This comparison looks at the brand new Amazon Fire Phone and the Sony Xperia Z2, a device that has been outed since MWC at the end of February, but still has not made its way into the U.S – we keep hearing sometime in summer it will arrive in the U.S. as an unlocked version…hence Sony’s problem with marketing their smartphones and this great device that Tom really liked when he reviewed it the first of June. The only attributes that makes these devices similar are that they are both smartphones, they use the Snapdragon 800 quad-core series processors clocked at 2.2/2.3GHz, although even in that department, the Xperia Z2 uses the newer model with slightly better performance, and both devices offer dual-speaker stereo. The Xperia Z2 is a little taller and wider, but thinner than the Fire Phone and weighing almost the same amount even though it is constructed of glass rather than plastic.
Please look through the specifications listed below and check out how these two devices stack up against one another and then we will discuss a little about each individual device to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie before we pick a winner of this comparison.
Amazon Fire Phone
The Amazon Fire Phone comes to us after months and months of speculations and silence from Amazon’s camp. Now that it has arrived, it is still hard to determine if Amazon has really revolutionized the smartphone display with four cameras to give it a rather 3D or “Dynamic Perspective” look as they call it, or is it just a gimmick, along with several other features, to simply make it easier and more enjoyable to shop with Amazon. Let’s face it, Amazon is not in the hardware business, but the selling business, and it seems as though they developed the Fire Phone to help them sell Amazon products…and we cannot fault them for doing that, however, is the Fire Phone a true flagship device that can hold its own against the competition?
Okay, let’s look at the Fire Phone’s specs and see how they compare to the Xperia Z2. We will start with the display – at 4.7-inches, it is a half-inch smaller than the Xperia’s 5.2-inches, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I personally, like a larger display, but MANY people feel that 4.5-4.7-inches is the ‘sweet spot’ for display size. What is undeniable is the fact that the Fire Phone’s HD display of 720p resolution are 2012 specs and that the Full HD 1080p resolution of the Xperia Z2 is much better in theory. You have 312 pixels-per-inch (ppi) on the Fire Phone versus the 424 ppi of the Xperia Z2. We mentioned earlier that the Snapdragon 800 used in the Fire Phone is slightly slower than the upgraded model in the Xperia Z2, but they also differ in RAM – 2GB in the Fire Phone versus 3GB in the Sony. The Fire Phone does come in either a 32GB or 64GB model, whereas the Xperia Z2 comes with only 16GB for storage, although there is a microSD card slot to add up to an additional 128GB of storage. For a first-time smartphone, Amazon covered the camera area rather nicely using a 13MP, LED Flash and Auto Focus and their software gives you a lot of options and control. It will not outdo the 20.7MP, LED Flash and Auto Focus of the Xperia Z2. In the battery department, Amazon gave the Fire Phone a 2400mAh battery that they claim will allow you 22 hours of talk time, 285 hours in standby and video playback of up to 11 hours. These are pretty impressive numbers on paper, but we will have to wait until we can actually test it and see how it holds up to the excellent life of the 3200mAh battery in the Xperia Z2.
The BIG difference is in the operating system and software – while the Fire Phone uses Android as a ‘background’ OS, it is heavily covered with Amazon’s Fire OS v3.5.0 and this causes a couple of problems. The first is that the device is stripped of all of Google’s usual applications – Google Maps, Gmail, and YouTube, and the second problem being that you cannot directly purchase and download Apps in the Play Store – you must go to the Amazon Appstore to add additional applications. This could be a dealbreaker for many devoted Android users. The Fire Phone also offers Amazon’s popular Mayday – a free online 24-7/365 day video help feature to answer your questions about how to use the device. Firefly is another unique feature – with one push of a button, the Fire phone can ‘identify’ an object, be it a phone number, barcode, address, picture of an item, etc., by comparing it to Amazon’s database of over 100 million items. It will then help you locate it in one of their stores to make a purchase.
Sony Xperia Z2
The Sony Xperia Z2 may be the best smartphone Sony has ever made, but most of the world is still waiting for the answer - why can Sony have distribution channels for its HDTVs, audio equipment, and other electronics and yet fail so miserably when it comes selling smartphones? Sony promises every year that they intend on being a major player in the U.S. smartphone market and every year…nothing. It would be different if they made entry-level devices and were selling to the emerging nations, but with Sony, it is quite the opposite – they make only high-end and expensive devices, but never manage to get their smartphones to one of the major places that can plenty of people can afford to buy them, the U.S.
Okay, I am off the soapbox and now we can get on to the specifications comparison between the Sony Xperia Z2 and the Amazon Fire Phone. The Xperia Z2’s 5.2-inch display simply outclasses the Fire Phone’s – not because it is larger, but because it is a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display with 424 ppi versus the Fire’s HD 1280 x 720 resolution with only 312 ppi. The Xperia Z2’s processor is the updated Snapdragon 800 used in the Fire Phone with slightly better graphics and speed. The Xperia Z2 is also packing 1GB more RAM at 3GB – as far as internal storage goes, it only comes in a 16GB model, however, it also comes with a microSD card slot that can expand that storage up to an additional 128GB. I am not putting down the Fire Phone’s camera; however, the Xperia Z2’s 20.7MP main camera surpasses its competition. The 3200mAh battery also outclasses the smaller 2400mAh battery of the Fire Phone – both are non-removable.
Price and availability also play a role in our comparison tests and neither one of these devices is cheap or widely available. The Fire Phone will be exclusively on AT&T – a move we simply do not understand for a company that wants as many people as possible to have access to your device, while the Sony Xperia Z2 is available on Amazon and they claim an unlocked U.S. version will be available “this summer.” In addition, a picture was released showed the Xperia Z2 with Verizon branding.
…and the Winner is…
We are going with the Sony Xperia Z2 in this round – but not by much – it depends what you want out of your device. The Sony’s ‘traditional’ Full HD display is going to give you a sharper image and text and will offer you a true Android experience, complete with Google’s applications and full access to the Play Store for any other applications you love. The Xperia Z2 should be a great device with exceptional build quality, if not always the most comfortable smartphone to hold for long periods of time. If you like the newest gimmicks, like the Fire Phone’s “Dynamic Perspective,” are an avid Amazon shopper and use their Prime program then the Fire Phone should not disappoint. It has an excellent camera, dual stereo speakers (so does the Xperia Z2), a good processor and 2GB of RAM – it’s that forked version of Android 4.2, the Fire OS v3.5.0, that will turn most modern day users off. If you want a great Android device that you can use all of the great peripherals with, such as smartwatches, health wearables and fitness bands with, then the Sony Xperia Z2 wins this battle hands down. If you are an Amazon fanatic and are more interested in their features than anything else, then pick yourself up a Fire Phone.
Please hook up with us on our Google+ Page and let us know what you think about these two devices and which one you would pick as the winner in our latest comparison…as always, we would love to hear from you.