The smartphone market is a crowded and cutthroat place. Just look at HTC: the company has arguably made the best handset for two years in a row, but it's still struggling to stay afloat. So does Amazon even have a chance, jumping into this ultra-competitive market this late in the game? Well, we can't answer that just yet, but we can see if the features and specs of Amazon's new Fire Phone stack up to those of the HTC One (M8).
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
The Fire Phone is bigger than the iPhone, but it's still smaller than most Android flagships – including the One M8. HTC's handset is 5 percent longer, 8 percent wider and 6 percent thicker than Amazon's smartphone.
The Fire Phone is going to feel denser in hand, as the smaller handset weighs in at the same 160 g (5.64 oz) as the One.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a sharper-looking phone than the One M8, with its aluminum unibody construction. The Fire Phone, meanwhile, is bringing back the glass-backed look that we last saw in the iPhones 4/4s, LG Optimus G and Nexus 4.
The One M8 is now sold in four colors (though red is a Verizon exclusive in the US). The Fire Phone only comes in black.
Both screens are pretty spacious, but the One M8 gives you 13 percent more screen real estate than the Fire Phone.
The Fire Phone has some high-end hardware onboard, but its screen resolution is leaning more towards the mid-range. Though its 315 pixels per inch display will look pretty sharp, that isn't nearly as crisp as the One's gorgeous 1080p screen.
Amazon went out of its way to avoid using the word "3D" during its launch event, but that's still what the Fire Phone's "Dynamic Perspective" display is. Okay, so it is a little different than the 3D you're used to. Here it looks like it's sinking into the phone, more than popping out of it. It should be interesting to see what developers do with this glasses-free 3D effect.
The Fire Phone's other marquee feature is called Firefly. It uses the phone's camera to identify objects and products – and is more than happy to help add them your Amazon shopping cart. How thoughtful of you, Mr. Bezos.
The Fire Phone ships in higher tiers of internal storage, but the One does have a microSD card slot to help balance things out.
Amazon didn't skimp with the Fire Phone's processor, though the One M8 runs the slightly-upgraded Snapdragon 801.
Both phones ship with 2 GB of RAM.
The Fire Phone has a much higher-resolution camera, but the One's "UltraPixel" shooter has bigger pixels, which can help it to take brighter and more colorful low-lit shots.
The One M8 has a second rear camera devoted to sensing depth. This opens the door to several effects, including a bokeh (blurred background) effect that helps to create a dramatic focus on your subject.
The One M8 has a higher-capacity battery, and it also performed extremely well in our battery tests. It's too early to say much about the Fire Phone's uptimes.
Extreme Power Saving Mode
The One M8 has a cool feature that can keep your phone on the grid when your battery is almost out of juice. Extreme Power Saving Mode severely limits the phone's available apps and processes, to extend just a few battery percentage points into hours of extra uptime.
Okay, so you probably aren't going to base this decision on which smartphone has better speakers. But if you were, the One would be your clear choice. These front-facing "BoomSound" speakers are crisp, loud and the best in the business.
This could be the One's biggest advantage. Amazon's "Fire OS" is really just a modified (Amazonified) version of Android's open-source core. But since it isn't certified by Google, that means there's no Play Store or Google apps of any kind to be seen. Amazon's Appstore, the only way to get apps on the Fire Phone, has been around for over three years, and sports a solid enough selection. But it's still a far cry from Google Play's excellent app library, which you will get on the One M8.
Fire Phone preorders are set to deliver on July 25. The One has been around since March.
Starting price (off-contract)
Before Amazon announced the Fire Phone, many had speculated that the company would sell it for cheap, like with its Kindle Fire tablets, or even free. Boy, were those rumors off the mark. The Fire Phone starts at the same US$650 off-contract price (and $200 on-contract price) as rivals like the iPhone 5s, Galaxy S5 and, yes, the One M8.
There is one bonus that Amazon is throwing in, at least for the time being. For a limited time, Fire Phone pre-orders will score a free year of Amazon Prime. If you're already a Prime member, that membership will automatically be extended an extra year. It's still an expensive phone, but at least early buyers get that perk.View gallery - 20 images