70

A unique device, but you're better off waiting for the sequel

70

The Fire's defining features are fun, but we can't help but feel as though they're merely gimmicks designed by Amazon to demonstrate the company's brilliance -- and at the expense of battery life, to boot. Dynamic Perspective might be useful in a few cases (games, mainly), but it won't provide the user with functionality they'd sorely miss if they went with an iPhone or flagship Android device.

Not only is the Fire lacking in useful new features, but its high price and exclusivity to AT&T guarantee its irrelevance. The company owes its success to millions of loyal online shoppers and bookworms who use Amazon for its convenience and aggressive pricing, so why come out with a smartphone that isn't particularly convenient, and isn't particularly cheap? By no means is the Fire a horrible phone, but it's a forgettable one. You might want the eventual Fire Phone 2, perhaps, but for now, you're better off sticking with what you know.

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Critic reviews

6.9
10 reviews
  • Reception and call quality
    6.8
  • Display
    7.8
  • Battery life
    6.7
  • Camera
    7.5
  • Ease of use
    7.7
  • Design and form factor
    6.4
  • Portability (size / weight)
    7.0
  • Media support
  • Durability
    6.0
  • Ecosystem (apps, accessories, etc.)
    6.3

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User reviews

no user reviews yet
  • Reception and call quality
  • Display
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Ease of use
  • Design and form factor
  • Portability (size / weight)
  • Media support
  • Durability
  • Ecosystem (apps, accessories, etc.)
7.0
Engadget Jul 22, 2014

Amazon's debut phone isn't bad, per se, but there's little incentive for anyone to switch carriers or platforms to buy it. Its unique features don't provide enough utility, and come at the expense of both battery life and performance.

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8.0
GigaOM Jul 22, 2014

Who is the target audience here? Power users, not likely. But a mainstream Amazon Prime customer? Certainly.

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7.0
The Wall Street Journal Jul 22, 2014

The phone handset business is in need of new ideas, so I'm actually rooting for Amazon to make inroads that might disrupt the giants. But Amazon's first Fire isn't going to spark much.

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7.0
Ars Technica Jul 22, 2014

But the bigger question for most people isn't going to be "does this phone do anything useful"; it's "should I buy this phone rather than some other competing phone?" For the time being, the answer is no.

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7.0
Gizmodo Jul 22, 2014

None of the Fire Phone's flaws are totally insufferable, but there's just no reason to suffer them at all. Fire OS is workable but mediocre as a smartphone operating system, and the hardware doesn't bring anything to the table that counteracts that.

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7.0
New York Times Jul 22, 2014

In the Fire Phone, Amazon has built a really nice, solid, plain white house. You’ll love living in it, if you can ignore all the purple.

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6.0
Wired Jul 22, 2014

t’s not a bad phone, it just isn’t in the same league as a top-tier Android phone or iPhone. When you look past its purchasing powers and its fringe benefits—which can’t be ignored—what you have left is a relatively unexciting handset.

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6.0
Re/code Jul 22, 2014

The Amazon Fire phone is perfectly suited for people heavily invested in the company’s ecosystem, and who like to use their smartphones one-handed, as long as they like AT&T.

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6.0
The Verge Jul 22, 2014

Amazon’s consumption-first approach works on tablets, for watching and reading and shopping. But tablets are for fun. Smartphones are for work ... Amazon doesn’t understand that, and the Fire Phone doesn’t reflect it.

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8.0
Business Insider Jul 22, 2014

This is a phone for folks who only want to live in Amazon's world and don't need access to the latest and greatest apps and services rival devices offer. I suspect most people don't fall into that category though.

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First Looks

product preview
Engadget Jun 18, 2014

Spec-wise, it isn't the most impressive phone ... it's simply what you'd expect from an average phone. Of course, Amazon's focus is on what makes it unique; the gestures, imaging prowess, Dynamic Perspective and Amazon services are differentiating factors that it can boast over other smartphones.

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CNET Jun 18, 2014

It seems a lot like a Kindle Fire, in phone form. But it has a few special features -- a universal scanning app, and a crazy set of infrared cameras that create 3D-like phone navigation -- that could set it apart from the competition.

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Gizmodo Jun 18, 2014

We were excited about the phone coming into our hands-on, but ultimately, we walked away feeling somewhat unenthusiastic about it. It comes off as a bit gimmicky, and it's missing some features that would make it competitive with phones from the three major operating systems.

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PC Mag Jun 19, 2014

The marquee feature here is Dynamic Perspective, which leverages four front-facing cameras and infrared technology to track a user's face and adjust perspective on the display accordingly. This serves a few purposes beyond simple eye-candy effects.

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Wired Jun 19, 2014

It may not come with the pixel densities, screen size, or bleeding edge processor that some of its competitors have, but the Fire Phone does offer some truly dazzling technological innovations—namely a new face- and gesture-tracking interface.

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Ars Technica Jun 18, 2014

Whether the phone's unique features, particularly head tracking and comprehensive Firefly searching, prove disruptive enough to win doubters over remains to be seen.

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TechCrunch Jun 18, 2014

Amazon touted the brightness of the screen during its presentation, though we couldn't really tell the difference from an iPhone with both cranked up.

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ZDNet Jun 19, 2014

The hardware is fine, but it is priced at the high end with the iPhone 5s, HTC One (M8), and Galaxy S5 and doesn't compete with these devices in terms of smartphone capability. I expected to see the Fire priced similarly to the Nexus 5, OnePlus One, or Moto X.

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SlashGear Jun 18, 2014

It's solid, though doesn't feel especially premium in the hand. Think along the lines of a Nexus 4 rather than, say, an HTC One M8 or iPhone 5s. The rubberized outer edges are at least grippy and the whole thing is creak-free, aided by the fact that the battery is non-user-removable.

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TechHive Jun 19, 2014

Gestures only took me a couple minutes to get used to, and I could see how they might become indispensible once you really get accustomed to them.

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Mashable Jun 19, 2014

Amazon wants to make buying the Fire phone an easy decision for its tens of millions of Prime customers. It’s not only putting the Amazon store in its users pockets, it’s adding its whole range of digital content from music and videos to books.

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product preview
The Verge Jun 18, 2014

You have a homescreen with a giant carousel of your most-recently used apps and content, along with a standard app grid underneath. It involves a lot of big, chunky graphics on a black background, but it's a remarkably consistent aesthetic that works for casual use.

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VentureBeat Jun 18, 2014

The Fire Phone’s “app grid” isn’t so different from app screens on other phones except that the icons have a 3D quality and move slightly as your head moves. This is because the sensors at all four corners of the front of the phone are detecting the relation of your head to the device.

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Android Central Jun 18, 2014

This isn't just a spec-matching phone to go out and play toe-to-toe with the Galaxy S5 and LG G3 — it's Amazon's take on what a phone should be, and it's packed in enough features and use-cases into a single device that more than a few people will be interested in it.

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The Next Web Jun 19, 2014

The Fire does have Nokia Here maps, but anyone that uses Android or even iOS will be disappointed to see their favorite mapping app missing. Having these apps missing from a tablet is unfortunate, on a smartphone, it’s a huge gaping hole.

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