Reviewers Call Amazon Fire Phone 'Gimmicky'

July 24, 2014 by

Amazon Fire Phone - Source: WIRED

When Amazon announced the Fire Phone last month, it didn't seem all that revolutionary. Early reviews are confirming that.

Amazon touted the phone's key selling features "Dynamic Perspective" (a display that offers 3D-like visuals, pictured above) and "Firefly" (which lets you scan things to buy them online, and presumably on Amazon).

Here's what reviewers had to say about them, and the rest of the phone, this week. (It becomes available in the U.S. tomorrow, July 25, on AT&T.)

  • Adriana Lee, ReadWriteWeb: "App developers seem to be excited about the new things they might do with Firefly and Dynamic Perspective (just imagine it for gaming). But for now, these features arenít much more than novelties that hit the battery. Hard."
  • Lee called the Fire Phone's battery life "pathetic." She also noted the phone is only available in the U.S. and on AT&T.
  • The Fire Phone runs a special version of Android, which ties the phone to its own app store, cutting out Google Play completely. This is bad for longtime Android users, who may have to re-download many apps. "Popular apps - like Google Maps and Google Drive - aren't even available."
  • Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica: "Dynamic Perspective, while not of a whole lot of practical use, is the kind of showroom feature a brand new phone like this needs to stand out. Firefly is just as impressive, and it's much more useful."
  • Cunningham praised FireOS' motion controls and said the camera and battery life are both pretty good. He also called Amazon Prime (free for the 1st year, a $99 value) and Cloud services "decent add-ons."
  • But should people buy the Fire Phone over competing devices? " For the time being, the answer is no," he says.
  • Geoffrey A. Fowler, Wall Street Journal: "The Fire (and its head-tracking controls) is the grown-up equivalent of a 9-year-old riding a bike with his hands in the air. "Look, Ma, no hands!" It's a neat gimmick, but it won't get you very far."
  • Like Lee, Fowler bemoaned the Fire Phone's poor battery life, calling it "the biggest reason I wouldn't switch" to the device. "In my battery torture test, which involves streaming a video over Wi-Fi with the screen at 50%, the Fire lasted just 6 hours and 40 minutes, 16% less than the Galaxy, and 25% less than the iPhone."
And there you have it. I would agree that battery life is typically a big differentiator when choosing a flagship phone. For me, so is the camera. But as many reviewers have pointed out, before you switch from your current phone to this one (at a cost of $200 with a contract or $650 unlocked - when only AT&T will carry it), its unique features need to be compelling, its common features superior, AND you should keep all the apps you like. So far, the Fire Phone offers none of the above.


Posted in: AT&T, Product Reviews, US Industry News