Amazon broke into the smartphone marketplace this week by announcing the Amazon Fire Phone.
Starting at US$199 with a two-year plan, the device's price point is on par with some of the top phones on the market from Apple and Samsung, but how does it compare?
The Amazon Fire Phone does offer some features that you won't find anywhere else, but it's also missing some features that you'll find almost everywhere else.
Here are the top five pros and cons of the new Amazon Fire Phone.
1. Pro: Unique features
The hype builder leading up to the event was the rumour of Amazon building a "3-D phone," which it delivered, but not really.
Dynamic Perspective is a unique, fun, consumer-driven feature where maps and images can be adjusted by tilting the phone and viewed from different perspectives, giving them a 3-D look.
Firefly is another new feature that shoppers will love. This feature turns the phone into a tool to recognize book covers, appliances, songs, movies, and much more. You can instantly shop for these items through the Amazon Prime ecosystem.
Both these features are developer-friendly.
2. Pro: Entertainment focused
The phone works as an instant pipeline into the popular Amazon Prime ecosystem whether it's retail items, music, movies, TV series, etc.
The Amazon App store offers more than 240,000 apps, including entertainment apps such as Netflix, social media, games and more.
There is nothing in the Amazon ecosystem the Fire Phone can't touch, so if you like Amazon and are an avid user of the Amazon app, you'll love this about the Fire Phone.
Enjoy it all on the 720p HD display and Dolby Digital Plus audio speakers.
3. Pro: Cameras and face-tracking feature
The phone packs six different cameras.
There is a 13MP rear-facing camera with optical image stabilization, a 2.1MP front-facing camera, and four cameras, each on the corners of the device and each with infrared technology, used for the face-tracking feature. The phone also can shoot videos in 1080p HD (though the phone's display is 720p).
The face-tracking feature allows for users to peer around images, such as balloons or even the Empire State Building, as was demonstrated in the launch event. Facial recognition also allow for hands-free scrolling, as users can scroll up and down by gently tilting the phone.
4. Pro: Mayday button
Users are a click away from customer service help at all times. The service is free, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said during the launch event that after just 15 seconds of hitting the Mayday button, an Amazon customer service representative will appear via video chat. The rep can even take over a screen on a user's device for troubleshooting. The service works 24 hours a day.
If you're not a techie and/or you don't like waiting on hold, this is something you may wish your current phone has.
5. Pro: Free unlimited cloud storage for photos
When buying a phone with six cameras, you might be tempted to take a few pictures, right? Well, Amazon is offering an unlimited amount of free storage space for photos on the Amazon Cloud. Any picture or video you take on the Fire Phone will automatically save to the cloud when you turn on the Auto-Save feature. There is a storage limit for videos but unlimited space for photos, and everything is saved in full resolution.
1. Con: Inferior app ecosystem
Amazon's app store has 240,000 apps and is growing, but it doesn't compare to over 1 million apps available on the Apple app store and Android's Google Play. As we all know, your phone is only as good as its software, and that is why Windows Phone has not yet taken off. What are some of the big apps missing? Well, for starters the Amazon app store does not have any Google apps. This includes the Chrome browser, Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps. Amazon's homemade email, maps and calendar apps come preinstalled on the phone.
2. Con: Weak music streaming service
One of the strengths of the phone is supposed to be its entertainment features, but there are definitely some glaring holes.
Amazon's music streaming service, Prime Music, does not offer anything from Universal Music Group because the two sides could not come to a financial agreement. This is a big problem considering Universal is the largest music corporation on the planet.
That means you can't stream anything from artists like Jay Z, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, and hundreds more. I mean, some may like a phone that can't stream Kanye West, but personally, this would be a big problem for others.
3. Con: AT&T only (US market)
AT&T is the only service provider of the Amazon Fire Phone in the USA. American customers won't be able to get the phone through Verizon, T-Mobile or anyone else.
The iPhone did end up supporting Verizon Wireless as a carrier three years after its launch, so maybe something similar will happen, but, for now, the Amazon Fire Phone is exclusive to AT&T.
4. Con: Battery Life
There has not been much talk of the battery life of the phone, which makes you wonder how good it really is. There was no mention of it at the launch event, and the tech spec was missing from the press release.
The Amazon website states that the battery offers "11 hours of video playback," but when you throw in the four cameras, each with infrared technology, a 13MP camera, 1080p HD video recording, dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus audio, and so on, you have to wonder how the Fire Phone's battery holds up to the battery life of other high-end smartphones.
5. Con: No MicroSD Card Slot
The US$199 phone model comes with 32 GB of storage, and $299 for 64 GB.
If you are a pretty heavy user of your smartphone, you may want to expand your storage capacity, but there is a problem. The Amazon Fire Phone does not offer a microSD card slot, which means having to shell out the extra US$100 for storage space. As a comparison, smartphones from Samsung, LG, HTC, Nokia and more all offer microSD card slots to inexpensively expand your storage space, however, Apple's iPhone and now the Amazon Fire Phone do not.
This article originally appeared at crn.com