Amazon makes a late entrance into the highly competitive smartphone market with the Fire Phone, but early reviews of the device suggest that most users are better off sticking with a competing device. The general consensus among reviewers is that the Fire Phone does not have enough differentiating features over an iPhone or Android-based smartphone.
If you are an AT&T customer that is deeply immersed in the Amazon ecosystem, then the Fire Phone might be worth a look. Otherwise, you are better off sticking with your current smartphone. The Fire Phone is just as expensive as its high-end competition, but fails to live up to the same hardware specifications and sounds more like an Amazon store in your pocket.
Brad Molen, Engadget:
“Amazon’s debut phone isn’t bad, per se, but there’s little incentive for anyone to switch carriers or platforms to buy it. Its unique features don’t provide enough utility, and come at the expense of both battery life and performance. […] Not only is the Fire lacking in useful new features, but its high price and exclusivity to AT&T guarantee its irrelevance.”
David Pierce, The Verge:
“But this Fire Phone is more like that first Kindle: a device with so many features, so many ideas, that it has either forgotten or ignored what it’s supposed to be for. Dynamic Perspective and Firefly are impressive technological achievements with bright futures (if by some miracle Amazon can get its developers on board), and the Fire Phone is a remarkably efficient shopping machine. But it’s not a very good smartphone.”
Walt Mossberg, Re/code:
“The Amazon Fire phone is perfectly suited for people heavily invested in the company’s ecosystem, and who like to use their smartphones one-handed, as long as they like AT&T. But to top Apple and Samsung, Amazon needs to do better.”
“That said, you need to be a hardcore Amazonian to buy this phone — someone who already has (and loves) a Kindle Fire tablet, a Fire TV, and Amazon Prime — and you already have your music, video, and e-book collection firmly in the Amazon ecosystem. You also need to be prepared to live with some first-gen roughness around the edges, such as battery life, performance, and screen resolution that are all well short of best-in-class.”
Jillian D’Onfro, Business Insider:
“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.”
Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica:
“The Fire Phone will benefit from prominent placement on Amazon’s homepage, which is one of the biggest billboards on the entire Internet. It may merit a second look from people who are generally satisfied with their Kindle Fires. But the Fire Phone’s ecosystem isn’t as large or as healthy as iOS’ or Android’s, and we hesitate to recommend new platforms like this to anyone before they’ve had time to prove their worth and staying power.”
If you are planning on purchasing a new smartphone, you might want to hold off on the Fire Phone until a second-generation model is released. The smartphone has intuitive features like Firefly and Dynamic Perspective, but the writing is on the wall that suggests this device is going to be a swing and a miss for Amazon.
We’ll soon find out for sure.