Those quotes up there in the title do more than apologize for our unoriginal, lame pun: they acknowledge a truth that’s gotta be tough for Amazon to swallow. The company’s first smartphone, which we laid hands on last week, has seen mixed reviews in its first wave of press.
There are good reasons for that. With a dubious exclusivity deal in place, a boatload of extraneous features masking its not-quite-Android OS, and a price point that’s all kinds of wacky, the Fire Phone’s utility isn’t clear outside its role as a portal to easier, faster Amazon purchases. Factor in the ho-hum hardware and “3D” screen, and the device’s chilly reception is easy to understand.
— Dana Wollman (@DanaWollman) July 23, 2014
Still in all, the notion of an “Amazon smartphone” is a seductive one. Lest we forget, this is the company that made the first truly affordable Android tablet (well, the first one you’d want to buy, anyway), and it’s the company that’s seriously considering delivering goods to your door with drones. Sure, it’s also the outfit that’s soldiered on for nearly two decades without making much in the way of profit, but that feat only makes it more bizarrely fascinating.
Amazon’s willingness to step beyond the confines of convention is exactly the kind of thing that gets us excited to experience a product – as our reviews of the LDWest holster and Martian Notifier smartwatch demonstrate – and so when AT&T offered to send us a Fire Phone demo unit, we jumped at the chance. Only time will tell if its novel feature set can overcome its various handicaps, but that can wait for the full review. For now, join us for our Fire Phone unboxing and pay us another visit tomorrow (July 25) at 2pm Eastern for the next episode of the Pocketnow Weekly podcast: we’ll have the Fire Phone with us in the studio, and we’ll be taking your questions live on the air!