Mobile Technology

Amazon Fire Phone vs. Nexus 5

Amazon Fire Phone vs. Nexus 5
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Amazon Fire Phone and the LG/Google Nexus 5
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Amazon Fire Phone and the LG/Google Nexus 5
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The Fire Phone has a "Dynamic Perspective" 3D display
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The Fire Phone has a "Dynamic Perspective" 3D display
The Fire has a slightly higher-capacity battery
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The Fire has a slightly higher-capacity battery
The Fire Phone has a glass back, while the Nexus 5's is made of plastic
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The Fire Phone has a glass back, while the Nexus 5's is made of plastic
On paper, the Fire Phone's camera is looking good, but you can only draw so many conclusions from megapixels
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On paper, the Fire Phone's camera is looking good, but you can only draw so many conclusions from megapixels
The Fire Phone is only being sold in a black color option, while the Nexus 5 has three options
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The Fire Phone is only being sold in a black color option, while the Nexus 5 has three options
Both phones have speedy Snapdragon 800 processors inside
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Both phones have speedy Snapdragon 800 processors inside
The Fire Phone is 4 percent narrower and 3 percent thicker than the Nexus 5
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The Fire Phone is 4 percent narrower and 3 percent thicker than the Nexus 5
The Nexus 5 has the much sharper display
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The Nexus 5 has the much sharper display
The Fire Phone gives you 90 percent as much screen real estate as the Nexus 5
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The Fire Phone gives you 90 percent as much screen real estate as the Nexus 5
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Amazon Fire Phone and the LG/Google Nexus 5
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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Amazon Fire Phone and the LG/Google Nexus 5
Amazon's Firefly feature scans your environment and recognizes things like QR codes, web URLs and, what do you know, products you can order on Amazon
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Amazon's Firefly feature scans your environment and recognizes things like QR codes, web URLs and, what do you know, products you can order on Amazon
The Fire's Mayday button gives you one-way video chat with an Amazon rep right on your device
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The Fire's Mayday button gives you one-way video chat with an Amazon rep right on your device
Off-contract, the Nexus 5 costs US$300 less than the Fire Phone
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Off-contract, the Nexus 5 costs US$300 less than the Fire Phone
Both phones have 2 GB of RAM
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Both phones have 2 GB of RAM
The Fire Phone is set to launch on July 25
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The Fire Phone is set to launch on July 25
The Fire Phone's Fire OS is a Google-free version of Android, which means you won't get the Play Store's app selection
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The Fire Phone's Fire OS is a Google-free version of Android, which means you won't get the Play Store's app selection
Storage options
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Storage options
The Nexus 5 is 19 percent lighter
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The Nexus 5 is 19 percent lighter
View gallery - 18 images

Before Amazon announced the Fire Phone, many suspected that it would carry budget pricing – a la the Kindle Fire line of tablets. Well, that wasn't the case. But does Amazon's handset offer anything over one of the best smartphone values around, the Nexus 5? Let's compare the two phones' features and specs.

Size

The Fire Phone is 4 percent narrower and 3 percent thicker than the Nexus 5
The Fire Phone is 4 percent narrower and 3 percent thicker than the Nexus 5

Sizes are closer than you might expect. The Fire Phone is a hair taller than the Nexus 5, while measuring 4 percent narrower and 3 percent thicker. The big difference is that the Nexus 5's screen takes up a much higher portion of its face.

Weight

The Nexus 5 is 19 percent lighter
The Nexus 5 is 19 percent lighter

The Fire Phone is no lightweight, tipping the scales at 23 percent heavier than the feathery Nexus 5.

Build

The Fire Phone has a glass back, while the Nexus 5's is made of plastic
The Fire Phone has a glass back, while the Nexus 5's is made of plastic

Part of that weight discrepancy can be chalked up to the Fire Phone's glass back. That's something we haven't seen much of since the days of the iPhone 4/4s, LG Optimus G and Nexus 4.

Colors

The Fire Phone is only being sold in a black color option, while the Nexus 5 has three options
The Fire Phone is only being sold in a black color option, while the Nexus 5 has three options

You can now buy the Nexus 5 in three color options, while the Fire Phone only comes in black.

Display (size)

The Fire Phone gives you 90 percent as much screen real estate as the Nexus 5
The Fire Phone gives you 90 percent as much screen real estate as the Nexus 5

Despite being the slightly taller phone, the Fire Phone only gives you 90 percent as much screen as the Nexus 5 does.

Display (resolution)

The Nexus 5 has the much sharper display
The Nexus 5 has the much sharper display

This is probably the most disappointing spec in the Fire Phone. 315 pixels per inch should look pretty sharp, but it isn't going to compare with the ultra-crisp 1080p screens that we've seen on recent phones like the Galaxy S5, HTC One and, yes, the Nexus 5.

