At the end of last month, Amazon revealed its new Kindle Fire tablets, with the HDX model being available in two sizes – a 7in variant, and an 8.9in variant. These are set to ship in just under a fortnight over in the US, but we’re still waiting for confirmation on when they’ll be available over in the UK.
Of course, Apple does have an event next week which is expected to be the unveiling of the new iPads – although it isn’t clear if the iPad mini will be present, with the latest rumours indicating it might be delayed now. At any rate, for now we’re going to look at how the 7in HDX stacks up against Apple’s older iPad mini in a battle of compact slates.
Amazon is certainly making a major effort with its new line of tablets, and one of the most interesting additions the company has made is a new feature called Mayday. This is a live customer support service for the HDX that can walk the user through any issues or questions. Amazon is aiming to have all Mayday calls answered within 15 seconds, a pretty high bar for customer support response time. It remains to be seen if they can match that target when the devices go on sale – but Apple certainly doesn’t have anything like this available on its iPads.
Mayday aside, on paper the HDX trounces the iPad mini in almost every spec department. The iPad mini is running a 1GHz dual-core A5 processor, the same one used in the two-year-old iPad 2. The Kindle Fire HDX sports Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 800, a quad-core processor running at 2.2GHz. The HDX also has 2GB of RAM compared to the iPad mini's 512MB.
The Kindle Fire HDX has a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution 7in display with 323 ppi, which allows for 1080p video playback. The iPad mini’s larger 7.9in display is 1,024 x 768, and it has a pixels-per-inch figure which is half that of the HDX at 163 ppi. The mini’s video playback reaches 720p rather than full HD, so if you're looking for HD games and movies, the Kindle Fire HDX would be more up your alley.
The iPad mini and Kindle Fire HDX feature a 720p front-facing camera, although the iPad mini also has a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera, so it scores a point here.
Of course, all the power in the world doesn’t matter if you have no use for it. While the HDX may have some tablet-optimised games and apps available when it launches, the iPad mini's software and hardware ecosystem is where it really shines. Amazon's Android-based marketplace is no different from Google's Play Store as far as tablet-optimised apps are concerned. But there are hundreds of thousands of iPad apps to choose from, making it more suitable for people looking to use their tablet for something other than watching movies or reading books – which Apple's iPad mini also does, thanks to the iTunes Store. Apple's accessory market is also flooded with options, giving your iPad mini the opportunity to be your productivity station as well as your media hub.
The truth is that the amount of enjoyment you'll get from either slate may boil down to how much you've invested in each ecosystem.
In terms of price, we still don’t know how much the HDX will run to in the UK. However, in the States, it starts at $229 (£140), so it’s probably going to pitch at just under the £200 mark over here. Whatever the price ends up as, it will definitely be cheaper than the iPad mini is currently – Apple’s compact tablet starts at £269.
For more, check out our spec comparison between the 8.9in Kindle HDX and the iPad, and our battle between the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 and Google Nexus 7. You might also want to see our Kindle Fire HDX 7 review.
Kindle Fire HDX 7
Apple iPad mini
1,920 x 1,200 pixels
1,024 x 768 pixels
Processor and battery
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
Claimed 11 hrs life
Claimed 10 hrs life
Storage and memory
16 / 32 / 64GB
16 / 32 / 64GB
Rear: No camera
186 x 128 x 9mm
200 x 134.7 x 7.2mm
303g (LTE model: 311g)
Fire OS 3.0 (based on Android 4.2.2)
Wi-Fi: £269 (16GB); £349 (32GB); £429 (64GB)
Wi-Fi + Cellular: £369 (16GB); £449 (32GB); £529 (64GB)