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Amazon's new smartphone play: Prime exclusive devices, discounts with ads and offers

Amazon will offer Prime exclusive pricing for unlocked Android phones that will carry ads and offers on the phone's lock screen.

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Amazon said it will offer exclusive discounts -- up to 50 percent off -- for unlocked Android phones that will carry personalized offers and ads on the phone lock screen.

The company's Fire phone never played out, but Amazon's move on pricing is an interesting effort to play in the smartphone space. By adding offers in exchange for discounts on pricing -- similar to what it does with the Kindle -- Amazon is respinning its smartphone strategy.

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To kick off, the Prime exclusive Moto G will have an additional $25 off the price. In a nutshell, the Moto G 16GB version will go from $149.99 to $124.99 and the 32 GB device goes from $179.99 to $154.99.

Among other deals, the BLU R1 HD, a 5-inch device, will go for $49.99 with Amazon offers.

In the big picture, it's clear that various players beyond carriers are getting into the device game. Apple has a lease/subscription approach to its devices to get closer to the customer. Amazon is using Prime as a way to play in devices too.

Among the key points:

  • The Prime phones are unlocked with no contract commitment. Amazon Prime members can swap wireless carriers.
  • Deals and recommendations will be displayed on the lock screen.
  • Amazon said its Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers offer a good test case. Most customers choose devices with offers and the lower price.
  • The Prime exclusives run Google services and Android 6.0, not Amazon's forked version of Android.
  • Devices through the Amazon Prime exclusive program will have built in Prime Video and Prime Music as well as Prime Photos.
  • Pre-orders start today with both phones available July 12.