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Hands-on with Amazon's Fire Phone: A closer look at the hardware

Amazon's Fire Phone has the design quality you might expect from Apple's iPhone, or Samsung's Galaxy S5. It's a strong contender in the Android space, even if it misses a few enterprise targets.
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Amazon Fire Phone: Strong hardware, weak software

Amazon's Fire Phone comes with a 4.7-inch display with hundreds of pixels-per-inch, offering a crystal clear screen for video and browsing the web. It also features Dynamic Perspective, which is a three-dimensional set of images, interactions, and user experience features. But the device lacks the functionality one might expect from a device that was highly touted to be the next big thing in the smartphone market. 

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Simple box, a few accessories

The Fire Phone comes with a wall-to-USB charger and in-ear headphones, along with a USB cable to charge up the phone. The packaging is sleek and simple, with a textured front.

The smartphone itself is 5.5-inches tall by 2.6-inches wide, and one-third of an inch thick. It weighs 160g, or 5.6 ounces, making it slightly heavier than an iPhone, but it does have a larger display.

The smartphone is USB powered, allowing easy plug-in to wall sockets and computers for data transfer or charging.

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Powerful speakers, bass lacks

As with many smartphone speakers, the bass quality is poor, but it's nonetheless good for making speakerphone calls.

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Beautifully designed

The device itself is beautiful, refined, and easy to hold. It has a rubber or plastic outer shell which makes it easy to grip, and the rounder corners do not dig into the palm of your hand unlike other devices.

It also comes with two hardware volume buttons, and a dedicated hardware camera button for on-the-fly snaps. A nano-SIM card slot is installed on the left-hand side of the device. 

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Another speaker, headphone jack

On the top of the device is the power button (on the right), and a 3.5-milimeter jack for headphones. Another speaker is added here for better all-round sound quality. 

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Five front-facing cameras?

While the Fire Phone has one 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera, perfect for taking selfies or making video calls, it also has four other motion-sensing cameras around the edge of the device. This helps power the Dynamic Perspective. The camera is good, but compared to the iPhone, it's about comparable — even if the Fire Phone has more megapixels on both front- and rear-facing cameras. 

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Home button

As with most devices, the Fire Phone comes with a sturdy physical home button. Though the device comes with a 10-point touch screen display, the Fire Phone makes a point of including hardware button functionality, unlike some Android phones which are purely touch-screen.

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Thin, not too heavy — but not featherweight

The smartphone isn't too heavy, but is far from a featherweight. And it's a stunning design. The 2,400mAh battery keeps the phone ticking over for 22 hours talk time, and more than 11 days on standby.

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Rear of the phone

As with most smartphones, the company's branding sits on the back. A little jarring at first to see the logo. Considering the company is widely associated with retail and cloud services, the logo itself is ever-so-slightly imprinted and textured.

The rear 13-megapixel camera also comes with software image stabilization and can record video of 30 frames-per-second (FPS).

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Stunning 'Retina'-like display

The Fire Phone's 4.7-inch high-definition LCD display lands with a 1280 x 720 resolution, with more than 300 pixels per inch. It's also got a deep contrast ratio — though not as high as other devices on the market — at 1,000:1, meaning black tones look darker. 

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3D interface

Though touted as one of the flagship features, the 3D display can look jarring and can be difficult to read at times, unless the smartphone is held at a certain angle. However, this can be turned off with "Low Motion" mode. 

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Firefly: Product recognition

Firefly allows you to point-and-click at nearly any device, product, technology, or item, and it churns back a result in seconds. Items are recognized by shape, size, and other identifiable features. Think of it as facial recognition for the physical world. But it doesn't always work. When it does, it works relatively well, but improvements on the back-end could stabilize the feature in later software updates. 

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