Google Nexus 9 vs Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014): Tablet Battle

Posted by B. Johnson
Published on January 21, 2015 | 0 comments
Google Nexus 9 vs Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014): Tablet BattleHi guys, welcome back!

With Nexus series, Google has been trying to create the best possible example for its partners or manufacturers to make Android tablets to consumers.

However, in the real implementation, some of the Google Nexus devices (especially the tablets), are still not there yet to deserve the same level as iPads.

Okay, Samsung Nexus 10 may be a really amazing tablet even than the iPad – given its monster specs plus 2.5K gorgeous display -, but sadly, this device didn’t have much to say around the tablet market, especially compared to iPad.

It goes the same with Nexus 7 and another Nexus 7 model in 2013, with both not being as great as iPad mini.

Google Nexus 9 vs Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014) benchmarks and gaming performance

However, in its latest effort in tablet market, Google has high hopes that its latest-gen Nexus tablet – which is Google Nexus 9 – could turn out to be the real best Nexus tablet it ever released to the market.

But the journey of Google with this tablet may not be an easy one because there are still many other competing devices that are more than ready to blow it out of the water, especially in terms of sales.

The latest-gen Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014 model) could be one of those tablets.

So this is the reason why today, i’m really interested to bring up Google Nexus 9 in the same ring to fight in this comparison review against Amazon’s latest-gen Fire HDX 8.9.

I know that both tablets fall in entire different bandwagons – with Google Nexus 9 being a productivity device, while Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 becoming a pure media-consumptive device.

However, given the fact that Amazon also ships this tablet with WPS Office out of the box, then i think both tablets are on the same page’ in productivity tablet category.

Anyway, if you’re interested to know more about these devices and see them get compared side-by-side, then here you go, my comparison review between Google Nexus 9 and Amazon Fire HDX 8.9.

Introduction

As a new-released and latest-gen tablet from Google, somehow Nexus 9 has garnered some mixed reviews across the tech world – and surprisingly not in a good way.

And this is unexpected especially by Google itself because this company has been through such a long journey in its Nexus line for the past few years until it finally reaches to this point – which is the release of Google Nexus 9.

There have been Google Nexus 7, another Nexus 7 in 2013, then Google Nexus 10 and finally, the latest and greatest – at least, as hoped by Google -, Google Nexus 9.

So when this last-gen Nexus tablet came out, it supposedly become the best Google Nexus tablet that Google ever released to the market. But sadly, that didn’t happen as Google had hoped for.

Despite being made by HTC – which has been known for its craftsmanship and expertise to design premium devices with top notch quality -, Google Nexus 9 surprisingly still carries some flaws here and there on its hardware.

And this is terrible because if the problems are on the software, they can be easily fixed with software updates.

However, if the issues are on the hardware, the manufacturer will be required either to fix the products in the next batch of production, or sadly, make it up in the next-gen model (which is not gonna happen in this case, given that Google still has several other partners/manufacturers that can do better with its Nexus project in the future).

This really contradicts with what Amazon brought the tablet market in its Kindle Fire family.

Last year, Amazon was back again by bringing the refreshed model of the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 tablet, alongside other new-gen Kindle tablets.

Inside this model, Amazon does some huge improvements both on hardware and software, with Snapdragon 805 and Adreno 420 GPU, plus Amazon Sangria OS being the most prominent ones.

According to many tech reviews across the net and YouTube, this tablet amazingly has gained a lot of positive feedback from reviewers, with many saying that its display looks really gorgeous and in fact, it is the best display quality on tablet market to date, even than the iPad Air, as seen on display benchmark tests held by some tech sites.

But that’s not the only thing that is so impressive on this device. There’s more.

One of them is definitely its beefy monster Snapdragon 805 processor – alongside Adreno 420 GPU – that ensures high-quality gaming performance to the users.

Its rear camera also takes good pictures, if not the best.

But the questions remain, with all of the impressive things found on these 2 devices, which one between Google Nexus 9 and Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 that deserves to take the crown here as the best tablet in the whole aspect?

Which one that is a much better gaming tablet overall?

Is it worth it to buy any of these tablets, especially for their gaming performance?

Design

HTC has always been known for its craftsmanship in making premium quality devices in the past couple of years.

And that’s proved by how impressive the design and build quality that HTC puts through its latest-gen HTC One M8 smartphone, which is made totally out of metallic aluminum case, making it probably the best premium smartphone on the market right now, even than the iPhone.

And that’s the thing that this manufacturer tries to bring on this Google Nexus 9.

Even though this tablet is not using full aluminum material all over its coating – unlike HTC One M8 -, this tablet still looks and feels really premium in it class.

