iPhone 5S vs Amazon Fire Phone comparison review

Amazon has unveiled its first smartphone, called the Fire Phone, with lots of cool and innovative new features. But how does the Fire Phone compare with Apple's iPhone 5S? Here, we put the two smartphones head-to-head in our iPhone 5S vs Amazon Fire Phone comparison review.

iPhone 5S vs Amazon Fire Phone: Price and availability

Amazon's Fire Phone is available for pre-order ahead of its 25 July release date, but it's only available for US residents, and it won't come to the UK. That's not a huge surprise, though: the first-generation Kindle Fire didn't come to the UK either. Those of us in the UK will probably have to wait for the second generation of Fire Phone.

As it's not available in the UK, there's no UK price, but we can compare the US price of the Fire Phone with Apple's iPhone 5S. On contract, both devices start at $199, but for that money you'll get a 32GB Amazon Fire Phone compared with a 16GB iPhone 5S. 

SIM-free, you can buy the 32 GB iPhone 5S for $749, compared with $649 for the 32GB Amazon Fire Phone.

iPhone 5S vs Amazon Fire Phone: Design

The Amazon Fire Phone actually has quite a similar shape to the iPhone 5S, with rounded corners and a physical home button at the bottom. It's only available in black, though, whereas the iPhone 5S has Silver and Gold models in addition to the Space Grey option.

The Fire Phone is much taller, wider and thicker than the iPhone 5S, too, though it does have a 4.7in screen rather than the iPhone 5S's 4in screen, so it's not entirely surprising. The iPhone 5S is just 7.6mm thick, while the Fire Phone is 8.9mm. 

The Fire Phone is also quite a bit heavier than the iPhone 5S, at 160g compared with the iPhone's 112g.

On the back of the Fire Phone you'll find a slightly curved top and bottom, unlike the iPhone 5S's straight back panel. 

We much prefer the sleek, sophisticated design of the iPhone 5S and like that there are three colour options, but we wouldn't say the Fire Phone is ugly. It's a simple design that isn't trying to hard to be flashy.

iPhone 5S vs Amazon Fire Phone: Display

As mentioned above, the Amazon Fire Phone has a 4.7in display. It's 720p HD resolution, making the pixel density 315ppi. That's not far off the density of the iPhone 5S, which is 326ppi thanks to its 1136 by 640 pixel 4in Retina display.

iPhone 5S vs Amazon Fire Phone: Hardware

The Fire Phone is powered by a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with Adreno 330 graphics and 2GB RAM.

The iPhone 5S, on the other hand, boasts Apple's own 64-bit A7 processor paired with the M7 coprocessor chip. It only has 1GB of RAM, though.

We haven't yet had a chance to test the Amazon Fire Phone's power, so it's tricky to know whether it's faster and smoother than the iPhone 5S until we've run our full benchmarks, particularly because software (which we'll come onto in a moment) plays such a big part in the overall performance of a smartphone. We'll update this article as soon as we're able to test the Fire Phone fully.

When it comes to capacity, the iPhone 5S is available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models. Amazon has decided to skip the 16GB model, offering only the 32GB and 64GB models. We'd suggest that 16GB isn't enough for many smartphone users anyway, particularly if they use the device as a camera, and have lots of apps installed. We suspect that Apple might actually ditch the 16GB model of iPhone soon, instead offering a bigger, 128GB model.

Amazon also offers free cloud storage for all Amazon content, as well as photos taken using the Fire Phone's camera. Of course, Apple has iCloud, too, which is about to get even better with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.

iPhone 5s vs Amazon Fire Phone: Camera

Where the Fire Phone is more impressive than the iPhone 5S, at least on paper, anyway, is the camera. It has a 13Mp rear camera and a 2.1Mp camera on the front. Both can shoot 1080p video at 30fps. That's compared with the iPhone 5S's 8Mp rear camera with 1080p video at 30fps and 1.2Mp front-facing camera with 720p HD video recording.

Both cameras have an LED flash on the rear, though Apple's is a dual-flash with True Tone technology for more natural light.

