If you’re thinking about getting a tablet, the two big choices to consider are Apple’s iPad, and Amazon’s Fire Tablets.
There are others out there, but Apple and Amazon have put a lot of weight behind these products, and it shows. Both have excellent hardware and software, aimed at different people based on your priorities.
This guide is going to break down the differences between both product lines. As with many things in the world of tech, this isn’t a matter of something being better or worse, just better or worse for you.
The biggest question you should ask yourself before choosing a side is whether you’d like to use your tablet for productivity, or just consume things. If you’re looking for a potential productivity machine the iPad is the way to go. I’ve been using an iPad Pro as my main machineat home for a little while now and there isn’t much I can’t do on it. Whether I’m importing and editing HD video, a podcast or gathering research for a piece I’m writing, everything happens without touching a “real computer.”
If you really just want a tablet to casually surf the web on, or to binge on shows from Netflix, Amazon’s Fire Tablet has the edge especially if you’re an Amazon Prime member. From the moment you turn a Fire Tablet on for the first time, it’s ready to serve you some content. Your Kindle Books are ready to be downloaded and your Prime Video queue is there. These aren’t separate apps like on the iPad, Amazon’s content apps are baked right into the tablet, and the more you’ve put into Amazon’s content ecosystem the more you’ll get out of a Fire Tablet.
Business Insider / Jillian D’Onfro
You can tell both companies thought about what their device would be best suited for based on their hardware and design. Any iPad or Fire Tablet will be fast enough for most people to do most day to day things. The experience of going to a website or checking your E-mail will be quick and easy on both.
When it comes to watching video, though, there’s a difference. Fire Tablets have wide screens, (the same as most HDTVs), which are perfect for watching video. iPads on the other hand have full screens (the same as old TVs), so you’ll get black bars on the top and bottom of your screen when watching wide screen content. I should say that iPads have higher resolution screens, but I’ve watched movies on both devices and couldn’t tell a huge difference.
Another thing to consider before making your tablet buying decision is how much stock you have in Apple and Amazon’s ecosystems. If you’re an iPhone user, and have a large catalog of apps that you’ve purchased or downloaded over the past few years, a lot of those will carry over to your iPad with no expense. The same is true for movies you’ve downloaded from iTunes over the years, they’re DRM (Digital Right Managed) protected and will only sync with Apple devices. Music is DRM free, so you can transfer your local library over to a Fire Tablet, but if you use Apple Music to stream, you’ll be out of luck.
Amazon’s ecosystem doesn’t lock you in as much (apps for your Kindle books and Amazon video are available for iOS), but if you’re a Prime member who doesn’t have a lot of Apple stuff the Fire Tablets content experience is second to none. Amazon’s lock-in is being making it more convenient to view Amazon content on there devices than on any other.
While what you want to use your device for, and how much stock you have in either company already are the biggest reasons to choose between one or the other, there are also a lot of little things. The cameras on the iPads will be better, and all but one of them has Touch ID; Apple’s fingerprint reader. On the other hand you can upgrade the storage on all but one Fire Tablet for almost very little money. Some Fire Tablets come with “special offers” which is shorthand for built-in advertising. But, iPads are more expensive. One of those smaller differences may end up being what pushes you in one direction or the other, and there are a ton of them.
If you need help picking between which model of the iPad or Fire Tablet to choose from we have a couple of guides that break down the pros and cons of each. Whichever tablet you end up picking, you’re going to have a pretty good experience, it all comes down to what you want to use it for.
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