The Kindle Fire HDX has just been announced and the new tablets include a 7-inch and 8.9-inch device. The Kindle Fire HDX will serve as the main successors to the Kindle Fire HD, both versions of the Kindle Fire HDX feature significant upgrades in terms of specs and software at a surprisingly reasonable price. Could the Kindle Fire HDX give the Nexus 7 (2013) and iPad Mini users a real challenge or is the Amazon ecosystem too different?
Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch And Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch
The Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch are both high-end tablets designed to operate with the Amazon Mojito 3.0 OS. Both versions of the Kindle Fire HDX boast a quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM plus the Adreno 330 GPU for graphics. These are the types of specs we would expect to see on very high-end Android flagships like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Nexus 5. The main distinction between the 7-inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX models are that the 7-inch variant has a 1920x1200 resolution while the 8.9-inch model has a 2560x1600 resolution.
The Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch only has a front facing camera while the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch also includes an 8-megapixel rear camera. The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX has slightly less battery life with 11 hours of mixed usage compared to 12 hours of mixed usage on the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX. The Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch is capable of 17 hours of exclusive reading and the 8.9-inch is capable of 18 hours of exclusive reading.
The Kindle Fire HDX runs the Mojito 3.0 OS which comes with several features that make it useful for a broad range of experiences despite still being tied to the Amazon ecosystem:
-Android apps and games compatibility with the Amazon Appstore
-Support for HTML5 apps
-GameCircle and WhisperSync integration
-Amazon Device Messaging for advanced notifications
-Carousel and grid-based user interface options
-Cloud Collections for easier organization of apps, books, music and more
-Kindle FreeTime parental controls
-OS-level social integration with Facebook and Twitter
The Amazon, Apple and Android crossover when it comes to apps, games and the app store make the Mojito 3.0 OS particularly interesting. The Kindle Fire HDX in particular has a remarkable feature that may make it extremely popular among casual users, the Mayday button which can provide users with 24/7/365 live face-to-face consumer tech support from an Amazon support specialist. It's a pretty amazing thing to promise and Amazon says that their goal is to have a live rep who can remotely control your device to help you through any issues that you might have in 15 seconds or less. The privacy issues aside, that's an amazingly dedicated customer support system to have and the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX may end up selling really well based off the power of the Mayday button alone.
The Kindle Fire HDX Mojito 3.0 OS comes with a large number of enhancements that make it look as optimized as the iOS7. Amazon says that it has improved touch responsiveness by increasing CPU speed when your finger is lifted from the display, reducing latency and increasing game performance. Consumers should note that this is exactly a problem that plagues Android devices who have 2.5 times as much latency as the Apple iPhone 5s. The fact that Amazon has taken that into account is impressive. In addition to that reading mode gives the Kindle Fire HDX 5-6 hours more of battery life while reading and optimizes display brightness. There are also tons of custom features, software syncing and graphic improvements that allow users a full range of multi-media experience. You can see the full list of features (HERE).
The Kindle Fire HDX specs also include 16GB, 32GB and 64GB of internal storage at different price points along with optional 4G LTE with AT&T or Verizon. Phandroid reports that the Kindle Fire HDX pricing starts out at $230 but the price can vary greatly depending on the 7-inch or 8.9-inch variant, the internal memory and if the tablet is Wi-Fi only or 4G LTE capable. The most expensive Kindle Fire HDX is the 8.9-inch Wi-Fi+4G at 64GB at $594.
The Kindle Fire HDX is available for pre-order now with the Kindle Fire HDX launching October 18 for Wi-Fi, November 14 for 4G while the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 will launch November 7 for Wi-Fi and December 10 for 4G LTE. These are fairly late release dates compared to the Nexus 7 which is already out, but with specs and features this strong it might be worth the wait for many users.
Nexus 7 (2013)
The Nexus 7 doesn't quite match the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch or 8.9-inch in specs. To some extent the devices are targeted toward different kinds of users. The Nexus 7 is for those who want stock Android and a fairly broad and open user experience with reliable OS updates, good specs all at an affordable price. That may not crossover necessarily well with the Amazon ecosystem. On the other hand the new Kindle Fire HDX's are both much more open than they have been before.
The Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch rival each other in terms of display size and pixel resolution at 1920x1200, both have bright crisp screens. The Nexus 7 boasts a Snapdragon S4 Pro processor quad-core with 2GB RAM, significantly weaker than the Snapdragon 800 on the Kindle Fire HDX. The Nexus 7 also has the Adren 320 GPU, not the Adren 330 as weak as reduced storage options with only 16GB and 32GB of internal memory. The cameras on the Nexus 7 is better than the rival 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX with the 5-megapixel rear facing camera and 1.2-megapixel front facing camera. Of course how useful that camera actually is, is debatable. The Kindle Fire HDX 720p front camera doesn't seem particularly good. The Nexus 7 has only 9 hours of multimedia battery life compared to the Kindle Fire HDX 7's 12 hours of mixed usage.
The Nexus 7 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean OS is pretty good and functional, it's hard to make any judgment calls about Mojito 3.0 until the Kindle Fire HDX 7 is out, but the Mayday button is a pretty spectacular innovation and a real leg up over most rival tablets. Mojito 3.0 also runs Android with cloud services and media library. Google doesn't always provide great customer support, back when the Nexus 7 was suffering from touchscreen issues, GPS issues and physical defects users had to resort to posting on the Google forums or dealing with customer support on the phone. The ability to connect to a live representative and actually have them take a look at your device would have been invaluable.
IB Times Australia was quick to declare the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch a winner over the Nexus 7. It might be tempting to make that call but it is worth nothing that the Kindle Fire HDX has a fairly broad price range. The Nexus 7 is affordable for the specs it comes with, neither device has microSD cards to expand memory and both have optional 4G LTE. The 16GB Nexus 7 starts at $229, the 32GB Wi-Fi at $269 and the 32GB LTE at $349. The Kindle Fire HDX is an impressive device with major specs and features upgrades though we doubt it's a Nexus 7 killer. There will always be people who prefer the openness of the Android OS.
Apple iPad Mini:
It seems unfair to compare the 7.9-inch iPad Mini to the recently released Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch. Of course the Kindle Fire HDX beats the iPad Mini out in every regard. The iPad Mini runs the old Apple A5 processor, with a dual-core 1000MHz ARM Cortex-A9 chup and Power VR SGX543MP2 GPU. Both the 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions of the Kindle Fire HDX blow the iPad Mini out of the water and so does the Nexus 7 for that matter. The 162 ppi 1024x768 display isn't much to write home about and the 512MB RAM is positively ancient. In fact the only places that the iPad Mini matches its rivals is with the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options and the 5-megapixel and 1.2-megapixel rear and front facing cameras.
In terms of software the iPad Mini does run iOS 7 and it does have access to iTunes and 4G connectivity. Of course most users are likely awaiting the iPad Mini 2, so clearly there isn't much point to taking an iPad Mini over the Kindle Fire HDX or even the Nexus 7. To its credit Apple does have more tablet optimized apps than Android so that is another advantage.
The Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch easily beat the rival Nexus 7 when it comes to specs and graphics. The OS is a matter of preference but it is worth keeping in mind that iOS and Android both have more tablet optimized apps than what Amazon will have (Apple has more than Android). Amazon is basically building its own ecosystem from scratch, however the fact that it is offering integration with and support for different app stores is a pretty tremendous achievement.
The iPad Mini isn't really even in the running when it comes to specs or features, perhaps when the iPad Mini 2 comes out it will be a much fairer fight. Overall without getting the opportunity to play with the Kindle Fire HDX and without taking design into consideration, in terms of pure specs and price both the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch give more bang for the buck than the flagship Android and iOS tablets. What will be interesting to see is just how well Amazon's ecosystem has developed and how well the ideal of the Mayday button works. At any rate, the Kindle Fire HDX line of products is worth serious consideration.
Check out other Kindle Fire HDX and Nexus 7 news: