Amazon Fire Phone Review
Amazon isn’t just an online retailer anymore selling goods and products, that’s perfectly obvious. Oh no. As we’ve seen in the last several years, they’ve conquered their industry so intelligently – to the point that it was only logical to branch out to other areas that would move the company forward in being more profitable. Now, they have their hand in various places, like online music and video streaming, as well as in consumer electronics with the Kindle line of tablets and eReaders.
Not long ago, back during the holiday season of 2011 to be exact, Amazon entered the just-then bubbling tablet market. As history has shown, their gamble to enter the space proved fruitful, seeing that the Kindle tablets offered consumers a versatile working tablet that competed well with its aggressive low cost. After sitting quiet for a long time, they made the decision to enter the smartphone market.
Even though Amazon’s presence in the smartphone arena has been limited to just mobile apps prior to the announcement of its new Amazon Fire Phone, these apps helped established this new movement of showrooming – where its apps have been used to do some virtual shopping at rival retail brick and mortars. No longer are they sitting still, letting the competition reap all the benefits! Instead, Amazon is betting that its hot smartphone will become the ultimate shopping tool, as well as a top-tiered smartphone, that consumers can learn to love over the competition. Will it be hot? Is it ready for prime time? Or will they have to reevaluate things?
The package contains:
- microUSB cable
- Wall charger
- Stereo headphones
- Quick start guide
The conventional look is complemented by its sturdy construction and subtle premium finish.
So, what can we say about its design? Well, it’s quite obvious that it bears nearly the same design language of Amazon’s tablets, but overall, it looks awfully like any ordinary phone. You know what we mean, it’s that common looking black slab design. In fact, we’re able to draw comparisons to the Google Nexus 4 right from the get-go, as it shares similar aesthetics.
What stands out from a cursory look is the glass finish with its rear, which adds a premium element to the phone, but it makes it prone to smudges and fingerprints. It’s like a two-handed sword, where on one hand, the addition of the glass supplements its sturdy construction, but on the other, its initially polished looks may get obscured after a short time handling it.
In helping out in its in-the-hand feel, the rubbery coated bezel is a nice contrast that gives it a grippy feel – something that helps when there’s a fair amount of weight to the phone. Despite being on the heavier side (160 grams), we don’t mind it at all because it merely contributes in giving it a solid foundation. And better yet, the Fire Phone is pretty manageable to use one-handed.
Ultimately, we can say that they’ve gone with the safe approach with its design. Generally speaking, today’s flagships are super skinny, extremely lightweight, and try to sport designs beyond the typical slate. Are we surprised by Amazon’s execution? Not really.
Looking around the phone, there’s only one branding that stands out – the Amazon logo in the rear. For being an AT&T exclusive, it’s rather surprising to not find the carrier’s presence anywhere on the exterior of the phone. There’s a single, elongated shaped home button placed beneath the display. It’s raised slightly and has the same responsiveness as the other buttons on the phone, but it functions to get back to the homescreen with a single press, launch the “quick switch” menu with a double press, and jump into the phone’s very basic speech recognition service by long pressing the button.
Along the left side, there’s the SIM slot, volume control, and camera button. With the latter, a quick press launches the camera interface when the phone is locked/off – whereas a long press launches Firefly, which we’ll talk more about later. Unfortunately, the placement of this camera button is in an annoying spot, since we’re constantly pressing it instead of the volume down button.
On the top edge, we have the power key and 3.5mm headset jack – while the bottom is home to its microUSB port and microphone. Interestingly, it features two speakers, which are positioned along the top and bottom edges, so that it delivers a stereo effect when it’s held in landscape.
The resolution is rather underwhelming in light of other phones, but it’s a high quality display for sure with its accurate color reproduction, potent brightness, and exceptional viewing angles.
From far away, the Amazon Fire Phone’s façade sports a very clean finish, but upon closer inspection, we begin to realize something very different and strange. Most phones have a front-facing camera, however, this one tacks on an additional 4 sensors that are positioned around the corners of the display. They’re there to combine and work together to deliver one of the phone’s standout features, its dynamic perspective display. It’s undeniably interesting, but we’ll expand more on it later.
Going back to the display itself, which is a moderately sized 4.7-inch 720 x 1280 IPS LCD display, there’s no arguing that its resolution is not in the same boat as other phones in its price category. Sure, phones like the LG G3 have established a new benchmark in terms of detail, but in all fairness, the 315 ppi pixel density count of the Fire Phone’s display is still effective in delivering sharp text – with barely any evidence of pixilation from a normal viewing distance.
Somewhat understated, especially when most people focus on its choice of going with 720p resolution, the Fire Phone’s screen shines strongly with its potent brightness output of 560 nits – albeit, Amazon claims it can get up to 590 nits. Nevertheless, it’s super bright and enables us to view it outdoors with the sun present. However, seeing that it sports reflective glass, it becomes rather troublesome trying to view it. Well, that’s unless we’re under a shade or something.
Amazon clearly didn’t go with a low quality display here, evidenced by its impressive color temperature of 6958 K, which is pretty close to the reference of 6500K. Best of all, we can attest that it’s one of better phones when it comes to being accurate in producing colors – where it’s able to be spot-on with nearly all gradients. Throw in its outstanding viewing angles as well, it firmly tells us this is one high quality display – save for the resolution, of course.