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Amazon Fire Phone Reviews: Solid But Overly Ambitious 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the disturbing-lack-of-actual-fire dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon's Fire Phone launches later this week, and the reviews have started to come in. The hardware: "There's nothing terribly special about the Fire Phone's hardware, but there's very little to turn you off either." "The nice-looking IPS display in the Fire Phone gets bright enough for outdoor viewing, and it has nice viewing angles—a necessity for a phone that's meant to be tilted around and looked at from every which way." "An indistinct slab of glass and plastic, the Fire Phone looks more like a minimalist prototype than a finished product."

Software: "Firefly can recognize lots of things, but it's incredibly, hilariously inconsistent." "Firefly is the one Fire Phone feature you'll want on any phone you're currently using. Let's hope that it gets enough developer support that it isn't just a link to Amazon's storefronts." "First, and to be absolutely clear, Dynamic Perspective will impress you the first time you see it, and Amazon is pretty good at showing it off. ... But if there's some cool, useful functionality to be had from super-aggressive, super-accurate face tracking, the Fire Phone doesn't have it." Conclusion: "Smartphones are for work, for life. They're not toys, they're tools. Amazon doesn't understand that, and the Fire Phone doesn't reflect it."
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Amazon Fire Phone Reviews: Solid But Overly Ambitious

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  • But... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Cornwallis (1188489) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @07:19AM (#47514497)

    "But if there's some cool, useful functionality to be had from super-aggressive, super-accurate face tracking, the Fire Phone doesn't have it."

    The NSA appreciates it tho.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      From what I've read on /. the phone is nothing more then an attempt to create a 24/7365 advertising device for their own ego centric needs. There a cheap ass company to begin with, why would people expect something like their Kindle, or Fire Phone to be any different.

      The NSA is literal being helped by the makers and service providers. And they should be the least of your concerns with the US and its other agencies, and throw in local/state law enforcement into that mix.

      • My quick personal take on the Fire Phone: it is functionally and aesthetically awful

        Joshua Topolsky @joshuatopolsky

        Just like Amazon's website.

  • Lost interest right there. The author sounds hipster.

  • How thrilling... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @07:32AM (#47514551) Journal
    A phone with fairly tepid specs being sold for a flagship price (and AT&T SIM-locked, only) supported by one largely useless gimmick and a dedicated 'buy stuff on amazon' button.

    Where do I sign?
    • by tepples (727027)
      As I understand it, the Fire Phone is the only non-Apple phone that streams Amazon video.
    • by balaband (1286038)

      Thank you kind stranger for this wonderful review, so I can now follow slashdot's best practices - of not actually RTFA

    • I think the specs race is basically over. Apple's specs allow them to make a fast phone in a small body with relatively good battery life. Android phones are generally made with the same 'generic' parts, and have comparable battery life by virtue of having a bigger case to cram a battery in. But all told, the phones are pretty close together, no matter what tricks each company is playing. (And I would argue that battery life is becoming a more dominant spec request as time goes on. I'd much rather have a lo

      • The CPU and GPU are fine, reports on battery life seem to vary, with excellent results if you turn the 'dynamic perspectives' thing off and don't firefly much, tepid ones if you actually try to use those features; but the screen is genuinely disappointing for a phone in that price range, although the internal storage is better than usual.

        There's nothing offensively wrong with it; but the price tag befits a device that is genuinely compelling in some way, which it isn't.
      • Amazon is the worlds best organization for packing and shipping stuff. If they expect the money they can spend will give them an advantage in creating an exciting phone...its called hubris. A smartphone is a piece of jewelry. Its not like a book reader.
        Amazon's smartphone breakfast, lunch and dinner will be eaten by companies like Xiaomi http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-22/the-latest-slick-cheap-smartphone-from-xiaomi-chinas-rising-mobile-power?google_editors_picks=true [businessweek.com]. They do only one thing
        • Considering this phone is pretty much a store in your pocket, designed from the ground up to make it easier for people to buy things, Amazon might have a shot at making it sucessful. As long as consumers like buying things...

