The rumors were true — well many of them, anyway. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took the stage early at a packed event in Seattle on June 18, unveiling the company’s anticipated Fire Phone and showcasing the smartphones mobile capabilities. The AT&T-exclusive device touts a standard 4.7-inch screen encased in a familiar design, while additionally incorporating features such the laudable MayDay button and Firefly, a tool that allows users to look up products in Amazon’s expansive database with the simple touch of a button. Other notable facets include the device’s use of Dynamic Perspective—the Fire’s previously-rumored 3D technology—along with a 13-megapixel camera, virtual surround sound, and deep integration with Amazon’s robust catalog of media content. But how does it compare with the beautifully-designed HTC One? Peruse our side-by-side spec comparison below for a brief rundown of the two competing devices and their respective merits.
While you’re at it, check out our spec comparison of the Amazon Fire Phone and the LG G3.
Amazon Fire Phone
2014 HTC One (M8)
|Size||139.2 x 66.5 x 8.9 (mm)||146.4 x 70.6 x 9.4 (mm)|
|Screen||4.7-inch 720p HD IPS LCD||5.0-inch Super LCD3|
|Resolution||1280×720 pixels||1080×1920 pixels|
|OS||Fire OS 3.5.0||Android 4.4 with HTC Sense UI|
|SD Card Slot||No||Yes|
|Processor||Quad-core Snapdragon 800||Quad-core Snapdragon 801|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, 4G, LTE, HSPA+, NFC||Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+, NFC|
|Camera||Front 2.1MP, Rear 13MP, 1080p video||Front 5MP, Rear 4UP, 1080p video|
|Bluetooth||Yes, version 3.0||Yes, version 4.0|
|Charger||Micro USB||Micro USB|
|Marketplace||Amazon Appstore||Google Play Store|
|Availability||AT&T||AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mob|
|DT Review||Coming Soon||4.5 out of 5|
Power and productivity
The Amazon Fire Phone doesn’t exactly excel when it comes to power and productivity, but the device’s feature set is truly what sets it apart from the HTC One M8. Amazon’s offering is equipped with a quad-core, 2.2GHz processor, rendering it slower than HTC’s counterpart. Furthermore, the Fire lacks an SD card slot whereas the M8 doesn’t, and offers Bluetooth 3.0 in lieu of the industry standard 4.0. Other connectivity options (i.e. Wi-Fi, NFC, LTE) and charging capabilities remain the same across both devices, but the M8 includes a slightly larger battery than the Fire. While other internal components are identical, such as storage capacity and RAM, the Fire offers dual stereo speakers equipped with Dolby Digital Plus for a virtual surround sound experience. The Fire and M8 also currently utilize different operating systems, Fire OS 3.5.0 and Android 4.4, respectively.
The M8 clearly outperforms the Fire in sheer power, Amazon’s device provides a bevy of unique functionality exclusively available on the Fire. The aforementioned inclusion of Firefly allows users to directly purchase products on Amazon after scanning real-world items using a camera located on the front of the device, whether they’re looking for books, DVDs, games, CDs, or a girth of other popular media content housed within the site’s database. The previously-mentioned MayDay feature and Dynamic Perspective component are also a Fire-exclusive, the latter granting users different perspectives when viewing images and maps with a simple tilt of the device.
Additionally, the Fire touts Second Screen, a feature poised to function like Apple’s AirPlay, allowing users to push a video their watching to an Amazon Fire TV or select Samsung televisions. That’s not to say the Fire’s bundled features are necessarily better than those on the M8, they’re just not available on HTC’s platform and thus give Amazon an upper hand in terms of features.
Like processing power, the Fire and M8 differ when it comes to their various design aesthetics. Though they both weigh 160 grams, the M8 larger, boasting a 5.0 Super LCD3 display and brushed-aluminum design that proves more attractive at first glance. The M8 also trumps the Fire when it comes to display resolution, offering 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution compared with Fire’s 1280 x 720 pixel display. Nonetheless, the Fire is thinner than the M8, with a front and rear exterior constructed of Gorilla Glass 3 for adding durability. It also features aluminum buttons and a rubberized polyurethane grip area, contrasting with the M8 curved frame and general lack of buttons.
Bezos didn’t skimp on camera details when he first unveiled the Fire to the press. Outfitted with a 13-megapixel rear camera and a f/2.0 lens with optical image stabilization, Amazon claims the Fire’s camera will remain open longer to ensure better shots in low-light scenarios. Moreover, users can take panorama, burst, and action shots similar to the M8 with the Fire — but unfortunately — it lacks the ability to refocus shots after capturing them and the M8’s extensive collection of Instagram-like filters. While the Fire’s front, 2.1-megapixel camera isn’t on par with with that of the M8, the device’s rear camera resolution also easily surpasses HTC’s offering. Both the front and rear cameras on both devices capture 1080p video and provide HDR functionality as well, though Fire owners will be able to utilize unlimited photo storage and automatic back-ups through Amazon.
When it comes to internal specs, the Amazon Fire Phone doesn’t blow the competition out of the water. However, included features such as Firefly, Mayday, and the Dynamic Perspective render the company’s first smartphone one of the best on the market if not one of the most enticing. Still, the Fire and the M8 aren’t substantially different when it comes to internal components. Whereas the M8 excels in terms of its processing power, front-facing camera, and display resolution, the Fire seemingly takes the crown when it comes to the virtual surround sound and its rear-facing camera capabilities. The two smartphones are also competitively priced starting at $200 with a two-year contract, with standalone models starting at $650. The Fire has the features going for it and the M8 the power, making each offering better in its own right.
The Amazon Fire Phone will be available exclusively on AT&T’s network and begin shipping on July 25, 2014. Preorders are still available.