01
Aug
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By now, you've probably heard a lot about Amazon's Fire Phone. I figure that most people aren't really curious about what the overall phone is like – if you've used a Kindle Fire/HD/HDX then you already know. It's about Amazon services and a weird launcher layout thing. Most people are curious about the four front-facing cameras and Dynamic Perspective. I'm with you on that – that's exactly what I was curious about before getting this phone for review.

Spoiler alert: it's just a gimmick. A novelty. It looks flashy, but doesn't offer a whole lot of utility. Sure, it's cool for about five minutes and is something you can show off to your friends, family, colleagues, and coworkers...but that's about the extent of it. It's something that Amazon is clearly trying to push as "useful" with things like Peek – a feature that shows somewhat more detailed info on certain screens when the phone is slightly tilted – but at the end of the day, it's nothing that anyone needs.

And that's really the story with this phone. It's full of fun little quirky stuff that's neat for a short period of time, all of which is made to mask the real intent of the phone: Amazon's store. Every aspect of it makes it easy to buy things from Amazon. If you use the company's services a lot, then that's not necessarily a bad thing, assuming you don't have impulse control issues and know how to manage your money. Believe me when I say that Fire Phone makes spending those dollars way too easy.

Underneath all the fluff and flash, it's a pretty boring, unremarkable phone that's lacking a lot of what Android users want from their phones. As expected, it's a watered-down Android experience; but honestly, you're not going to buy this phone because it runs Android. You're going to buy it because it runs Amazon.

But even then, I'm not sure you'll want it.

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Specs
  • Display: 4.7-inch 720p LCD
  • Processor: 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
  • GPU: Adreno 330
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Cameras: 13MP rear shooter, 2.1MP front camera
  • Storage: 32 or 64GB
  • Battery: 2,400mAh
  • Ports: microUSB
  • Wireless/Carrier Compatibility: Wi-Fi 802.11 A, B, G, N, AC; Bluetooth 3.0, NFC, Miracast/AT&T-only
  • OS: FireOS (based on Android 4.2.2)
  • Price:
    • 32GB: 27.09/mo. on Next 18; $32.50/mo. on Next 12; $199 with a two-year agreement; $650 off-contract
    • 64GB: $31.25/mo. on Next 18; $37.50/mo. on Next 12; $299 with a two-year agreement; $750 off-contract

The Good
  • Good performance. Fire Phone is rocking a 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800, and while not the newest processor on the block, it's still plenty fast. Amazon appears to have done a lot to keep Fire Phone performing at top speed, as there isn't a hint of lag anywhere in the OS. It's crazy-fast all the time.
  • Solid construction. It's built tough, and everything feels really well put together.
  • Dynamic Perspective is cool. Sure, it's just a novelty, but it's a pretty damn cool novelty...for about 15 minutes.

The Bad
  • No Google Apps. Using an Android-based phone without Google Apps is just...bad. And difficult. Most of the features that Android users depend on – like contact sync, Hangouts, Gmail, remote app install, and all the other fun stuff – isn't available on Fire Phone.
  • It's gimmicky as hell. Fire Phone is based on gimmicks all around, all of which I assume are to mask the fact that the device is nothing more than an elaborate storefront for Amazon. Dynamic Perspective, while cool, offers no real value.
  • This is basically a store in phone form. Purchase suggestions are around every corner, so Amazon's constantly pushing you to buy stuff. Sure, it may be relevant stuff, but let's not forget that Amazon is first and foremost a retailer. They're in this game to make money, and Fire Phone won't let you forget it.
  • The layout is confusing. Menus are hidden to the left and right of some screens, but not in all apps...and there's no way of knowing when a menu is present and when one isn't. It's a very inconsistent experience. And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how confusing this OS can be.
  • Amazon's ecosystem is drastically inferior to Google's. There's really no comparison. Amazon's App selection is nothing compared to Google's, and most of the apps that are shared between the two consistently lag behind in the Appstore. And let's not forget the obvious here: no Gmail, no Google Calendar, no Drive...or any other Google service. That's a hard hurdle to leap.
  • It's heavy. It's a big ol' brick of a phone.
  • The apps realize it's Android, but the phone doesn't. I installed the Facebook app from the Appstore, and after opening it, got a notification that it needed to be updated. Tapped the "update" button and was directed to Google Play in the Silk Browser. The apps know you're running Android, but there's nothing in place to tell them it's using Amazon's ecosystem instead of Google's in many cases. This might be a developer issue, but it's an issue nonetheless.

