Amazon’s first smartphone, the Fire Phone, is now available on pre-order in the U.K. on carrier O2. The phone will ship to U.K. buyers on September 30. It’s being offered for no upfront cost for customers signing up to for a two-year £33 per month tariff on O2.
The U.K. is the first international market to get the phone which went on sale in the US back in July — also as a carrier exclusive, in that case on AT&T.
The long-rumored Fire Phone was finally unveiled by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in June, pulling back the kimono on a raft of what reviews went on to dub gimmicky features — including 3D depth effects powered by quad-cameras on the front of the device; a gesture-based interface with support for touchscreen-free auto scrolling; and a so-called ‘buy’ button called Firefly which uses the phone’s camera to scan barcodes, recognize book covers and phone numbers, and can also recognize audio and movies, to make it easier for users to grab info about something they’re looking at in the real world (and potentially then purchase it on Amazon.com).
The phone also includes unlimited cloud storage for photos, access to Amazon’s 24/7 Mayday videocall customer support system, plus a limited offer of a year’s free Amazon Prime membership — which delivers Amazon-related perks such as access to its Kindle e-book lending library and free shipping on certain products sold by Amazon on Amazon.com.
Beyond features designed to encourage Fire Phone owners to be locked into Amazon’s ecosystem, the handset offers mid-range specs and Amazon’s forked version of Android. The latter means the phone has fewer apps than smartphones with Google’s mainline Play Store on board — and also often apps that aren’t updated as promptly as their mainstream Android equivalent.
U.K. buyers of the Fire Phone get the free year of Prime — if they pre-order or buy the device before January 1 next year.