However, there’s something that probably could hold back this device from being in the same league with iPad Air.

Google Nexus 9
Google Nexus 9

Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)

And weirdly, that is its material. Despite being made by HTC – which is known for its premium quality devices -, Google Nexus 9 surprisingly has a mediocre quality rear-cover.

According to some reviews on YouTube (including theVerge and PhoneArena), its rear-cover is really prone to catch finger-prints and human grease.

And this of course cannot be tolerated especially given that this tablet is meant to rival straightly against the iPad Air.

In the long run, this ‘flaw’ – if you would – could turn out to be the main reason why tablet shoppers out there choose the iPad Air instead, especially with its best build quality and material.

However, if compared to Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, this Google Nexus 9 may become the winner here in design aspect. And that’s mostly because Amazon’s tablet is not really prominent for its design.

In fact, this Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 has a really generic looking design with no characteristic compared to other rivals, just a 9-inch dark black slab with a touch screen on it.

That’s why in this comparison review, i’ll definitely go with Google Nexus 9 because not only does it have great elegant design, but thanks to its dual-front-speaker grilles, it also has great sound quality, making it a great device for watching movies or playing games.

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Google Nexus 9 (HTC )Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)
4G Network LTE
Released November 2014
8.9 inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 1536 x 2048 pixels (~281 ppi pixel density) 16M colors
Dual-core 2.3 GHz Denver Nvidia Tegra K1 Chipset
Kepler DX1 GPU
2 GB RAM
Android OS 5.0 Lollipop
No Memory Card slot
16/32 GB Internal storage
8 MP rear-facing camera LED flash
1.6 MP front-camera, (720p video-recording)
Bluetooth v4.1, NFC, GPRS, GPS
No Radio
Java MIDP emulator
Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass Sensors
Non-removable Li-Po 6700 mAh battery
Talk time (multimedia): for up to 9 hours

    4G LTE
    Micro-SIM
    Released 2014, October
    8.9 inch 2560 x 1600 pixelsIPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, (~339 ppi pixel density)
    Android OS 4.4 KitKat customized Sangria UI
    Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 450 Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Chipset
    Adreno 420 GPU
    2 GB RAM
    * Fire OS 4
    * Dolby Atmos sound enhancement
    No Memory Card slot
    16/32/64 GB Internal storage
    8 MP rear-facing camera LED flash
    Secondary front-facing camera
    * Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
    Non-removable Li-Ion battery
    Talk time (multimedia): for up to 12 hours

    As 2 new-gen tablets, it’s not hard to guess that both Google Nexus 9 and Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 come with some beefy specs that are considered as high-grade quality hardware for today’s standards.

    And that what happens exactly on these 2 devices.

    Google Nexus 9 ships with 8.9-inch display sporting the “Retina” 1536x2048 pixel resolution, a dual-core Tegra K1 processor with 64-bit architecture, 2GB of RAM, 192-core Kepler GPU, 8MP and 1.6MP cameras back and front with LED flash on the rear, 16/32GB of native storage, Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box, 6700mAh battery and some other standard features including LTE.

    Meanwhile, on the blue side, Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 comes with a the same 8.9-inch display but much higher 2560x1600 pixel resolution, a quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor, 2GB of RAM, Adreno 420 GPU, 8MP rear-facing camera with LED flash, front-facing camera, 16/32/64GB internal storage, Android 4.4 Kit Kat with Amazon’s fully customized Fire OS 4 through Sangria UI, a non-removable battery promising for up to 12 hours for talk time and many more, also including LTE connectivity.

    Between these 2 tablets, i think both Google Nexus 9 and Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 are perfectly prepared in terms of specs.

    And they also deserve to be positioned alongside other flagship devices like iPad Air or Samsung GALAXY Tab S series.

    Screen

    As far as the display is concerned, Google Nexus 9 comes with the same exact screen resolution of iPad Air, which is 1536x2048 pixels, known as “Retina” on Apple tablets.

    However, given that this device is using a much smaller 8.9-inch display – as opposed to the 9.7-inch screen on iPad Air -, then its sharpness is slightly superior than the one on iPad.

    But that’s on paper.

    In the real implementation, however, the “Retina” display found on Google Nexus 9 apparently is not nearly as nice looking as on the iPad Air, according to theVerge.

    And that’s based on some reasons: like its colors that often look washed out, there’s visible gap between the glass and LCD and there’s visible backlight on the side of the screen.

    Even PhoneArena and one famous tech reviewer named MKBHD also confirm the same issues/flaws found on the screen of Nexus 9.

    This totally contradicts with the display of Amazon Fire HDX 8.9.

