Sunday, July 27, 2014

Amazon Fire Phone 4 out of 5 stars

There are some things that work really well on the Fire phone and then there are other things that could be improved on.  Overall, I was favorably impressed by Amazon's initial foray into the smartphone market.  There are a couple of things that Amazon does better than Galaxy at least on the S3 in my opinion.  That is what I had prior to getting the Fire phone.  The first is the voice assistant.  It does a really good job of recognizing what I'm saying even when I'm speaking in a low voice.  The second thing is navigation.  Normally when I would use the navigation on my S3, I would have to look at the screen to see if my next turn was on the right or left until I was almost right on it.  With the Fire phone, it told me to keep left or keep right farther out from where I would have to make a turn which I thought was pretty cool.  Some other great features include the unlimited storage in the Amazon cloud, the optical image stabilization in the camera, the fact that if you have a Kindle Fire it will automatically sync the content you have on it with the Fire phone, and it does the same for Audible.  One other great feature is Mayday which allows you live video chat or text chat with an Amazon rep within 15 seconds who can provide remote on screen guidance.  Firefly is nifty.  I tried it on a couple of things and it recognized them.  One was a bottle of Cool Water cologne and the other was a vtech cordless phone system.  I had to hold the phone over each item in a certain for it to recognize them though.   Being Amazon's first phone, I wasn't expecting to be blown away, but I was pleasantly surprised by some of the things I mentioned above.

Now for the things that Amazon could improve upon.  The first thing is the lack of a back button.  To go back you swipe up on the phone, but that doesn't always work so well especially if you are on a web page, because it will usually take you to the bottom of the web page before it will take you back.  Another item is the side menus.  The side menus are supposed to slide out when you tilt the phone left or right.  You can also access them by swiping left or right.  I haven't had very good success with tilting.  That being said that is more of a minor issue because you can still access them by swiping and most of the options are in the app menu anyway.  I believe Amazon could resolve these issues fairly easily in a future software update.

Some things I would like to see in a future Fire phone would be a larger display and a removable battery.  The 4.7 inch display is okay, but not as wide as the S3 and the phone feels small if you've been used to using an extended battery with an S3 like I was or if you use a Galaxy Note.  I have my doubts about how well the device will sell because if you are used to the Galaxy phones or an IPhone, then it may take a little getting used to.  Also when I picked up my phone at the AT&T store on the first day it was released, they told me I was the first one that had purchased on at their store which I thought was kind of funny given that all of the sales people had Fire t-shirts on.

Hopefully Amazon will address some of these flaws in future software updates and in future devices.  I think it is a great device with a lot of potential.

*Update...I did speak to a Mayday rep about the issues that I had noticed.  She indicated that they were going to be releasing a software update at some point so hopefully that will correct some of the initial bugs I had noticed with the tilting and going back.  I have to say that Mayday is definitely one of the best features for that reason alone.

**Update...Apparently for some things it just takes getting the gestures right.  I found that when I swipe up and to the right in a diagonal direction that the back action works slightly better.

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