Fire Phone Review

Posted on September 12, 2014 12:07 am
Amazon Fire Phone package
Amazon Fire Phone package

Two months ago, Amazon unveiled its first ever phone in the United States. Every tekkie including your blogger was talking about its amazing features never seen before. Plenty of consumers would like to see behemoths like Amazon challenge the dominance of LG, Apple, Samsung, Sony and HTC in the smartphone market. During the launch, Amazon made World believe there’s no other smartphone on the market that comes close to Fire Phone.That made it impossible for me to live without getting hold of it and two weeks after it went on sale in United States,a blud in Kansas sent me one.Immediately after it was delivered, I fired up the Fire Phone and was greeted with a 5-minute tutorial on how to use the phone, along with the key features of the device notably the “Dynamic Perspective” and “FireFly.”Fire phone is based on Android, but after having used Android phones before like including Samsung Galaxy S5,I have noted that Fire OS looks and feels different like no any other Android device in the market. Incredibly, Firefly feature which resembles QR code reader can read QR codes and barcodes and it uses text recognition technology to read web and email addresses, phone numbers and even plain text. In my testing sessions, I was able to scan pretty much any real-world object and get more information like it was able to recognise my songs by sound alone, films, TV episodes among others.

Since Contador Harrison is a dinosaur in music taste, I chose Ace of Base Life is Flower to test the video quality of Amazon Fire Phone

Unboxing Amazon Fire Phone, the headphones, the charger,


Unboxing Fire Phone

Fire Phone’s four sensors and gyroscope are built into the front of the handset to track the phone’s orientation and adjust the onscreen action correspondingly. Also, the Fire Phone uses four ultra-low power cameras and four infrared LEDs built into the front of the smartphone to track the user’s face relative to the screen and shift the display accordingly. Fire Phone is technically an Android phone, in that the Fire OS is based on the Android code base. The home screen interface is built around carousel, which displays apps, the Hero Widget which displays information from the current app like recent emails and common app shortcuts.In my opinion,it lacks intuitions such as the menu button and back button,which are things I’d normally find on an Android devices like Samsung Galaxy S4. Disappointingly, there is no access to Google Play Store and in its place you get Amazon’s store and its terrible that one can’t even get Google Maps or Gmail apps. However, the email app has the capability to display previews of messages, so if the user is uninterested he or she can read the first lines and automatically delete an email without having to open the app. Most things I’d want to access or play around with, I had to get used to using gestures. In absence of a back button, I had to swipe up on the display from the bottom near the home button. Those not used to Amazon devices like Kindle HDX, using Fire OS, I bet you may not feel at home with the Fire Phone. To those familiar, many elements are unchanged.

Amazon Fire Phone Phone
The back side of the Amazon Fire Phone Phone
Amazon Fire Phone
Lighting up the Amazon Fire Phone above

I was able during the testing to put my preferred apps in the App Grid and the Carousel displays the recently used apps, along with a scrollable pane of a widget.Impressed with its features, I was utterly disgusted that the Fire Phone’s display is not really 3D. When I moved the screen on the lock screen, the 3D objects shifted and moved giving me a sense of 3D but not actual 3D. While testing and using the feature, I realised that as I move my head, the perspective would change, creating the impression that I was seeing the image from a different angle. After my two and half weeks of tests, the interface is nothing like what the Amazon team wanted us to believe. It’s difficult to fathom but compared to others in the market, that have failed in their attempt at 3D screens, the Fire Phone has no flickering images. The “dynamic perspective” which uses four front-facing cameras to track the position of the user’s head to create a simulated 3D experience that moves as the user moves their head. The camera app has its own shortcut and one only needs to just single-click the button on the side of the Fire Phone to launch the camera, and then again to take a picture and it never induce eye fatigue while testing it and wonderfully, the screen creates a more immersive experience.

Different Amazon Fire Phone screen shots I took during my usage and testing
Different Amazon Fire Phone screen shots I took during my usage and testing

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Fire Phone has glass front and back with soft plastic edges. It feels like its close to high-end premium feel of the iPhone 5S.Since it went on sale over a month and half ago, Amazon has addressed myriads of complaints around the phone’s software and has successfully managed to extend battery life by around 15% and for the past two weeks there has been a significant improvement in the performance through software updates. Having used this phone for several weeks, I can confidently say the main aim of Amazon is to use the Fire phone as an alternative gateway into its e-commerce and media services. Having tested the Firefly app, its capability to recognise items using the smartphone’s camera allowing user to buy those items with one click, be they songs, books, electronics or anything and the fact that it can recognise restaurant signs, wine labels, paintings, linking users to sites giving more information about them and with integration with its Amazon Prime on-demand video service and music store, the sky is the limit for Amazon. As at 8th September 2014, the latest data from research company comScore suggested that close to 35,000 Fire phones have been sold in United States alone.

Viewing my Twitter page and blog and IDG where I am regular contributor, calendar on both Fire and iPhone 5S, was un-paralled experience
Viewing my Twitter page and blog and IDG where I am regular contributor, calendar on both Fire and iPhone 5S, was un-paralled experience

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Contador Harrison