firephone5Consumer Reports has finished subjecting Amazon’s Fire smartphone to its litany of tests, and has found it wanting.

While CR praised the Fire’s new and innovative features like its Dynamic Perspective 3D effect, it said that the Fire’s user interface quirks took some getting used to. In particular, reviewers faulted the phone’s back gesture, which requires users to swipe up from the bottom of the screen in order to get back to content they were looking at previously.

It also seems like Dynamic Perspective, which uses a quartet of infrared cameras to track the position of the user’s face, may have contributed to the phone’s other major shortcoming. Consumer Reports said that the Fire’s battery life was lower than many other popular Android phones, including those made by Samsung, LG and others.

In addition to that, Consumer Reports also seized on the phone’s lack of apps made by Google. Because Amazon uses a forked version of Android, the company won’t be given access to the Google Play Store, or any of Google’s other apps like Gmail or Google Maps. The reviewers said that the absence of those apps and others is something that they missed about the Fire.

Consumer Reports’ reviewers aren’t the only ones non-plussed with Amazon’s first foray into the smartphone world. Right now, the Fire has a rating of 3.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon, compared to 4.2 stars for the Kindle Fire HD and 4.3 stars for the Kindle Fire HDX.

Of course, the Fire doesn’t have to be Amazon’s first and final act in the smartphone space. If the company improves on its first design, the phone’s features – which have caused quite a bit of buzz – could carry it into a stronger position in the smartphone market.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • Bob

    I’m somewhat surprised that Amazon even allows product reviews on their own product. I would suspect that the books would be cooked, but with the current 3.2 rating, I guess that’s not the case.

    (I hate to be that guy, but you should look up the definition of “nonplussed”)

    • Guest

      Be that guy, Bob. Blair’s word choices make me nonplussed.

  • balls187

    Bad battery life and lame UI, so basically just like an iPhone.

  • Kary

    I could live with an Amazon forked version of Android on a tablet, but not a smartphone. On a tablet it would by like having an advanced Kindle, and I believe they give you some more options for using their media off-line. On a smartphone it would be like having a limited smartphone.

  • Daniel

    The fire phone now runs Google apps. I bought the phone about a month ago and have had no qualms with it.

Job Listings on GeekWork