Kindle Fire HDX 7 vs Nexus 7 (2013) vs Apple iPad mini
For years now, each new entrant into the mobile arena has had to go through a sort of a rite of passage ritual, regardless of whether its creators believe it deserves recognition solely by virtue of the brand it represents. Today, it's truth time for Amazon's brand new Kindle Fire HDX 7 for we're putting the new slate to the test. In the two opposite corners we have two already established pieces of hardware that need no introduction – Google's ASUS-built Nexus 7 2013 and Apple's iPad mini.
Let's take a look.
If anything, it's undeniable that Amazon has been hard at work – our first impression of the new design of the trio of Kindle tablets that the company introduced earlier today is quite positive: it's sleek and industrial-looking, asserting a sense of quality. A level of quality of the reassuring kind, however, is nothing more than the sanitary minimum, considering Amazon wants to join the big league – the level of quality you'll find with the Nexus 7, and especially the iPad mini is outstanding. What's more, while we're at the topic of design, it's probably worth nothing that the iPad mini is the clear winner in our eyes, with the two Android slates wrenching for the second spot – that one is too close to call.
But looks aren't the only defining quality of design. Amazon is showcasing just that, having put the HDX 7 through some much needed dieting, which has resulted in slimmer bezels, though there's still a long way to go. Despite all of this, the HDX 7 is still the thickest tablet of the trio, though it has dropped some weight and is now down to 311 grams, pretty close to the iPad mini's 312 grams and even the Nexus 7's 299 grams.
Another noteworthy consideration that you should keep in mind if you're in the market for a compact tablet is that Amazon has gone the path of LG and put the power/volume buttons on the back of the device. This may not sound optimal to people who are used to the way things are, but do keep in mind that despite its relatively smallish dimensions, you'll be mostly holding the HDX 7 with two hands, which should make working the rear buttons easier.
Whereas usually we have things such as pocketability to consider when examining the ease of use of smartphones, this doesn't really hold as much relevance to the tablet category, even with our relatively compact tabs. With that in mind, it's usually pixel density and display tech that decide the winner, if one can be cast at all. In this regard, there's a clear divide within our contestants – both the HDX 7 and the Nexus 7 have an amazingly detailed and vivid screens, thanks to the 1920x1200 resolution (323 ppi) they feature. It's been almost a full year since the iPad mini was launched, and it's starting to show its age – its screen is larger, at 7.9-inches, but considerably less detailed with a resolution of 1024x768, or 162 ppi.
What's more, the display on the 7-inch HDX 7 has been a point of pride for Amazon, because it incorporates some pretty interesting tech that allows for a dynamic adjustment of contrast settings when in bright environments. This means that whenever there's too much light, threatening to overpower even dark spots, the display will react by making blacks ever more pronounced, at least on paper.
Taking the above in consideration, we think it's a split between the HDX 7 and the Nexus 7, with the larger iPad mini grabbing the bronze – a nevertheless very acceptable display, perfect for those looking for more real state.
As is the way of Android, the HDX 7 and the Nexus 7 are both packing some great hardware, while the iPad mini is making ends meet with a much more conservative specs sheet that just works, in a typical iOS fashion. Having said that, there's no contest in who takes the gold in the hardware department, as the Kindle Fire HDX 7 comes sporting Qualcomm's latest and greatest quad-core Snapdragon 800, whereas the Nexus 7 is using the now slightly aged Snapdragon S4 and the iPad mini the Apple A5 SoC which is now getting really old in high-tech years.
In terms of memory, both the HDX 7 and the Nexus 7 come with 2GB of RAM, whilst the iPad mini has to make do with just 512MB. Several versions of the tablets ensure that you can pick the amount of storage that suits you – 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, with the exception of the Nexus, which only comes in a 16GB/32GB flavor. None of the tablets has an option to expand that via a microSD card.
And the winner is...
Pitting these tablets is only meaningful up to a certain point. Once we exhaust facts, it becomes near impossible to navigate through the jungle of subjective and less clearly-cut aspects of the total package that makes an experience bad, good or great. Each of these tablets has some pretty compelling reasons to deserve your hard-earned cash, of course, but also a relatively major trade-off.
