Call Quality

The Amazon Fire Phone gets a passing grade with call quality, but it’s nothing too astounding.

We’re neither totally impressed, nor repulsed by the handset’s overall call quality. On one side, the volume output of its earpiece and speakerphone is ample enough to listen to voices – though, they tend to have a slight amount of distortion on our end of the line. Conversely, our callers have an easier time because voices on their end have a strong emphasis.


Ouch! The battery life is pretty abysmal, so it’s something that really needs constant recharging.

Stuffed with a 2400 mAh battery, it’s safe to say that its capacity isn’t as hefty in comparison to some of the other flagships in the space – though, size alone isn’t an indicator to the longevity. So far, the recent crop of flagships have proven to be long lasting, but with Amazon’s offering, the result is unfortunately lackluster.

In our battery benchmark test, it barely pulls close to achieving a mark of 5 hours, which is pretty poor. Of course, the culprit can be from those “low-power” cameras used for its dynamic perspective feature. Since the feature is set by default to on, it’s intriguing to know exactly how much juice they’re consuming – more so when it’s constantly tracking our face for the feature to function.

The battery benchmark test is one thing, but our real world experience solidifies its poor battery life as well. In fact, it barely manages to provide us with one-day of normal usage – where heavier usage requires constant recharging throughout the day. Also, the phone gets extremely warm during prolonged usage.

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script, designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage. All devices that go through the test have their displays set at 200-nit brightness.

hours Higher is better
Amazon Fire Phone
4h 57 min (Poor)
Samsung Galaxy S5
7h 38 min (Average)
6h 14 min (Poor)
Sony Xperia Z2
8h 10 min (Average)

minutes Lower is better
Amazon Fire Phone
Samsung Galaxy S5
Sony Xperia Z2


Checking out Amazon’s track record, they’ve been for the most part successful in their various ventures. More exactly, they’ve proven to be a strong player in the tablet market with their line of Kindles, so you kind of expect something similar to follow with its Amazon Fire Phone. As we’ve seen checking out the smartphone, however, that’s not particularly the case, as it seems like a lukewarm offering in comparison to the elites in the space.

Pricing has always been something that the company as prided itself on, such as the case with its Kindle tablets. With the Fire Phone, though, they’ve opted to go with that 2-year contract price of $199.99 for the base 32GB model for AT&T. By now, we’re all aware what a $200 on-contract phone ($650 without a contract!) is supposed to deliver – rich hardware and an immersive experience. Regrettably, the Amazon Fire Phone doesn’t succeed in either areas all that much. Specs-wise, it screams more like an upper mid-range smartphone. Meanwhile, its Fire OS 3.5 experience lacks the depth of features and the eco-system that vanilla Android offers.

Where it really shines is in being a handy shopping tool, as it absolutely delivers an experience with FireFly that no other phone, or mobile app for that matter, comes close to deliver. And of course, hardened Amazon shoppers will eat up how the phone ties into Amazon’s various services – such as Amazon Prime Music, Amazon Prime Instant Video, and Kindle.

Knowing all of that, we totally agree it’s the phone you’ll want to get if you love to showroom and shop with Amazon, but when it comes to getting work done, it sputters in several areas that are pertinent in making a phone excellent. For example, it doesn’t take stunning photos, its third party apps support is limited, its speech recognition service is basic, and it has a poor battery life. Last time we checked, in order to be considered a solid phone meant to compete with the elites, you need to hit the mark highly in those areas.

Despite that, we’ll give Amazon credit for being original with the experience and sporting a slick looking UI – even though we find dynamic perspective to still be a novel feature. The summer sizzle is ongoing, but the Amazon Fire Phone just isn’t hot enough to be prime time and contend against the other handful of $200 on-contract priced smartphones. Unless Amazon dramatically lowers the price very soon, maybe to around the sub $50 mark, the Fire Phone is going to be seen as an afterthought – following the path of phones like the HTC First.

Software version of the review unit: Fire OS 3.5.1 (111008920)


  • Delivers a tight experience with all of Amazon’s services
  • FireFly offers an engaging shopping/searching experience
  • Display is bright and produces colors accurately
  • Dynamic perspective lockscreens look pretty cool
  • Fire OS 3.5 has a pretty slick looking interface
  • Snappy overall performance


  • Battery life is poor!
  • $200 cost is overpriced for the kind of overall quality it delivers
  • Lacks Google core apps including the Play Store
  • Underwhelming camera performance
  • There’s a tough learning curve for first time Fire OS users
  • The display is highly reflective because of the glass surface

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