An iPhone Veteran Evaluates an Amazon Fire Phone

| In-Depth Review

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the Fire Phone on June 18 with several novel features and a 4.7-inch display. This TMO review takes a close look at the Fire Phone from a technical perspective that steers away from politics and towards what the iPhone or any potential owner would want to know about this very good smartphone.


As I've said before, if there's one thing I have learned from the evaluation of different Android devices, like the Kindle Fire HD, the Google Nexus, and the Galaxy Note II, it's that the Android 4.x OS is a technical, pleasantly geeky, often beautiful OS that will appeal to many different people.

When combined with Amazon's modifications, called Fire OS 3.5.1 (based on JellyBean 4.2.2), and good manufacturing methods, it's possible to create a highly functional, handsome smartphone that can, at least, open the eyes of an iPhone owner.

L: Amazon Fire Phone, R: my iPhone 5s.

The Ground Rules

First, let's be clear. This is a TMO product review. It is:

  • ... NOT an editorial on Amazon’s desire to prod you into buying things you don't need. But, it's helpful to analyze how easy it is to purchase things you do need.
  • ... NOT an editorial on the pricing and timing of the product—or whether Amazon should make any money on the hardware. But pricing can be assessed in relation to the perceived quality of the product.
  • ... NOT an analysis of the Fire Phone's market prospects, a market dominated by Apple and Samsung. But a few of Amazon's product decisions will likely affect its popularity.
  • ... NOT an instruction manual with details on the operation of every feature. But some interesting functions are discussed.

With that in mind, I'll look at the Fire Phone from the viewpoint of a veteran iPhone user.

Next: First Impressions

Product: Amazon Fire Phone

Company: Amazon

List Price: Varies: See Amazon product page.



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).


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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