Amazon Prime members now can buy unlocked 4G LTE Android smartphones at discounts of up to 50 percent on the purchase of selected handset models from Blu and Moto under a new Prime customer benefit.
The discount pricing of the phones, however, is "supported by personalized offers and ads, including deals and product recommendations, displayed on the phone's lock screen," according to the company, which unveiled the new benefit in a June 29 announcement. Users can either tap on the offers that pop up to learn more about the deals or they can unlock their phone to cause the offers to go away.
The latest Blue R1 HD smartphone with 8GB of internal storage is priced at $49.99 for Prime buyers, which is half off its normal $99.99 price. A 16GB version is priced at $59.99, which is discounted from its normal $109.99 price. The fourth-generation Motorola Moto G handset with 16GB of internal storage is priced at $149.99 for Prime members, a $50 discount from its regular price of $199.99. A 32GB version of the Moto G is priced at $179.99, which is $50 off its regular price of $229.99.
In addition, Prime buyers of the Moto G handsets are eligible for an extra $25 off each phone under a limited-time promotion revealed to eWEEK by an Amazon spokesperson. With the extra limited-time discount, the 16GB Moto G is priced at $124.99 while the 32GB version is priced at $154.99.
For customers who don't want to buy phones that have pop-up ads, the handsets can also be purchased in offer-free and ad-free versions at their full prices, the company said.
The unlocked phones mean that buyers can use them with cellular carriers without needing service contracts. The Blu R1 HD phones can be used on GSM-compatible networks from U.S. carriers including AT&T and T-Mobile, while the Moto G can be used on AT&T's and T-Mobile's GSM networks or on the CDMA networks of Sprint or Verizon.
The phones can be preordered immediately with availability starting July 12.
The Blu R1 HD smartphone features a 5-inch HD curved display that is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass, an aluminum metal body, a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5-megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera. The 8GB version includes 1GB of memory, while the 16GB version includes 2GB of memory. Both models feature a microSD card slot that supports storage cards offering up to 64GB of additional storage.
The Moto G features a 5.5-inch full HD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 chipset with a 1.5GHz octa-core processor, 2GB of memory, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with dual LED flash and a 3,000mAh battery with fast charging capabilities. The Moto G also includes a microSD card slot for storage cards up to 128GB.
Both the Blu R1 HD and Moto G run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
"Customers love the freedom of unlocked phones—it's the fastest growing category within cell phones on Amazon.com—so we set out to find a way to make them even more affordable for our Prime members," Laura Orvidas, vice president of consumer electronics for Amazon.com, said in a statement. "We currently offer low prices supported by lock screen offers and ads on our Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers, and they've been a hit—in fact, the vast majority of customers choose the lower-priced option. Now we're lowering prices in a similar way on new, unlocked smartphones, working with two of our best-selling brands, Blu and Motorola."
In May, Amazon partnered with Sprint to allow Sprint customers who buy a 40GB monthly shared data plan for $100 a month to get a free year of Amazon Prime service through newly created Amazon Better Choice XXL mobile phone plans.
Amazon's Prime accounts, which normally are $99 per year if purchased for one year in one transaction, provide customers with free unlimited two-day shipping on millions of Amazon Prime-eligible products, free music and movie streaming, secure photo storage and more benefits.
In March, Sprint began offering monthly Amazon Prime account access at $10.99 a month to its customers through a deal with Amazon, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The Sprint deal included Amazon Prime video and music streaming, two-day Prime package shipping and other Prime services for new and existing Sprint customers. The monthly payment option allows customers to use the service without paying the normal $99 annual membership up front.