One of the biggest smartphone flops of 2014 was Amazon’s Fire Phone – an adequate, if a bit gimmicky, handset made and sold by Amazon. The device has decent enough specs, a few neat tricks with glasses-free 3D visuals, and a direct line to help users buy as much as they can through Amazon – and it launched with a crazy-high price tag of $650 off-contract and $199 on-contract from AT&T. Starting now, though, the price of the Fire Phone has been cut drastically to $199 off-contract.
As you may recall, this is the second major price cut to hit the Fire Phone since its launch earlier this year. Back in September, the on-contract price dropped to just 99 cents with a service contract from AT&T, where it remains.
Clearly this new price cut was made in an effort to get these things out the door. An investigation in August reported that Amazon had likely only sold 35,000 units of the handset since its launch less than two months prior. Then in October, Amazon revealed that they took a $170 million write-down on unsold inventory, a not insignificant sum of money.
And so now here we are, with a cheaper-than-ever Fire Phone ready to go if you want it. The issue, of course, is that while it’s still a reasonably good phone, it’s still not enough of a good deal to truly work as a solid smartphone option. One of the biggest issues – at least to me – is that it doesn’t actually run the regular version of Android, but rather a forked version of Android that Amazon calls the Fire OS. You can’t download apps from the Google Play Store, only Amazon’s App Store, which doesn’t offer quite the same selection. Moreover, the OS itself doesn’t always play nice with Google’s apps, and the launcher is straight up garbage. Having owned an original Kindle Fire tablet, I can say with authority: it’s the worst.
I know Amazon wants to make some money back on the Fire Phone, but even $200 is too much for this thing, I think. Even with the full year of Amazon Prime membership. Drop it to $99, though…then maybe you’ll move some units.