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What’s Better: Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ or New Apple iPad?

Are you shopping for a new tablet this holiday season? Are you disheartened that the Samsung Nexus 10 is sold out? Fret not, because this is probably one of the best times to be a tablet customer. If you can’t decide between the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and the new Apple iPad, this is the comparison for you.

The surprising thing is that even though the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ starts at a full $200 cheaper than the starting price for the Apple iPad ($299 vs. $499), the specs on paper are actually very, very comparable.


The iPad has a slightly larger 9.7-inch 2048×1536 display, but the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ isn’t that far behind with its 1920×1200 panel. In fact, at 254ppi, the Kindle Fire HD has a touchscreen that’s only a touch less pixel-dense than the 264ppi iPad.

Dimensions and Weight

Because they have similarly-sized displays, it’s not surprising that the physical dimensions are pretty close too. The Kindle Fire HD is 164 x 240 x 8.8mm, while the iPad is 185.7 x 241.3 x 9.4mm. Similarly, the weight of the Kindle Fire HD is 567 grams, which is a little lighter than the 653g iPad.

Performance Specs

The new iPad is powered by a dual core Apple A6X processor running at 1.5GHz, while the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ has a dual-core TI OMAP 4470 1.5GHz processor. They both have 1GB of RAM too. Based on this, the actual performance for the average consumer should be roughly comparable.


The starting point for the both tablets is at 16GB. The Kindle Fire HD can get bumped to 32GB, as can the iPad, but it’s only the iPad that can go even further with 64GB of storage. Of course, you’ll have to pay more money for that too.

Wireless Connectivity

Both tablets are available in your choice of WiFi-only or Wi-Fi plus LTE. If you need to stay connected, either tablet will do the job.


While both tablets have a front-facing camera (1MP on the Kindle Fire HD, 1.2MP on the iPad) for video chats, only Apple’s tablet has a 5MP rear camera. This isn’t a huge deal–the Nexus 7 doesn’t have a rear camera either–but it could be an important differentiator for some people.

OS and Apps

The Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ is powered by a modified version of Google Android, but it does not have access to the full Google Play Store. You can only go through the Amazon Appstore, which limits your options. At the same time, some people might prefer the Amazon-ified OS over a more conventional Android interface, since it is simpler and more geared toward media consumption. The iPad, of course, is powered by iOS and comes backed by Apple’s gigantic App Store. If you want tablet apps, not much can compete with Apple’s juggernaut at this point.


As mentioned at the top, this is really where the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ beats the new iPad by a long shot. Starting at $299, Amazon’s tablet is only a little more than half the price of an equivalent iPad. Considering that the core guts are so comparable, it may be hard to justify the Apple tax on the iPad, but it is arguable that iOS is superior and there are more iPad apps.

For my part, if you’re choosing between these two and you’d rather buy into the Apple ecosystem rather than the Amazon ecosystem, it might make more sense to consider the $329 iPad mini instead. It’s not as powerful as its bigger iPad 4 cousin, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper too.




About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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  1. I’ve had the fire hd 7, the ipad mini, kindle paperwhite, and now as of today the fire hd 8.9. I’m far from an apple guy, in fact after owning an apple laptop maybe 6 years back I vowed to avoid apple like the plague. With that being said I’ve recently been in the market for a tablet to be used primarily for PDF viewing but let’s face it movies and books are definitely a nice bonus! After the fire hd 7 proved to be just a bit too small and paperwhite was a disaster for pdf viewing I gave apple another shot. The ipad mini handled pdf so much better than the fire in a lot of little ways which to me added up to a far more fluid user experience. I find the scrolling to be smoother on the ipad overall, not just with pdf but even with the UI, the fire hd’s both have a bit of stuttering when swiping the UI, it’s subtle but noticable to me. PDFs can be opened in Safari natively, amazon’s silk browser would not open my pdfs, On one site I frequent I couldn’t navigate the menu properly with the silk browser, furthermore when I typed my username at the site in order to download a pdf the fire switched the first letter of my user name to uppercase whenever switched to type a number, this caused several failed logins until I figured out what was up. In the end I had to send the pdf to kindle from my pc .Frustrating experince. The Ipad also supports veritcal scrolling in pdf as well, which frankly turned out to be a huge deal for me, the kindle fire only supported horizontal scrolling for pdf. I like the build quality on the ipad as well. I gave Jeff Bezos two shots with these fires, all in all they aren’t bad devices, they’re really nice actually. I’m a prime member and have a lot of respect for Jeff but let’s call it like it is, the ipad mini is just the more polished device and in enough little ways that I think it will remain that way for a long time. For my personal usage scenario it’s definitely worth the extra money.

  2. The Kindle (4G version) is available in a 64 gb version.

  3. Seems like the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ matches both closely in a lot of respects, and beats them handily in storage by taking micro SD cards up to 32GB for a huge storage price advantage (and flexibility – swap cards ad infinitum) .


  4. I’d never make the recommendation for the mini. The screen is too low res to be a comfortable reader, too big to be pocketable and too small to serve the iPad function.

    • None of that is true. All the other 7 inch tablets are barely higher res, not enough to notice,have much poorer build quality, performance, apps, and usable screen area.

      • Let me take that point by point.

        First of all, the iPad mini isn’t a 7″ tablet. It’s too big for that designation.

        The Nexus 7 has a 1280×800 display at 216 PPI, the iPad mini is 1024×768 at 163 PPI. That’s not barely higher res, that’s a very significant swing in favor of the Nexus and very easily noticeable.

        The build quality of the 7, and even of the first gen Fire, is as good as the iPad. To say differently is not to have used the devices.

        The nexus 7 puts up DOUBLE the numbers of the full 3rd gen iPad, which in turn puts up better numbers than the mini. Performance goes to the 7.

        There are actually more apps in the Play market than the App store now.

        Usable screen area is just a way of saying it has a bigger screen. Which is fair enough, however in this particular market, the bigger screen is a detriment since it makes the device less portable.

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