Notebookcheck

Amazon Fire Phone Smartphone Review

Florian Wimmer (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 06/16/2015

Four eyes see 3D. Amazon's Fire Phone aims to offer innovative features for a small price, but the online retailer has not got a lot of praise so far. Our review shows why we are not convinced, either.

For the original German review, see here.

There were many rumors about a smartphone from the online retailer Amazon, and the Kindle and Fire devices were already pretty successful in the E-Reader and tablet market, respectively. Then it was finally there: Amazon announced the Fire Phone, equipped with a fast SoC, high-resolution camera as well as a 3D interface. However, there were no success reports, and the reviews in Amazon’s own store are pretty average as well. We want to check the performance in a review. In 2015, Amazon drastically reduced the price of the Fire Phone – maybe it is now a bargain?

Comparison devices are the Nokia Lumia 930 with the same SoC that works inside the Honor 6, the OnePlus One as well as the Huawei P8 thanks to their good price-performance ratio.

Amazon Fire Phone (Fire Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
4.7 inch 16:9, 1280 x 720 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, IPS, Dynamic Perspective 3D presentation, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB 
, 29 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: combined 3.5 mm stereo jack, Sensors: Movement sensor, Light sensor, Proximity sensor, Compass, Barometer, A-GPS, GLONASS , NFC, Miracast
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0, GSM-Quadband (850/900/1800/1900), UMTS-Pentaband (850/900/1700/1900/2100), LTE-Nonaband (700/800/850/900/1700/1800/1900/2100/2600); LTE-Speed: 150 Mbps (download), 50 Mbps (upload); SAR-value: 0.48 W/Kg
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 8.9 x 139.2 x 66.5 ( = 0.35 x 5.48 x 2.62 in)
Battery
9 Wh Lithium-Ion, 2400 mAh, non-removable, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 285 h
Operating System
Android 4.4 KitKat
Camera
Webcam: 2.1MP, Videos @1080p (front); 13.0MP, AF, OIS, LED-flash, Videos @1080p/30fps (rear)
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, Headset, quick charger, USB cable, SIM tool, Mayday, Firefly, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
160 g ( = 5.64 oz / 0.35 pounds), Power Supply: 106 g ( = 3.74 oz / 0.23 pounds)
Price
149 Euro

 

Case

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A first glance at the chassis of the Amazon Fire Phone is not that exciting: The chassis looks quite simple, is completely black, and with a thickness of 8.9 mm (~0.35 in) it is  not really slim. The back with the glossy glass design adds a certain touch of luxury, but also attracts fingerprints. The four cameras at the front necessary for the 3D interface, also affect the design. We would not identify the Fire Phone as a device that was once priced at 599 Euros (~$675).

The stability leaves a better impression: Pressure on the front and back is hardly visible on the display, but you can hear occasional creaking when you twist the smartphone. The build quality is decent and the gaps are small and even. There is no detachable back cover; you only get a Nano-SIM slot at the left side of the case that can be opened with the provided tool.

The Fire Phone weighs 160 grams (~5.6 oz), so it feels quite heavy in the hand, especially when you consider the size.

Connectivity

The Fire Phone is available with 64 or 32 GB storage that cannot be expanded. The SoC is already slightly outdated and cannot be called high-end anymore, and the screen only has the 720p resolution. At least you get 2 GB of RAM and a high-resolution camera at the back.

Left: SIM slot, camera button, volume rocker
Left: SIM slot, camera button, volume rocker
Right: No ports
Right: No ports
Top: Standby, 3.5 mm stereo jack
Top: Standby, 3.5 mm stereo jack
Bottom: Stereo speakers, Micro-USB slot
Bottom: Stereo speakers, Micro-USB slot
The carousel of previously used apps looks nice, but is not very handy.
The carousel of previously used apps looks nice, but is not very handy.
Some of the backgrounds for the lock screen are a bit scary, but the 3D effect works well.
Some of the backgrounds for the lock screen are a bit scary, but the 3D effect works well.
There is also a classic app overview.
There is also a classic app overview.
Similar to Android, you can pull down a menu with notifications and quick settings.
Similar to Android, you can pull down a menu with notifications and quick settings.
The App Shop is not as comprehensive as the Google Play Store, and not all apps are working, either.
The App Shop is not as comprehensive as the Google Play Store, and not all apps are working, either.
"Quickswitch" corresponds with Android's view of opened apps.
"Quickswitch" corresponds with Android's view of opened apps.

