Those of you who have kept an interest in the mobile market for these past several years should have at least heard about the fabled Amazon smartphone, which started looking like it will never see the light of day. If you did, then you should also be aware of the fact that the Amazon Fire Phone is as real as it can be, and was officially announced just a few days ago.
The Fire Phone is the outcome of years of research and development, and what Amazon has created isn’t really your run-of-the-mill smartphone. Although it may be too early to tell the outcome, the Amazon Fire Phone is an intriguing device that seems to have the potential to change the mobile market for years to come. Whether or not this will be the case is something that only time will tell, but for now, what we can do is compare Amazon’s first smartphone with one of the most popular devices out there: the Samsung Galaxy S5. By doing so, we should be able to get a better feel on what the Fire Phone is capable of delivering, so let’s get right to it.
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Some rumors in the past have suggested that Amazon’s first smartphone will be a low-to-mid range device that will compensate for the lack of hardware performance with great content. While the Fire Phone does indeed focus a great deal on content and user experience, performance is actually not too shabby either.
Spec-wise, the Amazon Fire Phone packs a Snapdragon 800 CPU featuring four Krait 400 cores clocked at 2.2 GHz and an Adreno 330 graphics chip. The device takes advantage of 2 GB of RAM and is being offered with 32 or 64 GB of non-expandable storage.
In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S5 packs a Snapdragon 801 quad-core Krait 400 CPU clocked at 2.5 GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU and 2 GB of RAM. Storage-wise, the handset packs 16 or 32 GB of storage, expandable via microSD by up to an additional 128 GB.
Display and Cameras
As most of you know, the majority of big time smartphone manufacturers out there have either already made the first step into QHD territory, or are about to do so by the end of the year. Interestingly enough, Amazon doesn’t seem to be in a hurry, as the Fire Phone packs a more “conservative” 4.7 inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 720 x 1280, resulting in a pixel density of 312 pixels per inch.
On the other side of the fence, the Samsung Galaxy S5 packs a Super AMOLED panel that measures 5.1-inches in diagonal and comes with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 and a pixel density of 432 ppi. Clearly, the Samsung Galaxy S5 takes the cake on paper, but in practice this discrepancy in display size and resolution might not count for too much.
This reflects the fact that the Amazon Fire Phone comes with a 3D-esque user interface that should improve the end user experience by a greater margin than a higher pixel density. At least that’s what Amazon seems to be thinking and hoping, but whether or not Amazon managed to successfully pull this off is another matter altogether. We’ll have to wait for the smartphone to go on sale before reaching a definitive conclusion in that regard.
As far as the cameras go, the Samsung Galaxy S5 packs a 16 MP ISOCELL camera boasting an LED flash, phase detection autofocus, a 1/2.6″ sensor with 1.12 µm pixel size and HDR. The front panel is enriched by a 2 MP sensor.
The Amazon Fire Phone comes with a 13 MP main camera, and although the unit is 3 MP smaller than Samsung Galaxy S5′s, Amazon was eager to mention that the Fire Phone’s main camera is much more powerful than Galaxy S5′s shooter, as well as iPhone 5S’. After all, out of the three devices, the Fire Phone is the only one to take advantage of Optical Image Stabilization. On the other hand, the Galaxy S5 is capable of recording 2160p videos at 30fps / 1080p videos at 60 fps or 720p vids at 120 fps. The Amazon Fire Phone’s highest record resolution is 1080p at 30 fps.
The Fire Phone also packs a 2.1 MP front-facing sensor and 4 infra-red cameras fitted at each corner of the front panel. These sensors are used for the 3D user interface, and they determine the user’s head position etc.
The entire package draws energy from a 2,400 mAh battery which, despite of it being 400 mAh smaller than the Galaxy S5′s unit, it promises more battery life and up to 65 hours of audio playback, 11 hours of video playback or 22 hours of talk time.
On the face of it, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a more powerful device than the Amazon Fire Phone, at least when it comes to raw processing power. However, the Fire Phone is more about the user experience than raw hardware performance.
Amazon’s first smartphone manages to stand out from the crowd by offering services such as Mayday and Firefly; the latter being an app that has its very own dedicated hardware button. Firefly is like Shazam on steroids, as it can recognize not only songs, but books, text, pictures, phone numbers, movies, TV shows and much more.
Although it’s a bit bulkier than the Galaxy S5, the Fire Phone does look more solid than the regular SGS5, as it comes with rubber and metal elements that give it a more premium feel. The Fire Phone comes with dual stereo speakers, as well as a pair of tangle-free high quality earbuds.
There’s not a lot to talk about when it comes Samsung Galaxy S5′s design. It’s simply average, but Samsung does have a few aces up its sleeve as well. The SGS5 takes advantage of a fingerprint scanner, a heart rate sensor, a new TouchWiz UI and new features like Download Booster and Ultra Power Saving mode.
All in all, whether you prefer Samsung’s range of features over the goodies offered by the Amazon Fire Phone is a matter of choice, but we have the feeling that the Fire Phone offers a more complete package. Unlike the fingerprint scanner which can be very unreliable, as well as the Download Booster which is not available on every carrier’s network, the Amazon Fire Phone offers a wide range of features that seem to have more practical uses. It’s difficult to beat top-notch customer support and ease of access to content.
So what are your thoughts regarding these two devices? Which one of these two smartphones would you buy?