Amazon’s new smartphone hit stores about a week ago, on July 27. People weren’t too excited on the day it launched, based on a bunch of AT&T stores Business Insider visited in New York City, so we decided to see how the phone was faring one week in.
Dubbed the Fire phone, its most unique features are Dynamic Perspective, which allows it to react to how it is held, and Firefly, which can scan more than 100 million objects and make it easy to buy them on Amazon.com.
The Fire also comes bundled with a free year of Amazon Prime, which includes free shipping on thousands of items as well as a growing selection of free movies, books, and music.
Despite these features, the phone falls short on apps, and it also doesn’t have a big screen. Most reviewers agree it’s no iPhone or Galaxy S5 killer.
The Fire is offered exclusively through AT&T and can be purchased either through the carrier or Amazon itself for $US200 with a two-year contract.
In half-a-dozen New York City AT&T stores visited by Business Insider, customers and employees still seemed rather lukewarm about the phone.
At some of the stores, the sales reps discussed how many units they’d sold, while others didn’t, citing company policy (in one instance, we waited an hour as the manager made several phone calls, to ultimately find out he was not allowed to discuss the Fire phone at all).
Here’s what else we saw and heard:
- In one store, the reps told us they sold five. While we were there, a customer walked in and began playing with the phone. He hadn’t heard anything about it, but said it looked cool. Ultimately, he wasn’t going to buy it.
At another store, a salesman said there had definitely been increased interest over the week, and that many people had walked in wanting to try it out. Most said they would buy it when they were eligible for an upgrade, but, at that point, he had only sold “a few.”
- Two of the stores we visited were “authorised retailer” stores (which are generally smaller than corporate stores). One had sold four phones, the other had not sold any. The salesman in the latter said he couldn’t keep track of the number of Samsung phones he sold in the same time period, because he sells several every day. He says that about 50% of his customers come in not knowing what they want, and when they ask for recommendations, he suggests the Samsung S5 as the best device generally.
- The sales rep that sold four phones was wearing his Fire phone t-shirt, and said that two of the buyers had been young, while the other two looked about 50 or 60.
- One woman we talked to in a store near Union Square said she didn’t know anything about the Amazon phone besides that it had just come out. She says that she was an Apple person so she couldn’t see herself switching to the new phone for any reason. The feature that she did think was interesting, however, was how dynamic perspective would be (eventually) be integrated into the Kindle app, so that you can tilt the phone slightly to scroll through your book. That would be so nice, not having to keep flipping the pages, she said.
- Another man was in the store buying a new phone. He decided to go with an LG G3 and said he didn’t even consider the Amazon phone because it wasn’t stock Android and you can’t get all the normal apps. It’s the same thing as with Windows phones, he added; they roll out eventually but you have to wait.
- Another customer was buying a Samsung S5 but said he thought Firefly was a cool feature, and that if his company starts offering the Fire phone as a work device, he would choose it.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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