We thought that Amazon was done with smartphones for good after its disastrous launch of the Fire Phone. The Fire Phone was initially priced at up to $650 off-contract when it launched as an AT&T-exclusive in 2014. Roughly a year later, the failed smartphone was selling for $130 off-contract.
According to a new report this morning, Amazon is looking to make a comeback with a new “Ice” smartphone. It is unknown if Ice will be the official retail branding for the smartphone or if it is just the internal codename. However, it does make a nice counterpart to the flaming disaster that was the Fire Phone.
Instead of running Amazon’s rather limited FireOS, the new Ice phones are said to run Google's [full] Android operating system and will have access to the Play Store. That immediately solves one of the biggest grievances with the Fire Phone, which was limited to accessing apps from Amazon’s Appstore.
Unlike the Fire Phone, which targeted at a U.S. audience, the Ice smartphones will be aimed at emerging markets like India. As such, you won’t find high-end hardware in these devices in order to keep the prices low. It is said that at least one SKU will feature a display sized between 5.2 to 5.5 inches, and will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor. Other reported specs include 2GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 13MP rear camera, a fingerprint reader and support for the Google Assistant.
The Ice phone will reportedly be priced below $100, which could make it an attractive purchase in India. It remains to be seen if Amazon will choose to offer the budget phone in the U.S. market, where it could be popular with prepaid wireless carriers.
If the prospects of an “Ice Phone” seem rather low to you, remember CEO Jeff Bezos’ comment from a year ago with respect to the projects it has in development. "If you think [Fire Phone is] a big failure, we're working on much bigger failures right now,” said Bezos in May 2016. “And I am not kidding. And some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip."