Kindle Fire HDX 7 vs. Nexus 7

Comparison of the two 7-inch tablets from Amazon and Google

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch and Google Nexus 7 are two of the most popular 7-inch tablets on the market. Both offer a great range of features for essentially the same price. Choosing which tablet to get can be difficult. We took a close look at how the two tablets compare in several areas to help you determine which one might be the better choice.

Kindle Fire HDX 7 vs Nexus 7

Overall Findings

Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch
  • Better suited for portrait mode.

  • Fits comfortably in a hand.

  • Easier to grip.

  • Faster graphics.

  • Longer battery life with video playback.

  • Kindle integration.

  • Better parental controls.

Google Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Better suited for landscape mode.

  • Has a forward-facing and rear-facing camera.

  • Open Android platform.

Depending on your needs, either tablet performs well. However, if you're looking for long-term comfort and more features while having access to your e-books (from Amazon), the Kindle Fire will take care of most of your tablet needs.

Design: Kindle Fire Is More Comfortable

Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch
  • Wider in portrait mode.

  • Better for reading.

  • Angled edges make it comfortable to hold.

Google Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Slightly thinner and lighter.

  • Taller in portrait mode.

  • Better for viewing videos.

There are several factors to consider when looking at the design of the tablets. The first is the size and weight of the device. Both weigh nearly the same with the Nexus 7 being a fraction thinner and a bit lighter. Holding the two side by side, it's difficult to tell the difference. The Nexus 7 is a bit taller when held in portrait mode while the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch is a bit wider. This makes the Nexus 7 better suited to holding it in landscape mode for video. The Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch is more like a book for reading.

In terms of the construction, the Kindle Fire HDX has a slightly better overall feel due to its composite and nylon construction with angled edges that fit well in a hand. In contrast, the Nexus 7 back has switched away from a rubber-coated plastic to a matte plastic that doesn't have the same level of feel and grip as the original Nexus 7.

Performance: Kindle Fire Outperforms

Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch
  • Has a 4-core Qualcomm processor.

  • Has a higher clock speed.

  • Faster graphics.

Google Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Has a 4-core Qualcomm processor.

If you want raw computing and graphics performance in a tablet, then the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch has the advantage over the Google Nexus 7. Both have a processor that is manufactured by Qualcomm and feature four cores. The Fire HDX processor runs at a higher clock speed and is a newer design that features faster graphics than that of a Nexus 7. However, it's not easy to tell the difference in the current generation of applications between the two.

Display: Nearly a Dead Heat

Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch
  • Offers 1920x1080 resolution.

  • Slightly better color and brightness levels.

  • Has a full sRGB color gamut.

Google Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Offers 1920x1080 resolution.

  • Has a full sRGB color gamut.

This is probably the toughest comparison between the two tablets, as both have great screens. Each offers a 1920x1080 display resolution with a wide color gamut and bright color. Even if these devices are side by side, many people may have difficulties deciding which of the two is better. If you look hard or happen to have equipment for measuring, the Kindle Fire HDX edges out the Nexus 7 in both color and brightness levels. Still, each tablet offers a full sRGB color gamut, so these are both great for the average user.

Cameras: Nexus 7 for Photo Enthusiasts

Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch
  • Does not have a front-facing camera.

  • 1.3 megapixels.

Google Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Has front-facing and rear-facing cameras.

  • Rear camera has an image resolution of 5 megapixels.

  • Front camera has an image resolution of 1.2 megapixels.

This is one of the easiest comparisons of the two. Since the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch doesn't have a rear-facing camera, the Google Nexus 7 is for anyone that wants to take pictures or video with a tablet. The Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch isn't completely devoid of any cameras as it has a forward or web camera on it. It has only slightly less resolution than the Google Nexus 7, but in terms of functionality, both work well enough for video chats.

Battery Life: Kindle Keeps Going and Going

Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch
  • Can run for 10+ hours with video playback.

Google Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Can run for 8 hours with video playback.

With the size of the tablets and the features available on each one, you would expect that the two would have a similar battery life. The testing of the tablets shows a different experience. In digital video playback tests, the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch ran for over ten hours compared to the Nexus 7 at eight hours. So if you need a long-running tablet, the Kindle Fire provides roughly 20% more usage than the Nexus 7. This applies only to video playback. Usage of the two as dedicated e-readers or as gaming platforms can have different results.

Software: Google Nexus for Maximum Flexibility

Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch
  • Can't customize the interface.

  • Integrated with the Amazon Kindle and Video services.

  • Fewer available apps.

Google Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Basic Android installation.

  • No bloatware means a faster response.

  • Quicker to receive updates.

Software is where the two tablets differ the most. The Nexus 7 is a plain Android installation. This means that it doesn't have any of the skins or extra software that the other tablet companies put on top of the Android operating system to make theirs different from the rest. In general, this makes it more responsive, faster to get updates to newer versions of Android, and gives users more flexibility to customize their experience.

The Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch, in contrast, has a custom operating system designed by Amazon that is built on top of an Android core. This gives it a different feel and makes it more integrated into the Amazon Kindle and Instant Video services. Users can't customize the interface as much and are locked into the Amazon app store, which has fewer options than the Google Play store. This is useful for Amazon Prime members. The Kindle Fire includes May Day on-demand video tech support service. This tech support is useful for anyone who isn't familiar with using a tablet as Amazon representatives assist users at no cost on how to find and use things on the tablet.

If the tablet is going to be used with children in mind, then the ability to control what those kids have access to is another concern. In this area, the Fire OS of the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX with its FreeTime mode is a better choice. Android OS version 4.4 (also known as Kit Kat) adds improved account features for sharing a tablet, but the Kindle Fire HDX still has the advantage.

So which is better for tablet software? It depends on the user. Both are functional, but it comes down to how you want to use your tablet. The Amazon tablet is great for using the Amazon services and for anyone that isn't interested in customizing how the tablet functions. On the other hand, the Nexus 7 is an open platform that is great for those who want to customize their experience. You may not get the personal tech support as Amazon provides. However, it's possible to use the Amazon Kindle e-reader and Instant Video through the standard Android applications.

Final Verdict: Kindle Fires Just Edges Out

Based on all these factors, the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch has a slight edge. Even with that being the case, the Nexus 7 is a suitable alternative, especially if you care about having a rear camera or not being as locked into the Amazon services with the software.