker worth £199

      also worth noting that you only get the speaker on 8GB or 20GB a month contracts, also, (perhaps tellingly) the speaker itself is not listed in the Kitsound area of the Accessories corner of the site, me thinks they have a few out back that need getting rid of (maybe that had been purchased and returned?)

    3. Halfmad

      Re: A free speaker worth £199

      What use is it though? I'm after a MOBILE phone so give me a speak? What the f..

      Might as well have given me 4 pints of semi skimmed milk, I can use that whilst attempting to use the phone too.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Baffling

    A well balanced and fair review, and I agree with all the comments so far: just baffling why Amazon ever thought this would sell well given all the cheaper and better competition.

    Who would buy a Fire Phone given the alternative of pretty much every other phone that's available? And why did O2 take it on? For sure, I don't expect much sense from O2, but even so, this is one exclusive deal too far.

    All I can think of is that this isn't really a phone per se, but really the physical manifestation of a very clever tax-offsetting financial derivative.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Baffling

      It would make sense for Amazon to make a really good phone and heavily subsidise it due to it being locked into their ecosystem.

      Instead they have done the lock up part, but not released a good phone.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apps stores.

    Whilst Amazon is crap compared to Google and Apple's offerings, it's still a million miles better than Microsoft's Windows Phone app store offerings.

    What saddens me, is no WIndows Phone review, from the inhouse Windows Phone reviewer ever dare criticise that.

    1. Darren Barratt

      Re: Apps stores.

      Reaching there, to take a jab at a completely unrelated device, aren't you?

      C'mon, show us on this doll, where the nasty Microsoft touched you!

    2. Robert Grant

      Re: Apps stores.

      Actually they do mention the lack of apps on WP here. And WP has the Guardian, Dropbox, at least my banks' apps, Uber and Foursquare. So when you say its app selection is better than Windows Phone's, what you mean is, it's way worse, particularly when looking at the list the reviewer mentioned.

      Or what you really mean is The Register doesn't automatically parrot 2010's news that WP Store has no apps, the way most sites you read do.

  9. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

    Briefly considered one

    However I decided to stick with my VirginMedia contract for another round - the S3 mini is dirt cheap and does the job well enough with a 32Gb microSD, especially when paired with the Kindle Fire HD.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Briefly considered one

      Eeewwww the s3 mini.....I have the misfortune of having one for work. Is your like everyone else's with a cracked screen when it slid out of your hand?

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Briefly considered one

        Nope, first thing I buy for a phone is a sub-£5 case from ebay. That usually protects the phone from any knocks.

        In fact I have never broken a phone screen, I have dropped them, usually on a tiled or concrete floor but PU-leather is a good shock absorber.

        ...and no I didn't down vote you.

  10. Stuart 22

    Lollipopped?

    No Lollipop, fewer apps and a price premium? I'm not the target market when I come to replace my 2012 Nexus 4 (just received 5.0) and Moto G 1st Gen (5.0 on the way).

    Is it just me who won't consider any device that doesn't have an 18/24 month os upgrade policy and/or a cyanogenmod escape route?

  11. sawatts

    How much? Still?

    Recently succumbed to a smartphone, only because there was no O2 signal where I am now living (and thought it would be nice to find the nearest chinese takeaway on the way home).

    Nice large device for £150 (new), and an all-you-can-eat data for £12 pcm (more minutes and txts than I ever use).

    Why are people spending so much on these things? Am I missing something?...

    1. M Mouse

      Re: How much? Still?

      Agree, but come on, spill the beans, which phone and network ?

      (Consider it an act of educating the people spending too much, if you like, but I'm just curios as to whether my predictions are correct. Probably a Moto G on Three AYCE. Some might have thought of Giff Gaff, but don't they piggy-back on O2...)

      1. sawatts

        Re: How much? Still?

        Correct on the network.