Software

Fire OS 4.6.1 is a version of Google’s Android 4.4 that was customized by Amazon. As we have already mentioned in the review of the Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 tablet, the software is designed to almost exclusively use the services from Amazon. Not only all the available Amazon services are preloaded, but also there is also a special App Store and obviously the possibility to shop directly at Amazon. We are not really impressed with the design of the operating system: iOS 8 or Android look much more modern and appealing.

The handling of the software actually differs quite significantly from Android and we think it is not as intuitive. On the home screen is a kind of Cover Flow that is familiar from Apple, listing the previously used apps. This looks nice, but you have to scroll a lot if you are looking for something. A swipe from the left will open a text menu that arranges the most important Amazon services according to the media type. Then there is the app overview that can be accessed via the central Home button. A double click on the latter launches "Quick Switch" that you can use to close opened apps. Overall, it looks quite crowded because the apps can be hidden in many places, so it can be tricky to find them.

Amazon preloads some interesting apps:

The app "Firefly" can be used to search your environment for products, then get information from Amazon’s large product database and obviously purchase them. This includes music that is recognized by the microphone, a movie that is supposed to be recognized via sound, the DVD box or the running movie, or a physical product via picture. However, it did not work perfectly, and even the barcodes from Amazon’s products only resulted in a Bing search.

If you have questions about the smartphone, you can use "Mayday" to get around the clock help from the Amazon service free. The device establishes a connection with an employee from Amazon that you can see live via video, but the employee can only hear your voice. You can ask the employee all your questions, and he can directly access your smartphone’s user interface, mark or repair things. This is certainly handy to answer big and small questions, but data protectionists will not be very happy about the fact that Amazon employees get access to their smartphone.

It is important to know that you can only use the Amazon App Shop ex-works, where the app selection is much smaller compared to Google’s Play Store, for example, because of Amazon’s restrictions. Some of the apps that we installed without the App Store also refused to work.

Communication & GPS 

If you want a smartphone with fast WLAN, the Fire Phone will not disappoint you: All current WLAN standards up to the very fast 802.11 ac are supported, which means you can also use the less crowded 5.0 GHz networks. The smartphone still has 50% of the signal at a distance of ten meters (~33 ft) to the router and through three walls, and the loading times of websites are slightly longer.

The Fire Phone supports many mobile networks: Four GSM bands, five UMTS bands and nine LTE bands can be used. Speeds are supported up to LTE Cat. 4, which means you can download with up to 150 Mbps and upload with up to 50 Mbps.

The signal quality is good: We usually had the full signal both indoors and in the street in the metropolitan area with the German LTE network of the provider o2/EPlus.

GPS indoors
GPS indoors
GPS outdoors
GPS outdoors

The GPS module cannot locate us indoors, the OnePlus One, for example, is better in this situation. The location of the Amazon Fire Phone is only accurate down to 10 meters (~33 ft); once again, the OnePlus One is much better.

We take the Fire Phone and the professional navigation device Garmin GPSMAP 64s on a bicycle ride for a detailed comparison of the accuracy. The complete track length differs by 350 meters (~0.22 mi) between the two devices, which is not huge, but still noticeable on an 11 km (~6.8 mi) long track. Usually, none of the devices can locate us very precisely on this test ride, but the professional device from Garmin is usually much closer than the Amazon Fire Phone. The track layout can be recognized very well on both devices.

