A Song of Ice & Fire: Is Amazon Back in the Smartphone Game?

Is Amazon Back in the Smartphone Game?

Winter is coming for Amazon. It looks like the company is having another go at the smartphone world with its release of new smartphones branded as "Ice".

According to Gadgets360, the release of this new series comes off of a failed attempt at smartphones back in 2014 when Amazon released the Fire phone. If you remember Amazon's last smartphone effort, you likely remember how embarrassingly quick the company was to kill the line. The Fire phone flopped for numerous reasons, chief among them its inability to meet Google standards for access to the Google Play Store. With that issue in mind, Amazon seems to be ready to fix what went wrong with a better Android.

What's New?

The biggest problem with Fire phones in 2014 was that they did not have access to the Google Play Store, giving users access to minimal app selection. This was because the devices did not meet the standards necessary to have access to Google Play which included the devices shipping with Google Mobile Services pre-installed. "Ice", however, promises to change that with the inclusion of the latest version of GMS. The incorporation of this service will allow users to get a much wider selection of apps through the Google Play Store.

Having access to the Google Play Store would be a huge win for Amazon hardware, but with the degree of failure that the Fire phone experienced, I'm still skeptical that Amazon can find success in the phone space. Cautiously optimistic, at best."

— Dallas Thomas, Gadget Hackse editor

According to reports, a device that was being tested for this series included a display between 5.2-inch and 5.5. Inch. Other features include a 13-megapixel rear-camera, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. It runs Android 7.1.1 and houses a Snapdragon 435 SoC and a fingerprint scanner on the back. Reports also surprisingly said that the phones did not feature Amazon's AI digital assistant "Alexa" on it as many of their devices have in the past. However, the software for the phones has not been finalized yet, meaning that consumers could see the addition of Alexa by the time it is complete.

Discontinued Fire Phone. Image by Android Community/Amazon.com

Not only will Amazon aim to break into the US market with "Ice", but it is also reportedly looking towards emerging markets such as India and other non-western places for selling the series. In fact, the company plans to launch at least one of their smartphones from the "Ice" line within this year in India, after the company releases of Alexa and Echo speakers are finally released over there.

In addition to Amazon expanding their market and making the "Ice" phones more user friendly, the series is also set to be more affordable as well. Reportedly, the first round of "Ice" will be released by the end of this year for a price of about $95. Hopefully, "Ice" won't be as much of a tragedy as the Fire phones were, but it's to-be-decided whether there is any actual need for Amazon smartphones in the market at all.

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Cover photo by AT&T/YouTube

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