        The 'phones actually a "phablet" HP Slate 6 VoiceTab (purchased with a discount).

        I know you can get shinier devices, but frankly it does more than I need very well.

  12. Hellcat

    Amazon's business model confuses the hell out of me.

    Here they have a service company, that they could open up to other platforms and millions more subscribers - but they tie it down to a selection of in-house devices that are selling at a loss, and are likely not to catch on.

    Full disclosure - (grumpy) Chromecast owner and Prime subscriber.

  13. DrXym Silver badge

    Not hard to understand why it flopped

    It was overpriced, underpowered, underfeatured and running some funny OS called Fire OS. Some people might know Fire OS is a fork of Android but even they wouldn't see it as a good thing.

    About the only unique about the phone was also those cameras on the front - five(!) in total, four of which were for some headtracking 3D effect that few apps bothered with. A lot of complexity and cost for a gimmick.

  14. Dabooka Silver badge
    WTF?

    Didn't I read on here....

    That Amzon had slashed the price to 99c in the US of A to drive sales? Or did I dream that? I winder what the impact has been if indeed it were true?

    My search for a Razr i replacmeent continues.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Didn't I read on here....

      Currently it's "free" on a stupidly expensive phone contract - $87 a month(!) for 12 months or $80 a month for 24 months for a pathetic 2GB data plan. Two things to conclude from this are 1) Americans are *really* getting screwed by their phone providers and 2) having to dropping a grand to get the free thing isn't free.

      Without contract it's $199 which IMO is somewhat more palatable but in a market filled with cheaper, similar spec phones hardly a bargain.

  15. OffBeatMammal

    $50 and a month of Prime

    the outrage

    it's about ethics in Journalism (not journalists in Essex)

    1. A Known Coward

      Re: $50 and a month of Prime

      I'd assume this is pretty standard for all companies giving devices which depend heavily on paid content to reviewers. Are they expected to spend their own money buying content to test the device. The Fire Phone (and iphone), but particularly the Fire phone, is all about purchasing apps, books, music and watching subscription videos from Amazon, how can you really review them without doing those things?

  16. Misky
    Facepalm

    Target Market?

    So you get a midrange phone that hooks you in to the Amazon eco-system and only the Amazon eco system, replaces a standard interface with a "learn how to use it all over again" interface and charge a premium price.

    Who are their target market?

    Even in the States they couldn't find enough people who wanted "One o' them 3D phone-i-ma-jigs"!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not as good as the current iPhones, it's not as desirable as the current iPhones yet it's not as cheap as other Android handsets = doomed.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The market is basically splitting into cheap, high volume, no profit Android or Apple.

  19. Anonymous John

    an ersatz-3D image

    When are we going to get the real (Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi) thing?

    1. Bleu

      Re: an ersatz-3D image

      Good question, so a vote from me.

      However, Hitachi has such a system, demonstrated it at CEATEC around the middle of the last decade.

      It requires multiple cameras around the space to capture the video, and the playback system is electro-mechanical, delivers much the same effect as the hologram viewers in THX1138, or Princess Leia in Star Wars.

      Unlike holograms, you can walk around the playback system, and it doesn't have the same problems with colour distortion. One of the demos was a sumo match.

      I thought at the time (and still do) that it was very ingenious, expected to see the system pop up in public spaces, but the costs of commercialisation seem to have been judged to be too high.

      Respect for NDAs precludes more, but we are now restricted to 'jump out of the screen' 3-D, I like my 3DS, but have not seen any of the recent American blockbusters in 3-D.

      I like the old ones, using it as a shock effect, for that, my prize goes to Paul Morissey for 'Blood for Dracula'. Flesh for Frankenstein, Jaws 3 in 3-D, all fun.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks cack.

    Who on earth wants to walk around with an Amazon logo showing?

    You wouldn't want a Tesco sports car, so why would you want an Amazon phone?

    1. Bleu

      Who does?

