Tech Tuesday: Amazon Fire Phone, all hype but no fire

Amazon Phone


Last June, Amazon revealed its new smartphone, the Amazon Fire Phone. The business giant promised a revolutionary phone with new features never seen before.

Six months later the Fire Phone did not sell the way Amazon expected. What went wrong?

The Gimmick

Amazon shed light upon a neat new 3D feature known as “Dynamic Perspective.” Essentially, it places four cameras on each corner of the phone that faces the user and the screen adjusts perspective based on where the user looks.

For example, if users read an e-book they can simply tilt the phone to swipe between pages. It is a cool feature that delivers well and some apps use it for fun aspects. Flying a plane only requires users to move their eyes and look around the screen.

What is amazing about Dynamic Perspective is the camera integration. Users can take photos of an object and tilt the phone to see the whole 3D image as if they are walking around that object.

However, the boasted 13 mega-pixel camera isn’t as great as Amazon makes it out to be. Unlike Samsung and Apple, the Fire Phone neither has a light-sensitive nor low-light lens. It basically needs a non-bright, non-dim environment to look good.

A Market in a Market

The Fire Phone is basically a tool for Amazon to market its own website and features. The phone requires Amazon Prime to use many of the features. Amazon includes a year of Prime upon purchase but after that consumers are expected to dish out another $99 a year.

The biggest problem with this phone is its self-aware marketing tools. A big feature revealed was the “Firefly” technology.

By simply aiming a camera at a barcode or picture of an object, Firefly can find that object on Amazon marketplaces such as Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Music or Amazon itself. The user is then expected to purchase whatever Firefly found from those tools.

Poor Choices

The Fire Phone is exclusive on AT&T.; It doesn’t make sense for a new phone to be granted to one company unless it has something worthy of making it exclusive. The Fire Phone does not have anything worth exclusivity.

Amazon also priced it for $200 with contract and $650 without contract. That price point is almost absurd for a phone that has a primary function of being a mobile shopping list. Most phones that compare have stronger performance and better cameras.

The Conclusion

The Fire Phone is not the smartphone Amazon expected it to be and everyone saw it coming from the day it was revealed. Features like Dynamic Perspective and a 24-hour support service are not strong enough to carry this phone for strong sales.

By purchasing the Fire Phone, Amazon expects customers to put more money into its company every year. The Fire Phone is not a great smartphone; in fact, it may not even be a smartphone at all.


  • rapperman

    Let me guess… You spent all of 5 minutes with the phone itself after spending 30 minutes looking for some completed reviews. Sound about right?

    Fact is for a first attempt the phone isn’t half bad. It looks and feels like a quality made product and its specs are quite good. I’ll give you that the 3D feature is quite gimmicky but besides a huge amount of customization options what does this phone lack that your iPhone or Samsung phone has? It makes phone calls right? It can send sms and mms messages right? It has gps and navigation right? And you can surf the net too? And the camera that you seem to have a problem with is actually decent according to most reviews I saw before eventually giving it a try and finding out for myself.

    At its original price point the Fire Phone was no match for the competition. But it can now be had unlocked for about $200.00 if you check the Amazon website frequently. At that price it is an absolute steal. Mind you there is a bit of a learning curve but the little bit of time spent is well worth keeping yourself out of a 2 year contract with AT&T or T-Mobile (yep works beautifully on their network at full LTE speeds).

    • matt

      i spent $5 for plex from the amazon app store for my amazon fire phone. it doesn’t even run. it just crashes. the voice assistant has gotten better this past week. but it still can’t tell you the time of day. firefly is basically an improved version of “flo” by a9 (amazon) that is already in the iOS store. i went to this amazon mp3 player. i had a mp3 album i downloaded, it gave me some warning saying if i downloaded the album to the fire phone the license on the original copy would be revoked and i couldht go back. that scared me from ever using amazon mp3 player ever again. i like prime music though, but its a pain to browse prime music albums. you scroll down 5 pages, find the one you want. and you can’t go back. so you have to scroll down those 5 pages all over again. anybody who has your phone can buy apps and run up your bill. passwords are only required for in app purchases. i think they should remove the 25 video limit on downloaded prime videos. unless you change the preferences, you can’t see the status bar on the top of the screen unless you tilt the phone. the nfc chip is a total failure. i have no idea why it even has one. theres nothing in fire os that even uses it. amazon wallet was a failure. the amazon wallet website stored credit cards, the amazon wallet app on the fire phone only stored loyalty cards. it was supposed to sync , but they decided to kill the wallet, instead of doing anything with its nfc chip. the fire phone supports bluetooth 4.0, but we have to wait for a software update that might never come out. if you break the screen you are required to pay $269 and the list goes on and on.
      i purchased two of them. i returned one on eBay because it was blacklisted. and i bought a new one from amazon for 142.75 because it was on sale and i had a gift card.
      i continue to own the amazon fire phone to this day
      i got it as a trophy to the failure of the phone

      • ssr66902

        Sorry to hear about all your troubles Matt. I’m not a big app guy but will agree that some of the apps on amazon’s store are not as up to date as those found on the Play Store. While the phone has NFC it is something I don’t use so cannot attest to well it works. As far as sound goes it is as good as what you will find on most phones other than the standouts like the HTC One or the Blackberry Z30.

        As I stated in my earlier post this phone does everything a $600.00 phone will do. If I could have gotten an HTC One or an iPhone 6 (without a contract) for $200.00 I certainly would have jumped at the chance, but that is not the case. The closest you can get to a similarly priced LTE capable phone is the Moto G or the Lumia 635 and they’ll have half the processor speed, half the storage capacity and half the RAM. The choice wasn’t hard to make for a device to make calls, save me from getting lost, send texts, listen to music and occasionally play a game.

        If you are tech savvy there is a method to sideload Google’s services and Play store, and some great third party launchers like Apex or Nova that will enable you to make the phone a very very close to stock Android experience. Check the XDA Developer website for more info.