    Thanks to its 2.5K resolution – 2560x1600 pixels – crammed on its 8.9-inch display, the screen of this Amazon’s tablet looks insanely gorgeous.

    It looks sharp and crisp, the viewing angles are good, and the overall quality of its screen is just top notch – as seen on display benchmark tests held by tech sites, which even outperformed Apple’s retina display.

    So in terms of display and its overall quality, it’s just no-brainer that Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is really superior than Google Nexus 9, not just on paper, but also in real life ‘execution’.

    And that’s something that should be learned more by Google and HTC in the future, even Apple.

    User Interface

    When it comes to UI, Google Nexus 9 and Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 are both on the different sides of the road.

    Google Nexus 9 is more prominent with its fully-featured Android 5.0 Lollipop along with its new goodies and improvements.

    Meanwhile Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is more comfortable with Amazon’s simplified Android UI called Sangria on Fire OS platform, which is based on Android 4.4 Kitkat.

    Between these 2 tablets, i think they are good equally in terms of software and features, however, if compared against each other, i personally would prefer Google Nexus 9 with its stock Android UI just because, first of all, it’s the latest and greatest Android 5.0 Lollipop, second of all, it’s fast and fluid with no heavy customizations, and last of all, it comes with some major improvements on battery department.

    But even so, both UIs are still good overall.

    The UI of Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 may not have all the goodies and features, plus improvements on battery just like on Google Nexus 9

    However, thanks to this simplified UI, this tablet still performs really fast and smooth, plus more efficient with the use of battery.

    Besides, for some users who are heavily invested in Amazon ecosystem, having a straight-forward simple UI on this Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is actually really good for them, making it easier to get new media contents without any complicated learning curve, which is the main reason why Apple devices sell that great on the market.

    Back to Top
    Google Nexus 9 is powered by a dual-core Tegra K1 processor along with its staggering 192-core Kepler GPU, while Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is injected with the latest Snapdragon 805 processor and Adreno 420 GPU.

    On paper, it’s definitely Google Nexus 9 that will come out as the winner here compared to Amazon’s tablet.

    And that’s clearly because Tegra K1 processor is extremely powerful it could even deliver the same graphical performance as today’s desktops/PCs.

    Meanwhile, the hardware package found inside Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 may be the best on tablet market, but it’s not in the same league as Tegra K1 processor on Google Nexus 9.

    Okay, with Snapdragon 805 processor, 2GB of RAM and Adreno 420 GPU, this tablet definitely flies when doing many daily tasks like watching HD movies, browsing the web or even playing the most graphically demanding games like Modern Combat 5, Asphalt 8: Airborne or GTA San Andreas (all in buttery smooth performance and full highest graphics).

    However, if compared with Google Nexus 9, there’s no single doubt that this Google-branded tablet is far more superior given that it’s capable not only to execute aforementioned games above, but also many other console-quality next-gen games like Trine 2 (PS3), Half Life 2 (PC) and many other titles that are about to arrive in the near future in 2015.

    Besides great in gaming performance, Google Nexus 9 also has a much better sound quality thanks to the dual-speaker-grilles found on the front of this device.

    Even according to theVerge, the sound quality that comes out from this tablet is really great, it’s loud and clear, making the experience of playing games more realistic.

    And that’s not the same thing to be found on Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 tablet.

    But that’s not all. There’s another thing that makes Google Nexus 9 a better gaming tablet than Amazon Fire HDX 8.9.

    And that is the full support from mobile even console/PC game developers to port their popular titles to Tegra K1 devices like Google Nexus 9.

    And thanks to NVIDIA’s close relationship with big companies like Activision, EA or Ubisoft, there will be many future games on Google Nexus 9 that have console-quality graphics and visual effects.

    So i believe it's very possible for games like Call of Duty to arrive on this device in the future ahead (fingers' crossed for that!).

    So in conclusion, between these 2 devices, i think i have to side on Google Nexus 9 as the best gaming tablet in this comparison review against Amazon Fire HDX 8.9.

    Anyway guys, if you want to know more about the gaming performance of Google Nexus 9 vs Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, including what games that will run on these tablets, check out my YouTube video playlist or Pinterest page. :)

    Camera

    Nexus devices have never been so great in terms of camera, especially compared to iPads.

    However, Google surprisingly made a huge improvement on the camera of Google Nexus 9.

    That’s probably thanks to HTC that has years of experience on camera department – especially with its Ultra-pixel technology.

    According to theVerge, the 8MP camera found on the back of Google Nexus 9 amazingly is capable to take decent quality shots, especially in the day light.

    In low-light condition, however, it still produces pretty good and sharp photos/videos, but definitely not as impressive as in day light.

