Look & feel
First impressions were good. The Amazon Fire is a premium feeling piece of hardware (if something can 'feel' premium). It seems to have taken, in look and feel at least, some of the finer aspects of both the iPhone 4 & iPhone 5 and merged them into one (albeit significantly cheaper) unit, though I’m sure they wouldn’t admit to this! One such instance worth noting is its successful application of the home button concept from iOS. We'd like to see this more often on non-iOS devices. [image 622]
The camera seems very good (13Mb on the back and 2.1Mb at the front). Its standout feature is probably the nice shallow depth it gives to photos.
Firefly is a lot of fun. You simply scan 'real-world items' such as books, videos, music, barcodes, phone numbers etc. Firefly then cleverly identifies relevant digital products (on Amazon of course). You'll be used to this already if you've used the latest Fire tablet and it's a welcome feature on the mobile device.
Admittedly we’ve not fully road tested this yet, but based solely on the advertising it does look very useful and it's a huge step forward for live support. Whether they can consistently meet their goal of a 15 second response time remains to be seen.
Value for money
Premium feeling hardware, 2.2GHz quad core CPU, 4G LTE, 4.7" HD display, stereo speakers, 13Mb camera, optical image stabilisation, 32GB standard storage for around £150 on PAYG. Very reasonable.
Still not sure
In my opinion gestures are definitely no easier then just touching the screen. I found it became quite annoying, perhaps it comes into its own once you get used to it... we suspect not.
Having said that, they are designed for single handed usage so I guess it could be useful in those situations. Personally I prefer holding my expensive phone with two hands.
"The UI feels dated already, more akin to a product from 2012. In 18 months it will be practically prehistoric."
The Amazon App Store
Oddly there is no access to Google Play provided, so only a fraction of all the Android apps are available for the Fire. With Google Play's app library expanding exponentially, that is a vast disappointment.
Dynamic Perspective is a feature enabled by 4 motion tracking cameras on the front of the phone and create a kind of 3D effect on the UI so you can peek around things just by tilting your head. To be honest it seems a little gimmicky and adds no real value. There don't seem to be an useful applications of this, other than demo apps, and it does not add anything to the User Experience.
The UI feels dated already, more akin to a product from 2012. In 18 months it will be practically prehistoric.
World of Amazon
The Fire is, understandably I suppose, utterly locked into the Amazon eco-system. That is of course the entire point of the phone. You can enable side-loading easily via a settings menu which allows you to install apps from other sources, and of course all the big apps are sure to be on Amazon App Store. However, the limitations of their App Store are still apparent.
Though this is no surprise, it’s definitely a disappointment and limits the horizons for what is otherwise a very handy device.
This article was originally written for Brightec by Cameron Cooke