3D display

The Fire Phone has a "Dynamic Perspective" 3D display
The Fire Phone has a "Dynamic Perspective" 3D display

Amazon is avoiding the word "3D" like the plague, probably because the term has been associated with so many consumer electronics bombs. But the Fire Phone's "Dynamic Perspective" technology creates a glasses-free 3D effect nonetheless, giving developers a new (and gimmicky?) tool to play with.

Image recognition

Amazon's Firefly feature scans your environment and recognizes things like QR codes, web URLs and, what do you know, products you can order on Amazon
Amazon's Firefly feature scans your environment and recognizes things like QR codes, web URLs and, what do you know, products you can order on Amazon

The Fire Phone's other big feature is called Firefly. Press the dedicated Firefly button, scan something in your environment and watch as the Fire Phone processes it. It can work for things like QR codes, email addresses and web URLs, but Amazon is hoping you'll also use it to scan products. Those scanned consumer items will be immediately added to your Amazon shopping cart (so kind of you, Amazon).

Software

The Fire Phone's Fire OS is a Google-free version of Android, which means you won't get the Play Store's app selection
The Fire Phone's Fire OS is a Google-free version of Android, which means you won't get the Play Store's app selection

I'd say this category is the Nexus 5's killer feature, and likely the Fire Phone's Achilles' heel. The Nexus runs the purest form of Android 4.4 KitKat, just as Google intended it. It's a user-friendly and straightforward UI, without all the bloat and extraneous features that OEMs and carriers like to add onto most Android phones.

The Fire Phone, meanwhile, has you moving your smartphone business into Amazonville. Unlike the Nexus 5, you don't get the excellent Google Play Store for your app needs. In fact, you don't get a single Google app. Instead all your software will come from the Amazon Appstore, which has built up a decent collection in its three years of existence, but still isn't in the same league as the Play Store.

On-device customer support

The Fire's Mayday button gives you one-way video chat with an Amazon rep right on your device
The Fire's Mayday button gives you one-way video chat with an Amazon rep right on your device

Amazon's Mayday button is probably the biggest consumer tech support innovation since Apple's Genius Bar. Tap a button on the Fire Phone's screen and watch as an Amazon rep pops up in a little video chat box on your screen. He or she can only hear you (and draw on your screen, if you wish), but you'll get both video and audio on your end.

Storage

Storage options
Storage options

The Fire Phone has higher storage tiers, but, as we'll see in a minute, you'll be paying for it.

Processor

Both phones have speedy Snapdragon 800 processors inside
Both phones have speedy Snapdragon 800 processors inside

The Nexus 5 is a very fast phone and the Fire Phone should be too, with the speedy Snapdragon 800 on board.

RAM

Both phones have 2 GB of RAM
Both phones have 2 GB of RAM

Both phones also carry 2 GB of RAM.

Cameras

On paper, the Fire Phone's camera is looking good, but you can only draw so many conclusions from megapixels
On paper, the Fire Phone's camera is looking good, but you can only draw so many conclusions from megapixels

The Nexus 5 has a serviceable camera, but I also wouldn't say it's one of its best features. The Fire Phone's rear shooter looks good on paper, but we'll have to wait before jumping to conclusions about its quality.

Battery

The Fire has a slightly higher-capacity battery
The Fire has a slightly higher-capacity battery

Ditto for battery life, as we'll have to put the Fire Phone's slightly higher-capacity battery to the test before closing this book. Considering it's powering a lower-resolution screen, though, we'd bet on it providing some solid uptimes.

Release

The Fire Phone is set to launch on July 25
The Fire Phone is set to launch on July 25

Fire Phone preorders are set to deliver on July 25. The Nexus 5 is hardly a spring chicken, having been available since last October.

Starting price (off-contract)

Off-contract, the Nexus 5 costs US$300 less than the Fire Phone
Off-contract, the Nexus 5 costs US$300 less than the Fire Phone

If you live in the US, then you can snag the Fire Phone for US$200 on-contract. But that's only $150 less than what the Nexus 5 will cost you off-contract. One perk is that Amazon is throwing in a free year of Amazon Prime for Fire Phone buyers, though it's still hard to argue that it's going to provide the better value here.

But, again, it's way too early to jump to conclusions about the Fire Phone. Just looking at these specs and features, it might look a bit like an overpriced bag of gimmicks with an inferior app selection, but until we get some extended hands-on time and publish our full review, we're going to keep an open mind about this bold new flagship.

In the meantime, you can hit up our full review of the Nexus 5, as well as our comparisons of the Fire Phone to the iPhone 5s, Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8).

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