Hardware

Build Quality and Design

Save for the four IR sensors/cameras on the Fire Phone's front panel, it's a pretty unremarkable looking phone. It's a plain black slab with glass covering the front and back, a small protruding home button, and etched Amazon logo on the back. The power button is on the top, with the volume rocker, camera/Firefly button, and SIM card slot on the left side. The microUSB charger is on the bottom and headphone jack on the top. It's all around basic.

wm_IMG_2979 wm_IMG_2980 wm_IMG_2982

The speaker layout is slightly unique, however. Instead of having one speaker on the bottom or back, it has one on the bottom and one on the top. This way you're getting audio not matter how you hold the phone or which direction it's facing. I like it.

When it comes to build quality, the Fire Phone is exemplary. It's a little on the heavy side, but man is it solid. Everything is flush, all the buttons are stable and not even the slightest bit wiggly – nothing about this phone feels cheap (except maybe the software).

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Despite only sporting a 4.7-inch display, Fire Phone still manages to be roughly the same size as the Nexus 5. This is, of course, in large part due to the oversized bezels needed to accommodate the four front-facing cameras/IR sensors required for Dynamic Perspective to work.

It's also about 30 grams heavier than the Nexus 5, though to hold them side-by-side you'd think it was a lot more. The phone has a certain "meaty" feel to it, which is amplified by its thick frame and solid build quality. I wouldn't say it's overly heavy, but it's definitely not what I'd call "light," either.

Display

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The Fire Phone's 4.7-inch front panel features a modest 720p display with good color reproduction and reasonable brightness. For all its uses, the display is pretty good, and nothing really feels "missing" considering it's a 720p panel instead of 1080p.

Colors are nice and bright without SAMOLED-level saturation, whites are pretty on-point, and blacks are dark enough to almost be called black. They're really just dark gray. Text is crisp and easy to read. Really, this is one of the most unremarkable displays I've ever seen, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. There isn't really anything standout about it, nor are there any major complaints. It's just fine.

Speakers and Call Quality

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As mentioned earlier, Fire Phone has stereo speakers that face the top and bottom of the device. It gets plenty loud which is good for tones and notifications, watching videos, or playing games. The fact that the speakers are positioned on the top and bottom edges of the device is interesting – it's great for entertainment purposes in landscape, as sound is coming from both edges of the device. In portrait it at least sends some of the sound towards your face (from the top side), which is incrementally less frustrating than if it only had a bottom-firing speaker.

Like most other things with Fire Phone's hardware, they just work and there isn't a whole lot more to say about them.

Call quality is on par with essentially all other devices that aren't complete garbage: it works. I could hear the other party, they could hear me...exactly what you want from a call. Audio is crisp and clear.

Camera

Fire Phone's 13MP rear shooter is actually a solid smartphone camera, and probably my favorite feature of this phone. It grabs images quickly and makes the best out of low light situations most of the time. That said, Amazon's camera software is pretty basic. Aside from the normal camera and video modes, it offers lenticular and panorama shots, but that's the bulk of it. It has HDR mode and a flash. All basic, basic stuff.

Screenshot_2014-08-01-13-15-35

But it also has a hardware shutter button – something I miss dearly on most modern smartphones. The camera can be launched by hitting this button once (long-pressing it opens Firefly), pressing it again will snap a picture (naturally). The only thing that bothers me about the camera button is that it's on the wrong side of the phone. I once asked a bunch of people on Twitter which way they rotate their device to enter landscape, and every single one of them said "to the left." If you rotate Fire Phone to the left, the shutter button is on the bottom (as is the actual camera on the back of the device), which is annoying. But it feels so unnatural to rotate right. This is my spiritual war.

Anyway, here are some sample shots from Fire Phone's camera. I think they look pretty good.

Note: HDR was off in the indoors shots, on in the outdoor.