    The camera of this tablet may not be as great as the 8MP iSight camera of iPad Air 2, but i think this major improvement on its camera really shows how Google is on the right track if it wants to take over tablet market anytime soon.

    Meanwhile, Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 also ships with 8MP camera on the back, plus the other one on the front to do selfies and video calls.

    In terms of quality, however, according to some tech reviews on YouTube, its camera is able to take decent shots and even videos.

    And this is actually unexpected because Amazon Kindle Fire tablets have never been good with camera.

    In fact, camera is probably the last thing on earth that Amazon would put on its tablet.

    So either if you choose Google Nexus 9 or Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, both tablets are still pretty good with their cameras.

    Okay, they may not be as great as the cameras on iPads, but at least they are good and sharp enough for most of users who love photography on tablets.

    Battery Life

    Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 has a promised 12 hours of battery life in talk time mode, while Google Nexus 9 with its 6700mAh battery promises users around 720 hours for stand-by and 9 hours 30 minutes for talk time.

    This is probably believable given that Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 comes with a simplified Android UI without many of its features found on the stock version.

    So as a result, not only does this Amazon’s tablet perform much faster and smoother, but it’s also more efficient with the use of battery life.

    So you can totally expect to see this device survive in very long hours even when doing longer watching or gaming session.

    Meanwhile, Google Nexus 9 is actually also really good in battery life.

    And that’s mostly thanks to Google that brings a lot of improvements on Android 5.0 Lollipop especially on the battery department (like Project Volta, tap-to-wake on lockscreen mode, battery saving mode, etc).

    So even with its high-resolution screen or power-hungry Tegra K1 processor, this tablet is still capable to last in a solid day - on a full charge - in moderate use.

    However, if you’re gonna use it to do some heavy intense tasks like watching movies in marathon or playing games in the row, of course its battery life would drop drastically to probably just around 4 to 5 hours the longest, maybe more maybe less than that.

    My Personal Opinions

    So in my final conclusion, i think it’s a bit hard to determine which one between these 2 tablets that is better tablet in the whole aspect. I mean, Google Nexus 9 may have a monster Tegra K1 processor, 2GB of RAM and 192-core GPU inside.

    However, Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 still gains its position back in this review with its gorgeous 2.5K display, as opposed to the lower 1536x2048 pixel screen on Google Nexus 9 – and display benchmark tests showed that the screen of this Amazon tablet is the best on the market.

    And then, Google Nexus 9 may look superior with its elegant design and powerful gaming performance, but then Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 also looks good in terms of gaming performance and battery life.

    Google Nexus 9 may have the official keyboard folio case from Google on Play Store (sold separately), but Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 actually also has its own Fire Keyboard that is released officially by Amazon itself.

    So all of these make it really tie between these 2 tablets.

    However, if we explore more about these 2 tablets, then we can finally find out that Google Nexus 9 is definitely the winner here in this comparison review.

    The reason is simple, Google Nexus 9 has a much better gaming experience in the whole aspect than Amazon Fire HDX 8.9.

    Okay, Amazon tablet may be more than happier to execute even the latest graphics intense games like Modern Combat 5, Asphalt 8: Airborne and many future titles in 2015, all in smooth performance and full graphics.

    However, if compared side-by-side with Google Nexus 9, it’s definitely Google’s tablet that is a better gaming tablet than Amazon’s device.

    The reasons are simple. First of all, the Tegra K1 processor inside Google Nexus 9 is extremely powerful it’s even capable to execute any thing that you see on today’s desktops/PCs, even the most graphically demanding ones like games.

    Second of all, thanks to NVIDIA’s close relationship with many giant game makers like Activision, EA or Ubisoft, this really opens up the chance for these developers to port their popular titles right away on Tegra K1 hardware like Google Nexus 9 (and that will happen!).

    In fact, it already happens today as console-quality games like Trine 2, Half Life 2 (PC) and even Oddworld Stranger's Wrath (which is my favorite FPS game on my Xbox classic) can now be enjoyed on Tegra K1 tablets, including Google Nexus 9.

    And the final reason is, Google Nexus 9 has a great sound quality, thanks to dual-front-speaker-grilles found on this tablet, making the experience of playing games more realistic than on other tablets.

    So with all of these strengths found on Google-branded tablet, this really makes it easier for me to recommend Google Nexus 9 instead of Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 especially as a gaming tablet.

    However, as a media-consumptive device, i will definitely pick up Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 especially given its gorgeous display and easy access to Amazon ecosystem.

    Disclaimer: Hi guys, bear in mind that this is not some in-depth review. This is Read more...

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