Amazon's new Fire Phone isn't just for online shoppers. It's also a solid business smartphone with a slew of new, productivity-boosting features. Sure, it's touted as the perfect device to buy and consume digital media from Amazon.com, and it features a unique pseudo-3D effect in some apps called Dynamic Perspective — but those aren't the features that will really interest business users. Instead, they'll benefit from handy interface tweaks in Amazon's Fire OS, integration with Amazon Cloud Drive, and live tech support at the push of a button. The Fire Phone is set to launch in July. Get a hands-on look at the device at our sister site Laptop Mag or read on for five features that could make it good for work.
Mayday tech support
If your small business lacks an IT department, the Mayday button on the Fire Phone could really come in handy. The feature, which is built right into Fire OS, lets you call a live Amazon tech support representative in just a few seconds. Tap the Mayday button to instantly connect to 24/7 support and video chat with a tech support expert to resolve any problem you're having with your phone.
You can even grant remote access to the Amazon rep so that he or she can walk you through the fix you need. The rep can draw on your screen, talk you through how to perform a specific task or just solve the problem for you. The service is completely free for all Fire Phone owners, no matter how many times you choose to use it.
The Carousel is a special app viewer on the Fire OS home screen that has the potential to make you more productive. That's because it puts alerts and recently used apps front and center, and delivers real-time updates so you can take action right from the home screen. The specific items that appear in the Carousel depend on which apps and files you've recently viewed; just swipe left or right to cycle through the items.
For example, when the email app appears in your Carousel, you can view your most recent messages right on the home screen and choose to archive or delete them — all without opening the email app. You can also return missed calls, view upcoming appointments and access your most-visited websites, right from the Carousel. As another example, news apps that appear in the Carousel can display up-to-date headlines to help keep you informed during the workday. Meanwhile, users who prefer a more traditional Android experience can opt to view their apps in a more familiar grid view.
The Fire Phone's new Firefly feature is a great contact-management tool for business users. When you snap a photo of a printed phone number, email address, Web address or business card, the Fire Phone can use text recognition software to identify the text and suggest a range of actions. For example, you can place a phone call or add a number to your address book, just by snapping a photo of a phone number printed on a sign, poster or business card. It works the same way for email addresses, and even lets you quickly access a Web address without typing out a long URL — just snap a photo and let Firefly do the rest.
Firefly also makes it easy to purchase both physical products and digital content from Amazon. Just snap a photo of a product, and once Firefly identifies it, you'll be able to purchase it in seconds, with just a few taps. The company says Firefly can recognize more than 100 million items, so it could come in handy for small business owners who want a quicker, easier way to purchase supplies and other items from Amazon.
Bright, 4.7-inch display
Though it offers unique software features, the Fire Phone's hardware won't blow you away. Still, it boasts a bright display and pretty good performance for everyday use. The 4.7-inch, 720p display can't match the pixel density of the screens on other flagship phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the Apple iPhone 5s, but it's still pretty sharp, and it's one of the brightest smartphone displays around.
Business users might appreciate the screen's 4.7-inch size, which strikes a good balance between portability and productivity. Smartphones with bigger screens are harder to use with one hand, while smartphones with smaller screens might not offer enough space for everyday productivity tasks like managing your email inbox.
Under the hood, the Fire Phone packs a quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM. It's not quite as fast as the most advanced phones, but it should offer good performance and multitasking that's snappy enough to satisfy most business users.
Amazon's Fire Phone automatically backs up your notes, contacts, settings, apps, messages and more. There's no need to manually configure your settings or link your phone to your computer with a wired connection; your data is automatically backed up to the cloud every time the phone is idle. That's a big perk for business users who can't afford to lose the data stored on their smartphone. If your Fire Phone is lost or broken, Amazon's service can automatically restore your files and information when you activate a new device.