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What you need to know about Amazon's Fire Phone

TechHive staff | June 23, 2014
We spent some time with the new smartphone from Amazon and can answer any questions you might have.

The Fire Phone features a 2400mAh battery, which Amazon says can last for up to 22 hours of talk time, 11 hours of video playback, or 65 hours of audio playback. We'll see how those numbers stand up against our battery tests once we have a phone in hand, of course. That said, it's a pretty common battery capacity among flagship smartphones. Then again, most flagship smartphones aren't constantly processing data from four always-on front-facing cameras--more on that Fire Phone feature below--so how the phone's battery performs will definitely be at the front of our minds when we get a chance to really test this model.

Are there any other noteworthy specs?

Let's talk about the screen on the Fire Phone. It's a 4.7-inch HD LCD display, with 1280 x 720 resolution; Amazon says there are 315 pixels per inch. That lags behind what LG offers in its recently released G3, but then again, the Quad-HD display is the LG phone's calling card. Still most top-end Android phones--the Galaxy S5 and the HTC (M8) just to name a pair--provide 1920 x 1080 full-HD displays, so it's not unfair to say the specs on the Fire Phone don't measure up here. (The pixels per inch are more in line with what you find in the iPhone 5 lineup.) Then again, the Fire Phone has another display trick up its sleeve--a 3D-like effect that we'll describe in full detail below.

How about the phone's design?

The Fire Phone doesn't feel much different than other high-end smartphones: It's got Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and back, and a rubbery strip around the side that gives you something to grip. At 5.64 ounces, it feels more heavy and substantial than the 3.95-ounce iPhone 5s, and the Fire Phone's 4.7-inch screen feels roomy compared to the iPhone's 4-inch screen. Still, it wasn't hard to navigate one-handed, thanks to the gestures that let you call up menus by twisting and tilting your phone in midair.

A dedicated button on the Fire Phone's left side lets you quickly launch the camera app and take photos (by pressing once) or engage the Firefly feature (with a long press). That button is easy to find with your fingers if you're holding the phone with your right hand, or your thumb if you're using your left--great placement.

Amazon's emphasis on premium materials extend to the Fire Phone's earbuds. We didn't get to test drive their sound, but they have a flat cable that resists tangling when you shove your 'buds deep into the pocket of your jeans, and the two earbuds even stick together with little magnets, which helps prevent knots too. The Fire Phone's stereo speakers sounded respectably loud even in a chaotic demo room; Amazon says it uses Dolby Digital Plus to simulate surround-sound and adjust the volume based on what you're doing.

 

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