- Brad Molen , Engadget
Its unique features don't provide enough utility, and come at the expense of both battery life and performance.
- David Pierce , The Verge
Amazon’s first smartphone is a series of interesting ideas in a package that is somehow much less than the sum of its parts.
- Crisp, bright display
- Unlimited photo storage for Prime subscribers
- Firefly search
- Respectable battery life
- No storage expansion
- Limited wearable support
- Questionable future for Dynamic Perspective display features
With a face-tracking camera array, 24/7 live support and access to a bounty of Amazon services, the Amazon Fire is turning heads in the smartphone market. How does Amazon’s first venture into smartphones stack up against the competition? Let’s take a look!
Outside of the Amazon-exclusive features, the hardware used in the Fire is firmly in the mid-tier. A 4.7-inch 720p display provides crisp visuals and plenty of screen real estate while a quad-core processor ensures smooth phone operation. With 2GB of RAM, the device should multitask with ease. It runs Amazon’s FireOS, an offshoot of Android’s Jelly Bean OS. This means it lacks support for wearables and some of the newer accessories gaining popularity as well.
One of the most talked about features of the device is the Dynamic Perspective display. Using five cameras, the device tracks your face to create a pseudo-3D element to supporting apps and allows for a wide range of gesture-based controls. Reviews for Dynamic Perspective were scattered from glitchy to great. Engadget warns, “Users with motion sickness will not like the Dynamic Perspective option. Fortunately, Amazon will let you turn this feature off.”
Wired UK had issues with face tracking when more than one person was looking at the phone. CNet says that it is “a lot like having a Kinect stuck on the front of your phone, even though it isn't particularly useful.” In many ways, the biggest concern will be support for the feature. If app developers embrace the technology, reviews might improve.
Integration with Amazon Prime and the Amazon store is where the device truly appears to shine. This brings us to another highly touted feature of the device--Amazon Firefly. Simply launch the app and use the camera to highlight any object around you and Firefly scours Amazon and other supported services, including iHeart Radio for music, to find purchasing or streaming options. Reviews for the feature are quite high. Combined with the free year of Amazon Prime that comes with the purchase of the phone and it offers an easy-to-use portal into everything that Amazon has to offer. The Verge notes, “There simply has never been a better device to help you indulge in impulse purchases.”
Overall, reviews note that the phone, much like its hardware, is simply okay. Engadget says, “Spec-wise, it isn't the most impressive phone. But it's not horrible either - it's simply what you'd expect from an average phone.” It appears the big question for most potential buyers is if you want to buy into the Amazon ecosystem. Coupled with an Amazon account, the phone offers convenience and a novel take on the smartphone.
If you’re not a fan of Amazon’s services, you might find more compelling options elsewhere. Android Central summed up the device well, stating, “Amazon created a mobile device that speaks to its customer base perfectly, and the end result is the Fire Phone."
Reviews (6.4/10 Avg. rating)
A powerful smartphone with a decent camera and a very bright display
Essentially a phone for shopping on Amazon
Doesn't set the smartphone market alight
The fire that needs more heat
Feels hopelessly outdated and clunky
Aesthetically pleasing, reasonable battery life but overpriced
Amazon has had plenty of time to bring out a decent smartphone and certainly deep enough pockets to do its research. In many ways, the Fire phone is likable. The camera and hardware are solid and there are elements of the OS we started to appreciate. Android could do with a bit of streamlining in places.
But it's hard to step away from the fact the unique selling points are gimmicky and add no real value. It also sometimes feels like a shopping tool with phone aspects. That in itself would be okay, were it not for the £400 price tag if you buy it SIM-free from O2. Even with... Full review
Setting nothing ablaze
The Amazon Fire Phone is not a wholly terrible smartphone, but it feels like a phone from 2010, not 2014.
Its limited apps, rough build, bulky design and inconsistent software are not up to scratch with Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone or BlackBerry’s BB10. Amazon loyalists will like the integration with every Amazon service, but most can be accessed via any other Android smartphone.
If it was being offered for a lower cost, like the company’s Kindle Fire tablets, the story would be slightly different, but as it is,... Full review
2014's quirkiest smartphone
For roughly the same money, you could have a flagship Android smartphone or for a little more per month on contract, a brand new iPhone. If you're looking purely as specs, the Fire phone is fairly mid-range. The deal is sweetened by a year of free Amazon Prime, though, which would otherwise cost you £79 and includes next-day delivery and the Instant Video streaming service. So the Fire phone has a few things going for it, but asking people to get to grips with a new operating system, deal with the limited app store and still pay top dollar for it is a bold move indeed. Ultimately, the... Full review
Has some compelling unique features but a limited selection of apps could hinder its success
I would say that Amazon's first foray into the smartphone market is a solid effort. Notwithstanding the apps issue, it does everything you want a smartphone to do – the screen resolution is good, the processor is fast and the 13 Megapixel rear-facing camera is takes lovely pictures. On top of that, it comes with some interesting features and a unique interface.
However, given that the device really relies on having an Amazon Prime subscription to take full advantage of the features, the big test will be whether developers get on board and create a compelling selection of ap... Full review
Brings a fresh interface and some intriguing ideas, but the rest of the device is just too ordinary
The Fire Phone is Amazon’s little missionary, heading out into the wild to spread the good word of the Amazon ecosystem. It tempts you by doing the thing Amazon’s always done to tempt people: giving away stuff for cheap. It brings a free Amazon Prime subscription, lots of free Amazon cloud storage, free apps in the Amazon app store, and a new tool that can turn all that overpriced stuff you see in the real world into more affordable stuff online. Now, you can have it for the same price as a normal midrange phone too.
But the other details matter. The Fire Phone is som... Full review