What’s the Difference Between Apple TV and Fire Stick?

Find out which streaming device is best for you

Can’t decide between an Apple TV and an Amazon Fire TV Stick? Picking a digital media player for your home can be a difficult decision, so we compared the two popular devices to help you decide which one is the best for you.

Unless otherwise noted, all details provided in this article correspond to the 4K models of the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Apple TV vs Amazon Fire Stick

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Overall Findings: What's the Point of an Apple TV or Fire Stick?

Apple TV
  • Streams video up to 4K to an HD-capable TV through an available HDMI port.

  • Offers a variety of apps for watching and playing content.

  • Comes with a slick remote with voice search.

Fire TV Stick
  • Streams video up to 4K to an HD-capable TV through an available HDMI port.

  • Offers a variety of apps for watching and playing content.

  • Comes with an intuitive remote with voice search.

Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick are two of the most popular names in the increasingly crowded streaming device market and offer many similar features. Both devices let you stream video up to 4K with a compatible TV, as well as intuitive interfaces with thousands of apps offering movies, games, and other entertainment.

Additionally, both devices offer easy setup and intuitive interfaces, so you can quickly jump in and start watching Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming apps. But even with so many similarities, there are some differences that set the Apple TV and Fire Stick apart. 

Specs: Fire TV Stick Has Slight Edge in Video, but Apple TV Has Better Audio

The Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick offer similar technical specifications, but with tradeoffs on audio and video formats. Most notably, Apple TV is missing HDR10+, a more advanced form of HDR that improves color and contrast in supported media. However, Fire Stick is missing Apple's Spatial Audio, which is designed to offer a more immersive, theatrical-like audio experience.

  Apple TV Amazon Fire TV Stick
Price $179 $49.99
Dimensions  3.9 x 3.9 x 1.4 inches 3.9 x 1.2 x 0.6 inches
Colors Black Black
Resolution Up to 4K Up to 4K
Supported Video Formats HDR10, Dolby Vision HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
Supported Audio Formats Dolby 5.1, Dolby 7.1, Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio Dolby 5.1, Dolby 7.1, Dolby Atmos

Availability and Pricing: Fire TV Stick Is Much Cheaper Than Apple TV

Apple TV
  • Standard HD model with 32GB is $149.

  • Apple TV 4K: $179.00 for 32GB model or $199 for 64GB model.

Fire TV Stick
  • Fire TV Stick (1080p): $39.99

  • Fire TV Stick 4K: $49.99

  • Fire TV Cube: $119.99

The biggest difference between these two streaming devices is price and it’s not even close. The cheapest Apple TV 4K model is a whopping $130 more (as of publication) than the Fire TV Stick 4K and when you factor in the monthly cost of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, it’s hard to deny the Fire Stick is much more budget-friendly.

Things get a bit more complicated when you toss the Fire TV Cube into the mix, as it’s closer in price to Apple TV. The additional $70 nets you full Alexa voice assistant integration but if you already own an Amazon Echo, you can easily pair it with a 4K Fire Stick to achieve a similar result.

Apple TV does have an advantage when it comes to storage, as you get either 32GB or 64GB compared to 8GB for the standard Fire Sticks and 16GB with the Fire TV Cube. However, it’s debatable whether this extra storage space is worth the cost, as the only real benefit is a slight performance boost thanks to the way Apple TV caches data.

Out-Of-The-Box Experience: Smooth Setup for Both Devices

Apple TV
  • Included in box: Apple TV, Siri Remote, Power Cord, Lightning to USB Cable.

Fire TV Stick
  • Included in box: Fire TV Stick 4K, Alexa Voice Remote (2nd Gen), USB cable and power adapter, HDMI extender cable, 2 AAA batteries.

The Apple TV and Fire TV Stick are both “plug-and-play” devices, meaning you don’t need any additional hardware besides an internet connection and HDMI-compatible TV. Neither device requires you to register a code first—you’ll just need to enter your Wi-Fi password to get started.

