- 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."
Prices (Where to Buy)
Amazon released the Fire on July 26, 2014.
Amazon Fire prices will vary depending on retailer, age, special offers and whether or not it's purchased with a service plan. If purchased with a 2 year service contract for example, you would likely pay much less for the phone itself up front. Amazon's suggested retail price is $199.00. You can compare Fire prices from around the web here on The Informr.
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the Amazon Fire user manual here.
Amazon backs up the Fire with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your Fire has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Amazon support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Amazon's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.