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Review: Amazon Fire Phone for AT&T

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Amazon tried some interesting things with the Fire Phone. Some of them work well and others do not.

The hardware is quite decent and generally offers a good experience. I dislike the appearance of the four user-facing sensors, but they may not bother other people. The quality of the materials puts some plastic phones to shame. The screen is good, the device connects to AT&T's network well, and it offers passable phone quality. The battery life is a bit questionable.

The operating system is unique and familiar at the same time. Dynamic Perspective is a neat parlour trick, but utterly useless. To me, it doesn't add any real value to the Fire Phone. The too-many gestures needed to interact with Dynamic Perspective and FireOS are repetitive and unnecessary. Firefly, the other whiz-bang feature, is basically an avenue through which to buy stuff from Amazon, also a gimmick.

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On the plus side, I think Amazon got many of the basics right. The phone, messaging, and email apps are all solid, as is the browser. The camera is functional and takes good pictures. Some social networks are available as third-party apps and sharing is generally easy. Amazon totally killed it as far as media is concerned with its Prime tie-in and music/video catalogs. App selection is limited, but Amazon claims more are coming soon.

Would I recommend the Fire Phone? Not to most people. The device costs $200 on ctontract, which is about the same as the iPhone 5s, Galaxy S5, HTC One, and other leading-class devices that offer better screens, better battery life, better cameras, and better app selection. The Fire Phone is a niche device for people who truly love Amazon and its online services. If you count yourself as one of those people, go ahead and give the Fire Phone a shot. If you're not, stick to the more mainstream hardware, which offers many of the Fire Phone's features and then some.

Our Ratings

Battery Life
Hardware Usability
Hardware Quality
Interface Speed
Audio Volume

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