Google Nexus 7 (2013) vs Amazon Fire HD 7: When two budget tablets compete in low-end market

Posted by B. Johnson
February 26, 2016 | 0 comments
Google Nexus 7 (2013) vs Amazon Fire HD 7: When two budget tablets compete in low-end marketThe first-generation Google Nexus 7 managed to get a warm reception in the tablet market.

A lot of people, mostly geeky users, really loved this device, while many reviewers said many great things about this tablet on their tech sites or YouTube channels.

But a year later, Google made a great come-back by unleashing the sequel model of Google Nexus 7 in 2013.

The 2nd edition of Google Nexus 7 is more powerful, much sharper with its full HD screen, much faster and it also receives an extra treatment like the a rear-facing camera, bigger RAM, LTE connectivity and of course, newer build of Android OS.

Meanwhile, another giant retail website, Amazon, also unleashed a bunch of new upgraded models of Kindle Fire series in 2014.

And one of them is the new Amazon Fire HD 7, which is the sequel model of its second-gen Kindle Fire HD 7.

Google Nexus 7 (2013) vs Amazon Fire HD 7 benchmarks and gaming performance

And just like Google with its second-gen Nexus 7, the 2014 edition of Amazon Fire HD 7 also brings some new goodies that was lacking on the predecessor, such as:
  • 2MP rear-facing camera,
  • newer build of Fire OS,
  • better looking design and of course,
  • faster more powerful performance than the predecessor.
So this is why today, I think it would be interesting to see how these 2 tablets compete in my next comparison review.

I know that Google Nexus 7 (2013) and Amazon Fire HD 7 fall in 2 slightly different categories, especially in terms of price range ($229 vs $180).

But they both are budget tablets, right? So I think it’s still relevant to pit the 2 into the same ring and see how they go, especially in terms of gaming performance.

Well, if you’re interested to learn more about my comparison between these 2 devices, then here you go, my comparison review between Google Nexus 7 (2013 edition) and Amazon Fire HD 7 (2014). You might gain some interesting insights from this review.

Okay then, without further ado, enjoy!

Introduction

As mentioned above, the second-gen Google Nexus 7 is a much better version of its predecessor. The most notably improvement made by Google, or in this case, Asus, is definitely its full HD display.

But the screen is not the only one that gets revamped by Asus to the new higher level.

There’s more.
  • Its RAM is now bigger,
  • it now has a rear-facing camera,
  • it comes pre-installed with the newer Android software,
  • it’s equipped with LTE connectivity
And the most importantly, its performance now is so much even better than the previous-gen model. All thanks to Qualcomm that supplies its Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU along with Adreno 320 GPU to Asus when manufacturing this device.

But the benefit from this new processor is not only about its faster performance. And that’s because its battery life gets majorly improved on this second-gen model, despite using a smaller battery capacity.

The story is a little bit different with Amazon Fire HD 7.

Even though this tablet is the new upgraded model from 2013’s Kindle Fire HD 7, the improvements made by Amazon on this new series seems a little bit halfhearted.

First, its screen is still sporting the HD 720p resolution, while the rear-facing camera that Amazon embeds on this tablet is only 2MP, which is far behind most of the competition that already adopt at least 5MP camera.

And its processor and GPU are also not that impressive especially in handling high-performing games.

The thing that is really disappointing from this tablet is, even with those insignificant improvements, Amazon Fire HD 7 costs around $180, which is pretty expensive for a budget tablet.

And this price is too steep considering how other competing tablets are more appealing in terms of hardware package, like HP Slate7 Plus ($150), HP Slate7 Extreme ($199) and of course, Google Nexus 7 ($229).

So there are some questions that need to get answered in this comparison review.

With all of the improvements made by Google and Amazon on these 2 devices: which one between Google Nexus 7 (2013) and Amazon Fire HD 7 that has what it takes to be the best gaming tablet in this comparison review?

Which one is a much better tablet in the whole aspect?

Is it worth it to buy any of these devices, especially for gaming?

Well, you’re about to find out more about the answers of these questions at the end of this review. So be sure to stick around!

Design

From all tablet manufacturers I’ve known so far, I think Amazon is the only one that is not really aggressive when it comes to designing its tablet.

Although Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 still looks quite nice, the designs of most Amazon’s cheap budget tablets look really generic and even ugly compared with any other tablets out there.

You can see that on 2015 edition of Amazon Fire budget tablets that look more like colorful toys than serious tablets for adults.

And it goes the same with this Amazon Fire HD 7. There’s just nothing special about its design.

It looks really generic and there’s just no characteristic especially compared with other rivals on the market.

However, despite having generic looking design, according to Zdnet, the materials used on the rear cover of Amazon Fire HD 7 actually still feel great and comfortable to hold.

