One Month of use and playing with it, here is the result
So, let me start by saying that I am by no means a developer but a tinkerer by trade. I got the Fire Phone the day after Release. My initial reaction was disgust at the interface and usability of it all. I found the carrousel interface to hinder my use of the phone. The Apps I needed always rotated away and I would spend more time scrolling over to find something than it would ever take me to find and launch from the traditional Android launcher screens. So I set about finding a way to "restore" functionality.
Previously I've had a Motorola Milestone, Motorola Atrix and Samsung GS3. My SGS3 had abysmal battery life, which is why I switched to a new phone. Comparatively, the Fire Phone so far has had brilliant battery life. I've been unplugged overnight and still been at 40%+ in the morning when it was around 80% the night before.
I had used towel root recently on my SGS3 and I tried it on the Fire Phone. It worked. I just downloaded the most recent version from the towel root site, allowed apps from other sources in settings, and first try it worked. I installed Root Explorer from the Amazon Store. Using the instructions from another Thread about getting G-Apps onto a Kindle Fire I was able to load Chrome, Play Music, Google Maps, Gmail, and the play store. There are some small quirks though. The Play Store does not work. It says no connection when opened. And the Google play services is constantly crashing and slightly annoying. I also found on AppAPK a download for the galaxy launcher. I installed that and at first I could not set it as the default launcher but There appeared to be some sort of update or something that rebooted my phone at this point the launcher asks which to use when it needed the launcher at boot and the galaxy launcher is not set to default. It still crashes if I try to set a background or widget but I at least have a functional home screen.
The only thing that really stops me from having a great experience with it now is an issue with Google Maps. Road names overlap and after driving for a short about of time words just become giant gray blobs of unreadable garbage. Navigation works fine and the maps themselves look okay, the words just become completely useless.
I do have to say that it has a really nice Camera, pictures look great.
I also wish there was a back button......this has been really hard to get used to as well. Having to swipe up from the bottom or hit the Home
I hope that there will be a custom Firmware someday, until then I feel like unless you really like Amazon kindle and Amazon services, or can tolerate a hundred workarounds to try and gain more functionality, stay away from this phone.
My overall Rating would be as follows:
Performance - 4.5 - I run into some hiccups every now and then and it gets hot even if you are just web browsing for a little bit.
Battery Life - 5.0 - Sooo much better than my old SGS3
Ease of Use - 1.0 - Out of the box, coming from several other Android solutions, it was the worst thing I have ever used. After all the tweaking and hacking ~4.0
Features - 3.5 - There are a lot of nice features but overall there are a lot of Gimmicks...also why no SD slot? No Google Play yet also hurts...
Overall - 3.5/5.0 - At least I got another free year of Prime out of it...