IMG_20140801_093411 IMG_20140801_093446 IMG_20140801_093508 IMG_20140801_093707IMG_20140801_130635_hdr IMG_20140801_130659_hdr IMG_20140801_130705_hdr IMG_20140801_130708_hdrIMG_20140801_130732_hdr IMG_20140801_130752_hdr

Storage

Screenshot_2014-08-01-09-24-24 Screenshot_2014-08-01-11-28-28 Screenshot_2014-08-01-11-28-18

Fire Phone comes in two storage options: 32GB and 64GB. My review unit is 32GB, and out of the box there are about 25-ish gigabytes available to the user, which is probably plenty for anyone who would actually buy this phone.

One thing that I really like about Fire Phone is how Amazon breaks down the storage section in settings. It's far more granular than Android's storage menu, which only gives a general idea of what's hogging all the space. Amazon's solution breaks down used space by several categories, including games, apps, system apps, videos, music, photos, books, docs, and several others. It's awesome.

It's worth noting that Fire Phone does not have an expandable storage option, so if you plan on buying, make sure to get the device with all the storage you'll need until it's time to buy a new phone.

Battery Life

Screenshot_2014-08-01-12-44-29 Screenshot_2014-08-01-12-44-37

Sorry, I forgot to take a screenshot before charging it.

Fire Phone is packing a 2,400mAh battery, which might be fine under normal circumstances. But this phone isn't normal. It has four front-facing cameras and IR Sensors always tracking your face and wants you to use the camera to identify objects. Know what that means? Two words: battery drain. Since this stuff is basically always working (especially Dynamic Perspective), the more you use it, the faster it drains. And there's no simple way of disabling it from what I can tell. That makes sense, because without it there's nothing left to talk about.

But I digress. You should be able to get a workday's worth of life out of it, assuming the display isn't constantly running and tracking your face. If it is (or you're using Firefly to shop), better pack a portable charger with you. Or stay near a wall at all times.

Software

Fire OS

Screenshot_2014-07-23-14-10-06 Screenshot_2014-07-31-10-51-20 Screenshot_2014-07-23-18-46-05

This is really what the phone is all about. The hardware is pretty much on par with most other high-end phones, but Amazon's experience is what makes Fire Phone what it is. Aside from the dramatically different layout compared to other Android or Android-based phones, the two standout features of Fire Phone are Firefly and Dynamic Perspective. Before we get into those, however, let's talk about the launcher.

Since the core experience of most phones is defined around how you get to where you're going, the launcher is a big deal. If you've used FireOS on the Kindle Fire HD/HDX before, then you already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Fire Phone, but I'd be lying if I said the experience translated well to the smaller screen, because it just didn't. I'm not the biggest fan of the Kindle Fire HDX series, but I don't find it confusing or convoluted in any way; my feelings couldn't be more opposite about Fire Phone.

The entire launcher is based around what Amazon calls the "carousel," which is basically Android's recent apps menu. Beneath the carousel is related content to the highlighted app; for example, the settings icon will display recently accessed settings, the camera will show images from the camera roll, and apps/music/books/movies will show similar content you may like. That last bit is important, because it's really the point of this phone: to sell you more stuff from Amazon.

Directly below all the related content is a dock, not all that unlike what's found on stock Android. Swiping up on the dock reveals the app tray, which offers quick access to installed apps as well as cloud apps that are already found in your catalog (for quick installation).

But wait, it gets better. Menus are found on the sides. But only sometimes, and there's no indication when a menu will be found and when it won't. It's like a game in itself – a game of "let's find the menu!" with Amazon and its apps. Menus can be accessed one of two ways: by swiping in from the sides or quickly twisting the phone in either direction. Fire Phone is chockfull of these kinds of gestures, which Amazon has put in place to "save time," but I found them more cumbersome and frustrating than anything else. Gestures are OK for some things, sometimes...but not for almost everything, all the time. We're just not there yet, and Fire Phone does nothing to change that. The only gesture I don't really mind on the phone is the "swipe up from the bottom to go back" gesture. That comes in handy since there are no navigation buttons aside from the physical home key.

Launching menus in apps works the same way, but it's incredibly frustrating because there's no way to tell if there's even a menu to access. In stock (or stock-based) builds of Android we have the overflow menu, a hamburger indicator, or both. On Fire Phone? Good luck. Maybe you'll find something, maybe you won't.

