• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

 Amazon Fire Phone Review - Photo 1

Amazon’s Fire Phone is one of a kind for a number of reasons – first up is its 3D UI, which reacts to the way the phone and user move. Then there’s the way you can get live help straight away from the nice people at Amazon. Lastly – and shopaholics beware – take a photo of something and you’ll be able to buy it online.

First impressions

The Fire doesn’t really grab you with its looks – it’s pretty much like all the other phones out there. It’s black, with a glass covered back and front, while its plastic edges sport a rubber finish. Volume, home and power keys complete the rather dull design.

Amazon Fire Phone Review - Photo 1

Those edges have a slight taper towards the back to facilitate a more comfortable hold, and the speaker grilles are reminiscent of those on the iPhone 6.

It weighs in at 160g – to put that in context, the iPhone 6 weighs 129g and sports a bigger display. The Fire is not that svelte either, measuring up at 8.9mm wide. So far so dull – but hang on a minute – what are those four infra-red cameras sitting in a corner…?

Putting it in Dynamic Perspective

What these cameras do is track you and gauge where you are in relation to the screen. This detail is combined with how you hold the phone and move, to offer Dynamic Perspective, a UI that moves depending on what you are doing.

If you move the handset, or alter the way you are looking at it, you’ll see the icons start to lean and tilt – which affords them a 3D effect. It’s clever, there’s no doubt about it, but we can’t quite work out what its point is.

Amazon Fire Phone Review - Dynamic Perspective

Another rather strange feature is the ability for hidden menus to appear from the side of the display if you flick your wrist right or left. It’s neat enough – and it works reliably. But it’s not always available – some apps have more content hiding away to the side of the display and others don’t. Even more confusing is the fact that there is no multitasking or back button, which makes it difficult to find your way around apps.

We love that Amazon has decided to aim for something a bit different with the Fire Phone. And really the handset is so bland looking that it needed something to spice it up – but these gimmicks just don’t cut the mustard.

Amazon Fire Phone Review - Bland Design

On screen

The display measure 4.7ins and offers a 720x1280 resolution, with a 312ppi. The screen is the same size as the display on the iPhone 6 and has very similar specs – indeed both have amazing brightness capability and cope well with reflection and glare and being used outside.

The Fire Phone’s display is slightly cooler – whites have a slight blue cast, while the iPhone’s screen is warmer, showing white with a hint of yellow. However, the cool cast is barely noticeable – much less than Samsung screens for instance – and it offers the same excellent colour and viewing angles and clarity as Apple’s latest handset.

Amazon Fire Phone Review - Display

Performance and software

The Fire Phone may run on the Android OS but you wouldn’t notice it at first glance; this version of Google’s operating system has been heavily altered. The UI puts Amazon’s services firmly at the heart of things and the home page shows a carousel of apps that you have used recently.

Flick the phone or swipe from the left and you’ll get access to games, music, apps, books, photos, documents and so on. Unsurprisingly, they also direct you to Amazon’s online store so you can buy and download your chosen content. Swipe up and you’ll see all your installed apps. Swipe down to display notifications and get to settings such as Bluetooth and screen brightness.

Amazon Fire Phone Review - Software

One USP of the Fire Phone is an app called Firefly. This uses the snapper to identify products that are sold by Amazon, For instance show it a DVD, book or other item and it will give you the link so that you can buy it. We found it wasn’t always reliable though. It was great with books, but failed to identify a number of tablets and phones - it even failed to recognise Amazon’s own Kindle.

It did better when it came to details from business cards, as well as website addresses, QR codes and TV shows, movies and music.

Another unique offering is Mayday – a hotline to customer support at Amazon. Tap the icon and you’ll find yourself video chatting with a member of staff who will help with problems or go through the phone’s features with you. You can see them, but they can’t see you – handy if you’re in your pyjamas. They are able to control your handset and annotate the display – but they cannot access sensitive data or passwords.

Amazon Fire Phone Review - More Software

The handset sports a 2,400mAh battery, which gives a good day or 36 hours if you’re not a heavy user. Use Firefly for any amount of time and the juice drains away pretty quickly – we noticed the back of the handset got pretty hot too,

Snapper

The rear camera is a 13MP model that features optical image stabilisation. It performs well, especially in low light situations. Amazons states that image stabilisation means the shutter can be held open for four times as long as usual, grabbing more light and producing better images in low light without the need for flash.

The app is incredibly basic though. You can turn the flash off or on, as well as the HDR feature. It can take panoramic snaps, and the Lenticular feature allows you to snap gifs with multiple images. It’s a bit too basic for our liking. Another downside is that the volume button multitasks as the shutter button, and we kept covering up the lens when we reached for it. There is a dedicated snapper button on the left – short press to fire up the camera, long press to open up Firefly. You can also grab Full HD 1080p video.

Amazon Fire Phone Review - Photo 8

Our conclusion

It’s great to see that Amazon is trying to create something different in the smartphone market. The Fire Phone has a number of unusual features that really make it stand out from the crowd.

However, it is a weighty, chunky handset that suffers from bland design and does not stand up to the competition of other phones in its price range. The software is not user friendly and the Dynamic Perspective feature is nothing short of a gimmick.

We quite like the Firefly feature, although it’s just a way to get you to spend money with Amazon – and with no Google Play there are lots of apps that you’ll miss out on. Nor are there other key Google offerings such as Map, Gmail and Chrome.

If you’ve got £400 to spend on a phone, there are far better options available.

Specifications

Specifications

Dimensions : 139.2 x 66.5 x 8.9 mm

Weight: 160 grams

Screen size: 4.7” inch

Screen Resolution: 720 x 1280 display resolution

Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : 312

Processor: 2.2GHz Quad core processor

RAM: 2 GB

On-board Memory: 32GB/64GB

Camera: 13MP (rear) with optical-image-stabilsation, 2.1 megapixel front-facing

Operating system: Amazon Fire OS v3.5 (Android based OS)

3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes

Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/ Yes

Battery capacity: 2400mAh

Colours: Black

Launch Date: Out Now

 

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