New iPad Vs. Kindle Fire: Guess Who Wins?

new ipad

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

It’s something we get asked all the time:“Should I buy an iPad or save some a few j and buy the Kindle Fire instead?”

To some, that might sound like an insane query, but you’d be shocked how often it comes up.

Now that we have a new iPad and probably won’t see a sequel to the Fire until this fall, it’s time to break it down. Which tablet should you buy and why?

Screen quality

This is really no contest. The new iPad's Retina display is quite simply the best tablet screen you can get right now. As you've probably heard, the new iPad has about a million more pixels than your HD TV, all packed so close together that you can't even see them with the naked eye.

The Kindle Fire's screen is decent, but nowhere near as crisp as the iPad's.

Scoreboard
iPad: 1

Kindle Fire: 0

Movie and music downloads

Both Amazon and Apple have impressive online music stores. The selection is nearly identical. Amazon's music store does have a tiny advantage thanks to its free Cloud Player. Any music you buy from Amazon will be stored in the cloud. (Apple's iTunes Match is similar, but costs $25 per year.) You can then stream or download your tunes to your Kindle or just about any other device, except for an iPhone or iPad, of course.

As far as video goes, both Amazon and Apple offer a great selection of movies and TV shows. Many TV shows are available the day after they air on both services.

Because of Amazon's free Cloud Player, we're going to award the Kindle Fire a point.

Scoreboard
iPad: 1

Kindle Fire: 1

Streaming options

Both the Kindle Fire and the iPad give you access to popular streaming services Hulu and Netflix. It's a draw. However, if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, you get free access to thousands of streaming videos from Amazon Instant's video service.

Amazon also lets you stream videos you buy to your Kindle Fire without actually having to store them on the device. Apple still makes you download the full video to your iPad if you want to watch it.

Scoreboard
iPad: 1

Kindle Fire: 2

Book selection

Both Amazon and Apple have proprietary bookstores built into their respective tablets. Whether you're using Apple's iBooks or Amazon's Kindle store, there's little chance you won't find the title you're looking for.

The iPad does have a slight edge though. Even if you can't find a title in iBooks, you can still get books from Amazon or Barnes & Noble using the Kindle and Nook apps for iOS.

Scoreboard
iPad: 2

Kindle Fire: 2

Storage options

There's only one storage option for the Kindle Fire: 8 GB. That's not a lot if you want to store a lot of music and movies.

On the other hand, the iPad offers three storage options: 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB. No matter how much content you have, there's an iPad that fits your needs.

Scoreboard
iPad: 3

Kindle Fire: 2

Processor and memory

Under the hood, the new iPad's specs crush the Kindle Fire's. The iPad has a quad-core processor for stunning graphics. A dual-core component powers all other tasks. The iPad also has a full GB of RAM, according to iFixit.

The Kindle Fire's dual-core processor is a bit slower than the iPad's. Plus apps and other tasks were nowhere near as smooth as they are on the iPad in our tests.

Scoreboard
iPad: 4

Kindle Fire: 2

Battery life

That giant, toasty battery in the iPad sure does pay off. If you go by each company's respective spec sheets, you'll see the Kindle Fire lasts 8 hours (with Wi-Fi off) to the iPad's 10 (with Wi-Fi on).

Scoreboard
iPad: 5

Kindle Fire: 2

App selection

Again, this is no contest. With more than 200,000 apps, the iPad simply has the most robust app library of any tablet, including the Kindle Fire.

In fact, the Kindle Fire doesn't allow you to access the official Android Market, so you're stuck with a bunch of Android apps in Amazon's Appstore that were originally designed for the smaller screens on smartphones. (Amazon's Appstore only has about 31,000 apps.)

Scoreboard
iPad: 6

Kindle Fire: 2

Operating system

The Kindle Fire runs on Android, but it's not the Android you've probably seen on other smartphones and tablets. Instead, Amazon used Android as a base to create what looks like its own unique operating system. Unfortunately, the Kindle Fire OS is clunky, slow, and not entirely user friendly.

But the iOS, which powers the iPad, is still the best there is. It's gorgeous, easy to use, and fast as hell.

Scoreboard
iPad: 7

Kindle Fire: 2

Data connections

So what happens if you want to get on the web and you're can't get a Wi-Fi connection? If you're a Kindle Fire owner, there's nothing you can do. The Fire can only get online via Wi-Fi. There's no option to connect to a wireless 3G or 4G network.

The new iPad now has access to 4G LTE networks on Verizon and AT&T, which can be just as fast as your cable modem. If you're not in an area with LTE, you can still access 3G networks.

Scoreboard
iPad: 8

Kindle Fire: 2

Price

If price is all you care about, then the Kindle Fire is a steal at just $199. There are a ton of cheap tablets out there, but the Kindle Fire is the only decent option. It really is an incredible value.

The cheapest new iPad starts at $499 and goes up from there. (You can also get the iPad 2 for $399.)

Scoreboard
iPad: 8

Kindle Fire: 3

The final word

The Kindle Fire has very few advantages over the iPad. Yes, it is a tremendous value, but you have to sacrifice a lot for that $200 tablet. It's tough to handle the small storage space, poor app selection, and mediocre operating system.

The iPad can do everything the Kindle Fire can do and then some. If you were asking yourself which tablet you should buy, you have your answer now.

The Final Tally
iPad: 8

Kindle Fire: 3

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