GPS Amazon Fire Phone – complete
GPS Amazon Fire Phone – complete
GPS Amazon Fire Phone – crossing
GPS Amazon Fire Phone – crossing
GPS Amazon Fire Phone – shore
GPS Amazon Fire Phone – shore
GPS Garmin GPSMAP 64s – complete
GPS Garmin GPSMAP 64s – complete
GPS Garmin GPSMAP 64s – crossing
GPS Garmin GPSMAP 64s – crossing
GPS Garmin GPSMAP 64s – shore
GPS Garmin GPSMAP 64s – shore

Telephone & Voice Quality

The phone app focuses on the numbers pad: It will be the first thing you see when you launch the phone app. There are more tabs for the call history, contacts and voicemail. All of it is pretty simple and easy to use.

The voice quality is good and we can hear the other person loudly and clearly via the earpiece. There is no droning even at the maximum volume, and the voice is easy to understand at lower volumes. Our voice was slightly distorted when we spoke louder, but okay at a normal volume. Overall, the voice quality is above average, but cannot quite compete with the excellent clarity of high-end devices like the Sony Xperia Z3 or Nokia Lumia 930.

Front camera
Front camera

Cameras & Multimedia

Amazon has equipped its Fire Phone with a high-resolution 13 MP camera at the back. The features include an autofocus, LED flash and even an optical image stabilizer. Our first impression is that the camera takes good pictures with decent colors, reasonable sharpness and the quality is still good when you zoom in. However, you will notice some issues when you have a closer look: There are color fringes at the edges and bright areas tend to outshine. You do not have to be a fan of the slightly candy-colored images of the Nokia Lumia 930, but they are also subjectively much more dynamic and have more details. The pictures from the Nokia smartphone are also sharper when the lighting gets worse, while the pictures from the Fire Phone start to get grainy. Still, the overall picture quality is okay. Videos can be recorded in 1080p, but only at 30 fps. The colors are somewhat pale here as well, and surfaces sometimes look stained in shades.

The front camera with 2.1 MP has a much lower resolution than its counterpart on the back. Colors look quite pale, and the sharpness is not really good. It can be used for selfies for social networks, but you should not expect a high quality.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

Accessories

The Fire Phone comes with a headset with a remote control. It sounds okay and the cable remote with a volume rocker and the button to accept calls is handy. The flat cable also prevents it from being tangled. You also get quite a large power adaptor that charges the battery in almost two hours. Colorful cases are also available for the device for around 15 Euros (~$17).

Warranty

Amazon only offers a 12-month warranty for its smartphone.

Input Devices & Handling

Amazon has implemented a specialty for the handling of the Fire Phone: Dynamic Perspective. The system uses four (clearly visible) sensors around the display that can determine the orientation of the face in relation to the screen. The sensors use invisible UV light, so the system also works in the dark. This data can create a 3D image on the screen that moves dynamically depending on the position of the user. This creates great effects, especially on the lock screen with its large pictures, but the picture selection is not really happy and sometimes even a bit creepy. The control elements are mainly displayed in 3D as well. Otherwise, you are supposed to get more information or open submenus when you tilt your head or look at the display from the side.

All of this is quite impressive at first, because it works pretty well, but there are some significant drawbacks: The system has problems if you are not the only person in front of the display since the facial recognition does not know which face it should focus on. The handling of the smartphone via head movements and tilting is also prone to errors, inconsistent and pretty complicated for the most part. We are quite sure the majority of users will deactivate the feature pretty quickly.

The software itself is not very logical to use, either, and we are still not always sure how to access the app overview or the home screen, even after one week. This means the learning period is quite long, but the touchscreen works well up into the peripheral areas, so inputs are executed without any problems.

You get a dedicated camera button, but actually, we often confused it with the standby button because of its position. There is also a home button below the display, and the interface is once again a little inconsistent. A voice control is available, but limited to the English language.

Amazon has also adjusted the keyboard and it looks quite small, especially in terms of lettering, but you can still type pretty quickly and reliably. Swipe gestures and voice inputs are possible options as well.

Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode

Display

The Amazon Fire Phone is now available for just 149 Euros (~$168), but we would have been quite annoyed by the display if we had paid the original 599 Euros (~$675) since it only has a resolution of 1280x720 pixels. The comparatively small size of 4.7 inches still results in a usable pixel density of 312 PPI, but the Lumia 930 or the OnePlus One with Full HD displays produce much sharper images.

The Fire Phone can impress with its maximum brightness: 564.7 cd/m² on average are not reached by any of the comparison devices, and at 93%, the brightness distribution is very good.

547
cd/m²
552
cd/m²
553
cd/m²
566
cd/m²
587
cd/m²
569
cd/m²
562
cd/m²
585
cd/m²
561
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 587 cd/m² Average: 564.7 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 93 %
Center on Battery: 587 cd/m²
Contrast: 1398:1 (Black: 0.42 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 1.45 | 0.8-23.34 Ø6.5
ΔE Greyscale 2.59 | 0.64-98 Ø6.7
Gamma: 2.57
Amazon Fire Phone
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Nokia Lumia 930
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
OnePlus One
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 64 GB eMMC Flash
Honor 6
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 920, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Screen
-233%
-49%
-98%
-129%
Brightness
565
278
-51%
439
-22%
408
-28%
439
-22%
Brightness Distribution
93
89
-4%
91
-2%
83
-11%
93
0%
Black Level *
0.42
0.28
33%
0.54
-29%
0.8
-90%
Contrast
1398
1618
16%
783
-44%
549
-61%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
1.45
10.99
-658%
4.7
-224%
5.56
-283%
7.06
-387%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
2.59
8.29
-220%
5.03
-94%
7.55
-192%
8.08
-212%
Gamma
2.57 93%
2.16 111%
2.27 106%
2.33 103%
2.16 111%
CCT
6520 100%
6731 97%
7439 87%
7624 85%
8134 80%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
72.04

* ... smaller is better

Both the black value and the contrast of the Fire Phone are good, but the Lumia 930 with an AMOLED display as well as the Huawei P8 beat it. Black areas are still quite rich on the display of the Fire Phone and the colors are vivid.

We use the software CalMAN and a spectrophotometer to check the color accuracy of the Fire Phone, and the results are actually very good: Compared to the color space sRGB we can only see small deviations, and the results are even acceptable compared to the more demanding AdobeRGB color space. A blue cast is not visible.

CalMAN ColorChecker – AdobeRGB
CalMAN ColorChecker – AdobeRGB
CalMAN ColorChecker – sRGB
CalMAN ColorChecker – sRGB
CalMAN Colorspace – sRGB
CalMAN Colorspace – sRGB
CalMAN Grayscale – sRGB
CalMAN Grayscale – sRGB
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps – sRGB
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps – sRGB

The luminance of the Fire Phone is very high, which improves its usability in the outdoors. The screen is still very glossy and makes it difficult to use the smartphone under direct sunlight.

Thanks to the IPS technology, there are no problems with the viewing angles. 

Outdoor use
Outdoor use
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

The SoC in the Amazon Fire Phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, which is already two years old. It was one of the fastest processors on the market when it was launched, but there are  faster and especially more efficient SoCs available  now. The performance is always sufficient for a smooth handling.

In our opinion, the Fire Phone leaves a better impression compared to the rivals that are more focused on a lower price instead of the performance, and it can even manage the first place in many scenarios. The processor of the OnePlus One is similarly fast, and the Huawei P8 can also keep up quite well. However, once again we have to say that you can expect more performance for the original RRP of 599 Euros (~$675).

Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
2707 Points ∼9%
Huawei P8
2955 Points ∼9% +9%
OnePlus One
2095 Points ∼7% -23%
Honor 6
3102 Points ∼10% +15%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
903 Points ∼19%
Huawei P8
698 Points ∼15% -23%
OnePlus One
878 Points ∼19% -3%
Honor 6
858 Points ∼18% -5%
Smartbench 2012
Gaming Index (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
4568 points ∼99%
Huawei P8
4340 points ∼94% -5%
OnePlus One
4129 points ∼90% -10%
Honor 6
4327 points ∼94% -5%
Productivity Index (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
9541 points ∼51%
Huawei P8
5433 points ∼29% -43%
OnePlus One
7028 points ∼37% -26%
Honor 6
7002 points ∼37% -27%
AnTuTu Benchmark v5 - Total Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
43075 Points ∼53%
Huawei P8
45927 Points ∼57% +7%
OnePlus One
47123 Points ∼58% +9%
Honor 6
41860 Points ∼52% -3%
Linpack Android / IOS
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
640 MFLOPS ∼22%
Nokia Lumia 930
930.16 MFLOPS ∼31% +45%
Huawei P8
272.482 MFLOPS ∼9% -57%
OnePlus One
694.102 MFLOPS ∼23% +8%
Honor 6
231 MFLOPS ∼8% -64%
Single Thread (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
355 MFLOPS ∼35%
Nokia Lumia 930
232.54 MFLOPS ∼23% -34%
Huawei P8
122.028 MFLOPS ∼12% -66%
OnePlus One
366.084 MFLOPS ∼36% +3%
Honor 6
174 MFLOPS ∼17% -51%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
885 Points ∼52%
Nokia Lumia 930
579 Points ∼34% -35%
Huawei P8
694 Points ∼41% -22%
OnePlus One
661 Points ∼39% -25%
Honor 6
790 Points ∼47% -11%
Graphics (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
1973 Points ∼21%
Nokia Lumia 930
1233 Points ∼13% -38%
Huawei P8
882 Points ∼10% -55%
OnePlus One
2382 Points ∼26% +21%
Honor 6
775 Points ∼8% -61%
Memory (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
851 Points ∼19%
Nokia Lumia 930
1500 Points ∼34% +76%
Huawei P8
1216 Points ∼27% +43%
OnePlus One
587 Points ∼13% -31%
Honor 6
508 Points ∼11% -40%
System (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
2164 Points ∼21%
Nokia Lumia 930
1296 Points ∼13% -40%
Huawei P8
1860 Points ∼18% -14%
OnePlus One
1768 Points ∼17% -18%
Honor 6
2079 Points ∼20% -4%
Overall (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
1339 Points ∼35%
Nokia Lumia 930
1085 Points ∼29% -19%
Huawei P8
1085 Points ∼29% -19%
OnePlus One
1131 Points ∼30% -16%
Honor 6
897 Points ∼24% -33%
PCMark for Android - Work performance score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
3950 Points ∼46%
Huawei P8
4479 Points ∼52% +13%
OnePlus One
3571 Points ∼42% -10%
Honor 6
2832 Points ∼33% -28%

Legend

 
Amazon Fire Phone Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Nokia Lumia 930 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei P8 HiSilicon Kirin 930, ARM Mali-T628 MP4, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
OnePlus One Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 64 GB eMMC Flash
 
Honor 6 HiSilicon Kirin 920, ARM Mali-T628 MP4, 16 GB eMMC Flash

Benchmarks that use current web technologies determine decent results for the Amazon Fire Phone. The differences are sometimes also a result of the browser: Amazon’s Silk Browser, which is based on Chromium, has a clear performance advantage over the Internet Explorer on the Lumia 930.

Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
926 ms * ∼23%
Nokia Lumia 930
534 ms * ∼13% +42%
Huawei P8
1163.6 ms * ∼29% -26%
OnePlus One
2180.1 ms * ∼54% -135%
Honor 6
725 ms * ∼18% +22%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
4578 Points ∼9%
Nokia Lumia 930
2737 Points ∼6% -40%
Huawei P8
4084 Points ∼8% -11%
Honor 6
6363 Points ∼13% +39%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
5149 Points ∼26%
Huawei P8
4419 Points ∼23% -14%
OnePlus One
4681 Points ∼24% -9%
Honor 6
6760 Points ∼35% +31%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
7091 ms * ∼12%
Nokia Lumia 930
11108 ms * ∼19% -57%
Huawei P8
11807.9 ms * ∼20% -67%
OnePlus One
7883 ms * ∼13% -11%
Honor 6
5450 ms * ∼9% +23%
Vellamo 3.x
Metal (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
1395 Points ∼37%
Huawei P8
1254 Points ∼34% -10%
OnePlus One
1622 Points ∼43% +16%
Honor 6
1330 Points ∼36% -5%
Multicore Beta (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
1841 Points ∼41%
Huawei P8
2044 Points ∼46% +11%
OnePlus One
1771 Points ∼39% -4%
Honor 6
1727 Points ∼38% -6%

* ... smaller is better

The 32 GB flash storage of our review unit does not manage the highest transfer rates: The OnePlus One is clearly faster. The storage generally handles sequential operations (read/write) better than random accesses.

AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
4 MB/s ∼2%
Huawei P8
10.04 MB/s ∼6% +151%
OnePlus One
10.42 MB/s ∼6% +161%
Honor 6
5.3 MB/s ∼3% +33%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
15 MB/s ∼9%
Huawei P8
22.46 MB/s ∼13% +50%
OnePlus One
18.27 MB/s ∼11% +22%
Honor 6
17 MB/s ∼10% +13%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
56 MB/s ∼27%
Huawei P8
39.58 MB/s ∼19% -29%
OnePlus One
159.72 MB/s ∼77% +185%
Honor 6
29.6 MB/s ∼14% -47%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
156 MB/s ∼20%
Huawei P8
139.95 MB/s ∼18% -10%
OnePlus One
223.64 MB/s ∼28% +43%
Honor 6
80 MB/s ∼10% -49%

3DMark determines quite a good result for the Qualcomm Adreno 330, and the OnePlus One with the same GPU cannot quite keep up. We will have a look at the actual gaming performance in the next section.

3DMark
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
17171 Points ∼24%
Huawei P8
10494 Points ∼15% -39%
OnePlus One
13167 Points ∼18% -23%
Honor 6
12813 Points ∼18% -25%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
19689 Points ∼4%
Huawei P8
8743 Points ∼2% -56%
OnePlus One
18074 Points ∼4% -8%
Honor 6
14522 Points ∼3% -26%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Amazon Fire Phone
19068 Points ∼10%
Huawei P8
9080 Points ∼5% -52%
OnePlus One
16692 Points ∼8% -12%
Honor 6
14104 Points ∼7% -26%

Games

3D games like "Real Racing 3" are not a problem for the GPU, even though it was launched more than two years ago: We could not notice any stutters in the native (but quite low) display resolution. Therefore, simpler games like "Angry Birds: Epic" run smoothly. The controls via position sensor and touchscreen work well.

A minor highlight is the 3D control via the cameras. Some specially adjusted games are preloaded and show the possibilities pretty well and are fun, but they are not very challenging. The controls are precise.

"Real Racing 3" is no problem for the GPU.
"Real Racing 3" is no problem for the GPU.
"Planet Puzzles" is one of the preloaded games and uses 3D controls.
"Planet Puzzles" is one of the preloaded games and uses 3D controls.

Emissions

Temperature

Compared to the Nokia Lumia 930, the Fire Phone handles the warming of the SoC much better, despite the smaller chassis. The maximum temperature under load is 37.7 °C (~100 °F), which is perceptible, but not inconvenient. The warming is much lower while idling and restricted locally to the upper part of the front.

Unfortunately, GFX Bench did not run on our review unit, so we cannot make any statements about possible throttling.

