An iPhone Veteran Evaluates an Amazon Fire Phone

| In-Depth Review

Page 4 - Features I Didn't Like

 

One Handed Gestures. Think of the Fire Phone in your hand as an airplane with the top of the phone as the cockpit. Amazon calls pitch "tilt." Yaw is "swivel," and roll is "peek." There are some things you can do with these motions, and I didn't like any of them.

Tilt. With a strong motion in pitch, up and down, you can scroll, say, a web page up or down without using a second hand. What I don't like about this is that it's hard to control initially, and that means the feature will fall out of use for me. I prefer to touch and control the scroll myself.

Swivel. With a sharp yaw motion, right and left, you can bring up the Quick Actions display. That is like the iPhone Control Center, which includes Airplane Mode, Flashlight, and Settings. The problem there is that it doesn't always come up right away, and I felt as if I might strain my wrist, trying over and over.

Peek. A rolling motion of the Fire Phone brings up context sensitive panels on the right and left.  I found this to be an aggravating strain on the wrist. (With the right touch, you can swipe from the side to bring out the panels.) In one situation, in the music player, I saw no control to get me out of a blank albums page, and I had to be reminded to roll the Fire Phone. A brisk or sharp movement of a smartphone shouldn't be the only alternative available in some app modes.

In another situation, using the Kindle Books app, swiping from the left both brings up a panel and turns the page. If you can't develop the right differentiating technique, you're forced to sharply roll the phone to bring up the left navigation panel in that app. It's a bad choice to have to make.

Dynamic Perspective. This feature is managed by a group of four small cameras and infrared LEDs that can determine your view of the Fire Phone and create 3-D effects. It's snazzy, and it didn't make me dizzy. But didn't like it because I don't like things changing perspective on me in response to how I hold the phone, and I didn't see how it adds any real value to the GUI.

The Music app. I bought a test song last week in order to test out the player and the headphones. On Monday the song was gone, and even though a store search showed that I purchased it, I could not bring up the song in either my cloud or on the device. I was frustrated because after I pay for a song, I don't want anything to ever prevent me from immediately playing it when I want to. Later, Amazon supplied me with a procedure to fix the music app and recover the song I paid for. All's well now, including audio indistinguishable from the iPhone's (for that song), but it wasn't a great user experience.

Next: Look and Feel

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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