Dynamic Perspective

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And there's Dynamic Perspective – the entire reason Amazon plastered the front of the device with four IR sensors and cameras (excluding the actual front-facing camera). The cameras and sensors are used to track your face while looking at Fire Phone – two of the cameras must be able to see you at all times for it to work, which is why there are four included. The idea is that this will leave at least two cameras available at any given time, regardless of orientation or hand placement.

If I said that Dynamic Perspective wasn't neat, I'd be lying. It's really neat, and pretty fun for about 15 minutes. After that it becomes borderline useless...except for the fact that you have to use it to access certain on-screen information throughout Fire Phone. Like the status bar. Nope, not kidding. Need to check the network status or time? Turn Fire Phone slightly to the right or left (or awkwardly tilt your head until said information appears). I can't be alone in thinking that this is completely obnoxious. The status/notification area is absolutely crucial to the user experience, so hiding it under some pseudo-useful feature is absolutely infuriating.

Or maybe I'm overreacting.

This sort of behavior carries on throughout the phone and in most of the Amazon-built apps. Want to see what category an app falls into in the Appstore? Tilt your head while looking at it. How about the star-rating of an item in Amazon's store? Tilty-tilty. Need to know the name associated with a phone number in the dialer? You guessed it – tilt away. I just don't see the utility here – it takes what should be a simple, straightforward set of features and complicates them. It's not even the answer to a problem that doesn't exist, it is a problem.

I don't think I'm overreacting.

Screenshot_2014-08-01-11-29-57 Screenshot_2014-08-01-11-29-59 Screenshot_2014-08-01-11-29-45Screenshot_2014-08-01-11-29-48 Screenshot_2014-08-01-12-49-40 Screenshot_2014-08-01-12-49-45

All that said, it does have some pretty cool uses. For example, Amazon Game Studios released To-Fu Fury, a Fire Phone-exclusive title that uses Dynamic Perspective to allow the player to look around the room for various paths/objects. It's pretty neat. Also, maps. Looking around maps by tilting the phone is not only sweet, but it's also intuitive. So do I think Dynamic Perspective has some cool uses? Sure do, and I think with the right people putting it in place, it could be incredibly useful. The problem with its execution on Fire Phone, however, is that Amazon threw it everywhere just for the sake of it. You just can't force a feature like Dynamic Perspective.

Firefly

Screenshot_2014-08-01-11-34-25

Firefly is Amazon's way of making it incredibly easy to spend more money on its services offering quick access to things you want to buy, like music, movies, and retail items. Simply long-press the camera button to launch Firefly, and it will spring into action, trying to identify nearby items with the device's camera. It's called Firefly due to the little firefly-like on-screen elements that hover around objects to figure out what they are. The thing is...it's not all that accurate. I tested several things around my home office – a lot of which was actually purchased from Amazon – and it was able to accurately recognize about a tenth of the stuff I checked. Even things like NVIDIA's SHIELD, which in my opinion is easily recognizable, went unrecognized when checked with Firefly.

Screenshot_2014-08-01-11-34-41 Screenshot_2014-08-01-11-34-52

Fortunately, it does a much better job with music and movies/TV, as they're based on audio and not images. Upon accurate detection, Firefly gives the option to purchase the movie or music in question, which is its entire purpose anyway.

Performance

You know one thing that Fire Phone does really well? Perform. While I may not be fond of the interface's overall layout, I will say that Amazon has done a great job of optimizing Fire Phone's software to work well on the hardware. Not once during my time with the device did I detect even a hint of lag or stutter – even with all the Dynamic Perspective stuff going on, everything is incredibly fluid and smooth all the time. This is the way any modern phone should perform.

Since some people seem to like benchmarks, I was going to run some on Fire Phone. Like any logical person would do in that situation, I jumped into the Amazon Appstore and searched for some of the most common ones: AnTuTu, Geekbench, and 3D Mark. Guess what? They aren't available. I'm not sure if Amazon has some sort of whack-tastic block on benchmarking tools or what, but none of the big names are available. Since I know some people live and die by benchmarks scores, I yanked the latest apks from SHIELD Tablet and sideloaded them onto Fire Phone. You're welcome.

Here are the results.

Note: Geekbench is a paid app in Google Play, so it won't work on Fire Phone.