    • by Mr 44 (180750)

      I am excited for a google-less android phone. Read this article, and realize that this phone is our best and only hope:

      http://arstechnica.com/gadgets... [arstechnica.com]

      • Unfortunately, while stock android is undeniably Google's little fiefdom, 'FireOS' is a pretty much point-for-point a replacement of hegemonic Google with hegemonic Amazon (somewhat more, arguably, given the 'silk' browser's extensive default reliance on server-side processing).

        It is pretty stark how lousy de-googled Android is; but Amazon isn't really here to change the dynamic of effectively closed control of the platform, just who controls it. Getting models with a 'clean' AOSP firmware(typically excl
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @07:53AM (#47514643)

    "Smartphones are for work, for life. They're not toys, they're tools."

    Eh, if that were strictly the case, the market would be a lot different. Smartphones are a lot of things: tool, toy, fashion, entertainment.

    • Posting to remove moderation error (meant to click insightful, accidentally hit redundant!).

    • by ogdenk (712300)

      "Smartphones are for work, for life. They're not toys, they're tools."

      Eh, if that were strictly the case, the market would be a lot different. Smartphones are a lot of things: tool, toy, fashion, entertainment.

      Exactly.... if that were the case the Windows CE and PalmOS smartphones would have sold a lot better than they did in the early 2000's. They were actually much better suited for real work than Android or the Glitzy iOS interface. The CPU's were weak and they had no 3D acceleration but they were actually USEFUL.

      The majority of smartphone users basically treat them as phones they can play games on and check facebook. There's maybe 3 people in my office that know how to use their phone effectively for anyth

    • Yup, smartphones are toys.
      I haven't done a single bit of productive work on my smartphone.

  • Translation:
    less sleek than an iPhone = bad
    more sleek than an iPhone = bad
    looks like an iPhone but isn't = bad
    is an iPhone = wow what a beautiful design steve jobs did it again from the grave

  • by martiniturbide (1203660) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @08:02AM (#47514691) Homepage Journal
    The problem are not the devices, Google TV, Rouku, Fire TV.... and now Android TV are solid platforms, very nice to use, very powerfull, with a lot of potential. But the content is the problem. Netflix is good, but people just don't complete erase Live TV from their mind with they use it. Live TV should be a part of any intelligent TV device, broadcaster needs to stop being local and start being World Wide. The broadcaster needs to re-evaluate their buiness to really have a "SmartTV" take off.

    I insist that we need the final "YouTube" for Live TV. Let all the broadcast to join it and put their live content on a single WW catalog.
    • Don't confuse Broadcaster (local, with local ads, and merely 'affiliated' with a network) and the Network (National, with national ads). The broadcasters's business model strongly resembles the car dealerships', and just like Tesla is getting well-funded pushback from the dealers, a proposed change in that model will get pushback from the state and local pols that depend on local TV to advertise in their districts.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      That's kind of what the UK's Project Canvas was supposed to do. TV guide entries and on-demand catalogue entries both point to the same object in the database, so if you try to watch a show or movie that's not currently airing, it quietly redirects you to the appropriate streaming service instead. When you throw IPTV support into the mix you suddenly have a platform where there's no functional difference between content coming off the web, HDD, or airwaves, recorded or live. From that it's a short hop to a

  • Could someone explain to me, why would I want my phone to have capability to track my face? With a car analogy?
    • by CaptnZilog (33073)

      You want to let the NSA get a full 3D representation of your face, from multiple angles, just to make sure the citywide cameras can track you everywhere, so their job is far easier for them?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's a way to make the display appear 3D. The camera tracks your face, determines which direction you're looking from, and adjusts the display accordingly. Ideally, it's meant to be 3D without glasses and without the strict distance requirements and eye strain of the 3DS. And according to the reviews, it works well but doesn't really have practical applications other than looking cool.

