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TheStreet Open House

Amazon Fire Phone Review: That's All Ya Got?

I found the Fire phone to be comfortable using one hand, though it does feel a bit heavier compared to the iPhone. Granted, the Fire phone is 4.7 inches while the iPhone 5s is 4 inches, so that likely accounts for some of the weight difference. But it is noticeable.

As far as voice quality is concerned, people sounded "tinny" when I spoke to them, not as crisp and clear as on the iPhone. The Fire phone has two speakers, which should help reduce that, but at the moment it doesn't help.

For some reason, the Amazon Music app randomly started playing not once, but twice, despite the fact I hadn't touched the phone and it was just sitting next to me. I'm not sure if this has been experienced by other reviewers, but it happened to me.

Right now, the Fire phone is exclusive on AT&T's (T) network, which is not the greatest, especially in New York City. I live in Hoboken, and had problems with voice quality and connection on the phone in places where I normally do not on Verizon (VZ) with my iPhone. I'm not sure if that's the phone or the network itself, but it is something to keep in mind when making a purchasing decision.

Amazon priced the phone to compete with the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy -- it's $199 for the 32GB model with a two-year contract, and $299 for the 64GB model. However, Amazon is adding value to it, giving those who buy it a year of free Amazon Prime. That is an important perk, especially if Amazon is using this as another platform to get you to buy goods, both physical and digital. Fire phone also comes with 1,000 Amazon Coins (a $10 value) to allows to either buy apps or make in-app purchases.

Apple and Google both dominate when it comes to apps, with both of them having around 1 million dedicated apps. Amazon has only around 200,000. In my experience, there are a few that are worth having, like YouTube, but with the addition of Netflix (NFLX) and Time Warner's (TWX) HBO Go, Amazon is working hard to get up to speed in this area.

Recommendation

I do think Amazon should be commended for entering the high-end smartphone market. This is an adequate try. However, like Amazon's previous hardware attempts with its Kindle Fire tablets -- and ironically, I find myself using my Fire HDX tablet lately more and more -- I just can't recommend consumers buy this, even if you're embedded in the Amazon ecosystem.

Final Grade: 6/10

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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