Amazon is bringing its Fire phone to the UK exclusively with O2
and you can pre-order the device online today or in O2 stores.
Customers who buy a Fire phone before 31 December, 2014 will get
a year’s worth of Prime for free and unlimited photo storage on
Amazon’s Cloud storage system. Those who already have Amazon’s
Prime service won’t miss out and will get the next year of their
Prime membership free.
If you buy the phone after this time, remember to factor Prime
membership into your budget, as the phone is intrinsically linked
to Amazon’s services and Fire ownership doesn’t really make sense
unless you fully buy into Amazon. Built into the Fire phone is
Mayday, which offers round-the-clock tech support through the
medium of video call, and the ASAP predictive screening feature
also built into Fire TV.
One of the Fire phone’s headline features is Dynamic
Perspective, which uses four ultra-low power infrared LEDs to
provide a depth-of-field effect on the phone’s interface and
respond to the positioning of your head. Amazon has released an SDK
for this so that developers can build apps that work with it and
has used it to integrate Yelp apps into its maps app. It is
intended to allow for a more immersive experience in terms of
gaming and is integrated into the phone’s Carousel menu.
Wired.co.uk went hands-on with the Fire phone ahead of its UK
launch and our first impression of Dynamic Perspective was that it
was more fun than useful and left us concerned with how much it
would sap the juice from the battery. The Carousel interface and
menu means that there is no real homescreen — an idea we’re not
really sold on at this moment in time. On the other hand, the
gesture support that allows you to tilt and swivel to bring in the
menus and read more seamlessly with the Kindle app did make a
positive first impression.
More useful, however, was the Firefly feature, which can be
activated quickly when long-pressing the dedicated camera key below
the volume buttons. Firefly uses visual and audio recognition to
identify anything from music to films, TV shows to chocolate
Not only will it show you whether you can buy these on Amazon,
or whether or not they are available through Amazon Prime Instant
Video, but it integrates with other apps. For example, it will tell
you when there might be an upcoming gig for a band you are
listening to. It also makes use of IMDB X-Ray to provide masses of
supplementary information about films and MyFitnessPal to inform
you how many calories are in different foodstuffs.
It’s easy to see from our hands-on photos that the Fire is
hardly a looker — in fact it’s very plain, but the rubberised rim
around the edge does make it easier to hold, lessening your chance
of it slipping from your fingers as you use it on the go.
The Fire phone will be available on the O2 Refresh tariff,
through which you can upgrade your phone or bundle whenever you
like. Prices will start at £33 per month for 2GB of data and scale
up accordingly, with tariffs topping out at 20GB. If you pre-order
online or in O2 stores you can expect your Fire phone to arrive
from 30 September.