Both smartphones have extra camera features like HDR, image stabilisation, Panorama and burst mode. 

iPhone 5s vs Amazon Fire Phone: Connectivity

Both the Amazon Fire Phone and iPhone 5S have GPS, 4G LTE and a 3.5mm headphone jack, but that's where similarities end.

The iPhone 5S lacks the faster 802.11ac WiFi that the Amazon Fire Phone boasts, but the Fire Phone has Bluetooth 3.0 rather than the newer Bluetooth 4.0 in the iPhone. There's no NFC in the iPhone 5S, but there is in the Amazon Fire Phone.

iPhone 5s vs Amazon Fire Phone: Extra features

Apple and Amazon have both added extra, flagship features to their smartphones, which differ significantly.

The iPhone 5S has the Touch ID fingerprint sensor beneath the Home button, for extra security as well as convenience.

The Fire Phone, on the other hand, has Dynamic Perspective, which uses four front-facing cameras that are situated in each corner of the device. They enable auto-scrolling, tilting and navigating menus that all work without the need for the user to touch the screen.

Dynamic Perspective can be used in built-in apps such as maps and games, and is also designed to allow the user to get things done quicker. We've not yet had a chance to use the feature yet, but right now we imagine that it could get rather frustrating.

It also works in a similar way to the parallax effect in iOS, though it's much more of a 3D effect. We'll have to wait and see how well it works but it's a neat additional feature that we're sure many will be interested in investigating, if a little gimmicky.

The Amazon Fire Phone also has what it calls a "Firefly button," that can be used in various ways depending on what you're up to. For example, you could use it to save new contacts, make phone calls, send emails and visit websites without having to type in any details.

Interestingly, it can also be used in a similar way to Shazam but with TV episodes, movies and even live TV in addition to music. And it can scan not only barcodes but packaging too, so you can quickly see how much it'll cost you on Amazon and how highly it's rated. It's a clever addition from Amazon, encouraging users to buy media and products from Amazon.

The Amazon Fire Phone doesn't have a voice-activated virtual assistant, though. The iPhone 5S features Siri, which can help achieve tasks quicker using voice commands. Siri works for pretty much anything these days, including writing texts, reading emails, launching apps, setting alarms and changing settings.

The Fire Phone has Mayday, which is a free tech support system that lets you video chat with an Amazon agent to help you fix problems with the device.

iPhone 5S vs Amazon Fire Phone: Software

Apple's iPhone 5S runs iOS 7, though it will soon get the updated iOS 8 with new features including a Health app for health monitoring and fitness tracking, new Continuity features ideal for Mac users, additional Siri functionality, improved Messages, Mail, Safari and Camera features and new interactive notifications.

It also comes with the features we know and love in iOS 7, including iCloud, Photo Stream, Apple Maps (though some would argue they don’t "love" Maps), the iOS App Store, FaceTime, iTunes, Newsstand, iBooks, Game Center and more.

Amazon, meanwhile, runs Fire OS 3.5.0, which is an Amazon-customised version of Android, though we'd argue that it's closer to iOS in the way it locks the user into one commercial world. Users will get a selection of built-in apps including Amazon's Kindle app, Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Music, and there's an Amazon App Store with access to many popular apps. You won't find as many apps there as you would in the Google Play Store or iOS App Store, but Amazon's App Store can only grow. 

You can see your recently used apps in the Fire Phone's Carousel, and there are widgets that let you see a scrollable pane of contextual information. You can see previews of your emails, for example, so you don't even need to open the email app to delete them.

OUR VERDICT

Amazon has come up with some very cool features for its first smartphone, and it's a pretty impressive new arrival in the market that we're sure is going to be attractive to many potential smartphone buyers, assuming they live in the US, of course.

Many of the features in the Fire Phone seem quite gimmicky, but we take our hats of to the company for trying something new and being innovative and inventive.

It falls down against Apple when it comes to the variety of apps available, the design, and the storage options available, though, and of course availability overall is a huge issue – until it's available in more markets it's not going to be a huge threat to the iPhone 5S.

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