What a match-up we have for you today…the venerable Google Nexus 5 will do battle with the new Amazon Fire Phone. The Nexus 5 was Google’s last pure Android device released in October and loved by so many purists, while the Fire Phone is the total opposite – running on an Android background, it uses Amazon’s Fire OS v3.5.0. This heavily skinned device will not even allow you to access the Google Play Store or use Google Apps, such as Gmail, Maps, or even YouTube (without side loading) – a real shame because I think Amazon is doing a great disservice to their customers.
Despite their different heritage, these devices do share many things in common – size for one thing, as they’re close to being identical in size, although the Nexus 5 at 130 grams is lighter than its counterpart at 160 grams…must be those four extra cameras. The processors are identical – Snapdragon 800 dual-core clocked at 2.2/2.3GHz and they both have 2GB of RAM and both offer a 32GB of internal storage option – neither one offers the option of a microSD Card to add to that storage. The Nexus 5′s 2300mAh battery is almost the same as the 2400mAh battery used in the Fire Phone.
Please look over the specifications chart below and you can see how they stack up to one another, and then we will look at how they differ, for better or for worse, and then pick a winner to this comparison.
Amazon Fire Phone
Amazon’s first plunge into the smartphone world has finally come to fruition with their new Fire Phone. After months of speculation…make that almost two years…Amazon is presenting their version of what a smartphone should be. Oh, to be sure, it can make phone calls and take nice pictures, but its main purpose is to push Amazon’s agenda – selling you a product from their website…and there is nothing wrong with that, but have they taken it too far and turned their back on Android. The Fire Phone’s 4.7-inch display is a good size and close to the 5-inch Nexus 5 display, however, it is only an HD display with 720p resolution. The Fire Phone does offer both a 32GB and 64GB model, while the Nexus 5 only has a 16GB or 32GB variation. The Fire Phone does seem to have a great 13MP camera on board with OIS, LED flash, and autofocus as well as a better 2.1MP front-facing camera for better video chatting and selfies.
This is where the Amazon Fire Phone takes the fork in the road less traveled – many times a great decision in life – but maybe not so much in a smartphone that is trying to appeal to millions. Android was the basis for its operating system, but Amazon really wraps it so deep in Fire OS v3.5.0 that even Gmail, Google Maps and YouTube are nowhere to be found…and don’t even think about going to the Google Play Store – your Apps must come from the Amazon App Store. Amazon does spice things up with four cameras in the front corners that follow your head movements – they call it “Dynamic Perspective” and it gives you a little 3D effect or adds more depth to the display. They also add a feature called Firefly technology – simply press a button to identify movies, songs, barcodes, products and more as Firefly matches those to over 100 million items in its database and brings up the item for you to purchase from one of Amazon’s many online stores. It also has Amazon’s Mayday – free 24×7 365 day live online video support. The Amazon Fire is comparatively price for this type of phone – $199/$649 (32GB) or $299/$749 (64GB) and the Fire Phone is an AT&T exclusive at this time.
Google Nexus 5
Ah, the Google Nexus 5 – loved and adored by so many faithful followers – is Google’s way to showcase their vanilla Android operating system. It runs smooth as silk and gets its upgrades before anybody else – some think it’s a little ‘boring’ and does not offer enough TouchWiz or Sense-like features that can add a little eye candy and more functionality, but tends to slow down the OS with its overlays. That fact can be argued until we are blue in the face, however, one thing we can all agree upon is the Nexus products offer the user VALUE for their purchase price.
The Nexus 5 has a understated beauty about it and the curves of its back fit nicely into the palm of your hand. It does have a slightly larger display, but what it really has is a Full HD 1080p resolution over the 720p resolution of the Fire Phone. Nobody ever said (and was being truthful with themselves) that the Nexus devices have a cutting edge camera in them, however, the 8MP main camera with OIS, autofocus, HDR and LED Flash is more than capable for taking everyday pictures. The 1.3MP front-facing camera will get the job done for an occasional selfie and light video chatting, but we would have liked to see at least 2MP or higher. The 2300mAh battery is ample enough, but for heavy usage, you better keep that battery charger handy. The Nexus 5 is available in the Google Play Store for a very reasonable $349 for 16GB of storage and $399 for the 32GB model…and these are off-contract prices – $350 less than the Amazon Fire Phone.
…and the Winner is…
I actually hesitated posting the Nexus 5′s picture here, but after I wrote the introduction and looked over the specifications, it became clear to me that the Nexus 5 was the winner in this comparison. It all comes down to two features – Value and Android. It is difficult to receive more value for your hard earned money than you find with the Nexus 5. Does it have the best of everything available…certainly not, however, you simply seem to get more than your money’s worth with the Nexus 5 in just about every category. When I said “Android” was the second feature that made me select the Nexus 5 as the winner, I mean that we are first and foremost Android advocates at Android Headlines - it is one thing to disliking Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense skins, but what Amazon has done to Android is down right criminal – stripping away access to Google Apps and the Play Store is going too far.
The Amazon Fire may have a better camera than the Nexus 5 (most flagship devices do), it may have Dynamic Perspective, MayDay, and Firefly technology, but other than the camera, the other special features are going to help you with your shopping at Amazon. I suppose that is nice if you are an avid Amazon shopper, but most people want a smartphone to do more than help them shop. The minimalist look, the nice feel in your hand, the Full HD display, the same processor as the Fire Phone, same 2GB of memory, buttery smooth performance of Android, complete access to Google Apps and the Play Store and value of the Nexus 5 weigh in too heavily for the Fire Phone to win this comparison.
Please let us know on our Google+ Page what you think about these two devices and which one you think should have own the comparison…as always, we would love to hear from you.