Starting at $229, with the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 you have a very affordable powerhouse of a tablet with a refined design that many of you will enjoy, including value-added services specific to its forked version of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean called Fire OS 3.0. The trade-off, as many of you will be quick to point out, is that you're not getting the coveted pure Android experience, and this may be a deal breaker for some.
With the Nexus 7, we have a story pretty similar to that of Amazon's trooper. It's compact, affordable, and despite it's less-potent chipset, it's still very well suited to tend to your every need. It's priced identically to the HDX 7, starting at $229 for the 16GB version, and it comes with a snappy stock Android, meaning quick updates and no mambo-jumbo. This, apart from design considerations, pretty much narrows down your choice down to more power versus an arguably better Android experience. Your call.
The iPad mini is identical to the above in the sense that there are trade-offs, though arguably more of those, in comparison to the Android boys. The tablet is now showing its age, and some of you may say that you're not getting the best bang for your buck. That's valid for many, though if you insist on the iOS experience, then the iPad mini won't disappoint even a year later. Do keep in mind that it's by far the priciest of the bunch, with a price tag starting at $329 for the 16GB, not to mention that we're expecting a new version of the mini fairly soon.
|OS||Android (4.2.2) Fire OS 3.0 UI||Android (4.3)||iOS (6.1, 6)|
|Dimensions||7.32 x 5.04 x 0.35 inches (186 x 128 x 9.0 mm)||7.87 x 4.49 x 0.34 inches (200 x 114 x 8.65 mm)||7.87 x 5.30 x 0.28 inches (200 x 134.7 x 7.2 mm)|
|Weight||10.97 oz (311 g)|
the is 17.4 oz (496 g)
|10.55 oz (299 g)|
the is 17.4 oz (496 g)
|11.01 oz (312 g)|
the is 17.4 oz (496 g)
|Physical size||7.0 inches||7.0 inches||7.9 inches|
|Resolution||1920 x 1200 pixels||1920 x 1200 pixels||1024 x 768 pixels|
|323 ppi||323 ppi||162 ppi|
|LCD||IPS LCD||IPS LCD|
|Peak brightness||400 cd/m2 (nit)||300 cd/m2 (nit)|
|Features||Light sensor||Light sensor, Scratch-resistant glass (Corning Gorilla Glass)||Light sensor|
|QualComm Snapdragon 800||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064||Apple A5|
|Quad core, 2200 MHz||Quad core, 1500 MHz, Krait||Dual core, 1000 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9|
|Graphics processor||Adreno 330||Adreno 320||PowerVR SGX543MP2|
|2048 MB RAM||2048 MB RAM (Dual-channel, 533 MHz)||512 MB RAM|
|Built-in storage||16 GB||32 GB||16 GB|
|Maximum User Storage||8.8 GB|
|Camera||5 megapixels||5 megapixels|
|Features||Auto focus||Back-illuminated sensor (BSI), Auto focus, Touch to focus, Digital image stabilization, Geo tagging|
|Camcorder||1920x1080 (1080p HD)||1920x1080 (1080p HD) (30 fps)|
|Features||Digital image stabilization, Video calling|
|Front-facing camera||Yes||1.2 megapixels||1.2 megapixels|
|Video capture||1280x720 (720p HD)||1280x720 (720p HD)|
|Wi-Fi||802.11 a, b, g, n||802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz||802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz|
|USB||USB 2.0||USB 2.0||Yes|
|Features||Mass storage device, USB charging||Mass storage device, USB charging||USB charging|
|Other||Tethering, Computer sync, OTA sync||NFC, Tethering, Computer sync, OTA sync||Computer sync, OTA sync|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, Gyroscope||Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass||Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass|
|Officially announced||25 Sep 2013||24 Jul 2013||23 Oct 2012|
|18 Oct 2013 (Official)|
16. 1113douglas (Posts: 180; Member since: 04 Jul 2013)
why in the world would u choose the ipad mini over the nexus 7 2
23. RomeoJDR (Posts: 237; Member since: 09 Dec 2011)
Can you name me one major app that runs better on the Mini than an Android?
