Many Android phones are loaded with ads and crapware, which can hurt the user experience. In exchange for using your phone as a billboard, though, the OEM gets cold, hard cash from advertisers. Amazon is now joining in on this action by loading unlocked Android phones with ads and offering them to users at a discount.
The program is called “Prime Exclusive Phones,” and at launch it offers the unlocked Moto G4 for $149.99 with lock screen ads or the BLU R1 HD for $49.99 with ads, both $50 off. Amazon’s announcement calls this “breakthrough pricing” that is enabled by “personalized offers and ads, including deals and product recommendations, displayed on the phone’s lock screen. When a customer sees an offer, they can tap to learn more about it or simply unlock their phone to dismiss.” Besides preloaded Amazon apps, there are full-screen lock screen ads and ads in the lock screen notification panel.
The good news is that the feature is optional. On the Amazon listing page, the phones are available with and without ads, listed as “Prime Exclusive – With Offers & Ads” and “Standard Version – Without Offers & Ads.” This hardware offer mirrors a similar strategy Amazon took with its Kindle line, which was also available at a discount in exchange for an ad-based experience.
It’s not clear if Amazon will lock the device bootloaders to prevent people from buying the phones and removing the ads.
The phones will begin shipping on July 12th.