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Tale of the tape: 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD vs. iPad

September 07, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD is Amazon's first try at the higher-end tablet market.
The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD is Amazon's first try at the higher-end… (Amazon )

Amazon entered the high-end tablet market for the first time Thursday when it unveiled two new Kindles that feature 8.9-inch screens.

The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE are Amazon's answer to the Apple iPad, which has been the top tablet regardless of size since launching in early 2010.

Though the iPad offers a bigger and sharper screen than the Kindle Fire HD as well as some other benefits, the new Amazon tablet seems to be a legitimate challenger.

Quiz: Test your Apple knowledge

Here's a comparison between the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD and the third-generation iPad, broken up by different features.

Operating system

The Kindle Fire HD runs on Amazon's highly modified version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which is the second-most-recent version of the Google operating system. No word on whether this will upgrade to Android 4.1.

The iPad runs on iOS 5 and will be upgrading to iOS 6 when it releases, which is expect to happen later this month alongside the launch of the next iPhone. This will bring Siri to the iPad.

Weight

When it comes to weight, the Kindle Fire HD is lighter than its Apple counterpart. Both versions of the 8.9-inch Amazon tablet weigh 1.25 pounds while the iPad weighs 1.44 pounds and 1.46 pounds for the 4G version.

Thickness

The Kindle Fire HD wins once again in this round. It's just 8.8 millimeters thick; the iPad is 9.4 millimeters thick.

Audio

The Kindle Fire HD features dual Dolby Digital Plus stereo speakers, and as Amazon pointed out Thursday, the iPad only has one speaker. We've yet to hear the two in person, but for now, Amazon wins this one.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi isn't normally a category we compare, but Amazon claims that the Kindle Fire HD's download and streaming speeds are 40% faster than the iPad thanks to its two Wi-Fi antennas. On paper, this is a win for the Kindle Fire HD.

4G connectivity

The Kindle Fire once again takes the prize. For a yearly payment of $49.99, you get 250 megabytes of monthly data, 20 gigabytes of cloud storage and $10 in credit toward the Amazon Appstore.

The 4G data service for the iPad is available from AT&T and Verizon. For a comparable 250 MB monthly data plan, consumers have to go to AT&T and end up paying about $180 over a year of use. However, you can buy more data for an iPad.

Display

Here Apple gets a victory. The iPad features a 9.7-inch display with a 2,048 by 1,536 resolution with 264 pixels per inch. That beats the Kindle Fire HD's 8.9-inch 1,920 by 1,200 display, which has a 254 ppi.

Battery

Amazon didn't disclose how long the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire's battery lasts during continuous use, making it impossible to determine who wins this round for now. The iPad's battery lasts 10 hours during continuous use.

Chips

The Kindle Fire HD runs on a dual-core 1.5Ghz OMAP 4470 processor built by Texas Instruments. Meanwhile, Apple's iPad runs on its custom dual-core A5X chip.

Cameras

If you care about a back camera, the iPad wins. It has a 5-megapixel back camera as well as a 0.3-megapixel front camera. Amazon says the Kindle Fire HD has a front-facing HD camera but didn't disclose its megapixels.

Other

Unlike the Kindle Fire HD, the iPad is available in two colors: black and white.

Another miscellaneous feature worth noting is that the Kindle Fire HD shows users Amazon special-offer advertisements when the device is locked. That may bother some people.

Variations and price

Among the most important details of any device is the price and storage space. So here are the many variations of each tablet.

8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD:

  • 16 GB - $299
  • 32 GB - $369
  • 32 GB with 4G LTE - $499
  • 64 GB with 4G LTE - $599

Third-generation iPad:

  • 16 GB - $499
  • 32 GB - $599
  • 64 GB - $699
  • 16 GB with 4G LTE - $629
  • 32 GB with 4G LTE - $729
  • 64 GB with 4G LTE - $829 

Right now, it seems you may get the same for less from the Kindle Fire HD, but make sure to give both a try before you buy. Specs only tell part of the story.

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