AnTuTu

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3DMark

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Conclusion

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Overall, I feel like Fire Phone is a far more obvious attempt at getting Amazon users to spend more money on Amazon services than something like the Kindle Fire HDX, which at least has a clearer purpose other than selling you things. Dynamic Perspective is cool for a few minutes (and may have a small amount of utility), but ultimately it's a gimmick that seems to be put in place to somewhat mask the fact that this phone otherwise has nothing else going for it.

The idea behind Firefly is also cool, but the object recognition needs to work quite a bit better before I see it becoming any sort of useful. For recognizing music and movies, however, it works fine...but that's something your existing phone can do and definitely not a reason to buy Fire Phone.

In fact, I can't think of a single reason – other than being incredibly invested in Amazon's ecosystem – to buy Fire Phone over a real Android phone that actually offers access to Google services. An all-Amazon device works fine in tablet form, but it drastically misses the mark on the phone. What I would like to see, however, is more Amazon services from Fire Phone – like Firefly, Instant Video, and the like – come to other Android devices. That would be the best of both worlds.

Alas, as long as Amazon keeps making its own hardware, that will never happen. Maybe the sequel will be better.

Buy: 32GB, 64GB

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Pal

    Prime Music is on Android, I just want Prime Instant Video! Then there's really no point to own this abomination of a phone.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Right you are - I forgot they updated the Amazon Music app with Prime Music. Good catch.

    • Cuvis

      Yeah, same here. Ironically, the lack of Instant Video on non-Fire devices is the reason I don't subscribe to Prime. So, in their rush to sell more stuff, they keep me from buying from them.

    • gargamel

      Why Android without Google is an abomination? We love Android, not necessarily Google.

    • Rafd08 ☫

      NAO YOU HAVE IT!

  • Angelo Davis

    Not pointless, the point is to get you to shop Amazon.

    • Pal

      Right, there's a point for Amazon. For the consumer -- especially Android diehards like us -- there's really no incentive for us to even consider it.

      Even for the regular consumer who doesn't know the difference between one phone from the other, it's hard to recommend when it costs so much. If it was $99 on contract -- or even better, $99 for existing Prime members -- maybe it had a chance. As it stands, Amazon is asking us to pay them money for the phone for the privilege of us paying them even more money.

      The joke is, "the first one's always free," but it's hard to get addicted to something when you're not even enticed enough to try it in the first place.

      • gargamel

        If you are really and Android diehard and not a Google fanboy, there is every incentive to support Amazon's effort (and Nokia's X platform).

        Android should not be locked within Google, and a phone running AOSP should be able to run most apps, and we should have an "AOSP App Store" and not rely on Google Play / Play Services.

        I agree that the price is very wrong.

        • http://dribbble.com/nickchamberlin Nick Chamberlin

          Nobody is forced on Google, people choose it because it's better. I Like how you built your straw man with "diehard" and "fanboy" omg you're so strong! That was sarcasm, in case you didn't understand.

          • gargamel

            I see that you are one of the useful idiots that Google counts on. Again you don't understand the argument. Ask someone for an explanation.

        • Nightfall

          Why would Google maintain an AOSP app store if they won't profit from it?

          Your sense of entitlement is outstanding.

          • gargamel

            Who said Google should maintain an AOSP app store? I said we, as users, should support such a solution and apps that run on AOSP without Play Services. Of course it is against Google's interests and we should not expect them to do any of it. Google is doing what it can to profit from Android. It is not always in our best interest.

          • Nightfall

            I don't think you understand that Google is Android. The base for things like fire OS is bl dependent on Google's code.

          • ari_free

            you mean like slideme.org?

  • atuba otenbe smith

    Here un Nigeria... I has wantin ti buy Fire phone. I heard from witchdoctors that fire phone make male machinery big and strong, but it is way too expensive.... Well guess its back to sucking Ebola infested chimpanzee carcasses for that male enhancement I'm in need of.

  • markgbe

    Is it weird that i feel bad for Amazon?

    They have the kindle paper white which is great, and even the kindle fire is decent. I wish they would have stopped there and catered their services more to general Android users. Chromecastable prime video would be awesome. Personally if i could cast Amazon video to my TV, i would go from buying/renting zero instant videos titles per year, to probably 1-2 per month at least.

    • A895

      That's why there is Fire TV. They have a set too box, tablets and a phone. That is an entire eocystem. They just don't have a desktop system. Otherwise someone can live entirely in Amazon's ecosystem, and I think some mass consumers to even seniors may like it. It makes it easier to buy what they want or need.