In terms of physical design, the Fire TV Stick is small enough to be tucked behind your TV, which could be beneficial if your home theatre space is already crowded. Of course, it’s a different story if you opt for the Fire TV Cube, which is a bit bigger than the Apple TV. Speaking of the Apple TV, it’s small enough to fit comfortably into any entertainment setup and also includes an ethernet port if you’d prefer a wired connection for more consistent speeds. Just make sure you have a spare HDMI cable handy, as Apple TV devices don't come with one.

Channels and Apps: Thousands to Choose From

Apple TV
  • Offers 15,000+ channels and apps.

  • Apps displayed in clean grid interface.

Fire TV Stick
  • Offers 12,000+ channels and apps.

  • User interface is easy to navigate, but cluttered.

You’ll find no shortage of content on either Apple TV or Fire TV Stick. Both apps offer many of the big-name services you’d expect, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

Although Apple has a reputation for saddling developers with stricter requirements to publish on its App Store, you’ll find more than 15,000 apps on Apple’s tvOS according to research firm 42matters. This is actually more than you’ll find on Fire TV Stick, which offers approximately 12,700 apps.

Apple TV used to have an advantage when it comes to app availability, as both HBO Max and Peacock were unavailable on Fire TV Stick at launch. However, both of these services have since been added, which puts Apple TV and Fire TV Stick on par in terms of high-profile content availability.

One downside to the Fire TV Stick is that Amazon's user interface features ads and tends to push you toward Amazon's own apps. You'll more than likely get used to it, but it's hard to deny that Apple's interface is more user-friendly and less intrusive overall.

Features: Apple TV and Fire Stick Both Offer Robust Entertainment Hubs

Apple TV
  • Apple ID lets you access your music, movies, and other media across Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

  • Play games with exclusive Apple Arcade service.

Fire TV Stick
  • Access Amazon Music, Kindle books, and more.

  • Play cloud-based games using Amazon Luna.

While the Apple TV and Fire TV Stick are primarily video streaming devices, both offer a wide range of additional features to serve as one-stop entertainment shops.

Gaming is a major focus for both, as you can pair a Bluetooth controller (including PlayStation and Xbox) to play games on either platform. Apple has the slight edge here thanks to its underrated Apple Arcade service, but Amazon’s cloud-based Luna service is getting better all the time and already offers a number of AAA titles, including Resident Evil 7 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

Outside of gaming, Apple TV and Fire TV Stick offer similar media coverage. Although they require subscriptions, services like Apple Fitness+ and Apple Music transform the Apple TV into a device that fits all of your entertainment needs (although you can find comparable services in Amazon’s ecosystem). Both platforms also offer voice assistant integration, so you can connect and control a variety of smart devices in your home.

Overall, the two devices are comparable when it comes to features so your preference will likely come down to your affinity for Apple or Amazon’s ecosystem.

Final Verdict: Is Fire Stick as Good as Apple TV?

Since Apple TV and Amazon Fire Stick offer many of the same features (4K video, app availability, voice control), the question of which device you should get really comes down to price and your affinity for the Apple ecosystem. The Fire TV Stick 4K is available for much less than an Apple TV with similar capabilities, so it definitely offers better value for money. However, the Apple TV’s integration with iPhone, iPad, and Mac may be worth it if you’re already part of the Apple ecosystem. 

Based on its affordability and feature set, the Fire TV Stick is the overall winner but you really can’t go wrong with either device.

FAQ
  • What's the difference between Roku and Fire Stick?

    When comparing the Amazon Fire Stick versus Roku, one big difference is the ecosystem. While both can offer 4K video quality and many of the same channels, the Fire Stick works seamlessly with other Amazon account features, such as Alexa and Prime Video. Roku doesn't come with Alexa, but it also offers a voice remote, a much simpler interface, and more channels.

  • What's the difference between Roku and Apple TV?

    One of the main differences between Roku and Apple TV is the variety of streaming devices and content. Roku comes in a stick, set-top, and TV format, while Apple TV comes in smart TV, set-top, and app format for numerous devices, including Roku players and smart TVs. Apple TV offers original content, which Roku doesn't, but Roku also provides many more channels and free programming.

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