Should you buy an Apple iPhone or an Amazon Fire Phone?

iPhone 5s vs. Amazon Fire Phone: Which should you get?

The iPhone 5s has been on the market for a while now and remains a perennial best seller around the world. The Amazon Fire Phone is brand new, just in the U.S., and only on AT&T at the moment. Both command a premium price. The iPhone has a bleeding edge 64-bit processor, a great camera, Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor, and apps from every major provider, including Apple, Google, and Amazon. The Fire Phone has even more faux-3D than iOS 7, a hardware shopping system in FireFly, a Mayday button for instant help, and last year's chipsets warmed over. So, which one should you buy?

Regionalism

The Kindle Fire phone is currently U.S. only. If you buy it in the U.S. and try to use it internationally, you'll have to give up major features like Amazon Streaming Video.

The iPhone 5s is a world phone that can work in almost any region.

Carriers

The Fire Phone is currently AT&T only. You can try to run it on other GSM networks, but see Regionalism (above).

The iPhone 5s is available on the vast majority of carriers on planet earth.

Apps

The Fire Phone has the Amazon Appstore, which doesn't include apps from Google — which some would argue are the lynchpin of Android — and of course, no apps from Apple. There are Amazon's apps, and many but not all major third-party apps.

The iPhone 5s has the Apple App Store, which includes apps from Apple, as well as all major apps from Google and Amazon, and pretty much any and all major third party apps you could want or imagine.

And more

The Fire Phone has some interesting features. The interface looks terrible, and the faux-3D will likely make anyone bothered by iOS 7 parallax run for the hills. The FireFly button, to a cynic, is just a way to get Amazon Prime whales to spend even more, but to an optimist is an interested way to compare real world and virtual world shopping and gather information. The Mayday button can get help for people not used to smartphones... but that probably isn't anyone who'd buy a Fire Phone to begin with. It's about the same price but starts at 32GB and comes with a free year of Amazon Prime, a $99 value, to subsidize the price. FireOS is an Android fork that gets none of the Google Play services and since this is a version one, it's untested. Unfortunately, the chips inside aren't cutting edge either and its hard to tell how well it will age or hold its value.

The iPhone 5s has an industry-leading 64-bit Apple A7 processor that allows for features like the Touch ID fingerprint identity scanner. It has AppleCare and Apple Genius bars for support. It starts at 16GB and there's no kickback, but it holds its resale value incredibly well. It also runs iOS, soon to be iOS 8. If Apple holds to pattern, there will also be a new iPhone 6 (or two) this fall, perhaps with bigger screens and even more advanced technology.

Bottom line

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPhone 5s vs. Amazon Fire Phone: Which should you get?

36 Comments

It cracked me up! It's so true, but like someone else already said, there maybe should have been forks to "wait for iPhone 6".

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Hell ya it is!!! But fr fr if someone at this time of the year wants a iPhone, they better wait for the 6 !!

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Chart is good, but all should say "wait for iPhone 6". Unless of course they for some reason decide not to go retina, but that would be too dumb for 2014.

I bought a kindle fire for my mother because of the mayday feature thinking I would have to troubleshoot less for her. That wasn't such a great idea in the end because the interface is a pita compared to pretty much everything.

In the announcement, Bezos said something about putting Amazon in your pocket with the Fire Phone. But really, Fire Phone puts you in Amazon's pocket. It helps eliminate privacy barriers put up by iOS. It provides a higher-bandwidth lifestyle data mining opportunity to Amazon. It elevates Amazon from being just another shopping app to controlling your entire smartphone experience. Fire Phone is Amazon's attempt to learn far more about you and your lifestyle than they could ever learn from their iOS and Android apps.

Yeah, so who cares? Well, you should care. Amazon, Google, Apple (and, really, any other technology company that sells things online) absolutely must learn more about their customers than their competitors. If they don't, they won't be able to predict customers' needs and exploit those needs by suggesting appropriate products. Better suggestions (and yes, ads) mean more sales. Technology companies are fighting tooth and nail to get more data about you and everyone they sell to. More data than their competitors.

Let's look at Groupon as a counterpoint. They don't have a Groupon Phone, and I think we might all agree that they never should. They publish an app for iOS and Android. And, just like any e-tailer, they track what you have bought. Also, if you open Settings on iOS, you'll see that the Groupon app has Notifications and Location Services switches.

I've turned off all notifications for the Groupon app, but I've left Location Services on (so I can see "local" deals.) I imagine some people may never even check Notifications and Location Services in the Settings app, but quite a few probably do. So Groupon is completely at the mercy of iPhone / iPad owners and iOS and the Settings app in terms of data collection. All Groupon knows is what deals you buy, and where you are when you happen to be running the app.

Groupon will never know that I go to a specific Peet's Coffee & Tea often, or that I prefer seeing movies at a small local theater (that offers beer, wine, and real food) instead of the more-distant giant multiplex, or that I work in Silicon Valley when I have to, or that my girlfriend likes only specific lingerie brands, or that I drive a brand X car. And maybe they even know about everyone in my Contacts list, social networks, and everyone I've ever emailed or sent iMessages to. And that kind of information would be invaluable to any e-tailer. (And this is one reason why you "archive" Gmail messages instead of deleting them: so Google knows everyone you've emailed.)

Fire Phone, iPhone, Android phones, Windows Phone Phones, etc. could, in theory, know all of that about me. (Especially if I had a connected car which, unfortunately for me, I don't.) So Groupon is losing the battle for customer data. All Groupon knows about a customer is their shipping address, what they buy, and their location while they are using the Groupon app. So all they can do is compete on price. Their whole shtick is "deals, deals, deals." Any e-tailer can do what they do, so they're in the classic race-to-the-bottom already.

Apple, Google, and Amazon are avoiding that race-to-the-bottom by building a vastly clearer picture of each of their customers than Groupon could ever do. They know far more about us, so they can customize our experience more effectively. And that means bigger profits for them.

I love the pic. Justin Timberlake next to a bottle of fish oil. Somebody's getting old. Hahahahaha

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Barring Firefly...not only can I purchase from amazon on their app with iOS, I can also purchase from eBay, and my favorite stores' iOS apps...just sayin'.

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Silly me. Expected to open this review for an unbiased article. Should have known. Enjoy your free page hit.

It's not wrong though, even if you want an android phone there are so many other phones which are way better options

Though why would anyone want a device that, unless you are already or intend to always be an Amazon Prime member, require an annual subscription after the first year. It's bad enough paying AT&T for service without having to pay Amazon for the privilege of using something that you have purchased from them. Sure the first year is 'free' but after that you are paying and just as the infographic shows, it's really designed for suckers, sorry darn autocorrect it should have said CUSTOMERS, that want to purchase and purchase and purchase some more off of Amazon.

I'll just wait for the iPhone 6 then will gracefully slip the awful Nexus 5 I bought into a drawer and prentend that the months I used it were just a really long bad nightmare of crashing, hardware failures having to make compromises on what I can and cannot do and would never go there with a phone that took 4 years to get to market and really shows with a lackluster design. I mean Glass on the back, that's so 2011. LOL

"The Fire Phone is currently AT&T only. You can try to run it on other GSM networks, but see Regionalism (above).

The iPhone 5s is available on the vast majority of carriers on planet earth."
Needs an asterisk, as the iPhone was AT&T only until the 4th version, and not even at the 4's launch iirc.

Also, not "Want to spend a lot more on Amazon Prime" should be "Do you already use Amazon Prime a lot", I agree with the rest though.

That phone was DOA, no chance in hell it would do well. Then to really hold it back they give AT&T the exclusive on it. Who is making these dumb decisions?
Just My Opinion,
Vinny

IPhone 5s won't work in all countries regarding LTE, depending on the country of purchase, frequency bands will be added or removed.

Many people in Europe want to buy an iPhone in the USA because of conversion rate.

They end up paying taxes in Europe that make them almost the same price as they would have paid for in Europe.
They will get a missing LTE frequency band. And when they'll have a problem, European Apple stored won't give support, like a replacement, because they won't provide the foreign model, which they don't have in store anyway.

So...

But it's true that'd or any iPhone possessor traveling around the world, the iPhone will at least partially functional. But this is the case for the vast majority of smartphones, the fire phone being the exception here.

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Lool. Funny chart. Even when it's obvious you want to waste your money, the chart still says "maybe try". Lool. So biased, I love it.

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Tbh imore does bringup some good points but still... i dont know why ever iphone user must be so pretentious and act like iphonea are the best phone in the world. i very well maybe, it for sure has the biggest user base but if feel like iphone users are too damn cocky. This article was VERy baised, sure everyone is entitled to their opinion but come on. Why write artciles on anything other than apple if your just going to bash everything non apple? it makes no sesne to me. Also correction not every single iphone user is pretentious or a "badwagon" there are manny users that arent.