By Rich W Woods
This is not the first time I reviewed the Amazon Fire Phone. I first reviewed it when it first came out. Back then, For the Love of Tech hadn’t quite found its niche in the world. Back then, a camera comparison would have around three samples with little or no low light shots. Now that I have the Amazon Fire Phone again, I thought I would put it through the rotation again.
Now, I never got a good feel for the quality of the Amazon Fire Phone. I did a small comparison with the HTC One M8 but that was it. So, where do I start? It’s a 13 MP rear camera on a flagship device, so should I start with the best cameras? Was it as bad as low end phones? I decided to start with the OnePlus One, which has a camera which is not the best, but also not the worst. The other reason that I did it is because I love doing comparisons with the OnePlus One. I get great feedback from the brilliant OnePlus community and it’s a fantastic phone. This will be my 19th comparison with the OnePlus One.
OnePlus One vs Amazon Fire Phone: Specs
|OnePlus One||Amazon Fire Phone|
|Processor||2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801||2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800|
|GPU||Adreno 330||Adreno 330|
|Display||5.5″, 1080p, 401 ppi, LCD||4.7″, 720p, 312 ppi, LCD|
|Body||152.9×75.9×8.9 mm, 162 g||139.2×66.5×8.9 mm, 160 g|
|Camera||13 MP, 4128×3096, 5 MP Front||13 MP, 4128×3096, 2.1 MP Front|
|Video||4K DCI – 24 fps, 4K UHD – 30 fps, Front 1080p – 30 fps||1080p – 30 fps, Front 1080p – 30 fps|
|Storage||16/64 GB||32/64 GB, 64 Exclusive to AT&T|
|RAM||3 GB||2 GB|
|Battery||3100 mAh||2400 mAh|
So let’s take a look at that for a moment. Obviously, the price of the Fire Phone is more expensive but it’s often on sale from Amazon. During Cyber Week, it was $199 and then it went back up to $449. Then, they had another deal for $229 and it went back up to $449. I picked it up last week on the deal of the day at $189, unlocked.
Now, based on the specs of these two devices the expectations for performance should be similar. The Amazon Fire Phone has a slightly less powerful processor than the OnePlus One; however, the Snapdragon 800 uses the same GPU as the Snapdragon 801 while powering a much lower resolution display.
OnePlus One vs Amazon Fire Phone: Benchmarks
Traditionally, I have never used benchmarks in reviews. After all, they so rarely give any insight into real world usage. People have been requesting them so I figured it couldn’t hurt to post some screenshots of benchmarks. If you don’t know what they mean, don’t worry. You’re not missing anything. Typically, benchmarks are only used for trolls that make up this “Apple vs Android” war in their head and need fuel for their argument.
The OnePlus One is in the first column and the Amazon Fire Phone is in the second. This is a battery test done with Geekbench 3. The first row is a regular test and the second is with the dim screen toggled on. You are reading that correctly. The OnePlus One does get that good battery life.
Here we have some processor benchmarks. The first three rows is Geekbench 3 and the final row is AnTuTu.
As you can see, the Amazon Fire Phone has a higher score on Geekbench in multi-core and the OnePlus One has a higher score on AnTuTu and Geekbench 3 single core.
OnePlus One vs Amazon Fire Phone: Rear Camera
Both the OnePlus One and the Amazon Fire Phone use 13 MP rear cameras with an f/2 aperture. I was unable to find out which specific lens the Amazon Fire Phone uses. At first glimpse, it might appear that the Amazon Fire Phone uses the same Sony IMX214 Exmor RS sensor that the OnePlus One uses; however, the Amazon Fire Phone has a five element lens while the OnePlus One is six.
Also, the Amazon Fire Phone has optical image stabilization (OIS) and the OnePlus One does not. Of course, the Nexus 6 uses the Sony IMX214 Exmor RS and that has OIS as well.
Now let’s rewind for a second. This paragraph will be my disclaimer where I describe what megapixels and aperture are. The amount of megapixels amounts to the resolution of the camera. To break that down, let’s compare that to a display. A 720p display is less than 1 MP, 1080p is less than 2.1 MP, 1440p is less than 3.7 MP, and 4K UHD is less than 8.3 MP, so if you’re comparing a 10 MP photo to a 15 MP photo on a 4K display, it’s impossible to tell the difference between the two resolutions because the resolution of the photo is higher than the resolution of the display. I hear a lot of people talk about how sharp a 20.7 MP photo taken with a Sony Xperia looks so much sharper than the 8 MP photo taken with the iPhone 6. You can’t see it.
