Amazon Fire Phone launches in UK: iPhone competitor beats Apple to the punch

 

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The Independent Tech

Retailing giant Amazon has launched its first ever smartphone in the UK, more than a month after the device was released in the US.

The Fire Phone, which will be available exclusively on O2, includes a product recognition app that lets users find items on Amazon by using the camera, and comes with a free year of Amazon Prime, a subscription service that includes on-demand video, music and books.

The device met with a lukewarm reception in the US where critics were disappointed with the high price and Amazon’s hyped ‘Dynamic Perspective’ feature which used four front-facing cameras to give certain elements a 3D effect on screen.

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The rest of the phone’s specifications (including a 4.7-inch, 720p display; 32GB and 64GB storage options; a 2.2GHz processor and 2GB of RAM) were described by some as ‘mid-range as best’.

This hasn’t deterred Amazon however, who believe the phone’s attraction lies in its integration with the larger Amazon Prime ecosystem.

The Fire Phone will be available for free on a monthly £33 contract from O2 and will save customers £79 on the cost for a year of Amazon Prime. This gives users free one-day delivery, access to Amazon’s on-demand streaming library (including films and TV series such as Twin Peaks and The Walking Dead) and more than 500,000 free Kindle ebooks.

 

Amazon insists that it is still ‘day one’ for the Fire Phone but competition in the smartphone market is not getting any easier. Samsung and Sony both announced new flagship devices last week at the IFA tech conference and Apple is set to finally unveil its new iPhone tomorrow evening.

Like Apple, Amazon can argue that its devices give users access to a unique wider ecosystem of products and benefits (the so-called ‘halo effect’) but with recent sales estimates published by the Guardian suggesting that Amazon has sold no more than 35,000 Fire Phones in the US, it’s not clear that consumers are buying this sell

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