      People with the same mentality as those who want to wear clothes or shoes with the brand as the highlight, or want to make a show of only carrying Apple products, for a couple of examples.

      Give it a few years, and comment sites will have many commenters whose only desire is to display their devotion to Bezos, as they now do with Saint Steve.

      Some of the comments here show that the process is under way.

      I avoid Amazon like the plague.

  21. Mikel

    Play store

    Most of the value of any Android phone is in the Play Store. No Play, no pay.

    1. IR

      Re: Play store

      For most apps, you can use another Android device to access the Play store and install the app you want. Then use something to back-up the app (I use ES File Explorer) so it stores the apk file. Transfer, then just use a file explorer on the Amazon device to install the apk. It doesn't work for everything, and you don't get updates, but it is a lot safer than using other app stores and a lot easier than rooting.

      1. M Mouse

        Re: Play store

        Good point. Now, let's see when Amazon UK sell the bricks for 50 quid... I bet Amazon ordered a big pile and won't want them sitting in warehouses forever, while they see sales of lots of other phone grow via their own store.

    2. Bleu

      Re: Play store

      Crap.

      They have a few good preinstalled ones, I suppose it depends on the provider and place, I have installed precisely one, the file system and process controller.

      All of the others I have installed were pre-installed in the first place.

      Still a pretty good machine, does most of what one wants out of the box.

      Point being that the 'app' and 'store' systems mean just about *nothing* to me and many others.

      One program on Google looks interesting to me, as does one book that is exclusively on Amazon.

      I still much preferred my old brick. As a telephone (and in several other ways, the provider threw up some clunky but hard puzzle games, other game demos, videos, enjoyable wallpapers gratis every month, special alarm tones, ran a closed blog service, etc.), it was more fun.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What were they thinking?

    I think Amazon must have a distorted view of its own importance to try this, particularly at such a nonsensical price. The kindle and subsequent tablets made sense for books, movies, music etc, but this just doesn't, perhaps because an inexpensive tablet is good for consuming content, but is an 'extra', not the central thing people use to organise their lives in the way a phone is, so tying yourself to the Amazon ecosystem is less limiting. But the Fire phone lacks many of the apps that users seem to deem essential and they're unlikely to appear in the near future, and since access to Amazons services can be had through apps on other platforms, the shine comes off that Amazon lock in pretty quickly.

    Amazon did well with the first few models of the Kindle, but they've been playing catchup ever since, not least I think because their mindset is far more that of a retailer than technology company. A very modestly priced phone might have found a niche, but to release this at a price bracket that it can't possibly compete in shows how out of touch they really are.

  23. Frankee Llonnygog

    I suppose Amazon can at least be trusted ...

    ... to keep its ecosystem up and running. Unlike Vodafone which promises a free 2-year sub to Spotify Premium and whose forum is full of tales of woe from people like me who've been prematurely booted back to the free mode - a problem they seem unable to solve.

    Anyway, wouldn't it have made more sense to build a phone that was a decent eBook reader? Solving that might have resulted in something not so ... boring.

  24. Gannettt

    Ads

    I sincerely hope you lot in the UK don't get a British version of the horrible TV advertising we got here for this phone: gorky kids talking like adults, making the actual, non-fire phone using adults, look like idiots. And not only did the phone itself tank, but amazon's attempt to get the phrase "I'll just Firefly that" to gain traction.

    1. toxicdragon

      Re: Ads

      the ads I have seen feature a woman waving her phone about and having it scan things like websites and tv shows. It may be useful but personally I don't like waving my phone around in a crowded bar to find out what track is currently playing, could just be me.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Ads

      That was indeed an appalling advertising campaign - even for a mobile phone, a category that seems to attract the very worst ad agencies.

      I don't like the iPhone (or anything Apple's done since pre-Mac), and I found the original iPhone commercials annoyingly smug. But they weren't nearly as grating and obnoxious as most ads for mobile phones these days. And the Fire ones were particularly awful.