Max. Load
 36.5 °C37.2 °C37 °C 
 38.1 °C38.5 °C37.4 °C 
 38.4 °C38.8 °C37 °C 
Maximum: 38.8 °C
Average: 37.7 °C
34.5 °C35.3 °C34.8 °C
36.4 °C36.8 °C36.7 °C
36.4 °C36.9 °C36.7 °C
Maximum: 36.9 °C
Average: 36.1 °C
Power Supply (max.)  33.1 °C | Room Temperature 21.2 °C | Voltcraft IR-260

Speakers

The two speakers are located at the bottom edge of the case, which is popular amongst some high-end smartphones and usually create a better result compared to being located at the back. However, the stereo effect is usually hardly noticeable because of the small distance between the speakers. The modules of the Amazon Fire Phone manage a decent maximum volume, but the sound quality is average at best: Bass is basically completely missing and high tones are too dominant and shrill. It is possible to get a good sound via 3.5 mm stereo jack.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The Amazon Fire Phone does not consume any power when it is turned off, which is a good thing, but the minimum idle consumption is rather high at 1.3 watts. The OnePlus One only needs 0.7 watts with its much larger screen – it seems that the four sensors at the front of the Fire Phone affect the consumption. Still, the overall consumption is okay for this class of devices, only the maximum value is quite high at 8 watts.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.2 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 1.3 / 1.8 / 2.1 Watt
Load midlight 3.7 / 8 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 870

Battery Runtime

The battery provides 9.1 Wh, which is similar to the Nokia Lumia 930, even though the latter has a larger chassis. Load will drain the battery rather quickly, but you get usable runtimes of more than 10 hours web browsing and video playback in the other scenarios. Even though devices like the Lumia 930 or the OnePlus One have more stamina: The runtimes are definitely practical.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
17h 47min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
10h 08min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
10h 05min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 48min
Amazon Fire Phone
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Nokia Lumia 930
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Honor 6
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 920, 16 GB eMMC Flash
OnePlus One
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 64 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei P8
Mali-T628 MP4, Kirin 930, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Battery Runtime
62%
24%
51%
22%
H.264
605
893
48%
581
-4%
WiFi v1.3
608
963
58%
434
-29%
Load
108
175
62%
134
24%
160
48%
215
99%
WiFi
1002
454
1126

Pros

+ Very bright screen
+ Display with accurate colors
+ Fast in apps and games
+ Sturdy chassis
+ Support for many LTE bands
+ Fast WLAN
+ Innovative 3D interface
+ Usable runtimes
+ Great service "Mayday"

Cons

- Low-resolution display
- App selection limited
- Strong relationship with Amazon
- User interface outdated and confused
- Only one year warranty
- Mediocre sound quality

Verdict

In Review: Amazon Fire Phone. Test model courtesy of Amazon Germany.
In Review: Amazon Fire Phone. Test model courtesy of Amazon Germany.

The drastic price reduction had its reason: We could not really recommend the Amazon Fire Phone for 599 Euros (~$675) since there are much more sophisticated concepts for less money. However, the situation is different for just 149 Euros (~$168): You get a powerful smartphone with a decent camera and a very bright display with accurate colors.

However, you will have to live with a software that is sometimes a bit confusing and heavily focused on Amazon’s online shop and the services of the online retailer, so we have deduct one point from the rating. The display resolution could be higher, and the 3D interface is a nice gimmick, but hardly usable in practice. The speakers are mediocre, the microphone quickly suffers from distortions and the battery is not as enduring as some of its rivals.

All things considered, you get a lot of average performances and the Fire Phone only has a few real positive aspects. It might be worth a look if you are a big Amazon fan or if you just want a fast smartphone for a small price and can live with the software. All others should better wait for the successor.

Amazon Fire Phone - 06/11/2015 v4(old)
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
72%
Keyboard
59 / 75 → 79%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
50 / 60 → 83%
Weight
91%
Battery
90%
Display
90%
Games Performance
69 / 63 → 100%
Application Performance
47 / 70 → 67%
Temperature
87%
Noise
100%
Audio
54 / 91 → 59%
Camera
73%
Add Points
-1%
Average
70%
84%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Amazon Fire Phone Smartphone Review
Florian Wimmer, 2015-06-16 (Update: 2015-06-16)
Andreas Osthoff
Andreas Osthoff - Senior Editor Business
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.