Report: Amazon wants to offer free smartphones without a contract


Reported by former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin and reporter Amir Efrati this week, Amazon is currently working on a new smartphone that could end up being completely free to consumers. Different than the majority of smartphone contract deals, Amazon doesn’t want to require the user to sign up for a two-year contract. Likely similar to the design of the Amazon Kindle HD tablet line, the Amazon smartphone software would route all movie, television, music, book and magazine purchases through Amazon similar to Google Play on Android and iTunes on the Apple iPhone.

Hypothetically, Amazon could also require users to purchase a yearly subscription to Amazon Prime before getting access to the free smartphone. That would also be beneficial to the smartphone owner as Amazon Prime includes access to free streaming video on Amazon Instant Video as well as a free book rental each month through the Kindle Lending Library. It’s also likely that Amazon would send users into the same application store that’s available on the Amazon Kindle Fire tablets in order to purchase and download premium third party applications.

Amazon’s ability to pull off this type of aggressive move to enter the smartphone market will require agreements with hardware suppliers as well as partnerships with the main mobile carriers to provide wireless access on the Amazon smartphone. If Amazon is successful with this plan, the company could steal a significant amount of market share from smartphone manufacturers like Samsung and Apple.


Conversely, if Amazon enters the market with a $200 smartphone under a two-year contract, there’s very little incentive for smartphone users to switch from their current phone to a new smartphone that’s tied to Amazon’s content ecosystem. For example, someone that’s invested hundreds of dollars in App Store content on the iPhone simply isn’t going to switch over for the same deal with Amazon.

In addition to taking a percent of revenue on third party applications sold through an Amazon mobile application store, the retail giant could also make up the cost on each Amazon smartphone by displaying digital advertisements. Similar to Kindle devices with Special Offers, Amazon could constantly display advertisements on the phone upon start-up unless the user paid an additional fee to remove the ads.  

Regarding the software, the Amazon smartphone would utilize the same open-source version of Android OS used to power the Kindle Fire tablets. This custom version of the Android software doesn’t offer access to any of the traditional Google applications, thus Amazon would have to expand its collection of core applications to accommodate smartphone users. 

While Amazon has reportedly been working on a new smartphone ever since the release of the first Kindle Fire tablet, there’s no indication that the Amazon smartphone will be announced or released this year. When contacted about this report, an Amazon representative declined to comment to Lessin. However Amazon is expected to announce new Kindle Fire HD models this year, likely occurring within the next 45 days in order to release the new models prior to the start of the 2013 holiday shopping season. 


Google’s updated Santa Tracker entertains and teaches coding throughout December

Google's Santa Tracker is in its fifteenth year and is back again with even more features. You can have fun with more than 20 games, learn about different holiday traditions around the world, and enjoy some festive animations.

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.

The best weather apps for the iPhone

Don't rely solely on your local meteorologist to stay up to date on the weather. Take matters into your own hands with one of these weather apps, each of which brings something unique to the table.

The $200 TicWatch C2 smartwatch is now being sold in the U.S. and U.K.

Digital well-being and disconnecting from your phone is one of 2018's big trends. Mobvoi wants you to think about its TicWatch C2 smartwatch as a great way to help you use your phone less.

The Palm has been revived, and is now available in the U.S. and U.K.

A reboot of the classic Palm is finally here and it's tiny. It syncs to your phone and acts as a secondary device -- with a feature to help you disconnect from technology. The Palm will be available exclusively through Verizon for $350.

Yes, we really are getting a special McLaren edition of the OnePlus 6T

OnePlus has announced a partnership with McLaren F1, emphasizing a shared interest in speed. The phone company is known for producing special edition devices. Here's what we know about the OnePlus 6T Mclaren Edition.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

Simplify your life with one of these wireless smartphone charger deals

Banish nightly cable fumbling with a wireless smartphone charger. If your smartphone is compatible with wireless charging, the simplicity of placing it on a pad is a beautiful thing. Wireless chargers are also excellent gifts for coworkers.

Microsoft Outlook for iOS gets big redesign, with Dark Mode coming soon

Microsoft has deployed a huge redesign for its Outlook for iOS app, which includes new blue branding and some quality-of-life improvements. Dark Mode isn't included, but it's coming soon.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Vanquish lag for good with the best routers for gaming

Finding the best routers for gaming is no easy task. With so many out there, how do you know which to pick? We've looked at the many options available and put together a list of our lag-free favorites.

Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 now available on the Apple Store

The Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 is now available on the Apple Store for $150. The sensor strip, which is only 2 millimeters thin, automatically tracks a wide array of sleep data when placed under the user's sheets.

Save up to $750 with the best smartphone deals for December 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $750.