  25. Richard Lloyd

    Needs CM11 and Google apps

    If 1) it cost 140 quid in the UK unlocked/off contract and 2) could be rooted and CyanogenMod/Google apps installed, then it might actually be an alternative to the current budget champion (Moto G 2nd gen). Since neither looks likely to happen, this is one big white elephant. Maybe they'll throw a load into their Black Friday deals to get them off their hands?

  26. Frankee Llonnygog

    Now $199 in the US

    That's the unlocked, no-contract price. The only reason the current inflated prices have been announced in the UK is so they can soon announce the inevitable price cuts. I give it a week. They must be hoping a few mugs take it at double the going rate but I doubt they'll sell more than a couple of hundred at that price

  27. Katz

    I think much of the problem with this phone (for me at least) is that it reeks of simply being a window to purchasing Amazon stuff. So it comes across as a mobile Amazon POS phone, a mobile chip & pin credit card machine, if you will. I know it is more than that and that's not a wholly fair sum up as it does have some nice features. But really I couldn't get past the fact that it's a larger retailer that simply wants to lock you into buying their stuff.

    Sure, you could say Google does similar, they're an advertising giant, they want something back from Android too and Apple, well they're a hardware maker not so much trying to flog you software, but do want to lock you into their ecosystem.

    The difference is the latter two get the balance about right, they make attractive phones as well, something which I couldn't say for the Amazon Fire Phone. Maybe some will like it, but it's not for me. Amazon's also very late to the party too, which is probably accounts for at least half of the story of why it failed.

  28. Matt_payne666

    Facebook Phone...

    Amazon, as noted are great at almost giving away hardware to lock people in and this is cheap enough (from the hardware perspective) to have done the same, even without the funky cameras my dad could have ended up with one of these - and be another convert...

    but like the facebook phone, there is nothing that REALLY pulls you to this device and the headline software features are all available for free on every other platform so it was never goitng to sell purely on the name...

  29. Green Nigel 42
    Flame

    Zero hours

    Two problems with this phone

    1. Costs way 2 much (£132 in the USA vs rip off UK £399!)

    2. Its over here.

    A zero value phone & deservers zero take up.

    Amazon, do you really dispise us that much?

    No thanks Amazon!

  30. Green Nigel 42
    Mushroom

    Back in the board room

    Amazon, your fired!

  31. Frederick Tennant

    Fire All Yes Men.

    Who signed off this phone? this is a walking disaster from the 'get go". Good looks? No, Good specifications? No Good Price point? No. The yes men need to be fired this was never going to work, worse its just embarrassing. Remember HP's first tablet? or worse their phone? They could not give them away. To get the masses to buy this phone it need to be sexy first, All iPhones have boring specifications but to cover their specifications they disguise it so it looks the part, as for pricing, Apple is Apple, if the rest of the world wants to product something to take that fruit company product something cheap and sexy like £150 metal with expansion. then you will have something to shout about. That Nokia Tablet looks great, lets hope they can get a good price point.

  32. nijam Silver badge

    All in all, you make it sound like a Lumia.

  33. Kepler
    FAIL

    What the Hell is Firefly???

    In most respects this is a perfectly fine and helpful review. However, its discussion of Firefly does not even begin to convey adequately what it is and does and how it works.

    "Launch the app and point the camera at something - a picture, a URL, a phone number, a bar code, and Amazon will tell you what it is."

    The camera? What camera? Does "the camera" mean the phone's camera — the actual physical camera built into the phone — as any normal, sensible user of English would take it to mean, or a little picture of a camera shown on screen? Naturally I took the term at face value, but the things that are said about the camera and what one does with it (see below) suggest that maybe something entirely different and non-obvious — but in any event unstated — was intended.

    "It works with music and video too. If it’s a purchasable item you get pointed to said item on Amazon.