      • It's a way to make the display appear 3D.

        That's what it does but not why you would want it. Like others here I'm failing to see any utility for this "feature". It's sort of cool as a technology demo but I just can't see any practical use for this. It does sound like a great way to reduce battery life, slow the interface, and create unnecessary bugs however. Possibly with a motion sickness chaser for some folks!

        • Only reasonable thing I can think of is autofocus for video calls. But most phones already do a good job of that. Perhaps Amazon choose a poor camera and had to implement this in software.

          Ok, I got nothing.

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        There were rumours before the phone's announcement that it would allow you to look at items in their catalogue at various angles in a natural way. Perhaps the content for that didn't turn up or they realised how time consuming it would be to make a Quicktime VR of every single item they sell.

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        One potential perk that they didn't think of is automatically orienting the phone's screen to face you without relying on the accelerometer. (If I put my phone down on the desk or hold it at a shallow angle, it doesn't know which way's "up", but the Fire Phone knows where my face is so this shouldn't be a problem.)

    • by Dan East (318230)

      So the phone can display a 3D model of a car, and shift the perspective and scaling of the car as the phone and / or your eyes move relative to it. Dynamic Perspective.

    • by Triklyn (2455072)

      well... everybody's just driving along fine, it's a four lane highway. Traffic is moving nicely. this is the current market.

      Boom, you get to drive on the shoulda now mutha fucka.
                            Dynamic Perspective.

  • Oxymoron? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gunner_von_diamond (3461783) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @08:29AM (#47514881) Journal

    Firefly can recognize lots of things, but it's incredibly, hilariously inconsistent." "Firefly is the one Fire Phone feature you'll want on any phone you're currently using.

    Why would I want to have a software feature on the phone i"m currently using that is incredibly, hilariously inconsistent?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      On the plus side, at least it can't take the sky from you...

    • Amusement?
      The only benefit I've found with Google Suggest is funny suggestions it comes up with.

      Try it: Go to google.com and start typing something like "Why does my"

  • This phone from Amazon has the rounded rectangle look ad feel.... How can this be? It violates the patents of Apple. Only genii like Steve Jobs could imagine a rounded rectangle. Now Jeff one-click-patent Bezos is ripping off the intellectual property of Apple...
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      This phone from Amazon has the rounded rectangle look ad feel.... How can this be? It violates the patents of Apple. Only genii like Steve Jobs could imagine a rounded rectangle. Now Jeff one-click-patent Bezos is ripping off the intellectual property of Apple...

      Well, it's utterly possible that Amazon pre-emptively chose to license the patent. But unlikely.

      Because it's a design patent. Which aren't really patents in the normal sense. A "normal" patent is a utility patent - it describes a machine that does s

  • It's an $800 phone
    Proprietary store (you can't install standard google apps and I doubt your old apps will move to this phone)
    Performance is about Equal or slightly better to existing phones you can get for $1 on contract like my HTC one(M8) or the Galaxy S5
    Only new feature is "3D" which, like very "3D" offering in every other product to date, it's not actually 3D, it's fairly annoying, a gimmick and will get turned off within hours of getting the phone.

    So you'd buy this why?

    Don't get me wrong, I absolutely

  • Silk browser (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shoes58 (1203522) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @09:07AM (#47515157)
    Had a Kindle I won at a work raffle. The Silk browser was such a huge bag of suck! And they won't let you install a different one. Oh sure, maybe there is a hack for it somewhere, but I couldn't be arsed to find one. I just bought a Nexus 7 and use the kindle to prop a window open. Wouldn't touch this phone on a bet..
  • First try (Score:5, Funny)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @09:36AM (#47515389)

    "Firefly can recognize lots of things,"

    Nice for a first try, but thanks, I'll wait for the Serenity model.

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