Aperture relates to depth of field. A lower aperture means a larger depth of field, meaning the background of the image will be more focused. For example, f/8 will have a larger depth of field than f/2. Both the OnePlus One and the Amazon Fire Phone have an f/2 aperture, which is fairly large. Strictly speaking, aperture means the opening of the lens. If you compared a camera lens to your eyeball, the aperture would be the pupil.
Another issue with the camera is the camera apps. The Amazon Camera app is a huge disappointment. I really thought that they would have made improvements by now. It does not allow the user to change the resolution of the camera or change the aspect ratio. There is no slow motion video or time lapse. The only options in the Camera app are HDR, Image Review, Best Shot, Lenticular, and Panorama. Other than that, it’s all 13 MP 4:3 photos or 1080p video at 30 fps.
The OnePlus One Camera app is just the opposite. With the OnePlus One, the user has just about every option he could imagine, including saving a RAW version of the photo. Of course, if you know how to process RAW, none of this is going to matter. The OnePlus One also gives the user the option to use the Google Camera app, something that is not available on the Amazon Fire Phone since it uses the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).
The OnePlus One has a history of taking photos that look washed out. Because of this, I have been playing with different settings, such as Smart Scene or Clear Image. For this comparison, I used HDR, except for the final image because HDR doesn’t allow for the flash to be used.
Please note that in order to enlarge the images, simply click or tap the image. To view the full size image, there is a link in the carousel. Also, I realize that not all of the photos are perfect. I do not look at the photos until I put them on here so I am seeing them at the same time that you are. That is why I provide so many images. They are unedited. The idea is to give you an idea of what you would get if you went out and took a bunch of photos. This is what you would have when you got home. I did notice that the Fire Phone was a little tough to focus. So that might be an issue here.
|OnePlus One||Amazon Fire Phone|
I think it’s fair to say that the low light performance is better on the OnePlus One. In fact, I really like the nighttime shot of the gazebo with the OnePlus One. I use that gazebo a lot for comparisons and this is the first time it has looked so good at night. I think HDR is going to be my go to for the OnePlus One at night.
Now, many of the OnePlus One photos ended up looking washed out, as they tend to do; however, the Amazon Fire Phone was not without its problems. It does not handle bright light well at all. In fact, the background is so blurry in some places that it’s just noisy. Another issue with the Amazon Fire Phone is that it’s tough to focus in general. Notice the ninth photo from the top. I took that photo twice because I just couldn’t get it to focus with the Amazon Fire Phone. Of course, there is no manual focus.
Note the flower that is the ninth photo from the bottom. That was a red flower. The OnePlus One is the one that got that one right. In most cases, however, the OnePlus One is just too washed out.
Like I said, if you know how to process RAW images then this is not a problem for you and none of this matters.
OnePlus One vs Amazon Fire Phone: Front Camera
While resolution typically doesn’t matter in a rear camera, it certainly does in a front camera. This is because the front camera is typically a lower resolution than the rear camera. The OnePlus One is 5 MP and the Amazon Fire Phone is 2.1 MP, which comes out to exactly 1080p. Of course, a lower resolution for the front camera is ok, since there tends to be less cropping in a selfie.
I have always considered the OnePlus One to have one of the best front facing cameras on the market. You can go through all 19 camera comparisons that I’ve done with the OnePlus One and you’ll see that. It just handles light so well.
Even if you’re just looking at the thumbnail image, you can see in the second image from the bottom that the light bleeds through the trees in the background on the photo taken with the Amazon Fire Phone. Still, the Amazon Fire Phone certainly holds its own.
OnePlus One vs Amazon Fire Phone: Video
There is one way to tell the quality of an image: resolution. Since a video is basically a string of images in succession, there is a second factor to video: frame rate. There is audio as well, of course, but I’m talking about picture quality.
The Amazon Fire Phone has one video setting: 1080p at 30 frames per second (fps). The OnePlus One has ten: 4K DCI at 24 fps, 4K UHD at 30 fps, 1080p at 30 fps, 720p, 480p, WVGA, VGA, CIF, QVGA, and QCIF. Here’s some samples:
OnePlus One 4K DCI – 24 fps
OnePlus One 4K UHD – 30 fps
OnePlus One 1080p – 30 fps
Amazon Fire Phone 1080p – 30 fps
Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Vote in the poll and let the world know which camera you think is better. Think I’m an idiot? Let me know in the comments!