I feel that there are three types of people who will come in contact with this article.
First will be the folks that get no further than the title. They will see “Amazon Fire Phone” and immediately think it isn’t worth their time to read. I don’t begrudge them for it, we live in a fast pace world where every six months a new, larger and faster, smartphone is released by several competing companies. The phone you carry has now become another method in which society categorizes people. Let’s face it, the Amazon phone just isn’t popular enough for most to give it a chance.
Second will be the folks that are actually searching for information and reviews on the Fire Phone. Whether they are an avid Amazon services user or they are looking for a high spec low price phone, any and all information or reviews will help. I hope that if you fall into this category, you find the below review helpful.
Third, and closer to home for me, are the folks who are avid tech junkies and love to give all devices their due diligence. After all, that is how I came to be an Amazon Fire Phone owner.
Let me preface by saying I have owned many, many different smartphones. I have had BlackBerry, Android, IOS, and Windows devices. Not only a couple of each, but several flagship devices of each. I rotated through smartphones so often that I barely had time to settle into one before trying another. I quickly found my favorite qualities in each, which made me constantly judge one based on the other. It seemed I could never find the ideal smartphone for me. I would be too optimistic if I were to say that I had finally found such a phone, and I am sure most would not believe me if I did. However, I will say that this budget friendly first attempt by Amazon has thoroughly surprised me. Let me put it in perspective if I can. I purchased the Galaxy Note 4 by Samsung on release day. Two weeks later I had sold it. I have now owned the Fire Phone for 2 months with no complaints. This may not mean anything to a lot of you readers, but it was eye opening for me when I actually thought about it.
Below I am going to try and put into this review the features that have won me over and have kept the Fire Phone as my daily driver for the last two month. I hope you enjoy this article and share it with your friends. If I miss any feature reviews, feel free to leave me a comment below and I will do my best to answer.
AMAZON FIRE PHONE HARDWARE
Shoutout to PhoneArena.com for full hardware specs and comparison. You can find that here. For the purpose of this review, I am only comparing the hardware to that of the iPhone 6. They are similar in size and the iPhone 6 is one of the latest phones from Apple.
Device Size: Amazon Fire Phone: 5.5 x 2.6 x 0.35; Apple iPhone 6: 5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27
Display Size: Amazon Fire Phone: 4.7 inches; Apple iPhone 6: 4.7 inches
Resolution: Amazon Fire Phone: 720 x 1280 pixels; Apple iPhone 6: 750 x 1334 pixels
Pixel Density: Amazon Fire Phone: 315 ppi; Apple iPhone 6: 326 ppi
Rear Camera: Amazon Fire Phone: 13 megapixel; Apple iPhone 6: 8 megapixel
Front Camera: Amazon Fire Phone: 2.1 megapixel; Apple iPhone 6: 1.2 megapixel
Processor: Amazon Fire Phone: Quad Core 2200 MHZ; Apple iPhone 6: Dual Core 1400 MHZ
Battery: Amazon Fire Phone: 2,400 mAh; Apple iPhone 6: 1,810 mAh
Price: Amazon Fire Phone: $199 No Contract (32gig); Apple iPhone 6: $649.99 No Contract (16gig)
As you can see above, the very popular iPhone 6 and the budget friendly Amazon Fire Phone are extremely close in hardware specifications. You even see that the Amazon Fire Phone wins in some areas. Now I am not gullible enough to think there aren’t other factors in determining which hardware area is better. I know there is. Example, I know the Apple A8 processor, though only dual core with 1400 mhz is a very powerful processor. You won’t see a difference in day to day use between these two processors.
The camera on the Amazon Fire Phone is 13mp compared to the Apple 8mp camera. Most will still argue the iPhone picture quality is better. However, day to day, on a budget, you won’t feel much of a difference. Here is what sold me on the hardware: The camera actually does take really good pictures, the shutter speed is very fast, camera launch button also has Fire Fly built in, and the battery easily lasts me a full day.
Also, what is not mentioned above, is that there are four more cameras built into the front of the device. You didn’t read that wrong, I said 4! These cameras power the “Dynamic Perspective” that Amazon has built into their Fire OS. It is actually pretty amazing, more on this below.
So in hardware conclusion, very similar specs to the iPhone 6, with day to day performance being no different, all for $199 compared to $649 to buy the no contract iPhone! NO BRAINER!
