If you’re in the market for a brand new tablet, you’ve undoubtedly come across two of the many options available: the Android tablet and Fire tablet. Amazon actually has both Fire and Kindle tablets now, both of which have different purposes and feature sets. With the Android tablet and Fire tablet looking similar and appearing to do the same things, this article examines which is most worth your time and money.
The Main Difference – Operating Systems
The main difference between Android tablets and Fire tablets is the operating system. First, Android tablets use the Android operating system, just like most Android smartphones. The Google Play Store is used as well when it comes to accessing and managing apps.
Amazon Fire tablets are exclusive to Amazon and feature the Fire OS. It’s the same operating system used on most Amazon smart products, like the Echo and Fire TV. It’s actually based on Android and works similarly. However, you’ll use the Amazon App Store versus Google Play Store. Since it is an Amazon creation, Amazon’s own apps are pushed heavily, and the interface looks a little different to make it more about content consumption, such as using Prime Reading or Prime Video.
More Choices with Android Tablets
Similar to Windows computers, numerous brands make Android tablets. This gives you a much larger variety of options to choose from than you’d have with Fire tablets. However, if you look at lists of popular Android tablets, one or more Fire tablet varieties are usually listed.
Samsung and Lenovo are the two most popular Android tablet brands – though far from the only ones. In fact, Google is once again working on a tablet. Depending on the brand you choose, pricing can range from under $100 to well over $500. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 currently retails for around $700, while the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 retails for around $150. The entire Samsung Galaxy Tab line is considered comparable with Apple’s iPad line.
Android tablets sometimes have more onboard storage, such as 128 GB and 256 GB models. Most Fire tablets max out around 64 GB, though both Android and Fire tablets usually have expandable storage via microSD cards.
However, if you need less storage, a smaller screen, a specific type of camera, or any other feature, there’s likely an Android tablet to meet your needs. Of course, all these choices often make it harder to figure out which Android tablet is best for your needs.
Limited Choices with Fire Tablets
Fire tablets come in three types: Fire, Fire Kids, and Fire Kids Pro. The main Fire line features just five tablet options, which include 7″, 8″ HD, 8″ HD Plus, 10″ HD, and 10″ HD Plus models. These are the most like a standard Android tablet.
However, while there are some Android tablets made specifically for kids, the Fire tablet line for kids may be even easier to configure and use right out of the box. They also come complete with kid-proof cases, which is a major plus.
The kid models come in 7″, 8″ HD, and 10″ HD versions. The main difference between the Fire Kids and Fire Kids Pro models is what kids can access and do without any additional configuration. Fire Kids is made for ages 3-7, while Fire Kids Pro is designed for ages 6-12.
The one area where Fire tablets really excel over their Android counterparts is price. They don’t typically have higher-end processors and max out at 64 GB of onboard storage, so they’re usually much cheaper. The Fire tablet ranges from $35 to $195, while the Fire Kids/Kids Pro ranges from $50 to $140.
Fire Tablets Aren’t Kindle E-Readers
A common misconception about Fire tablets is that they’re just Kindle e-readers. It’s most likely the Kindle Fire tablet that leads to the confusion. However, Amazon’s since separated Fire and Kindle into two different product lines. The Kindle e-reader is an extremely stripped down Fire tablet designed specifically for reading.
If you want more apps, such as games or productivity, a Kindle e-reader isn’t the right choice. A Fire tablet would be a much better option, as it functions similarly to any standard Android tablet.
Choosing Your Apps
One final thing you need to consider is what you want to install on your tablet. The Google Play Store is typically a go-to for Android apps. While you can install apps from third-party sources, most users at least check the Google Play Store first. This is the default app store on Android tablets.
The great thing about Google Play Store is apps are updated frequently, and app developers usually submit apps here and on Apple’s App Store before any other app stores. Since Android and iOS are the two biggest mobile operating systems, developers focus on those two systems first.
While Fire tablets are still Android-based, the default app store is the Amazon Appstore. You’ll find a more limited selection of apps, though most major apps, such as social media and popular games, are still available. Plus, apps aren’t updated quite as often, so you may not get an update to your favorite game until months after iOS and Android tablets are updated.
The Choice Between Google and Amazon
A final consideration is which services do you use most: Google’s or Amazon’s? For instance, do you prefer Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa? While you can use both on either tablet, Google Assistant is built into Android tablets, while Amazon Alexa is built into Fire tablets.
If you tend to spend most of your time shopping on Amazon, reading Kindle books, watching Prime Video, and listening to Prime Music, a Fire tablet already has all those apps installed and ready to use. Of course, you can also install all of these apps on Android tablets.
Picking the Right Tablet
With all of this information, which tablet is really the best for your needs? Between Android tablets and Fire tablets, consider the following before buying:
Android Tablet Pros and Cons
- More variety of screen sizes and features
- Larger onboard storage
- Uses Google Play Store
- Easy to customize for most any use (work, school, play, hobbies, etc.)
- Most start around $100 and can cost over $500
- Large variety makes it difficult to choose sometimes
- Hard to find accessories (cases, screen protectors, etc.) for lesser-known brands
Fire Tablet Pros and Cons
- Generally much cheaper than Android, ranging from $35 to $195 (Amazon often runs sales and bundle deals for even cheaper tablets)
- Fire Kids tablets come with protective cases
- Fewer choices makes it easier to choose a model
- Amazon services already installed (Kindle, Prime Video, Prime Music, Shopping, Alexa, etc.)
- Fewer app choices in Amazon Appstore
- Less onboard storage
- Less powerful processors, which can limit functionality for power users
The Winner Is …
Overall, Android tablets offer the most flexibility in features, apps, and use cases. However, if you want a simpler tablet just for playing a few games, reading Kindle ebooks, and browsing online, Fire tablets are cheaper and work extremely well. They’re also a great option for younger kids who don’t need higher-end features.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I use Google Play Store on a Fire tablet?
Yes. However, you can’t just download it like any other app. You have to go through a lengthy process that mostly turns your Fire tablet into an Android tablet. The good news is that once complete, you’ll have a good Android tablet that costs less than a standard Android tablet. Also, you can revert any changes made if you want to go back to your Fire tablet’s original settings.
2. Are lesser known Android tablet brands worth buying?
It depends on your needs. Lesser known brands aren’t a bad thing, but they usually have low-end processors, less RAM, and less onboard storage. They also don’t receive system updates as frequently, so they can become outdated faster.
For general, everyday use, they’re usually fine and can last a few years. They’re perfect for younger kids who may not want or need more resource-intensive apps.
3. Do Amazon’s branded apps work better on Fire tablets?
No. They work exactly the same. Amazon wants as many people as possible to use the apps, so they’re designed to provide the same experience on all tablets, including Android tablets and iPads.
4. Why do Kindles cost more than Fire tablets?
If you’ve looked at Kindles and Fire tablets, you might have noticed Kindles tend to cost more on average. This is because they include a variety of features to make reading on a screen a more pleasurable experience. This includes auto adjustments based on lighting and glare-free screens. Also, the charge can last for weeks since there isn’t much else going on. That alone may be worth the higher price for those who just want a tablet to read on.
With a few changes, you can actually use a Kindle as a lightweight tablet.
5. Do Fire tablets contain ads?
There is a reason why Fire tablets cost less: the lock screen contains ads (except for Kids models). You can buy an ad-free model, but that increases the price anywhere from $10 to $20.
Image Credit: Pixabay
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