    For music and images I found Firefly to be reliable but the video ID feature is a bit hit and miss. Listening to the soundtrack (it doesn’t actually look at video) . . . ."

    Huh? How the flunk do I point my phone's camera at music? (Or even an on-screen camera?) What does that even mean? Point it at the speaker from which the sound is emanating? And even if I do, how the Hell can a camera hear (or even see) music or a soundtrack?

    And for that matter, how do I even point it at a video or an image? Being displayed where? Obviously I can't point my phone's camera at an image or video being displayed on the phone's screen; that's physically impossible! So am I supposed to point it at a video or image being displayed on a TV or a computer screen in the same room? Or — again — are we not actually talking about the phone's camera at all?

    I'm sure there is a very good answer to my questions that would clear up my confusion and show how my questions are all entirely misconceived. It's a shame that answer wasn't provided in the review. The problem is that things obvious to the writer (Alun Taylor) — things that should have been spelled out for readers who have never used or seen an Amazon Fire Phone themselves — were left unstated. What Firefly is and does, and how it works, were left entirely unclear and mysterious.

    1. Kepler
      Facepalm

      Re: What the Hell is Firefly???

      A comment posted above by ToxicDragon

      http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/2/2014/11/26/amazon_fire_phone_review/#c_2371061

      — implies that the camera in question really is the phone's camera, and not some on-screen pointing/selecting icon made to look like a camera:

      "the ads I have seen feature a woman waving her phone about and having it scan things like websites and tv shows. . . . [P]ersonally I don't like waving my phone around in a crowded bar to find out what track is currently playing, . . . ."

      So the pointing isn't done on screen, at Web sites, photos and videos displayed on the screen. Instead the phone itself — or rather its camera and/or microphone — is pointed at other screens, or at physical objects in one's environment.

      In the case of Web sites and URLs, you aren't using your phone to browse the Web. Instead you are browsing the Web on some other computing device (even another phone?), but keeping your phone handy so you can point its camera at the other device's screen. TV shows and videos can be on a TV or a computer screen; pictures can be paintings or drawings or photographic prints in one's physical presence, or on a computer screen; phone numbers can be printed or even written by hand on a piece of paper, or displayed on a TV or computer screen; a bar code can be printed on paper or a package, or displayed on a screen; and so on.

      It would have been nice if this had been spelled out originally. Or if a video or at least a photo or two of Firefly in use had been included with the article. And some of the details of how all this is supposed to work are still a little murky.

      (E.g., how Firefly works with sound. The article explicitly mentions only the camera, but obviously a microphone must be involved too.)

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: What the Hell is Firefly???

        Right. As I understand it from the ads:

        Firefly is a combination of existing technology, like QR code readers and the Shazaam sound-recognition service. The Firefly app uses the phone's (rear-facing) camera and microphone (and may also process content that's playing on the phone, for all I know) to gather information, which it sends to an Amazon service that performs text recognition (for URLs), image matching (for identifying objects), sound recognition, etc. When the service thinks it's probably identified something, it sends the info back to the app; and if it's something Amazon can sell you in some form, it sends a link to the item in the Amazon store as well.

        This is all pretty straightforward tech - all things that are in common use - bundled up with a point-and-click interface and tied to the store to make subsequent purchases as simple as possible. It's not something I'm interested in using, but I admire the elegance.

        1. Kepler
          Pint

          Re: What the Hell is Firefly???

          Thank you, Michael, for explaining what the article itself did not. (At least with sufficient clarity for me.)

  34. gymychoo

    If it was 2011, then maybe

    but its nearly 2015 and you can buy a brand spanking new LG G3 unlocked from eBay for £335 and that's for the 32/3gb model. You'd have to be an ultra tard to buy this dog for £400. It needs to be about the £100 - £150 mark. Or just buy a Fire HDX and tether it to an old Smartphone for £100. It's like Blackadder's broken pencil, pointless.

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