An iPhone Veteran Evaluates an Amazon Fire Phone

| In-Depth Review

Page 6 - Miscellaneous Observations

 

1. The Wi-Fi setting after being set to on kept being set to off every time I shut the phone down and rebooted. I reported this via Mayday, also as a test of Mayday, described above.

2. There is a nifty app Mac owners should know about. Android File Transfer app. When you plug Fire Phone into the USB port of a Mac, the AFT app shows you either 1) Photos only. They're displayed by the default app you have on the Mac for a camera being plugged in or 2) User accessible folders in a Finder-like view.

 

Options for USB connection to Mac.

Amazon has a helpful page on where to get this app and how to use it.

3. The iPhone has hardware encryption, and it's so fast that it's transparent to the user. Amazon told me: "The Fire Phone does not support hardware encryption. Fire supports AES 128 bit key software encryption." The Fire Phone in Settings > Device > Manage enterprise security features warns that full encryption can take an hour or more.

4. The Firefly button on the side can be confusing. Press it briefly to bring up the camera. Hold it down to bring up Firefly.

5. Mute is achieved by holding the Volume Down button down for a bit. This brings up a slider of options and saves on having a mechanical mute button. It makes great sense and seems superior to iOS.

6. Heat. This phone can get very warm to the touch after it's been on a while and depending on how the CPU is loaded. I have never felt that much heat from an iPhone I've ever used. But then Apple has great expertise in low power ARM.

7. Stopwatch. The action of the Clock app's Stopwatch function was sketchy when I tested it. I almost always couldn't stop it when I tapped the Stop button. The iPhone's stopwatch, in contrast, has a consistent, excellent response in that regard.

8. The Fire Phone's native weather app properly shows today's sunrise and sunset times. In iOS, it figures if sunrise is behind you, you only need to know tomorrow's sunrise time. iOS is being obtuse about that in my opinion.

All the sunrise/sunset data for today.

9. No native compass app. Curiously, even though the Fire Phone has a magnetometer, there is no native compass app and no way that I found to display your latitude and longitude. There are many compass apps in the Appstore, but you'll take your chances. I didn't see many with a five star rating. Amazon recommends "Swiss Army Knife."

10. As with all versions of Android, the keyboard is superb. It actually changes from displaying lower to upper case, which I appreciate. iOS got behind on sensible keyboard design, and is fixing it in iOS 8 with the option to install 3rd party keyboards.

11. Out of box, Fire Phone asks for my Amazon credentials, then discovered it didn't have either a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. (I don't get good AT&T reception where I live.) iOS, sensibly, gets you onto Wi-Fi first.

12. Once I entered the Fire Phone's number into my AT&T Microcell authorization list, it immediately recognized the Microcell and I was able to make phone calls. The Microcell indicator appears at the top of my screen shots.

13. At no time did I feel particularly strong-armed into buying anything—something many people were concerned about when Amazon announced the Fire Phone. The facility is there if you want it, but if it pleases you, you can use the Fire Phone just like any other modern smartphone to place calls, text, navigate and browse the Internet. The 4.7-inch display, which I can span with my thumb, makes all that so much easier. See, for example, "Looking Back at Our Ridiculous 3.5-inch iPhone Displays."

14. Because the AT&T network is used, one can transmit and receive data while talking.  The operation is very similar to the iPhone's.

Next: Applications, Help and Documentation

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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