      • markgbe

        Yeah i actually bought a fire TV for my parents, and it's pretty decent. However, there's no reason why they can't have the feature rich Fire TV succeed and also rake in additional profits from chromecast users who want to buy and rent VOD from them.

        • A895

          But how many Chrome casters are there that use Amazon for video, and how much sway do they have to prompt Amazon to cater to them.

    • Pal

      I do feel bad for Amazon, since they're having such a tough time turning a profit. I love the shopping experience and their low prices, so I don't want them to fail conducting these experiments that are costing them millions.

  • Long sentences.

    It's a stupid phone with a stupid skin I'd rather use touchjizz and by that I mean I would literally touch another mans jizz than use this phone and I ain't even ghey.

    • xHabeasCorpusx

      Bro I wud eevn make eye contact

    • anonymous

      Android users are usually bi-curious. It's okay!

      • Fruit 4lyf yolo

        Dude that wasn't even funny. Gaylord.

    • lordmerovingian

      OMG...InterWebz Win of The Day.. !!!

  • http://www.NickSaulino.com Nick Saulino

    Why would someone choose to buy this phone over other phones? Is this just to trick confused older people?

    • Crispin Swickard

      I think its for the same people that would buy a kindle fire. They should love it..

      • UMADLOL

        This phone cost as much as HTC One and Galaxy S5. The tablets where very much lower priced.

        • Crispin Swickard

          Which makes the situation even worse. You would think since the sole purpose of the phone is to get you to buy from amazon more they would subsidize it greatly like sell it at that $200 from amazon directly. Nothing about the thing makes sense.

    • GeeKLoRD

      To watch porn in 3D?
      Edit: Dynamic perspective

    • ari_free

      You answered your own question with a question

  • invinciblegod

    After google moved away from an opaque menu system where you had to press the menu button on every screen, amazon decided to add it right back in. Bravo, amazon, bravo.

  • Sruly J

    Even if they wanted Google Services, they would have only been able to get certified for them by April 24th according to this post:
    http://www.androidpolice.com/2014/02/10/rumor-google-to-begin-forcing-oems-to-certify-android-devices-with-a-recent-os-version-if-they-want-google-apps/

    Otherwise they'd have needed JB 4.3 or KK.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    After watching the unboxing by DetroitBorg I can say that
    - I like how the phone looks. It's a nice mix of iPhone 5 and Nexus 4, though the design was clearly mostly borrowed from N4
    - I like their UI, it's as simplistic as it gets, even more simplified than the classic iOS icon grid
    - I like the gyroscope functionality for scrolling up/down and quickly flicking the phone to the left/right for accessing menus/screens
    - I like their packaging! The box is nice, and Amazon included a pretty long USB cable, that's definitely a plus
    - I like the search (Firefly) integration with the Amazon.com and IMDB and stuff

    However...
    - I do NOT like the lack of Google apps. The Google ecosystem is simply much more rich than one of Amazon's which is limited to the shopping, Fire TV and the Kindles. No own music service, no own mail, etc., so you are still tied to either of the present mail systems, which might as well be Gmail
    - I do not like the lackluster quicksettings panel in the notification drawer. The toggles are useless, except for the wifi one
    - I do not like the lackluster search/assistant
    - I do not like gimmickery 3D effect that utilizes several front cameras = less battery life
    - BING AS THE DEFAULT SEARCH! WTF

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Oh yeah, I liked the packaging too. Simple and neat.

      • A Popov

        I'm still not convinced.

  • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

    This...is just another HTC First. Hell, they even went the same route for distribution (ATT Locked rollout). I just guess those who don't learn from history are simply bound to repeat it.

    • Joseph Lampke

      Like this one, the First isn't even terrible. root it, unlock it, get rid of all the Facebook and AT&T crap, and it's a damn decent phone running AOSP(ish) 4.1.

      • mcnegro

        agreed. The first is a great phone for ~$100. You don't even need to root it, with one toggle you can disable the facebook home stuff and then you're left with a vanilla 4.1 experience.

        It's been my recommendation to broke friends that want a decent phone.

        • tintin.92

          Never got a software update though, plus it's so unpopular that there's no developer support for it, so no custom roms either...

        • occono

          Surely the Moto E is a better choice at this point?

