An iPhone Veteran Evaluates an Amazon Fire Phone

| In-Depth Review

Page 2 - First Impressions

 

The Fire Phone started shipping on July 25. I received mine on Aug 5th with an AT&T nanoSIM and two weeks of unlimited use. The package included a well crafted, informative 27 page "Product Reviewer's Guide."

Upfront, I can say that I like this smartphone, and I won't be shy about telling you why. However, just because I like it a lot doesn't mean that I think it's in the same class as the iPhone 5s. That may not matter to every potential customer.

Out of the box, the Amazon Fire Phone makes a great first impression. It's nicely packaged. The Fire Phone has a 4.7-inch display, and I think that's where Apple is going. The case is a dark beauty with the back and display both made of Gorilla Glass combined with aluminum buttons, stainless steel details, and a polyurethane grip area all around. The grip is excellent.

What's in the box: charger cable, Fire Phone, earphones, charger, quick ref. card.

The package includes the Fire Phone, a charger, a USB-microUSB cable (hidden under the phone), and tangle proof headphone/microphone combo—which has music controls. The earphones are held together magnetically. There is a quick reference card in English and Spanish that explains the phone's exterior controls.

Those who are familiar with an iPhone will be immediately comfortable with the Amazon Fire Phone. It has a sleep/wake/power button on the top, volume controls on the side, and a home button that acts in similar ways to the iPhone's. There is a 3.5 mm headphone jack on the top where it belongs in my opinion.

Here and there, in small instances, you see the theme of fire—as it boots up and in the Settings. The lock screen images are nicely animated and the overall theme consists of a handsome black and grays, as Android tends to be, and it looks great.

Overall, this is a good-looking, easy-to-handle smartphone that's nicely designed, easy to hold, and will be easy for anyone to use out of the box.

I noted in my testing that the Fire Phone has some features the iPhone does not, and I liked most of them. However, the reverse is true. The iPhone has notable features the Fire Phone lacks. As always, however, the true test is in the details—which I'll get to next.

Next: Features I Liked

Product: Amazon Fire Phone

Company: Amazon

List Price: Varies: See Amazon product page.

Pros:

Includes a year of Amazon Prime, 4.7-inch display, Firefly, Carousel, 13 megapixel camera with OIS, 802.11ac, Mayday, very good documentation, 4G-LTE, easy Amazon shopping, user file system mountable on Mac (with AFT app).

Cons:

Not as technically advanced as iPhone 5s (no fingerprint authentication), restricted to Amazon Appstore (Google maps prohibited), Firefly, no hardware encryption, can get very warm, Gorilla Glass back may concern some.

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