We’ve just completed our tests of Amazon’s first smart phone, the Fire, and LG’s latest flagship model, the G3. Both phones are outstanding in their own ways, with unique and compelling features that should dazzle tech fans. But their designs reflect radically different views on what a smart phone should be. As the headline implies, Consumer Reports testers determined that the G3’s approach gets much closer to the target.
The Fire is all things Amazon, heavily integrated with Amazon Prime, Apps, Kindle, and more. Several unique capabilities make it easy, and even fun, to spend money with the retail giant.
For example Firefly, an onboard app, scans objects or listens to songs, then finds them in Amazon’s immense retail and digital content so you can buy them. Another intriguing technology, Dynamic Perspective, can make certain flat images appear three-dimensional on the phone’s 4.7-inch display, allowing you to view them from different angles as you tilt the phone in various ways. You can also scroll up and down Web pages, summon app menu options, or view messages and other notifications by jerking or tilting the phone.
But battery life is much shorter than on many other phones from Samsung, LG, and others, including the G3. Also, the Fire’s unique and somewhat unintuitive interface takes effort to master. For instance, to go back a step or return to a previous menu, you swipe your finger up from the bottom of the phone.
The Fire’s biggest drawback, at least for Android fans: App choices are confined to Amazon’s Appstore, which is notably bereft of Google apps. That means no Google Maps, Google Music, Gmail, Google Now, Google Plus, Google Drive, and of course, Google’s Play app store. You may be able to jump in via Amazon's e-mail app, Silk Web browser, or some third-party app developer, but you won’t enjoy the synergy of Google apps working together on the same device.