  • Matthew Fry

    There's one possible reason: rooting + custom rom + dynamic perspective mods. Unfortunately, if you wait for the mods to come before you buy and modders are waiting for enough people to buy the device to make modding worthwhile...

  • ChrisM40

    Got to be the dullest looking and most pointless phone released in years.

    Who could possibly be so invested in Amazons ecosystem that this phone makes sense?

  • Tony Byatt

    "It's Not Terrible, It's Just Pointless"

    You could have ended right there... :D

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      WHAT?! You mean I wasted all those other words for nothing? Dammit.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        I think you should have put the whole post into the title. I'm sort of curious to see what would happen. Evleaks does it, why not us?

        • Smartss

          Heads would explode!

  • daysofdre

    I'm not defending this phone, but lets not forget Samsung built a castle on bricks of fluff and foundations of gimmicks...

    • ari_free

      yes but they have google play

  • Quinton

    I have one on my desk right now, and can sum it up with just three words after playing around with it: terrible user interface.

  • Jason Raskie

    best thing Amazon could have done is made their Kindle HD series phone capable, add a wireless BT stereo earpiece to make phone calls or to listen to media and they would have had the perfect device that suited Amazon customers and consumers.

  • TedPhillips

    blue. tooth. 3.

  • primalxconvoy

    Amazon just don't understand mobile. Their Japanese website has English support but their mobile one does not. Furthermore, the mobile app is actually the same one for most countries, with the language changing depending on where you are. The only way to change the language is to change the store location, meaning that English speakers can't buy things on their mobile devices while in Japan. They have to use the PC site. This is just mind-boggling, considering that the app itself supports all of the menu options. All they have to do is block certain options depending on region, and allow users to separate country from language. Even Google worked this out.

    I used to buy quite a bit of stuff from Amazon when I had a PC but I any be bothered these days with a mobile device. Their system for alerting me to new products is also awful. There is no way for me to tell them "just inform me about x-product whether it's out". I only bought one type of product from them but they'd spam me with garden products and crud anyway.

    Seriously, why can't Amazon get online mobile right?

  • Jake

    "The apps realize it's Android, but the phone doesn't. " that is because the phone is not running Android, its running FireOS. Which is a fork of android, and older version that is. So pure android apps don't function 100% on FireOS, developers have to recompile their apps to be 100% compatible on FireOS, that's why some apps are older or behind a few version on the amazon app store.

  • Alex James Simon

    Since it is based off of Android couldn't you just sideload the newest version of Google Services and all the Gapps and Google Play Store? The same way you would to get the Google Play Store or any other Gapp updates early. Or does it not work that way for this phone? Not that I would ever get this phone anyway, just wondering.

  • Z. S.

    There's a bit of a discrepancy between the text body and the summary. The body says "It's a little on the heavy side, but man is it solid... I wouldn't say it's overly heavy" but the bullet point simply says "It's heavy. It's a big ol' brick of a phone". One is negative and one is more positive, so it needs amending I think.

  • John Smith

    I don't want to buy into the Amazon ecosystem, hence, this is a no-brainer to keep away from. Even if it had x-Ray vision.... oh wait... I'd buy it then because that would be the only app I'd use :-D

  • KERR

    Interesting artice. Any vids of dynamic perspective in action? Also, typo "Amazon's ecosystem if drastically inferior to Google's" should be OF :)

    • Nightfall

      Is this a joke? The correction is "IS" not "OF".

      • KERR

        No joke, just a typo when trying to correct a slightly different typo. I'll just dismount from my high horse now.

  • Matthew Gardner

    It would want to be damn fast. The Snapdragon 800 in my Nexus 5 is crazy quick and this one is only pushing 720p

  • Mr.BumScratcher

    Is there some way to rip out the amazon software violently and put some custom software?

    • alwin006

      Just buy something else then...

  • gargamel

    You should change the name of your of your blog from Android Police to Google Police...

    FYI- Android is not Google. And an Android device running without Google services is a very good thing that we should all support if we love Android.

    Google is close-sourcing everything it can, using Play Services etc. It is their right to do so, and maybe their obligation to their shareholders.

    But you Mr. Reporter, don't work for Google, and for you just like the rest of us, Play Services is a disaster.

    So writing 3 times in the "Bad" section that this is not a Google phone, is plain disgraceful for a blog called Android Police.

