Amazon Fire Phone teardown: You might be sending this one back for repairs


Amazon’s first smartphone, the Fire Phone, started arriving at homes and in AT&T stores yesterday, and the iFixit team has taken one apart.

There’s a security sticker on the inside of the Fire Phone, so if you’ve taken apart your device and send it back to Amazon, they’ll know your warranty is void. Other signals that Amazon intends to be the only repair option include densely populated peripheral cables: one such cable includes two infrared LEDs (for Amazon’s Dynamic Perspective), the Micro-USB port, the bottom speaker and a microphone. So if one of those components breaks, you’ll have to replace the whole cable.

On the inside of the Fire Phone, an industrial-strength hot glue is used to hold down the four front-facing IR cameras that make Dynamic Perspective possible. So if you want one of the cameras for a project of your own, or simply need to replace a malfunctioning module, you’ll have to heat the glue to cut one out. It also means replacing the display will be expensive: a replacement panel assembly will also need to include the four IR cameras.

Another surprise: the Wi-Fi Bluetooth chip included, the Qualcomm WCN 3680, supports Bluetooth Low Energy — the wireless protocol used for both Android Wear and iBeacons. Although the Fire Phone currently doesn’t support BLE, this means it could be activated in a future software update, which would enable compatibility with wearable peripherals.

In general, Amazon would prefer its customers to send broken Fire Phones back to Amazon Fulfillment Services. Judging from the Fire Phone’s one year warranty and locked-down construction, looks like that’s the approach Amazon is taking to handle repairs for its handsets. Amazon’s one-year Kindle warranties in the past have been pretty generous, with replacements shipped rapidly and discounted devices offered when the broken device is out of warranty. That’s not a terrible policy for e-readers and tablets, but when a phone needs repairs, it’s usually a bit more of a crisis than when a Kindle has a broken screen.

Amazon Fire Phone Teardown


You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings


Comments have been disabled for this post