Amazon Fire OS is Amazon’s skin overlay for Android (currently Android 4.2.2). Some of the first things people said to me when they found out I had an Amazon phone were that they had heard the OS was very buggy. I can’t speak to earlier versions of Fire OS, however, I am running Fire OS 3.6.8 and it runs flawlessly. The OS and all of the features that Amazon baked in, is the primary reason why I have kept this phone and have actually become very attached to it. I should also add that I am an avid Amazon user. I have a prime membership, listen to Audible Audiobooks, and read Kindle Books. This is important information to keep in mind while reading through the different parts of the OS below.
The carousel first became famous on the Kindle Fire Tablet. The first page of the OS is the carousel. All of your recent applications, documents, books, videos, audiobooks, etc will be in the scrollable carousel along the top. They have also added additional features that add more information in to the carousel. See the picture for visual reference, as you can see the Silk Browser is currently selected in my carousel. Underneath of it, I can scroll through my past web searches or website visits. This is similar in all apps. Another example would be your calendar, if it is in the carousel, you can scroll through all your upcoming dates beneath it. VERY nice feature!
This is by far my favorite feature and a very large part of why I keep this phone. As I said, I am a prime member and take advantage of all the Amazon Services. See the image as a reference. As you can see, you can swipe over from the left of the screen to access the Amazon menu. From the App Store, Kindle Library, Audiobook Library, Prime Music Library, Amazon Shopping, Amazon Photos, etc., all baked in and quickly accessed!
Amazon has built some great gestures into this OS! I am going to add a few screenshots here for you to reference, but I am going to name my favorites as well.
- Swipe from the right on the home screen and you get the currently weather including a brief hourly view. This quick panel also includes upcoming appointments, notifications, and my favorite, shipping details for current prime shipping items!
- While in the calendar app, you can swipe over from the right to get quick actions dealing with your next appointment. This feature is so cool! Not only do you get appointment details, you also get clickable meeting location so you can map it, AND quick message options in case you are “Running a couple minutes late”!
- You can swipe over from the right in either the Mail or Messages applications to get a full tile view of attachments or pictures received in the application. Very handy.
- Inside the phone app, you can swipe over from the right and access VIP’s to quick dial or text your favorite contacts.
- Left swipe in almost all apps to access settings or further app actions.
- Swipe up from the bottom to go back.
- Swipe down from the top to access notifications and quick toggles.
- Amazon App Store
The Amazon Fire Phone runs off of Android but does not feature the Google Play Store. Amazon has their own App Store that features many of the most popular Android apps. However, I should mention that it does not feature ALL Android apps. At the moment, the only apps that I have missed are Google specific apps, Google Voice and Hangouts specifically. If this is a deal breaker for you, you can simply side load Google Services including Google Play by following these instructions. I prefer to keep my Fire Phone stock, just the way I received it as I am enjoying the Amazon experience.
- Dynamic Perspective
The four cameras on the front of the phone track where your eyes are looking as you use the phone. This is very easily seen in the lock screen as you tilt the phone side to side and 3D images come to life. The same happens throughout the OS. The time and battery level do not stay visible at the top the entire time. Just tilt your phone slightly to the side and they will appear. When inside the some app settings, the same tilt will give you further details on a particular setting. The app icons themselves become 3D and can be tilted side to side with the phone. The most fun app being the map app, with building structures rising off of the map surface!
Fire OS Conclusion: As I mentioned above, the Fire OS is the main reason why I continue to use my Fire Phone. The Fire OS skin adds a refreshing look to Android, along with adding some great gestures and baked in Amazon services. I love being able to get in my car, unlock the phone, swipe over from the left and click Audiobooks to quickly access my full audiobooks library. To me it saves a step. Instead of scrolling through my app collection, it is always in the menu on the left. Quickly accessing the weather, appointments, notifications, and shipping notes by swiping from the right is very handy. OH YEAH, forgot to mention that you don’t necessarily have to swipe from the left or right, but you can FLICK your wrist and it will do the same thing! Amazon has added too many features to list here, but it is a very pleasant experience using this OS.
Forget the price of the phone, forget you are looking for a budget phone. Look at the specs of this phone, look at the OS (Android 4.2.2 with a beautiful skin) and compare to other popular phones right now. The Amazon Fire Phone does not feel like a budget phone! Side by side it will perform just as well as the rest. If you are an Amazon Prime member, have and Audible subscription, or read Kindle books, this phone will make the experience even better!
Now let’s bring back the budget. I got this phone from Amazon for $199 unlocked with no contract required! Not only that, they also give you a full year of PRIME membership with the purchase! That is a $99 value. So if you are a prime subscriber, you just dropped your phone to $100. If you currently have Prime, they extend your membership another year. On top of that, you get unlimited Amazon Cloud storage for all your photos, videos, and documents! There is no better deal out there, PERIOD.
I hope you have enjoyed this review!