Amazon’s forthcoming smartphone is one of the worst kept secrets in the tech world, but now it looks like we’ve got our first real look at the online retail giant’s first handset, and it’s not looking too bad. But should you pick one up? We’ve got three near-undeniable facts that could sway you in the direction of Yes.
Amazon has been rumored to be working on a smartphone for years by now, at least since the company introduced its Kindle Fire line of iPad competitors. Each holiday season has brought new rumors that Amazon was ready to release its version of a smartphone, but each New Year has come and gone without anything new. Now, though, with the rumors heating up, BGR has got a render of what it says the Amazon smartphone will look like. It is… not entirely original, but quite sleek.
BGR‘s image is a render, not a photo like the one that appeared in April, but it should accurately describe what Amazon will show off when it unveils its smartphone. The device looks to have glass for its front and rear components, with a “soft-touch perimeter,” as The Verge puts it, that could be polycarbonate or metal. It’s a bit like Apple’s iPhone 4, but hopefully it won’t have the fragility problems that marked that edition of the iPhone.
As far as specs, Amazon’s smartphone isn’t likely to be a slouch, but it’s not going to blow you away. BGR says it will pack a 4.7-inch display. That’s about the size of the 2013 HTC One’s screen, but Amazon’s smartphone will supposedly only output at 720p. Ouch. On the inside, though, the Amazon smartphone will have 2GB of RAM and a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, meaning it’s probably going to be pretty zippy and responsive.
So, should you hold off on a new HTC One M8 or Galaxy S5 in favor of Amazon’s handset? If you do, there are a couple of things you can expect to see:
It Will Be Cheap
As with its Kindle Fire line of tablets, Amazon will almost certainly price its smartphone at a razor-thin margin. That’s because the hardware isn’t as critical for Amazon as it is for other manufacturers. Amazon wants to get you into the Amazon ecosystem, and a smartphone is just the easiest way to make sure that will happen. That’s why the retailer sells Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets. That’s why they rolled out the Fire TV set-top box in April.
Amazon wants you to buy Amazon smartphones, tablets, and set-top boxes in order to keep you watching Amazon movies, books, games, apps, magazines, and TV shows. When you’re not doing that, they’d love it if you’d jump onto that same Amazon hardware to pick up some real life items from Amazon stores. To that end, they are willing to just about give away those aforementioned Amazon smartphones, tablets, etc.
It Will Be Synched
We all live in The Cloud now, and synching across devices isn’t the most novel aspect a company can have for its hardware ecosystem. Synching, though, is one area where Amazon does have a slight edge on iOS, Android, and Windows. When you get an Amazon smartphone, you can rest assured that all of your content will be exhaustively synched from one device to the other.
Amazon products have had WhisperSync built into them since the earliest Kindles. That feature allowed readers to move from device to device and pick up on a book in the same spot they left off on another device. Amazon expanded that feature to video a while back, and they later brought it to games. That last point is the most salient here: Amazon can synch your game progress across devices. You could conceivably take an RPG from your Fire TV to a Kindle Fire tablet and on to an Amazon smartphone without missing a beat. That’s the sort of interoperability you won’t get on other platforms.
It Could Be Kind of Cool
The functionality of Amazon’s smartphone is one of the most mysterious aspects of the device. We know it will likely run some version of Fire OS, Amazon’s forked build of Google’s Android platform. We also know that Amazon’s handset is supposed to feature some sort of 3D interface enabled by those six front-facing cameras. Maybe Amazon’s engineers have come up with some sort of Minority Report-style gesture interaction. Maybe it will just wobble the app interface based on where it perceives the user’s head to be. No matter what it is, you can bet that Amazon will be looking to add a certain flair to its first smartphone in order to get consumers interested.
Why You Might Should Pass Anyway
Here’s the thing, though: when the new Amazon smartphone does debut, it will almost certainly suffer from the same ailments plaguing the rest of Amazon’s mobile device offerings. The Kindle Fire tablets are solid devices, but their app ecosystem is minuscule compared to what you’ll find on iOS and Android. Amazon is doing its best to attract top developers to its platform – and they’re said to be getting some top-notch games for the Fire TV – but you’re still going to find the app offerings on Fire OS kind of slim if you’re moving from another app ecosystem.
Aside from that, though, it should be interesting to see what Amazon brings to the table when it rolls out its smartphone later this year. Current speculation has the Amazon smartphone making its media debut some time over the summer and becoming available – from Amazon, of course – in the fall. Amazon has already carved out a nice little niche for itself in the tablet segment, so it will be interesting to see whether they can do the same with a smartphone.
Lead image via BGR.