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Mis-Fire: Amazon’s first foray into the smartphone market fails to impress

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Amazon has finally stepped into the ring to take on the current champions of the smartphone market with its own device, the Fire Phone. In what essentially boils down to a smaller version of the Kindle Fire tablet, the Fire Phone packs a custom-built operating system dubbed Fire OS, a “dynamic perspective” system powered by four front-facing cameras that allow you to control the phone and access advanced information just by moving your head, and more.

Tonight the first reviews of the Fire Phone have hit the web, and while many see some potential in the device, Amazon still has quite a few issues to covercome if it plans to truly put a dent in this market. Below we’ve compiled some excerpts from these reviews along with links to the full write-ups.

Ars Technica: “Where’s the Fire?”

But the bigger question for most people isn’t going to be “does this phone do anything useful”; it’s “should I buy this phone rather than some other competing phone?” For the time being, the answer is no.


Between iOS, Android, and Windows Phone (to say nothing of niche players like BlackBerry and Firefox OS or in-development efforts like Ubuntu Touch, Sailfish OS, and Tizen), most smartphone buyers’ needs are already being met. There are much safer ways to spend $650.

Re/code: “To top Apple and Samsung, Amazon needs to do better.”

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Engadget: “You’re better off waiting for the sequel.”

The Fire’s defining features are fun, but I can’t help but feel as though they’re merely gimmicks designed by Amazon to demonstrate the company’s brilliance — and at the expense of battery life, to boot.


By no means is the Fire a horrible phone, but it’s a forgettable one. You might want the eventual Fire Phone 2, perhaps, but for now, you’re better off sticking with what you know.

CNET: “Amazon’s gutsy phone fails to ignite.”

Although it costs the same (or more) as competing Android and iPhone models, the Fire Phone delivers a less-extensive app store and service experience and more sluggish performance. Battery life is disappointing.

Despite its daring aspirations and 3D-like party tricks, the brave, new Fire Phone’s lack of Google services will alienate anyone who expects the flexibility of a modern Android phone.

Business Insider: “If you care about getting the latest apps…you might want to consider other options.”

This is a phone for folks who only want to live in Amazon’s world and don’t need access to the latest and greatest apps and services rival devices offer. I suspect most people don’t fall into that category though.

Gigaom: “It’s not for me, but Amazon Prime or Kindle Fire users will like it.”

I’m generally impressed by Amazon’s first effort here but I need more than the phone offers.

My wife is the perfect candidate, however. She’s always owned an iPhone but generally uses it for the basics: Email, phone calls, messaging, Facebook, photos, ebooks, videos and some light gaming. Amazon’s Fire Phone can easily do all that and do it well.

Yahoo! Tech: “Not quite on fire.”

For now, the Fire might be a good first smartphone for a non-techie; it’s a good economic deal, and the uncluttered software is easy to navigate.

For anyone more experienced, the Fire phone is a phone to watch, not to buy. If we know one thing about Amazon, it’s that it always underbakes its 1.0 devices — but that it’s a deep-pocketed, deeply driven company that’s determined to be a contender.

The Verge: 5.9 out of 10

Amazon’s consumption-first approach works on tablets, for watching and reading and shopping. But tablets are for fun. Smartphones are for work, for life. They’re not toys, they’re tools. Amazon doesn’t understand that, and the Fire Phone doesn’t reflect it. Amazon’s first smartphone is a series of interesting ideas in a package that is somehow much less than the sum of its parts.

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