Amazon is upgrading its Kindle Fire HD tablet to the Kindle Fire HDX, and the 7in model is ready to square off directly against the Google Nexus 7 – at least in the US first, and hopefully over in the UK before too long.
The UK availability or price hasn’t yet been confirmed by Amazon, but over in the States the 16GB Kindle sells for $229 (£142) – that’s with special offers on the lock screen – an identical price to the Nexus 7. If Amazon also pitches identically to Google in the UK, we can expect the HDX 7 to start from £199. The 32GB HDX 7 is priced at $269 (£167) in the US, again like the equivalent Nexus 7, while a 64GB model (not currently available with the Nexus 7) is $309 (£192).
The Nexus 7 is our current favourite in the 7in Android tablet category. The Kindle Fire HDX's specs seem very similar, but exactly how similar requires some analysis. That's what I'm here for, with a handy spec table for reference at the end of this article.
Both tablets use Android – well, sort of. The Nexus 7 uses a stock Android 4.3 installation, while the Kindle Fire HDX uses Fire OS 3.0 (also called "Mojito"), an Amazon-built shell over Android (version 4.2.2).
The good news is that Fire OS integrates all of your Amazon purchases seamlessly into the tablet, so you can access all of your music, movies, books, and apps bought through Amazon. There’s also a nifty new help feature called Mayday which you can read more about in our hands-on with the Fire HDX.
The bad news is the interface steers you away from the more powerful and Google-native features of Android, so if you want to find apps or services not available on Amazon you might have to do some tinkering.
The Kindle Fire HDX and Google Nexus 7 sport quad-core Qualcomm processors, but the Kindle Fire HDX's 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU edges out the Nexus 7's 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro. Despite the higher clock speed, the two processors are fairly similar, with the Kindle Fire HDX getting only a slight GPU bump with the Adreno 330 compared to the Nexus 7's Adreno 320. With the same 2GB of RAM, same resolution display, and similar operating systems, we'll have to see how the benchmarks look before we can declare a winner.
Screen and sound
Both tablets share the same type of display: A 7in 1,920 x 1,200-resolution, 1080p-capable IPS LCD screen. Amazon hasn't confirmed whether the Kindle Fire HDX uses a Corning glass screen to protect against scratches, but it notes that the display has a polarising filter to reduce glare. For sound, the Kindle Fire HDX uses built-in stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus processing, while the Nexus 7 uses built-in stereo speakers with Fraunhofer surround sound processing. You can only get so much sound out of tiny speakers built into a slim case, though, so either way you'll want to get some good headphones or a good Bluetooth speaker if you want to use your tablet to listen to music.
As is the case with processing power, we'll have to test the Kindle Fire HDX to see how long its battery lasts. However, Amazon claims it can go for up to 11 hours of video, music, and web surfing, and up to 17 hours of reading. That would beat out the Nexus 7's stated battery life of 10 hours and tested battery life of 7 hours and 37 minutes.
The Nexus 7 sports a front and rear-facing camera, so you can take snapshots with it. However, the Kindle Fire HDX only has a front-facing camera for video calls and self-portraits. If you want a rear-facing camera, you'll have to move up to the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. Neither tablet has a microSD card slot, so you'll have to make do with the built-in storage.
For more, check out our spec comparison between the 8.9in Kindle HDX and the iPad, and our Nexus 7 review.
Kindle Fire HDX 7
Google Nexus 7 (2013)
1,920 x 1,200 pixels
1,920 x 1,200 pixels
Processor and battery
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
TBC (Claimed 11 hrs)
3,950 mAh (Claimed 10 hrs)
Storage and memory
16 / 32 / 64GB
16 / 32GB
Rear: No camera
186 x 128 x 9mm
200 x 114 x 8.65mm
303g (LTE model: 311g)
290g (LTE model: 299g)
Fire OS 3.0 (based on Android 4.2.2)
Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
£199 (16GB; Wi-Fi)
£239 (32GB; Wi-Fi)
£299 (32GB; Wi-Fi + LTE)