Amazon to sell discounted unlocked Android phones with ‘special offer’ ads


Amazon has begun offering Prime members deep discounts on unlocked Android smartphones that have Amazon apps pre-installed and ‘special offer’ ads displayed on their lock screen, like you find on Kindles and Fire tablets. The program is kicking off with two upcoming phones, the new 4th-gen Moto G for $149.99, discounted $50 off its retail price of $200, and the BLU R1 for $49.99, discounted $50 off its retail price of $100. Both phones are available for pre-order now and will be released on July 12th. This is the first time Amazon has ever subsidized the price of hardware that isn’t their own.


There is currently a limited-time promo on the Moto G that takes an additional $25 off, making it just $124.99. The extra discount is applied automatically at checkout and will be available while supplies last.


The ads seen on the lock screen of these phones will appear in two flavors. The first are full screen ads that you swipe away to unlock the device, like you may be familiar with if you’ve ever used one of Amazon’s Fire tablets with special offers. The other ad format is new and comes in the form of lock screen notification messages. If you have a regular notification pending on the lock screen, there may be a notification ad that appears below the standard notification. You can swipe the notification ad to dismiss/clear it, or ignore it.

These phones will also come with Amazon apps, like Amazon Underground and Amazon Music, pre-installed. You will be able to hide these apps if you’d like, but you will not be able to uninstall them. The pre-installed Amazon apps are definitely the lesser of two evils when compared to pre-installed junk you find on carrier phones from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

These two phones from Motorola and BLU are the initial offerings for this new program and Amazon plans to partner with additional manufacturers in the future to offer more phones. If the format that we’re seeing with these two initial phones continues with future phones, you’re essentially trading lock screen ads and a small portion of your internal storage for a $50 discount. That’s a pretty good deal in my opinion, especially considering these two phones are sure to be prime targets for the modding community, which will inevitably figure out ways to remove the aforementioned ads and apps.

  1. clocks says:

    Nice! I have been looking for a cheap, 2nd gsm phone. The one from Blu esp should fit the bill, and supposedly is getting band 12 OTA in coming months. For $10 extra you can double the ram/storage.

    I wonder if the ad data can be setup to use wifi only? The secondary line I would be using this phone for any very limit data, and I fear ads would blow through it.

    • Big John says:

      I certainly hope that delivery of ads can be restricted to wifi only in the settings. Just like most everything else can be restricted to wifi only. I’ve never had a data plan on my smartphones and have never had a problem downloading anything via wifi.

  2. Stank says:

    Might have to jump on that Blu. I wonder if Amazon is considering moving away from Fire OS.

  3. clocks says:

    Besides data use, I am also wonder if the phones still have access to the regular Google play store, are only the amazon apps store.

  4. reggie moss says:

    I also wonder if you can block the data to the ad program with an app. i know that there are data blocking apps that prevent apps from using data on cellular connections.

    • Big John says:

      If it works the way it does on Amazon Fires, a package of ads will download the first time you have a wifi connection. Then, even if you turn off wifi, ads will be delivered to you for some time. Also, I assume you will have a settings option to restrict delivery of ads to wifi only, and if you don’t have a wifi connection, you’ll still see the ads after the initial download.

  5. Ujn Hunter says:

    Seeing these phones are “unlocked”, does that mean that you can use them to “tether” your internet? Or is that part still locked out without root and messing around? Anyone know about this?

    • Roy says:

      They are carrier unlocked not bootloader unlocked.

    • AFTVnews says:

      The phones themselves will likely be able to tether, but the carrier you use them with could still block the ability on their end or charge you extra for it if it’s not included on your plan.

      Basically, regardless of the phone’s capabilities, cellular carriers can detect tethering on their end and react to it.

  6. Big John says:

    Just pre-ordered the 16gb/2gb one using your link. I’m glad to support a great, informative site in some small way.

  7. kel says:

    hi, is the blu r1 hd available in the uk ?

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