Living With an Amazon FirePhone
This is my first real world review which I shall call the “living with” series.
The idea is to write reviews that mean something more than a list of specifications for full on geeks, in favour of what it is like to live with a device or change from another device.
The Amazon FirePhone
The FirePhone is Amazon’s attempt to repeat its success in the tablet market with a phone. The FirePhone in isolation is an excellent device, it has a bright clear screen, is very well made and has a clever user interface. Adding accounts for email and social networking is a simple part of setup and includes all major providers. The Amazon App Store has many of the most important apps and includes regular offers on pay for apps. As with most smartphones, if the FirePhone is your first exposure to this type of device, then you would be perfectly happy with it.
So if you are new to smartphones, moving from a Blackberry, Windows Phone or low end Android, then the FIrePhone is actually a great device. You probably won’t fall foul of the problem when a friend says “have you got this app”, as the App Store will most likely be able to service your need. If App Store fails you, and you are geeky enough, you can sideload android apps from various sources. However installing Google Play Services, though reportedly possible, is by no means easy or indeed guaranteed, so your choices of app are not endless.
Now, if you are moving from iPhone or a high end Android device then things are a little less appealing. The lack of Google Play Services are a distinct annoyance, and while you can work around it, if you are a long time google services user then it will be frustrating. The otherwise excellent FireOS will definitely seem a little fussy to iPhone users however perseverance will be rewarded.
As with all the big OS manufacturers, what Amazon really want is for you to sign in to their services, and in the most part these offer pretty good value. If you are a frequent Amazon shopper, Kindle reader, Audible subscriber or music buyer, then these services work extremely well and integrate into the phone with your single Amazon logon. There are great options for cloud storage and you could sign over your entire digital world to Amazon’s care, and it would work.
If you want a relatively cheap, well specified smartphone and you’ve never owned an iPhone or high end Android, then the FirePhone might be a great buy. Indeed my wife had a MotoG until recently and is now a huge fan of her FirePhone. She likes the screen and, despite being a technophobe, even enjoys the 3d effects from the front facing cameras. I haven’t spoken about the 4 front cameras because it is not important in terms of living with the device, however it does give bragging points. One of my biggest problems right now is that if you fall for your FirePhone and Amazon’s services, then what will you aim for next as there is currently no successor on the horizon. Upgrade path is very important in customer retention and that is definitely lacking.
I did enjoy my time with the FirePhone, but ultimately I wanted to get back to my Nexus.