2. scriptwriter (Posts: 396; Member since: 13 Nov 2012)
Q. Is it a 10 inch tablet?
Any argument is invalid.
3. roldefol (Posts: 2858; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
This is actually a pretty relevant comparison for me. I'm in the market for a small tablet for a 70 year old OG Kindle owner. He's likely to use it to read books, magazines, newspapers, websites, and e-mail. I'm caught between the new Fire HD, HDX, and Nexus.
6. roldefol (Posts: 2858; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
That's what I'm thinking, too. It's amazing how much tablet you can get for $150. The Android in me wants to get him a Nexus, but it's probably more than he needs, especially since he's an Amazon (not Google) user.
That's what it really comes down to in my eyes - are you a Google/ Android user or do you just want a multimedia experience?
8. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7244; Member since: 14 May 2012)
You've basically answered your own question. HDX seems to be the overall winner considering you can take advantage of the Amazon ecosystem.
11. Slammer (Posts: 918; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)
I'd put my money on the Kindle. It really is a great all around tablet for the price point. I purchased one for my dad and one my wife last Christmas. Neither one has been able to put them down. While Apps are limited to the Amazon library, they are quality and abundant. He will find it fairly easy to navigate through and the screen is bright enough(in case of eyesight degradation).
17. Zero0 (Posts: 570; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)
Fire HD, I'd say. It isn't worth the extra $90 for the Nexus 7 for him. The Nexus has better hardware, but it seems like he wouldn't gain much from it. The only gain is having the option to buy from Google Play as well as Amazon, but from what I've seen, Google's prices aren't much better than Amazon's, if they are at all.
9. DukeX (Posts: 327; Member since: 28 Aug 2013)
I'd pick the nexus now but if the new kindle had full aosp now i would get that instead. What's an ipad mini?
10. roldefol (Posts: 2858; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
In my experience, it's a portable entertainment system for toddlers.
14. blingblingthing (Posts: 417; Member since: 23 Oct 2012)
IPad mini or iPad Vtech. Either name is fitting.
12. picassimo (Posts: 14; Member since: 31 Oct 2012)
Your icon for RESOLUTION and SYSTEM MEMORY are deceiving, as if other tablets have lower resolution and system memory than the iPad Mini.
15. sckortyman (Posts: 23; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)
If the kindles get good developer support, then there it isnt even a contest. The fire HDX's would win by far. But Fire OS IMO is stupid and super restricting (if I wanted that i would be buying apple products). If I cant install stock android through a custom rom, then i probably will just get a nexus.
18. grahaman27 (Posts: 344; Member since: 05 Apr 2013)
Anandtech says the n7 brightness is over 500 nits
19. bloodline (Posts: 691; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)
I just want to make few points Chris -
"it's probably worth nothing that the iPad mini is the clear winner in our eyes"
Ok .. maybe it has the best materials but its probably not the best designed - its heavy, its not quite sure what tablet category it should be in but still claims its easy to hold with one hand, but lets face it, its not easy for 95% of people.... so all your really saying is the best material means the best design.... wrong.
Lets recap on this comment
"it's probably worth nothing that the iPad mini is the clear winner in our eyes"
OK in other categories the android tablets are the clear winners - YET you make no strong claim to state this like you have with the ipad mini's design. Infact you still try to justify the ipad when its clearly evident its not up to par - at all.
Its inferior in every aspect apart from materials. Ok OS is subjective to preference, ecosystem is hardly an issue anymore.
Just from reading your review I get a sense that you trying to stick up for the ipad mini, which my friend, is not good reviewing and why no one takes anything serious on this website.
21. Chris.P (Posts: 246; Member since: 27 Jun 2013)
Thanks for the feedback, though I disagree full-heartedly with the conclusions you've reached.
22. bloodline (Posts: 691; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)
fair enough you disagree, I would be surpised if you did agree.
Can you say why you disagree with my comment?
24. aldesajetafunit (Posts: 1; Member since: 30 Sep 2013)
Attention to Phonearena
New Nexus 7 specs are: Peak Brightness 570 cd/m² (nit) and the WiFi model weights 290 gr.And I love it!