Amazon’s back in the smartphone game, in a way

Almost a year after running out the supply of its unpopular line of Fire smartphones, Amazon is getting back into the mobile-phone game.

Sort of.

On Wednesday, Amazon said subscribers to its Prime service can get $50 off “a selection of newly released, fully featured, unlocked Android smartphones.” That “selection” encompasses a total of two phones: the Blu R1 HD, and the new, fourth generation of the Motorola Moto G smartphone. The deal brings the price of the Blu phone down to $49.99, while the Motorola model will cost $149.99. Each phone is unlocked and comes with no service contract.

So, fifty bucks off a phone that you can use with the carrier of your choice. Sounds like a pretty good deal. And, while it is, there is, of course, a catch. And this is where Amazon sort of gets back in the mobile-phone game.

The phones will come with ads on their home screens, and will be pre-installed with many Amazon apps. Those apps can be hidden, but can’t be removed from the phone. Also, the phones will run on a standard version of Google’s Android operating system as opposed to the modified version of Android called FireOS that is used on Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets. Amazon said the phones are available for pre-ordering, and will begin shipping on July 12.

The theory behind that seems to be that if you are paying $99 a year for your Prime membership, then Amazon wants you to be able to get into the Amazon ecosystem, buy stuff, and put as little effort as possible into accessing Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Photos and Prime Rib. (OK, I made that last one up…But it sounds so good right now…)

Photo: Prime Exclusive Moto G and BLU R1 HD (Courtesy: Business Wire)


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