It didn’t instantly set our hearts ablaze, but Amazon’s smartphone could be a slow-burner. You can delve into our full verdict in our Amazon Fire Phone review. This smartphone sports Amazon’s forked version of Android and it does a few things differently, although it’s generally pretty easy to get to grips with. Here, we’ll discuss some basic features and some less obvious options that should help you enjoy your phone that little bit more.
Our first tip concerns that 4.7-inch screen and the glass back panel. Make sure you shop for Fire Phone cases before it picks up a scratch or a crack.
One of the big USPs that Amazon is offering with the Fire Phone and its recent Kindle Fire tablets is the Mayday feature. You can pull down the notification shade by swiping from the top of the screen, or you can twist your phone to open it up and you’ll see the Mayday button right there alongside your quick setting toggles.
Tap it and you can connect to live video help with a customer service representative. You’ll see them in a wee window that you can move around the screen and they’ll show you how to do whatever you want. They can’t see you, but you can ask them question via the microphone and the feature defaults to loudspeaker, so you can hold it away from your face and work with the screen if you should need to. They can highlight areas of your screen to guide you, or remotely access and take control of your device.
How to transfer contacts, photos, music and videos
If you’re coming from an Android device or an iPhone then you should try using the AT&T Mobile Transfer app. It will make it relatively easy to transfer your old files and contacts.
How to take a screenshot
If you want to capture the screen of your Fire Phone simply hold down the Power button and Volume down button together. You’ll hear a wee sound and see an animation to indicate that the screenshot was captured. You can share it directly from the notification shade, or find it later in the gallery app where it will be sorted away in a folder labeled “Screenshots.”
We already mentioned the twist gesture to open up your notification shade, but there are a few other gestures you can use on the Fire Phone.
Tilt the phone to the right and you’ll see a quick action menu. Tilt the phone to the left and you get email and calendar notifications and the weather. If you’re in an app then you might get something different, for example, turning the screen to the right in Amazon’s Kindle app brings out the menu, turn it the other way and you’ll open up the X Ray feature for further information on what you’re reading. Swiping in from either side with your finger will do the same thing.
Tilting the top of the phone back in portrait view will scroll down the page, the more you tilt, the faster it will go. Tilt it forward and it will scroll back the other way. You can tap on the screen at any time to stop it.
How to use the Status Bar
Amazon allows you to turn the Status Bar on and off. It usually sits at the top of the screen and shows your battery, connections, and the time. You’ll find it in Settings > Display. If you do have it turned off then you can still bring it up temporarily by gently swiveling your phone right or left just a small amount.
How to customize the carousel
Once you have your rotating carousel set up to display the apps you actually use it can be useful. Unfortunately new apps you install are going to end there by default. To remove something just long press (hold your finger) on it and select Remove from Carousel in the menu. Make sure you set up your most important apps front and center by long pressing and choosing Pin to Front.
How to sort your apps
You swipe up from the dock to access your standard app drawer with icons organized in a grid. You can long press on an app icon to move it around and drop it on top of another icon to create a folder. The Device tab shows you what’s actually installed, and the Cloud tab is a list of every app you’ve bought from the Amazon Appstore.
How to use email
The email setup is a breeze and you can manage your email directly in the Carousel. If you want to quickly delete a message, swipe from right to left on it and tap the Delete trashcan icon. If you want to read more or reply, tap the message to open the full email app. If you want to delete multiple messages then long press on a message in the email app and then tap on all the messages you want to delete.
When you’re in the email app you can use the tilting gesture to open up your menu tree from the left or access handy options from the right. Each screen reveals something relevant. For example, you can quickly access messages from a specific sender, recent contacts, or pick the attachments out of a list.
There’s fierce competition in the world of cloud services now and Amazon offers 5GB of free storage in the Cloud Drive, but as a little sweetener, Fire Phone owners get free unlimited storage for all photos they take with their Fire Phone. There’s no scaling or compression either, your full resolution photos can be auto-saved. All you need to do is register your Fire Phone with an Amazon account then go to Settings > Applications & Parental Controls > Configure Amazon application settings > Photos and turn Auto-Save on.
How to use Firefly
Another headline feature on the Fire Phone is Firefly. Hold down the camera button on the side of the Fire Phone and you can use it to recognize movies, TV shows, or music that is playing. It’s a good shortcut to X-Ray info about the actors onscreen.
You can point the camera at a range of products (Amazon says 100 million) and you should get the option to buy them on Amazon. It will also recognize phone numbers, websites, email addresses, and a few other things, but you will need to be connected to Wi-Fi or your cellular data network for it to work.
How to get your free year of Amazon Prime
This is an introductory offer that’s liable to be pulled at some point, but right now you can get a year of Amazon prime membership, which is usually $100. You have to be careful about this, the terms state that “Prime is activated immediately upon registering your Amazon account with your Fire device,” but we’ve heard of at least one owner who bought a Fire Phone by someone else and the Prime membership was automatically applied to their account because they used that account to order the phone.
We’ve reached the end of our current crop of Fire Phone tips, but you can be sure we’ll add some more when we’ve had more time with the device. If you want to post a tip of your own hit the comments below.