We’ll gladly forgive you if you’ve completely forgotten about Amazon’s first foray into the smartphone market. The Fire Phone, which was first announced in June 2014 and went on sale as an AT&T exclusive, debuted with a shockingly high price tag of $199 for the 32GB model and $299 for the 64GB model on contract. Prices ballooned to a whopping $650 off-contract for the 64GB model. Many balked at the high pricing of entry given the mid-range specs for the Fire Phone (Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM) and the meager display (4.7-inch 720p) which was competing against the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Apple iPhone 5 at the time it hit the market.
Over the past year, Amazon has slashed hundreds of dollars off the price of the Fire Phone. In early January, the Fire Phone was made available for $189 off contract while still offering a free one-year subscription to Amazon Prime. Today, Amazon has slashed prices even further, offering the 32GB Fire Phone for the bargain basement price of $159. And remember, that price still gets you a free year of Prime which is a nice perk, especially considering that Amazon’s blockbuster 20th birthday bash, known as Prime Day, kicks off on July 15th (and you will need a subscription to Amazon Prime in order to take part in the festivities and countless hot deals that will be paraded around).
Given that the Fire Phone runs a forked version of Android, you won’t have access to Google apps like YouTube, Maps, or even Gmail, so you have to take that into consideration if you decide to pick up the device. And the “revolutionary 3D interface” that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos touted during the device’s introduction has turned out to be more of a gimmick in real world use. And you also have to take into account the relatively lackluster performance FireOS operating system, although Amazon has released updates to speed things up over the past year.
But when all is said and done, for people that are frequent visitors to Amazon’s online marketplace (and who isn’t these days), this could represent a pretty good deal. Just think of it as getting one year of Prime for $99 and a decent mid-range phone for $60. If you’re on AT&T or T-Mobile, the Fire Phone could make for a decent backup phone in a pinch. In fact, at this price, I think I might just jump in on the deal for just that reason alone.