We had high hopes that Amazon built a solid, repairable Fire Phone. It began with a similar opening procedure to the current crop of iPhones, but with welcome Torx T3 screws instead of Pentalobes. However, all of the fancy tech we found inside made for a veritable mess of cables, connectors, and glue.
The tech-laden phone ended up scoring a less-than-stellar 3 out of 10 on our repairability scale, with the only real positive being the opening procedure.
• Our tampering is now evident! A tamper-evident sticker connecting the front assembly and rear case proves we have opened the device to tinker. It looks like Amazon doesn’t really want you to open your phone, even if the process is simple and adhesive-free.
• The battery separated from the Fire Phone after a bit of prying at its adhesive—and only after the stretchy adhesive pull-tab just came off in our hands. It may not be an eternal flame, but Amazon claims this 2400 mAh battery is good for up to 285.5 hours of standby, 22 hours of talk time, or 8.5 hours of web browsing over Wi-Fi.
• Just how does the Fire Phone know where your mug is in relation to the phone, thus creating that fancy 3D effect? There are four IR projectors, one near each corner of the phone. They’re blasting you with invisible (to the human eye) infrared rays any time you’re staring at the phone while the display is on. There are also four IR cameras capturing this information—one at every corner of the phone. The Fire Phone “rectangulates” your position, figures out that there’s a human face looking at the display, and starts doing its wonderful juju magic—all in real time.
• The front-facing Dynamic Perspective cameras are glued solidly in place. The Fire Phone’s features rely on careful calibration—so they don’t want these suckers going anywhere.
• The mirrored display backing is an indicator that this particular LCD features an Enhanced Specular Reflector. A Synaptics S3310B touchscreen controller drives this digitizer.
• More of that industrial-strength hot glue holds the vibrator and contact board securely in place.
• The headphone jack bristles with spring contacts, and conceals a screw that secures it to the rear case. But once the screw is dispatched, the headphone jack pops free.
• What drives this phone’s fire? Let’s investigate:
• Note that the WCN3680 chipset does indeed support Bluetooth LE 4.0. Amazon has promised to enable this option in the future. Until then, any BLE devices, such as the current slate of smart watches, are incompatible with the Fire Phone.