Amazon Fire Phone vs. Samsung Galaxy S5
By Chris Wood
June 19, 2014
The Fire Phone is Amazon’s first, long-awaited foray into the already highly-saturated smartphone market. With its 3D display and image recognition tech, the device already has a lot going for it, but given its high-end price point, some of its spec sheet shortfalls might be difficult to overlook. Read on to see how the device fares against Samsung’s mighty flagship Galaxy S5 handset.
The Galaxy S5 might have a bigger footprint than Amazon’s device, but it’s actually the thinner of the two handsets.
The Samsung phone is 9 percent lighter than the Fire Phone.
The two companies have taken very different approaches to the build of their devices. The Fire Phone opts for Gorilla Glass on the back and front, similar to the iPhone 4/4S, while the Samsung has opted for a plastic build with a dimpled faux leather finish.
The GS5 comes in a choice of four fairly muted colors, while the Fire Phone is available in black.
Despite their similar dimensions, the Amazon device packs a smaller display than its rival, and while 0.4-inches might not sound like a significant difference, it amounts to a 15 percent smaller display on the Fire.
This is another area where the S5 wins out against its new rival, offering full 1080p resolution on its 5.1-inch panel. The Fire Phone’s 315 pixels per inch will certainly look sharp enough, but it simply can’t match the quality of Samsung, HTC or LG flagships.
A key selling point for the Fire is its Dynamic Perspective feature, which projects a 3D image inwards on the device’s display by tracking the position of the user’s face by means of its four purpose-built front-facing cameras. The feature can be used to augment gaming controls and for touchless scrolling, but with the device yet to hit shelves, the jury’s still out on its usefulness.
While both devices pack quad core chips, the S5’s 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 is the more up-to-date option, offering slightly better performance and significantly improved battery-sipping credentials.
Both handsets offer two storage options, and while Amazon’s device is the only one available in 64 GB configuration, only the GS5 provides a microSD card slot for expandability.
Both devices pack 2 GB RAM.
The Galaxy S5’s battery is higher capacity than the Fire Phone’s, and while it’s powering a slightly larger and much sharper display, we’d put money on its more battery-friendly CPU helping to last longer on a single charge.
Both phones pack a lot of megapixels into their rear cameras, and while Samsung’s device wins out on the spec sheet, Amazon claims that the quality of the Fire’s shots is superior. Without significant hands-on time, it’s impossible to judge.
The Fire Phone has a total of five front-facing cameras, though four of these are sensors for the Dynamic Perspective feature.
The Fire Phone runs on Amazon’s heavily skinned version of Android, known as Fire OS 3.5, while the S5 rocks a more standard Android 4.4 KitKat experience, overlayed with its custom TouchWiz user interface.
While Samsung’s adjustments to the core Android experience are almost entirely aesthetic, Amazon’s changes are more extensive. Neither platform is lacking in terms of usability or responsiveness, but they differ significantly when it comes to the content they offer.
Being a Google-certified Android handset, the GS5 has full access to the Google Play Store, complete with its selection of more than a million apps. There’s no access to that store on the Fire Phone, but users can make use of the Amazon Appstore. There are now more than 240,000 apps in the company’s own store, so there’s a lot to chose from, but the selection simply can’t yet match that of Google Play or the Apple App Store for iOS.
The Samsung handset is the only device to offer a fingerprint scanner.
This category is a big one for Amazon, with the Fire Phone’s Firefly image recognition app being one its key selling points. The feature lets users point the phone’s camera at products, TV shows or movies, or make it listen to whatever music is playing, and Firefly will add it to their Amazon shopping basket.
It might be yet another way for the company to encourage its users to buy Amazon goods and content, but it’s a nice touch, and there’s even a dedicated button that you hold down to start the service.
On-device tech support
The Fire Phone packs Amazon’s Mayday feature, which allows the users to near-instantly connect with the company’s tech support via one-way video chat.
The S5 is the only device to feature a built-in heart-rate sensor.
Ultra power saving mode
The Samsung handset features a power saving mode that users can activate when their device is close to running out of juice, giving them a few extra hours of access to basic functionality.
The Samsung handset features IP67 dust and water resistance.
The Galaxy S5 beat Amazon’s device to market by a few months.
While most Amazon hardware benefits from highly competitive pricing, the Fire Phone breaks ranks, coming in at an identical price point to its rival.
There’s a lot going for Amazon’s first foray into the competitive smartphone space, and its unique features will likely go some way to building a successful following. That said, the handsets falls short of its rivals in a number of key areas, offering a lower resolution display, slightly less capable CPU and lacking access to the full selection of Google Play apps.
We’ll have more on the Fire Phone in the coming weeks and months. In the mean time, why not head to the comments to sound off on which device catches your eye.