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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos denied it for years, but last month the company finally announced its Fire Phone to the world. As of July 24, U.S. folks can buy one starting from $199 with a two-year contract and $649 unlocked so long as they’re okay with AT&T as their wireless carrier.

Amazon selling its own smartphone isn’t a surprise. After all, the company already sells its own e-readers, tablets and set-top box. What was surprising at the unveil event was just how hard Amazon went to design a smartphone with features other smartphones don’t have.

Features like the four extra cameras on the front that let you tilt the device to see the OS and apps in a 3D “Dynamic Perspective.” And Firefly which lets you ID website URLs, emails, phone numbers and over 100 million items including movies, books and songs, and then take action. These two features are the Fire Phone’s marquee features.

I’m no stranger to smartphone gimmicks (hello Samsung Galaxy S4!). But if gimmicky features work well, then I’m down for change. The big question is if the Fire Phone’s quirky features are game changers or not. Let’s find out.

Context

Before we dive into the review, it’s probably a good idea for you to know that I’m an iOS and Android guy. I switch between my own personal iPhone 5 and various Android devices I’m testing for work.

My smartphone is my mobile connection away from my laptop and desktop. I use it like everyone else: to keep up with email, tweet, check up on Facebook, and browse the Internet. From time to time (mostly on a train or bus), I’ll play some games — some which are graphic-intensive and some which are simple 2D games. When I’m on a long train ride, I’ll usually plug into my 18GB-strong music collection (I own a 64GB iPhone 5). Additionally, I use my iPhone 5 to take tons of photos and record HD video.

As for using Amazon’s own Kindle Fire tablets and the Fire TV — I’ve tried them all, but don’t own any myself. That said, I did enjoy using the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, which I still believe is the best e-reader yet. While it may seem like I’m not the target for the Fire Phone because I don’t use Amazon’s Fire OS-powered hardware, the truth is I buy things from Amazon all the time — many times via the Amazon shopping app (because an awesome deal never lasts long). I’ve been a happy Amazon Prime customer for years and appreciate how Amazon is adding more value — more instant videos, music, books, etc. — every year.

Filed in Cellphones >Reviews. Read more about Amazon.

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