Tablet Showdown: Kindle Fire HDX vs. Google Nexus 7 vs. iPad Mini
Rolling out the new line of Kindle Fire tablets today, Amazon has added two new models into the mix with the 7-inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX tablets. Starting at $229, these updated models offer higher resolution, faster processors, longer battery life and increased storage capacity when compared to last year’s models. In addition, both of the previous models received a much needed price cut taking the old 7-inch down to $139 and the 8.9-inch down to $269.
But how does this stack up to the range of popular tablet competitors? We break it all down for you in our 7-inch tablet showdown between the 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, 7-inch Google Nexus 7 and 7.9-inch iPad Mini.
Both the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX and Nexus 7 sport a 1080p (1920 x 1200) resolution screen with 323 pixels per inch (PPI). Alternatively, the iPad Mini’s 7.9-inch screen isn’t even high definition. It’s a woeful 1024 x 768 resolution pixels with 163 ppi.
While all three tablets feature an ambient light sensor to adjusting the display, the Nexus 7 is the only tablet to sport Corning Gorilla Glass scratch resistant glass. The Kindle HDX does offer a slightly higher brightness output than the Nexus 7, thus it may be easier to see in the sunlight.
Tie: Kindle Fire HDX / Nexus 7
Amazon is storming out of the gate with a 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Quad-Core processor basically blowing away the Nexus 7’s 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro and iPad Mini’s 1 GHz A5 Dual-Core processor. If I had to guess, the extra processing power is going to make the operating system and applications run smooth as silk. That was a problem with the original Kindle Fire HD, ever-so-slight lag when launching different applications. Regarding RAM, both the Kindle Fire HDX and the Nexus 7 have 2GB of RAM while the iPad Mini has 512MB.
Winner: Kindle Fire HDX
While we still need to take Fire OS 3.0 “Mojito” for a test drive, it’s likely that it will be just as user friendly as the original Kindle Fire OS (if not a bit limited). One really interesting feature on the HDX is the inclusion of live, 24/7 tech support with Amazon’s “Mayday” button (check out the video below). This could help Amazon pull ahead of competitors, especially for older audiences that don’t have the same level of tech skills as the younger generation of consumers. The operating system is definitely geared towards media consumption, however there is a greater focus on email and the Web browser in this version of the OS.
I’m not going to launch into the pros and cons of Android versus the latest version of iOS. If you have an Android or iOS smartphone, it’s probably best to go with what you are comfortable with. Be aware that Android is typically a more flexible platform for content creation, but Apple seems to be making strides with their core production applications.
Winner: Toss-up (based on your core needs)
If you need a tablet with 64GB of space, you will simply have to go with the Kindle Fire HDX or the iPad Mini. Google maxes out the storage of the Nexus 7 at 32GB and there’s no SD card slot to add additional memory. However, be aware that storage space is less of an issue than it was a few years ago due to the growing popularity of cloud storage.
Tie: Kindle HDX / iPad Mini
The base price of the 7-inch Kindle HDX and the Nexus 7 is $229. Alternatively, the iPad Mini is still (and quite astoundingly) $100 more expensive at $329. You should also be aware that the base price of the Kindle Fire HDX includes the “Special Offers” that Amazon is notorious for. To opt out of the advertisements, you will need to pay Amazon an additional $15 raising the price of the 7-inch model to $244.
The Nexus 7 is also the better deal if you want a 32GB version with LTE access, coming in $35 cheaper than the Amazon model without special offers. However, if you want a LTE version with smaller storage space (16GB), that’s an option at Amazon for $329. Google doesn’t offer that option.
Winner: Ad-free Nexus 7 at $229
At this point, it would be foolish to purchase the 2012 iPad Mini when you can get significantly more value and hardware upgrades with the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HDX. How should you approach choosing between the remaining two competitors? Ask yourself what you will be using it for.
If you are looking for a media consumption device, it’s tough to beat the Amazon ecosystem, especially when adding the benefits of Amazon Prime into the mix. If you are looking for a device that will support you in the workplace or the home office, the open Android platform of the Nexus 7 is significantly more advantageous for content creation and general business.
While it’s likely that Apple will refresh the iPad Mini before the end of the year, the price point is unlikely to change based on Apple’s typical launch process. Even with upgraded specs on a new iPad Mini, you really can’t go wrong with the Nexus 7 or Kindle HDX right now. The Nexus 7 is currently available for purchase on Google and Amazon. The Kindle Fire HDX can be preordered now with a launch date of October 18.