I’m not surprised that the Apple iPad outperforms the Amazon Fire HD 10 in virtually every respect but, for many, budget matters. In that case, the Amazon Fire HD 10 is a worthy competitor on a value basis.
We compared the iPad to Amazon’s Fire HD 10 tablet — and the winner was obvious
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
- Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Fire HD 10 tablet may look similar on paper, but we put their hardware, software, overall value, and third-party app support under a microscope and the iPad was a clear winner.
- Not only is it more powerful, but it’s capable enough to replace your “real computer” with relative ease. That said, the Fire HD 10 was a worthy competitor, and may still be worth getting depending on your tablet needs.
- The latest iPad came out this week; it supports the Apple Pencil and you can pick up for $329 at Best Buy.
Hardware: The iPad is hands-down the most powerful tablet under $500, but the Fire 10 HD holds its own better than any other budget-friendly option.
If you looked at the basic tech specs for both the iPad and Fire HD 10, it would be easy to think they were evenly matched. Both tablets have 32GB of storage, 2GB of memory, a built-in smart assistant, quad-core processor, roughly 10 inch screens, and get 10 hours of battery life. If you look a little closer, though, the iPad is the more powerful of the pair overall.
- Screen: The iPad’s screen has a resolution of 2,048 × 1,536, which is a fair bit higher than the Fire HD 10’s 1920 x 1080 display.
- Processor: Apple’s line of A-series processors is incredibly powerful, and the four in the new iPad run at a speed of 2.36Ghz. The Fire HD 10’s processors run at 1.8Ghz.
- Memory: While the speed of memory can vary, what gives the iPad the edge in this category is how its used. Instead of allocating all of its memory to a single on-screen app, the iPadlets you use two apps at once.
- Storage: The Fire HD 10 actually wins this round because you can easily upgrade its storage by popping in a MicroSD card. With the iPad, what you see is what you get.
- Voice assistant: The Fire HD 10 wins again, since Alexa beat Siri in our voice assistant pop quiz.
- Battery life: The iPad has had solid, 10-hour battery life since the first model was released in 2010. I was able to try the Fire HD 10, though, and its battery life was just as impressive, so in this way both tablets are evenly matched.
Winner: If raw power and multitasking are important to you, the iPad is the only tablet you should consider.
Software: The new version of iOS makes the iPad feel more capable than ever, which is why it handily won this round.
Raw power is important in the tech world, but so is software. The iPad runs iOS 11, the same operating system that runs on the iPad Pro and iPhone.The Fire HD 10 runs Fire OS 5, codenamed “Bellini,” which runs on every other model of Fire Tablet. I’ve gotten to use devices using both operating systems, and the iPad wins this category by a landslide.
It’s hard to overstate how good iOS has gotten on the iPad over the last year. You can use multiple apps simultaneously and stash your most-used apps in a dock. These features let you use an iPad more like a traditional computer — at least that’s how I use my iPad Pro— instead of just another way to browse the web and watch shows on Netflix. New features are added to iOS on an annual basis, and Apple supports its devices for long enough that the iPad you buy today will only get more capable with age.
Fire OS, on the other hand, is built around activities like reading, watching video, and listening to music; preferably all within Amazon’s content ecosystem (but also via Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify). The first time you turn on a Fire Tablet and log into your Amazon account, Fire OS will automatically begin populate it with your Kindle Books, Amazon Video playlists, and Prime Music or Amazon Music libraries. Don’t get me wrong, this you-centered approach to tech is very welcome, but it makes the Fire HD 10 feel more like really cool place to kill time rather than a ticket to adventure.
Winner: The latest version of iOS was tailor-made to make the iPad feel more powerful and capable, which is why Apple wins this round.
Overall value: Apple and Amazon have different ways of providing value to their customers, and Amazon’s strategy gives the Fire HD 10 the edge.
Not everyone can afford to spend a lot to get the “latest and greatest,” tech, which is why it’s important to consider value when buying an expensive gadget.
Apple’s approach to value is to keep an item at a set price, but improve its hardware and software every year. This year’s iPad costs just as much as last years, but it has a better processor and support for the Apple Pencil. This is a valid strategy, but it doesn’t change the fact that an iPad costs north of $300.
The Fire HD 10 costs $150, and while its hardware and software are less capable, it’s price makes it much more attainable. That’s doubly true since you can split its price into five payments of $30 through Amazon with no interest or added fees. The fact that you can pay $45 (Amazon charges full sales tax upfront) right now and have a Fire HD 10 at your door in two days for Amazon Prime members is a lot more compelling.
Winner: Apple and Amazon both have valid tactics for providing value, but it’s undeniable that Amazon’s is more compelling, so the Fire HD 10 wins this round.
Apps: Apple invented the modern app store, and third-party software make the iPad one of the best portable gadgets out there. Period.
As with hardware, it’s easy to compare the out-of-the-box experience with the iPad and Fire HD 10 and think they’re on similar footing when it comes to apps. Both have a web browser and built-in apps for watching video, listening to music, and viewing photos. That said, the iPad wins this category hands down thanks to its access to the App Store, which is arguably the most robust software storefront that currently exists.
Apple’s “there’s an app for that” ad campaign may be almost 10 years old, but it’s even more true today than it was back then. Whether you’re a student who needs to take notes, or a gamer who wants to take the hottest title with you wherever you go, there’s an app for that. The endless selection of well-made third-party apps available on iOS makes the iPad one of the best portable devices you can get. As I mentioned earlier, you can easily get away with using an iPad as a “real computer” without much hassle.
The Fire HD 10 does have access to an app store stocked with staples like Angry Birds and Netflix, but its selection really can’t be compared to the App Store. This is easy to understand when you see the Fire HD 10 as a way to consume (primarily Amazon) content. During my time with both the fire tablets I tested I was perfectly happy to not download a single app. Instead, I spent my time happily working through my Kindle library and Amazon Video queue. It was an enjoyable experience, but the limitations of the Fire HD 10 were clear.
Winner: The iPad’s access to Apple’s vibrant App Store won out this round.
Verdict: While the iPad and Fire HD 10 are both impressive in their own ways, the iPad is the better tablet overall
I’ve been an iPad owner for over five years now, and while its hardware, software, and access to third-party apps won out in this competition, the Fire HD 10 is still solid tech. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to consume Amazon content, it’s easily the best choice. But the iPad can do so much more.
If you plan on pushing your tablet at all, or want to make something instead of just catching up on the second season of “Stranger Things,” the iPad is the tablet you should get.