No one in the tech or retail spaces questions the fact that Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) casts about as long a shadow as any other company in the various industries that it's grown to dominate during the years. The story de jour for the e-commerce juggernaut is undoubtedly the recent unveiling of its long-awaited smartphone earlier this week. Meet the Amazon Fire Phone.
Inside Amazon's best first smartphone attempt
As the dust settles in the wake of Amazon's latest major product launch, investors are still working to understand exactly what the new Fire Phone means for Amazon, but also the likes of tech giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), as well.
For a smartphone so long in the making, my initial impression is that Amazon left a lot to be desired. In terms of hardware specifications , Amazon's Fire Phone is powered by a 2.2 GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU with 2GB of RAM, which run the Fire Phone's 4.7 inch HD display. Looking at the camera, the Fire Phone has a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera that's capable of taking videos and pictures in 1080p high resolution, as well as a 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera. Not much to write home about here.
To its credit though, the Fire Phone does contain some genuine advancements on the hardware front, the first of which is the four additional front-facing cameras that enable Amazon's newly unveiled Dynamic Perspective feature. These cameras enable the Fire Phone to capture the exact perspective and angle of a users' eyes as they manipulate the Fire Phone, and enable the Fire Phone to alter the perspective of the image on its display according to the way the user is holding and moving the device.
Amazon also included the Mayday 24/7 personal troubleshooting feature it introduced with last year's Kindle Fire HDX. These are both nice features, but it remains to be seen whether they'll present a compelling enough value proposition to consumers to get them to switch away from the likes of Apple's iPhone 5s or Samsung's Galaxy s5.
Arguably the sweetest part about the Fire Phone is that it also comes with a free one-year subscription to Amazon's Prime shipping and media service. Prime normally costs $99 annually. However, Amazon, and its exclusive carrier partner AT&T, will foot the bill for anyone who picks up a Fire Phone. Yet, even when taking into account the genuine deal-sweetener that the one year of free Prime shipping, streaming, and music presents, I can't say I'm impressed with the Fire Phone on the whole.
Not a threat to Apple's iPhone
At least as far as first impressions go, the Fire Phone's impact on the overall smartphone market will likely be minor, at best, simply because there's little that's compelling enough when compared to today's other leading smartphones, like Apple's iPhone 5s and Samsung's Galaxy s5.
Both Apple's iPhone 5s and Samsung's Galaxy s5 actually trump the Fire Phone in a few key ways, such as number of available apps in their respective app stores. Moreover, some of the key hardware components, such as the Snapdragon 800 processor, is actually a bit dated, having been released a full year ago (practically a century in tech time).
At the end of the day, Amazon generated plenty of buzz surrounding its Fire Phone. However, now that it's here, the Fire Phone clearly isn't anything for Apple or Samsung investors to lose sleep over. As I mentioned earlier, perhaps the best thing about the Fire Phone is the free Prime. The rest just simply isn't that great.