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iPad Mini with Retina Display vs. Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch

Comparison of Two $400 tablets from Apple and Amazon

By

iPad Mini with retina display
Apple Inc.
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch

©Amazon

If you are looking to spend a bit more for your tablet than the roughly $230 for the 7-inch tablets, then the next step up will likely be at $400. At this price point, there are two major players. The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch is very similar to the 7-inch version save that it features a larger, higher resolution display and a rear facing camera. Apple's iPad Mini with Retina Display in many ways is what most people expected the original iPad Mini to be but it received more than just an upgrade to its display with many of the internals being almost identical to the more expensive iPad Air. This article is going to compare different aspects of the two tablets to try and figure out which one is the better option if you want to spend this much.

This is a comparison of the two but more detailed reviews on each of the two can be found at the following pages:

Design

There are several factors to consider when looking at the design of the tablets. The first is the size and the weight of them. With the iPad Mini with Retina display having a smaller 7.9-inch display, it naturally is the smaller of the two tablets. In addition to being smaller, it is also lighter than the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch. So if portability is a major factor in your purchase decision, than the iPad is the clear choice.

In terms of the construction, the Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display is also on top. Thanks to the aluminum unibody design construction, it has an excellent feel to it as well as durability. The Kindle Fire HDX is a good design as well with solid quality but it has a hard time equalling what Apple provides. Apple also has a slight edge in that it can be purchased in either a space grey or silver where the Kindle Fire HDX is only available in black.

Performance

Performance is hard for many people to see between the tablets as the experience in both of the tablets is quite smooth. Apple still edges out the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch even though it features a quad core processor with a faster clock speed. The reason is that Apple has done some very specific design work for their dual core A7 processor which incoporates the first 64-bit processor for ARM based tablets and also features improved caching. The result means that even with a lower clock speed and just two cores, the iPad Mini with Retina Display tends to do better in many tests. In reality, most users would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two in many apps.

Display

The iPad Mini with Retina Display got a major improvement with its higher resolution Retina display that bumps it up to 2048x1536 native resolution. On the other hand, the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch comes with an even higher 2560x1600 resolution. So on raw pixels, the Kindle Fire HDX tops the Retina equipped iPad Mini. If you measure the pixels per inch of the display, the two are roughly the same though because of the different display sizes. What clinches the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch as being the better display though is the fact that it has better color and brightness levels than the iPad Mini with Retina Display such that it functions better outdoors.

Cameras

While the other Kindle Fire tablets have not had cameras, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch is the first to come with a rear facing camera and a suprisingly high 8.0 megapixel sensor that even has an LED flash. In contrast, the iPad Mini with Retina Display uses the same 5.0 megapixel sensor that has been used for over a year in many Apple products. One might think that this would give the edge to the Kindle but the iPad actually comes out on top because the sensor does a better job in color and video capture than the Kindle. This may be due to fact that Apple has had years to develop the software for imaging while this is a new feature for Amazon's tablets.

Battery Life

Both tablets provide an extremely long running time when it comes to their tablets. The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch provides an impressive ten and a quarter hours of running time when doing continuous high definition video playback. In contrast, the smaller iPad Mini with Retina is actually able to achieve upwards of twelve hours in the same video playback test. Either will probably do just as well for the average person using their tablet throughout the day but if you have that extra long international flight, the iPad Mini will give you a bit more time to use that tablet.

Software

Software can be difficult to compare between two completely different platforms. There are some major differences between the two that may sway your decision one way or the other though. Each tablet uses an operating system that is unique to its devices and is not replicated by sny other tablet manufacturer on the market.

Apple's iOS is one of the oldest and best supported tablet operating systems on the market. The sheer number of applications available for it is staggering. It is the the device of choice for most developers when releasing software so it often gets apps before any of the other tablets. The software is also very intuitive to use thanks to the many years of refinement that has been done by Apple.

Amazon's Kindle Fire OS in contrast is a relative newcomer to the tablet market. The revision of the software that came out with the Kindle HDX tablets brings some very unique features that set it apart from any other platform. Most notable of these is the May Day on-demand video tech support feature. Using it calls a representative that can assist the user in locating items or teaching them how to use the tablet. This is very helpful for anyone new to a tablet. Amazon also has their FreeTime function that is very useful if the tablet is going to be used by children as access to apps and stores can be restricted.

Each of the two tablets does restrict the use and purchase of applications specifically to their own platform. One difference here is the Amazon Prime service and its integration of features into the Kindle Fire OS. This allows for easy access to e-books, TVs and Movies. Of course, most of these features are available on the iOS software through Amazon's Kindle and Instant Video apps. The difference is that only the Kindle Fire OS features the level of integration with IMDB and Good Read services for reviews, recommendations and details.

Conclusions

Whereas the comparison of the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch with the Google Nexus 7 is very close and is a matter of one or two features for the most part, the comparison of the larger Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch and the iPad Mini with Retina is more clear cut. While the Kindle has the larger and better display than the iPad mini, in almost every other aspect, the iPad Mini with Retina Display just offers a better overall proposition for $400.

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