The Amazon Fire Phone was launched as an AT&T exclusive, which confused the living hell out of everyone. For Amazon to be creating their first smartphone, most have guessed it would at least all major US carriers for maximum exposure, but it didn’t. Instead, it was offered via Amazon and AT&T for a very low starting price. The Fire Phone is a bit different from what’s currently in the market now, but just like every platform, it has its niche group.
In an already packed smartphone market, Amazon had to come out swinging with some great stuff, and while the device is running Fire OS, the phone isn’t just a Mini Fire HDX. They have done a fair job separating their tablet market and mobile phones with some new innovative features made just for the Fire Phone.
So what does the Amazon Fire Phone have to offer users, besides a full year of FREE Prime Membership? Let’s take a look.
The Fire Phone is a gorgeous device off the bat, with the right mixture of plastic and glass, the etched Amazon logo on the back gives it just enough pop. The phone feels great in the hand, similar feel to the way an iPhone 4/4S felt, with its glass back and bit of weight to it. Now its no HTC One or iPhone 5/5S, but it doesn’t feel as light or cheap as say a Samsung Galaxy device.
With a nice bright 4.7-inch 720p display, it has great viewing angles outdoors and very bright and vivid colors. In a world full of 1080p and QuadHD displays, the 720p was alright for the Fire Phone, I’m sure not complaining.
The Fire Phone included a home button on the front, a 2-megapixel front facing camera, volume and Camera/Firefly button is placed on the left side of the phone, your power and headphone jack on the top, speakers and charging port on the bottom, and 4 special cameras used for Amazons Dynamic Perspective viewing. Button placements are pretty comfortable with just getting used to the power on the top left , but everything else was in fingers reach. The bottom stereo speakers were also surprisingly loud and clear, one of the better speakers on a smartphone.
The Amazon Fire Phone isn’t a revolutionary device by any means, but it does get the job down when it needs to. The phone is equipped with a 13-megapixel camera and packed with quite a few features – Autofocus, Optical image stabilization, Burst mode, Digital zoom, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR), and Panorama. The camera does does fairly well in well lit situations with snappy auto focus and photo captures. In very bright sunny days, the camera auto detects when it should use HDR mode and really does a great job at correcting exposures to give you a much natural and balanced photo.
Color reproduction was a bit off and dull at many points. During day shots, contrast was no where to be found with brighter greens and yellows not looking accurate at all and just plain ole washed out. Photos in low light don’t quite match up with other smartphones in the market. A much slower shutter capture and overall grainy photos makes for them to be just ok for an average user.
Video is shot at 1080p and 30fps, and even with poor color reproduction, the video is sharp and clear. I was actually surprised with the clarity of the video. Audio was recorded very well with the Fire Phone as well, though I do wish there were more video settings to mess with. For those with selfie habits, the 2.1-megapixel front facing camera won’t do much for you.
The Fire OS is something very unique, but can be confusing at time. With Android and iOS leading the market, the Fire OS will be something unfamiliar to those not using a Kindle Fire. Its main navigation is made up of many ways to access your applications. From the main app carousel on the top, to recent used apps in list form. Scrolling through apps shows recent information, for example landing on messages will show your recent texts, the browser will show recent links visited and so on.
Swiping down will give you the notification center where you can access the settings and other smaller features like bluetooth, Wi-Fi and more. Though when stuck in a situation of not understanding Fire OS, Amazon has brought over its unique Mayday feature.
Firefly is a nifty exclusive feature made just for the Amazon Fire Phone which reads certain information or bar codes with the built in camera and either pull up more information on it from the internet or suggest to purchase the item via Amazon. Firefly came in handy when saving phone numbers from certain billboards or even business cards, the technology is very smart but also a bit wacky at times. For bar codes attached to food, its a hit or miss because Amazon really doesn’t have a wide selection of produce, but for generic items, Firefly is great to snap and grab from Amazon. This certainly isn’t a feature well enough to convince someone to purchase the Fire Phone, but for this type of device it sure as hell a creative one. Now Firefly doesn’t only scan info or bar codes, it can actually listen to music, movies or TV shows, and have them ready for purchase or viewing in just seconds. Letting Firefly listen to dialogue from a TV show and pulling up the exact episode with actors and synopsis was pretty bad ass.
The Fire OS can be a bit tricky and could take time to get used to, especially coming from Android or iOS. Mayday is a special feature first introduced in the Fire HDX Tablet which puts an Amazon representative right on your device. A Webcam window opens up with your very own representative ready to assist you with any issues you may have. Now even though you see them, they do not see you, all they see is a mirrored image of you Fire Phone device. It’s a very nifty addition to the Fire Phone, but after the initial first Mayday, don’t expect to really use it as much as you think you would.
Overall, the Amazon Fire Phone is a great device, but very limited to who will use it. The OS is clean and elegant with everything catering to someone who uses Amazon far more than the average person. Being an AT&T exclusive can also limit to who gets the device with it going up against some tough and powerful smartphones.
- Great 720p Display
- Stereo Speakers
- Firefly & Mayday Servcies
- No Expandable Storage
- Non Removable Battery
- App Ecosystem Still Not Up To Par (But Has Gotten Better)