Will Amazon’s phone be on fire, or will it be a messy burn?

by: Edgar CervantesJune 18, 2014


Years of anticipation made the Amazon Fire Phone today’s main topic among tech enthusiasts. Amazon built a reputation of solid devices, great services and prices that were hard to match. High hopes came with the announcement of the Amazon Fire Phone. Some were as surprised as they thought they would be, but many others welcomed the phone like that uninvited neighbor that always shows up to your reunions.

Amazon Fire Phone specs

  • 4.7-inch IPS HD display
  • 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon CPU
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 13 MP f2.0 rear-facing camera

firephone-announced Image source: CNBC

The Good

Hardware and build quality

The specs prove that this phone is no small contender. The processor, amount of RAM and display can match most current mid or high-end smartphones. The device also performs as such, as it showed no signs of lag or sluggish performance.

To make matters better, the phone is also pretty well-built, even if made without metal (save for the buttons, which are made of aluminum). The Amazon Fire Phone comes with a rubberized frame, along with Gorilla Glass in the front and back of the device.

This should make for a solid construction, mimicking their previous devices. The Gorilla Glass should also be great for scratches, but it is possible to crack it.



One of the few features that surprised me was Firefly, a tool that helps you take quick actions via photographs. One can save a phone number by taking a photo of a sign, for example. It’s also possible to search for products, music, movies, QR codes and more. Simply take a picture and let your phone do the work.

In a way, it’s Amazon version of Google Goggles, except a little more full-featured and paired with Amazon’s services.


A free year of Amazon Prime!

This feels a bit like a bribe, but we can’t deny getting a free year of Amazon Prime ($99) is a huge incentive for buying the Amazon Fire Phone.

The Gimmicky

The mentioned advantages can be great for many users. Amazon is not one to adopt simplicity, though. They went all out with this smartphone, but I believe most features and specs will prove to be gimmicks. They will surely be fun and act as great conversation starters at bars, but most users will probably stop using them after the hype dies down.

The main issue here is software, and Amazon has a much different philosophy in this department. For starters, their UI looks nothing like Android, and it is not supported by Google Apps. There is no Google Play Store, for example. Instead, users are pushed into Amazon’s services and apps. This limitation could be one of the most important issues with getting an Amazon Fire Phone.

3D features

3D has been done many times in the mobile industry, and it has failed every single time. What makes Amazon think that they can make 3D displays happen? The online retailer is offering a glasses-free 3D experience with the Amazon Fire Phone. Along with it are some flashy features we know will impress many.

The device uses dynamic perspective, allowing users to tilt and move their phones along with their content and services. This is accomplished by using the gyroscope along with Amazon’s face-tracking technology.


Four cameras are installed in the phone’s corners, while one is placed in the center, tracking your face at all times. In addition, these cameras sport infrared technology, making it possible for the device to track your face under low-light situations.

It works with lockscreen wallpapers, images, the Amazon shopping app and more. Ultimately, it is limited at launch, and Amazon doesn’t have the pull to make this a on-going feature. It will be a cool thing you use when you first get the Amazon Fire Phone, but do you really want a 3D environment in your smartphone? Past devices have proven that there is no place for this technology in mobile… at least not yet.

Mayday support

Also included in the software is Mayday support, which allows you to connect to Amazon’s tech support with the press of a button. You would get a live representative with knowledge on any issues you may be having. This is actually quite awesome, but do you really want it taking space in your phone at all times?

How often will you use it? Will it be enough to justify not making a phone call or reaching for your computer from time to time? Most of us will probably take advantage of it once or twice a year, officially making this feature what we like to call “bloatware”.


Do you even care about Amazon’s services?

As an Amazon device, the Fire Phone revolves around the online retailer’s services. It’s all about Kindle, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Music, etc. We know many of you love Amazon for shopping. The company also holds the best e-reading experience in the market. Not everyone cares for the other services, though, turning whatever apps you won’t use into more bloatware.

By nature, this phone is designed to be great for Prime subscribers. This could be who Amazon is really targeting, which does make more sense.

The executioner’s sword

Maybe we could handle all the gimmicks and annoyances if the phone offered a great deal. Here is where the executioner walks in and cuts Amazon’s head off. One of Amazon’s main points of sale was their prices, but this phone is priced right next to the best of the best.

The 32 GB Amazon Fire Phone costs $199 on a 2-year contract. The 64 GB version will set you back $299. To make matters more interesting, you can also get the device off-contract for a whopping $649.


Though the specs are up there, I must say they are not quite on par with other devices on that price range. Amazon’s new smartphone may come with great technology, but we go back to the same point – it powers what most of us consider gimmicks.

And if all those inconveniences weren’t enough, there is an even bigger discrepancy with this device: it is only available for AT&T! So Amazon thinks they can have a successful launch on a phone with limited software, confusing features, gimmicks, bloatware and a high price… and they are limiting themselves to one carrier!

Granted, it is one of the biggest carriers in the USA, but I highly doubt they can pull an iPhone move on the industry. Apple is the only ones who could make it big on one carrier. I am certain it won’t happen with the Amazon Fire Phone.

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  • Aravind Arsenal

    Actually this thing is pretty amazing, but I want Google services

    • Aditya Bhatt

      You can always root.

      • Arturo Raygoza

        Then get an android

        • Aditya Bhatt

          FYI Its based on Android.

          • Arturo Raygoza

            But its not Google fyi

  • joser116

    “The online retailer is offering a glassless 3D display with the Amazon Fire Phone.” – The phone does not have a 3D display, it uses the 4 cameras for a 3D persepctive.

    And calling Mayday bloatware? Really?

    • Arturo Raygoza

      Yeah really, an app that takes space and will hardly be used

      • joser116

        This is the first time I have seen such negative feedback on Mayday.

        Yes, it takes space, all apps do.

        There are apps that we hardly use but are still useful. Mayday is one of those apps. That is why it is not bloatware.

        • Arturo Raygoza

          Why do you need to access a live person over googling it? Oh that’s right, this thing don’t have Google services lol I joke I joke

          • joser116

            Its much easier, more professional, and much preferred.

            “this thing don’t have Google services”
            –You dont need Google services to do a Google search. I could really insult you right now but I choose not too.

          • Arturo Raygoza

            It was a joke at them not having Google services, duh … Notice the “I joke I joke”

          • joser116

            I did notice it, that doesnt mean I can’t reply what I replied.

          • Arturo Raygoza

            Wow, sorry dude, you see, from where I’m at in the USA I couldn’t notice the stick lodged in your anal cavity.

          • joser116


          • Arturo Raygoza

            I apologize, but still this phone is a flop

          • Everyone Hates Arturo

            you sir, are so stubborn and pessimistic and I can see that from across the world

          • Arturo Raygoza

            Thanks now I feel special.

          • Christopher Williamson

            @arturoraygoza:disqus Let’s be honest… you’re both arguing over nothing here. The mayday feature is gimmicky but *very* slightly cool. On the other hand, this “phone” will flop. Well named though for a device destined to burn. What’s their next one going to be called? Amazon Phoenix Phone?

          • joser116

            We are arguing over whether Mayday is a gimmick or not. It is not a gimmick because it is useful, even though you won’t use it a lot. We don’t have to call customer service a lot, that doesn’t mean it’s a gimmick. It’s there when we need it and is a much better way of doing customer service.

          • Jayfeather787

            But at least he’s right.

  • Abd

    I think mostly die-hard amazon customers will buy it. It will have limited success but could compete with bb and wp

    • Arturo Raygoza

      I’m a diehard amazon lover and I don’t want nothing to do with it

    • Neil

      I also am a die hard Amazon customer and this phone holds no interest for me.
      I have prime.
      I own movies and music via the Amazon service.

      I expected something that would make me want to give up my MotoX on Republic (which I’m happy with).
      The cost is too high.
      AT&T monthly plan? No. Too pricey.

      All this announcement did is make me more excited about the Moto X+1

  • OMG, the puns.

  • Some punishment is definitely needed.

  • supremekizzle

    Edgar, do you write for AA now? What happened at phandroid?

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  • hahmed330

    Epic flop…..

  • Foosa Noble

    In several months amazon will lower the price to provide us with “even more value.!” and toss along a fire TV for only 99 dollars more in a super value bundle and plus more better a year of prime for both!

  • iamtravis182

    Amazon made a big splash with the first Kindle Fire. The reason it did so well is because of price (big emphasis on price) and timing. Amazon has been riding the wave of the first Fire tablet ever since. The problem with this device, though feature rich, is that it cannot compete on price, and its VERY late to the game.

    Additionally, Amazon just isn’t known to the masses as a phone builder. They were able to pivot themselves into the tablet industry thanks to their dominance in the E-reader market, but the masses won’t view this as a legitimate device compared to devices from the likes of Samsung, LG, and Apple. This phone may be a hit within a niche, but it will not change the game.

  • Jayfeather787

    Too much money to pay for what is offered. Make it 150 bucks less, and that would be more fitting.