We flew to the States to get hands-on with Amazon’s first ever smartphone, which packs an incredible six cameras and a glasses-free 3D interface. Here’s our thoughts on the Amazon Fire Phone.
Amazon has been making handheld electronics for nearly seven years. We’ve seen the company focus on eReaders, scanners for your groceries, tablets, a streaming box for your TV and now, finally, a smartphone to call its own. So far the Amazon Fire Phone is only out in the States, so we blasted our way across the Atlantic to have a play with the unique 3D interface.
Amazon Fire Phone First Look: Design
The front is perhaps the most interesting part of the phone’s design; the usual suspects are present, like a super-bright (590nits) 4.7-inch 720p HD display protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 3 and a hardware home button, but in each of the four corners you’ll also find a camera. These cameras work in unison to track your face and enable the phone’s 3D interface feature, dubbed ‘Dynamic Perspective’.
So although the phone doesn’t feature an actual 3D display, you can look in and around whatever’s on the screen by moving your head or the phone. The effects can be seen from the lock screen and the main menu, but also work with specifically designed games and in other ways too. For instance, moving your head to one side whilst in the maps app will reveal additional location data, and you can scroll web pages by gently tilting the phone back.
Just like its Kindle Fire and Fire HDX tablets, the Fire Phone runs a variant of Android tailored to Amazon’s specific tastes in the form of Fire OS 3.5. This means you lose out to Google’s one million+ strong app store and instead are limited to the 240,000 of Amazon’s own apps, but the company’s hoping that the Fire Phone’s other features will soften the blow, with 24-hour video support in the form of Mayday and more.
Amazon Fire Phone First Look: Hardware
On the inside you’ll find the flagship smartphone processor of choice in 2014; a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core chip clocked at 2.2GHz, paired to 2GB of RAM.
Storage-wise there are 32GB and 64GB models, but Amazon’s also throwing in unlimited photo storage in the cloud, and that’s particularly important as the company claims its camera is one of the best around.
Amazon Fire Phone First Look: Camera
The rear-facing 13-megapixel snapper features an f2.0 aperture, OIS (optical image stabilisation) and in Amazon’s own tests, produced better low light shots than the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S.
This might also be one of the reasons for the phone’s notable thickness. Whilst it makes one of the thinnest tablets around, its new blower is a little beefy at 8.9mm.
Amazon Fire Phone First Look: Features
The camera also doubles as the gateway to Amazon’s newest service, Firefly, which along the lines of Google Goggles can recognise objects and barcodes scanned by the camera. Unlike Goggles however, with Firefly, the Fire Phone can then spit out links to purchase the product on Amazon, or recognise movies and songs to purchase and/or stream from Amazon Video/Music. It can apparently recognise over 100 million different products or pieces of content and is always accessible from a hardware key on the handset’s side.
Right now, Amazon’s new Fire Phone looks to be a US exclusive, more specifically an AT&T exclusive, available for $199 on a two-year plan and comes with a year’s free Amazon Prime subscription. But plans for this new slice of Amazonian mobile tech to make it to the UK are a little less certain. Stay tuned and we might be able to give you a full review soon.