IMG_20140728_094850375After finding success with the Kindle Fire, Amazon has decided to dip their toes into the smartphone waters with the Fire Phone. Their newest offering is a phone running the Android-based Fire OS 3.5 on a 4.7 inch screen, with a 2.2 GHz Snapdragon processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 32 or 64 GB storage options.

A unique gimmick Amazon includes with the Fire Phone is four sensors on each corner of the front, called Dynamic Perspective sensors, allowing the device to perform interesting 3D effects when you tilt the phone. When viewing the selection of apps, the icons slightly rotate, and the lock screens are kind of stunning. Are these effects enough to really make this phone stand out above the dominant Android and iPhone models? Let’s find out.

When you get past the visual effects, you see that the biggest feature of the Amazon phone is Amazon itself. The left side of the phone boasts a button which activates the camera feature, augmented with an app called Firefly. When you’re not taking pictures, you can scan barcodes to search for products on Amazon. I tested this out with a bottle of sports drink, and sure enough, Amazon had plenty in stock. Like Apple, Amazon isn’t just selling you a portable device; they are inviting you into an ecosystem. Amazon is as deeply integrated into the Fire Phone as iTunes is with the iPhone. Need an app? Amazon’s shop app is preinstalled, and you have instant access to many great apps, including the OverDrive app – offering access to titles available from your library’s digital collections.

Despite having Android at its core, the Fire Phone does not give you the Google experience. Amazon has clearly used Android as a foundation upon which to build an empire of their own. The question is: will you join? I think the biggest deciding factor is how invested in Amazon’s ecosystem you already are, or would be willing to be. If you’re a Prime member or you’re interested in Kindle Unlimited, this might be the ideal phone for you. Personally, I think the phone has a visual hook with the 3D effects, and it performs about as well as my Droid Maxx, but the amount of battery life devoted to the 3D effect means you need to keep your charger handy. I don’t know if this is an iPhone or Android killer, but I think the Fire Phone just might ignite its own niche.


Justin Noszek is a Support Services Specialist at OverDrive.

One Response to “Amazon Fire Phone review”

  1. Marc

    I am on my 2nd Kindle and think Amazon is doing a great job making a good eco system. I am a big fan of Amazon Prime and use it frequently, Amazon has a great selection of cheap or free independent authors so finding inexpensive or free books to listen to is great since many Kindles will ‘read’ to you an ebook that is not an audio book. My first problem is that it’s only on AT&T and I left them for Verizon for faster data speeds and better voice coverage when I go out into the country. My second, and bigger problem is more with overdrive in that there is NO speed control for Android (or Kindle since it’s based on Android) OS devices. Both the Kindle book and Audibile reader have speed control, so when I started using Overdrive I was very annoyed to have to listen to very slow narration. Please add speed control! (and maybe announce when this feature will be added so I know if I need to go buy a second hand iPhone or iPod Touch just for listening to books from the library.