Amazon’s Prime Exclusive phones have been an option for smartphone buyers looking to snag Android handsets at discounted prices if they're willing to live with lockscreen and notification ads. But Amazon's changing its approach to its Prime Exclusive offerings. Going forward, Amazon will stop putting ads on these discounted devices.
You're not totally free of Amazon branding should you opt for the company's Prime Exclusive phones. The devices will continue to come pre-installed with Amazon's own apps. But in an update on Feb. 13, Amazon added that customers who previously bought Prime Exclusive phones and later paid a fee to remove ads will be reimbursed $45 in store credit automatically over the coming days, according to Android Police. Amazon hadn't stipulated this detail in its plans last week, so users who had a change of heart about those lockscreen ads and opted out should appreciate the unexpected compensation.
The end of built-in ads still marks a momentous shift for the service, as many customers rightfully weren’t comfortable with the idea of being presented with a different ad every time they picked up their phone. Amazon says the change was partially influenced by new technologies like facial recognition for device unlocking, which requires use of the front-facing camera and screen, as well as customers’ desire to personalize their phones with wallpapers of their own choosing.
Ads on Prime Exclusive phones weren’t merely brief lines of text – they dominated the lockscreen, almost like album art when streaming music. And while Amazon has evidently done away with this practice, the company has confirmed to Tom’s Guide that those pre-installed apps, like Prime Video, Amazon Music and more, will remain.
If you already have a Prime Exclusive phone, you won’t be left out in the cold. While all new Prime Exclusive phones will ship without lockscreen ads, owners of existing devices will receive a free software update that will eliminate them, too. And aside from a $20 price hike, nothing is changing in terms of the way Prime Exclusive phones are offered – they’ll continue to be unlocked and only available for purchase by Amazon Prime subscribers. Amazon Prime is a $99 a year subscription service that, in addition to access to discounted phones, also offers free shipping, Amazon Prime streaming and other perks.
Updated Feb. 13: Amazon announced that it will reimburse customers who previously paid a fee to opt out of ads on their Prime Exclusive phones.