How would you change Amazon's Fire Phone?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| August 4, 2014

It's been almost a couple of months since Amazon officially announced their first smartphone, the Fire Phone. More than that, though, the device has been available for purchase for a few weeks, which means that it's probably in the hands of those who wanted to buy it. For those of you out there who didn't, well, you're probably perfectly happy with what you've got (or maybe you're just waiting for something else to come along).

The Fire Phone had the Rumor Mill buzzing leading up to its launch. It had the potential to be a landmark handset. To take the Interwebs by storm, and knock off a few pairs of socks at the same time. It's debatable whether or not that actually happened, though. I have no doubt it's the perfect handset for someone out there, but I'm not sure that it's the handset that could win over the masses.

This is Amazon, though, and they definitely could have. For all intents and purposes, when it comes to the tablet space, the conversation tends to be "Apple" and "Amazon." The online retailer behemoth has managed to make a name for itself when it comes to certain hardware elements, and a lot of people expected lightning to strike twice with their first smartphone.

It really isn't the phone's fault. At least, not directly.

The Fire Phone is a handset that hovers between high-end and mid-range. The handset's display measures in at 4.7-inches, and a lot of people would tell you that that means it can't possibly be a high-end device, because the display isn't big enough. (I, for one, think this is nonsense.) However, the fact it only has a 720p HD display, well, that's a legitimate argument to make for "mid-range" these days. The processor under the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core chipset, and it's clocked at 2.2GHz. I wouldn't say that's mid-range at all. The 13MP camera on the back? Well, numbers don't matter, right? 32GB or 64GB variants, with 2GB of RAM? That's pretty high-end if you ask me (there are still too many 16GB devices out there).

The Fire Phone has high-end features, and mid-range features, and even crazy features like Dynamic Perspective. So, like I said, it floats somewhere in between, and that's honestly not too surprising. For Amazon, they needed to create a competent handset, one that you want to use day-in and day-out, to make sure that you continue to buy things from Amazon. Books, movies, TV shows, and just about anything else you can think of at this point. Amazon has you covered. And, if you've got a tablet, an Amazon TV and Fire Phone in your home, well, you're the best kind of Amazon customer (and I'm sure they heart you).

For me, though, it all came crashing down when Amazon unveiled the pricing for the device. With a new, two-year agreement with AT&T, you could walk out with the Fire Phone for $199.99. In comparison, you could walk out with a Samsung Galaxy S5, an LG G3, or an HTC One (M8) for the same exact price -- and still be able to buy things from Amazon. If you skip a contract and buy outright, the Fire Phone will run you $649.99. The Galaxy S5: $649.99; the LG G3: $579.99; and the HTC One (M8): $669.99.

All of these devices share the common element of being able to buy things from them, sure, but the truth of the matter is is the Amazon Fire Phone exists only to do that. It's a vessel to get you to buy things from Amazon. Sure, you have the option to do that on those other handsets, but the Fire Phone -- just like the Kindle Fire or Kindle line-up in general -- exists specifically for that purpose. It's a tool for you to buy from Amazon.

And that's why it should have been a cheaper handset, sold through Amazon, and offered with AT&T service (just like their other devices) if the person wants it. The Fire Phone should have been Amazon's Nexus. Instead, they put it in direct competition with Android's best fighters, and it never really stood a chance. Because I'd tell anyone out there to go with the Galaxy S5 (yes, seriously) or the G3 or the One (M8) any day of the week before opting for the Fire Phone. Even if the person I'm talking to loves Amazon.

But if Amazon had been more aggressive with the pricing? Well, different story entirely.

There isn't anything about the Fire Phone, hardware or even software wise, that I dislike. The only thing I'd change about it is the pricing. But, I'm curious -- what would you change? If you bought it and kept it, what's something that you'd change to make you even happier? If you bought it and got rid of it, what could Amazon change in the Fire Phone 2 to make you hold onto the next one? Or, if you skipped it because of something in particular, what is it? Let me know!

Products mentioned