Amazon Fire phone disappoints critics

Despite introducing a number of unique features with its Fire phone, including a pseudo-3D interface and the Firefly product ID app, the device has received a lukewarm reception.

There are two big sticking points with the Fire phone: price and privacy. Many analysts expected Amazon to introduce a unique pricing structure to help the Fire phone gain traction in a saturated market.

The retailer was expected to undercut rivals such as Apple and Samsung on the hardware side and rely on users subscribing to its Prime service to turn a profit.

Instead Amazon opted to launch the device for $649 SIM-free or $199 on a two-year contract and give away 12-months of Prime membership for free. The cost of the handset puts it in direct competition with established devices such as the iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5.

"This is a high risk launch price strategy which is unsustainable for a smartphone market entrant. Simply having a well-known brand on the box is not enough to sell smartphones, as Nokia and Motorola know well," noted Ian Fogg, head of mobile at IHS in his analysis.

"IHS expects Amazon will reduce the Fire's price within months to make the Fire more attractive."

Other industry watchers weren't convinced about Amazon's strategy either.

Basically Amazon is trying to sell a shopping basket for $649, but not even as a shopping basket disrupts the market.Francisco Jeronimo (@fjeronimo) June 18, 2014

If the $199 on 2yr contract is all there is to Fire phone pricing it will be a tough sell. #Amazoneventcarolina milanesi (@caro_milanesi) June 18, 2014

Not blown away by the Fire phone. The people in the video don't really look/feel convinced either ya know?Kevin Rose (@kevinrose) June 19, 2014

With no innovation on price, hard to see the Fire Phone changing the market much. Lots that's nice but nothing game-changing.Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) June 18, 2014

Privacy concerns

The feature set of the handset raises a number of questions about privacy. The Fire phone has four cameras, watching you at all times. GPS records your location and the device listens to ambient audio.

So will you be kissing your privacy goodbye by purchasing this device?

"Amazon will get unprecedented insight into who you are, what you own, where you go, what you do, who's important in your life, what you like, and, probably, what you might be most likely to buy," pointed out Venturebeat.

Even the die-hard Amazon fans might be put off by this.

What's it like to use?

Despite packing in high-end specifications, including a 4.7in HD screen, 2.2GHz quad-core processor and 13-megapixel rear camera, there weren't any ringing endorsements after the initial round of hands-on.

Beyond the dynamic perspective feature on the interface "it's a relative standard Android phone," according to The Verge.

"If you love Amazon, you might like this phone, otherwise, you might be looking for something a bit more powerful," it concluded.

Despite being based on Android 4.4.2 Jelly Bean, the Fire OS is missing a lot of features and lacks the customisation associated with Android.

"In fact, our general takeaway was one of shrugging our shoulders and remarking on the Android features we missed. The home' screen is a giant mess of icons, and it can't be improved with custom widgets," explained Ars Technica.

"The lack of dedicated Google apps on a mostly-Android device, especially the oft-improving Google Maps, bummed us out."

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.