Amazon Fire Phone review

Is Amazon's foray into the smartphone space a success?

Amazon Fire Phone
Amazon's first smartphone

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

The camera is somewhat admirable on the Amazon Fire Phone. I'm also a fan of the fact that it has a dedicated camera button to fire up the camera and to snap photos. When you long-press the camera button, it quickly opens up Firefly.

Amazon Fire Phone review

You'll quickly notice that the Fire Phone's camera software doesn't offer a lot of latitude and flexibility when it comes to exposure settings. Unlike many other Android phones, the Fire Phone is devoid of ISO, exposure compensation, white balance and scene settings.

You're basically limited to HDR, turning image review on and off, and the choice to go between two other camera modes: Panorama and Lenticular, the latter being like an animated gif maker.

Amazon Fire Phone review

There's also an option to switch to the front-facing camera and set your flash to on, auto or off.

That's about it as far as camera settings go. It's very basic.

Now if we're talking image quality, I'd give the Fire Phone a 3.5 out of 5. It's not spectacular or amazing, but it's not terrible, either. It's a little better than average when it comes to color reproduction and sharpness.

Amazon Fire Phone review

One thing that impressed me is the low light performance on this 13MP camera. It can shoot in relatively dark scenes and retain good color and detail. Images aren't terribly noisy, but photos don't become too smudged because of the camera's noise reduction.

Amazon Fire Phone review

In low light, the camera does a good job managing noise reduction and sharpness, and if your hands are more stable than my shaky paws, there is very little motion blur. Most of my low-light photos were sharp.

The only downside to the camera in dim scenes is that it is painfully slow to focus, taking nearly two to three seconds to focus, and sometimes it missed focus entirely.

In many instances, especially in low light, the camera software will recommend that you switch to HDR mode. My gripe with that is that HDR mode takes significantly longer to snap photos. If you're trying to capture a good moment, don't take it in HDR mode or you'll miss it or get a blurry photo.

Amazon Fire Phone review

The rear camera is also capable of recording 1080p video at 30FPS. It's also quick to adjust exposure if you move from a bright scene to a dark one, and vice versa. However, if there are bright highlights in your scene, the camera will tend to expose for that.