Specs review: Does Amazon's new Fire phone justify its price tag?

After a string of rumours and speculations that started way back in 2012, the Amazon Fire Phone has finally arrived. The company has launched the smartphone for a price starting at $119, which translates to approximately Rs 11,500.  All the buzz around the Amazon phone has been its so-called 3D shopping feature and its renowned services for mobile, which means that less is known about its hardware. So, let’s take a closer look at its specs with a complete review. 


OS – Fire OS 3.5
The Amazon Fire Phone runs on a forked version of Android that it has decided to call Fire OS 3.5. Basically, this is a forked version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. But the general consensus is that Amazon has made so many adjustments that the new Fire OS does not resemble Android in any way.

Google services also may not be a part of the smartphone, but there is the possibility that you can sideload them as APKs.

The carousel feature on the phone gives you the ability to look at frequently (and recently) opened apps, and each app can list off some recent notifications. As for the app grid itself, you can put apps in whatever order you want, as well as add extra content like books, websites and other specific items.” It is interesting to see how Amazon has ‘yet again’ camouflaged Android with its own UI and services.

According to Engadget’s Brad Molen, “A press of the home button will let you switch back and forth between the app grid and the carousel.

Cellular connectivity

The device supports 3G with UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz). It also supports quad-band GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz). One can also expect support for 4G, and it is believed to support nine bands.

Amazon's first smartphone is here

Amazon's first smartphone is here


Display - 4.7-inch HD display
The device falls short of a phablet, but we don’t think that should bother anyone. Just like the Moto X, it has remained steadfast on the 720p, which gives the device screen HD resolution. This means the pixel density will go all the way up to 315 ppi - this is a good display, but not anywhere in the league of say, an Apple Retina Display.  However for the pricepoint, it is a fairly decent screen. The display comes with a typical 590 cd/m2 brightness and 1000:1 contrast ratio. It also gets a layer of Gorilla Glass protection.


Form factor
The Amazon Fire Phone is neither too large nor too small with its 8.9mm thickness. It measures 139.2mm x 66.5mm x 8.9mm, which is an easy fit. The device tips the scale at 160 grams, and with Gorilla Glass on both sides, will give users a good feel to the device. It will also be fairly well protected.


SoC - Quad-core Snapdragon 800, 2GB RAM

The Fire comes powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU. Not the latest breed, but good enough at that price. The processor clocks at 2.2GHz and also supports an Adreno 330 GPU. It includes 2GB of RAM, which is good enough to handle all those apps and services.


Storage – 32/64GB
The Fire comes in 32GB and 64GB versions. Amazon has also thrown in free cloud storage for all Amazon content, as well as to store photos taken with the device.


Camera – 13MP rear and 2.1MP front cameras
Keeping in view other phones with a similar pricing, the Amazon smartphone comes equipped with a 13-megapixel rear camera. The company has opted for an f/2.0 5-element wide aperture lens along with support for multi-frame HDR, auto focus, optical image stabilization and LED flash. For sefie lovers, it has also included a 2.1 MP front-facing camera. Both front and rear cameras support 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps.

Amazon Fire comes bundled with key services from the E-commerce giant. AP

Amazon Fire comes bundled with key services from the E-commerce giant. AP


Sensors – More than usual
There is no dearth of sensors in the Fire Phone. It is loaded with a gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, barometer, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor. It also introduces the Dynamic Perspective sensor system with invisible infrared illumination.


Wi-Fi - 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 

The Fire Phone is Wi-Fi-enabled and comes with support for ‘ac’ draft along with a/b/g/n. It also supports Wi-Fi channel bonding.


Other connectivity options – NFC, GPS/A-GPS, GLONAAS

The device supports NFC as well as GPS with Assisted GPS and GLONASS. The phone comes with the slightly older Bluetooth 3.0 wireless technology. Reports point out that though the device supports Bluetooth LE, it won’t launch with the ability. This means the company could release a software update to support the feature eventually. However, there is no word as to when Amazon will do so. It is quite unlikely and disappointing to see a device with some powerful features lack a basic connectivity feature, which is now common even in entry-level Androids.


The device will be fuelled by a 2400mAh battery that offers up to 22 hours of talktime and 285 hours of standby time. The video playback could roughly last up to 11 hours and audio playback up to 65 hours.


Bottom line
In a nutshell, the Amazon Fire Phone doesn't come with the best of specs for a device at this price point. Moreover, its exclusivity to AT&T further limits its reach. However, Amazon is banking on the gesture-enabled features with Dynamic Perspective and the several Amazon services including the latest Prime music service that company plans to bundle with the device. Take a look at the five key features of the Amazon Fire Phone.

While on paper it does comes across as a complete decent package, but let’s wait and watch if these fancy features match up with the actual performance of the device.

Published Date: Jun 21, 2014 15:37 PM | Updated Date: Jun 21, 2014 15:37 PM