    • http://dribbble.com/nickchamberlin Nick Chamberlin

      You think because Google gave away a billion dollar operating system called android that that means they should give away everything they make? You're so unbelievably either stupid, naive, or ignorant that it makes me sick. It's called BUSINESS kid, get over it. I'm sorry, I left out an option: or you work for amazon. Now go play with yourself. :D

      • gargamel

        I guess you have a problem with understanding what you read. And you call me stupid, and a kid. I suggest you try again to read what I wrote, and ask someone to help you understand. Good luck!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      lol

    • http://flavors.me/vgehrke Patrick Bateman

      The point is: Why support ANOTHER AOSP-ish platform if it is backed by ANOTHER "walled garden business" who just wants our same money? Why we don't just stick to AOSP and chose if we want Play Services etc. or not?

      Edit: oh my, this news is old

  • SuperMario7

    That's the issue, will it really be purchased by people who bought
    Kindle tablets? When Amazon first released the Fire, one of it's main
    selling points was the low price point, back in 2011 Nexus tablets
    hadn't been released, and most of the cheap ones from other
    manufacturers were not particularly good.

    Amazon do make some decent devices, they've pushed the Kindle e-readers as far as possible, I got a Kindle Paperwhite last year and it's a brilliant device but there's not really much more they can add to that in either software or hardware terms, as anyone buying a dedicated e-reader doesn't give a crap about anything apart from battery life and a good e-ink screen. It's no suprise they haven't released a new e-reader this year and instead are going off in bizarre directions by making this phone.

    They should focus on improving Prime video and settle their disputes with ebook publishers instead

  • Hugh Johnson

    Imagine the pain and torture it would be to own a phone where you only have access to the Amazon App Store!! Thats just an unimaginable never ending nightmare!

  • Patruns

    And who launches a phone these days with Bluetooth 3.0? That won't sync with any wearables currently out.

  • blairh

    160 grams is really heavy for a phone sporting a 5" screen or smaller. It's something I really hate about the M8 and it's also a huge con for the Fire phone. My last two phones were 130 grams (Moto X and Nexus 5) and if anything I'd want something lighter, not heavier, in the future.

  • Rook HD

    Apparently Amazon thought loyal comsumers to Amazon would buy anything Amazon produce however Amazon hasn't reached Apple's level so yeah this phone is a big flop. THis phone should sell at around $250-$300 to be competitive. Hell it doesn't even have bluetooth 4.0 LE.

  • Meta

    This could be the iPhone killer, lol

  • firesoul453

    If google services were also on this device I'd consider it.

  • gacl

    This reviewer misses the point. Fire OS is a mediocre fork from an Android buffs perspective. But for consumers that want a simpler, more streamlined and walled garden Amazon device, this is great. I got my kids a Kindle Fire tablet and I think it's a better device for them than a Nexus 7 which I bought for myself. And what justifies the nerd rage against the 3D effect as a gimmick? Arguably, most of the features and apps on smartphones and tablets are gimmicks.

  • Random!

    Are they seriously trying to sell this shit for the same price as a top-tier Android device? LOL! I'd rather buy an iPhone! Or skullfuck my grandma, which might be a tad less shameful than buying an iPhone.

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  • amazon bo

    I work for at&t retailer in New York and I am using a fire phone.
    With the launch of a new product there's always a contest for the employee's to promote the product.
    I'm very motivated to sell the FIRE but the problem is 50% are getting returned. It's so bad that my manager told me to stop selling them.
    Sales people don't even want to sell it.
    I would almost guarantee out of the 35,000 fire phones sold at least 10,000 were returned.
    The problems:

    1.Battery gets real hot only after using the phone on the internet for an hour.

    2. The battery life is terrible. By 6pm it's dead.

    3. Application bad. Customers banking apps weren't available.

    4. Bluetooth not compatible with Lexus car hands-free.

    The best customer to purchase a fire phone, is an elderly person over 60 who never had a smart phone.

    The Galaxy and iPhone customer who had a 3 and 4 and wanting a 5 or 5s, will be very disappointed if he gets a fire .

    I'm at a stand still. My manager said I was stubborn, and quit selling the FIRE, but I am very competitive and have an excellent chance of winning the contest, especially since 70% of the salesperson don't want to sell it.