The world has been waiting for the next Kindle Fire ever since the original was released, because let’s face it – the specs of the original model could have used some improvement. Whatever shortcomings the Kindle Fire had, it didn’t stop Amazon from ruling the (Android) tablet universe for a good while, as it became one of the must-have items of the last holiday season. Demand has considerably cooled off now, but then the same can be said about other aging tablets.
Here we are back with Amazon announcing several new tablets, as it did a year ago with the original Fire. Brimming with more confidence, Jeff Bezos and Co. not only unveiled a refreshed version of the Kindle Fire, but also a plethora of new models with HD display and LTE radio. Given the popularity of the budget variety the first time around, it’s hard not to predict great responses from consumers for the new Kindle Fire and its $159 price tag, which brings us to its closest and fiercest competitor: the Google Nexus 7.
For a sub-$200 tablet, never has there been a more worthy rival to the Kindle Fire than the Nexus 7. It simply has all the makings of a best-seller, thanks to the combination of its $199 price point, above-average specs, and Google’s full backing.
Is the 2012 7-inch Kindle Fire here to spoil Google’s Nexus 7 party? Let’s find out in our edition of the new Kindle Fire vs Google Nexus 7 comparison.
When Amazon set out to create its first budget Android tablet, it has probably put too much emphasis on the budget part, because that’s what the Kindle Fire felt on the hand – a budget offering with an OK built quality. That’s not to say that the design looks bad, because it’s not, but the new Kindle Fire apparently doesn’t offer any design improvement over the predecessor.
The Nexus 7 was also built with similar criteria in mind, but Google and Asus did a better job than Amazon, as the Jelly Bean tablet has a more refined look and just feels more comfortable due to the use of a better rubberized back. Wondering which device is bigger when it comes to size but also weight? Here are the official measurements:
New Kindle Fire: 190 x 120 x 11.4mm – 400 grams
Nexus 7: 198.5 x 120 x 10.55mm – 340 grams
While the Nexus 7 is slightly taller than the new Kindle Fire, the quad-core tablet is both thinner and lighter.
Winner: Nexus 7. On paper, 60 grams may not seem like a lot, but your hands will thank you later.
Unlike the design part on the revamped Kindle Fire that has been left virtually untouched, Amazon has improved some aspects of the tablet’s hardware. You’ll still find the same dual-core 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4430 processor inside, though it now runs 40% faster, according to Amazon. The new version also comes with more RAM (1GB) and a battery life that should offer 8.5 hours of continuous usage.
Aside from the above, we’re still looking at the same ol’ Fire and its limitations: no GPS, no Bluetooth, and no camera (both rear and front).
The Nexus 7, on the other hand, pounces on the Kindle Fire’s door with its quad-core 1.3GHz Tegra 3 processor, 1GB RAM, Bluetooth, GPS, and 1.2MP front-facing camera. The two tablets share some similarity in that they both have 8GB internal storage (for this price) and no expansion slot.
Sure it’s nice to have a front camera for video chat purposes, but that’s not ultimately how the round is decided. The new Kindle Fire still retains its year-old 1,024 x 600 display resolution, while the Nexus 7 is ready to bring pleasure to your eyes with its HD display (1,280 x 800 resolution) and a much better pixel density (169 ppi vs 216 ppi, respectively).
Winner: Nexus 7. For something that is meant to be a consumption device, having a higher screen resolution is a must. It also helps that the Nexus 7 comes with more bells and whistles.
Software and Ecosystem
Oh boy, this is where things get rather tricky. Out of the box, Amazon offers a very simple take of the Android experience. The interface on the Kindle Fire is basically a catalogue for everything you’ve purchased from Amazon.
Since the OS used on the Kindle Fire is a forked one, consumers will not find the usual Google core apps inside (no Gmail app, Google Maps, etc), and they can’t even access the Google Play Store. What they’ll get instead is a whole new ecosystem that Amazon has created, albeit with a hint of Android flavor.
The New Kindle Fire
Long time Amazon customers will no doubt find themselves in a safe and familiar territory with the Kindle Fire, where things are even better for Prime members – as they get unlimited access to Amazon’s trove of TV episodes and box office movies. But as far as getting apps and content from other sources, you can fuhgeddaboudit.
While Google seems to be playing catch up to Amazon – though it continually adds more multimedia content (movies, songs, books, magazines, etc) on Google Play – Nexus 7 owners have a wider range of options and aren’t limited only to one place to shop and spend. They can even dip their toes inside Amazon’s pool.
Then there’s the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean factor, the latest Android OS that runs on the Nexus 7, oh those sweet jelly beans. It’s possibly the first critically acclaimed iteration of Google’s mobile operating system that is deemed fast and user-friendly enough to lure mainstream customers.
Winner: Nexus 7. Can easily hop on to other ecosystem. Jelly Bean.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Yes, the new Kindle Fire is cheaper than the Nexus 7, but we have to say that it’s really worth it to pay the extra $40 needed to get the Nexus 7 and thus obtain the admission ticket to Google’s playground, not to mention all the extra hardware perks that you’ll get.
The way we see it, and judging from the warm reception that the tablet has received worldwide, Google has a winner in the Nexus 7. It’s no different when it’s pitted against the new Kindle Fire, as the Nexus 7 is no match for it and is simply a better deal all around.
What say you, dear reader? Will you find it hard to resist the improvement offered by the 2012 Kindle Fire and the slashed price? Or will you spend a bit more for Google’s tablet champ the Nexus 7?