However, if we go to Google's tablet, the design of this Nexus 7 is definitely so much even better.

Okay, it may not have the uniqueness just like Google Nexus 10 with its curved 'chubby' design. But I still think Asus and Google really nailed it when designing this device.

The top and bottom bezels look pretty huge but the thin bezels on the right and left really contribute to making this tablet look sexy and elegant.

According to some video reviews I’ve seen on YouTube, the rear cover of Google Nexus 7 feels really comfortable to hold on one hand.

It’s not really slippery, which gives a good grip for users to hold it even in long hours. Not to mention, it also doesn’t attract fingerprints easily so this tablet will look clean all the time.

Between the 2, of course I will side on Google Nexus 7 as this tablet, in my opinion, looks awesome and elegant as a budget tablet.

It may not have the premium feel and aluminum materials just like on iPads, but I think Google Nexus 7 still has its own characteristic compared to other tablets out there.

I mean, even if its screen is turned off, I can straightly tell and identify that this tablet is Google Nexus 7.

And that’s the opposite of Amazon Fire HD 7. I don’t think I can recognize this tablet if the screen is turned off because the way to recognize this tablet is definitely from its UI.

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Google Nexus 7 (2013)Amazon Fire HD 7
4G LTE
Micro-SIM
Released 2013, July
Weight 290 g (Wi-Fi), 299 g (LTE) (10.55 oz)
7.0 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen,
1200 x 1920 pixels, (~323 ppi pixel density), 16M colors
Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait Qualcomm Snapdragon S4Pro Chipset
Adreno 320 GPU
2 GB RAM
Android OS, v4.3 (Jelly Bean), upgradable to v5.0 (Lollipop)
5 MP rear-facing camera, 2592 ? 1944 pixels, autofocus
1.2 MP front-facing camera
No Memory Card slot
16/32 GB Internal storage
GPRS
EDGE
NFC
GPS
HSPA+, LTE
Wi-Fi 802.11
Bluetooth v4.0
microUSB v2.0 (SlimPort)
No Radio
Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass Sensors
No Java
Non-removable Li-Ion 3950 mAh battery
No SIM
Released 2014, October
290 g (Weight)
7.0 inch 800 x 1280 pixels IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, (~216 ppi pixel density) 16M colors
Android OS, v4.4 (KitKat - customized)
Dual-core 1.5 GHz & dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU
1 GB RAM
Corning Gorilla Glass
- Fire OS 4 Sangria UI
Dolby Digital Plus sound enhancement
2 MP rear-facing camera 1600 x 1200 pixels
VGA front-facing camera
No Memory Card slot
8/16 GB
No GPRS
No EDGE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth
microUSB v2.0 (SlimPort)
Accelerometer, gyro Sensors
No Radio
No GPS
No Java

As 2 budget tablets in 2 entirely different price points, of course Google Nexus 7 looks more prominent in this review as it’s priced higher than Amazon Fire HD 7 ($229 vs $180).

So its full HD display, 2GB of RAM, fast powerful CPU and GPU, 5MP rear-facing camera and stock Android UI are totally acceptable for its higher price tag.

Meanwhile, in the price range around $180, you’ll only get some lower-grade hardware pack on Amazon Fire HD 7: from the 720p HD resolution on its 7-inch display, 1GB of RAM, 2MP rear-facing camera, lower build quality, light-weight UI and less powerful performance.

However, there's still one in common that makes both devices stand on the same bandwagon. And that is the absence of expandable storage.

Between the 2, of course Google Nexus 7 is a more impressive tablet in the hardware department. And that’s acceptable given its higher price tag.

But in my opinion, I think Amazon Fire HD 7 could do much better or otherwise, lower its price even further.

And that’s because in around $180 (the initial price of Amazon Fire HD 7 in its first launch), what Amazon Fire HD 7 has to offer is not really worth the price given that HP Slate7 Plus, which costs only $150, has so much even better hardware specs and performance than Amazon Fire HD 7.

It also has better gaming performance than Amazon’s tablet.

But of course, despite having less appealing spec sheet, Amazon Fire HD 7 will still have a strong demand on the tablet market because there’s still a lot of people out there who just want to buy tablets that they can simply use to enjoy media contents directly from Amazon, like books, movies, music, etc.

Screen

Amazon Fire HD 7 is sporting the 720p resolution on its 7-inch display, which is an HD. Meanwhile, Google Nexus 7 has a much better sharpness here thanks to the 1080p resolution (full HD) on the same screen size of 7-inches. So of course, the media contents will look much even sharper and more crisp on Google’s tablet.

According to some video reviews I’ve already seen on YouTube (MKBHD and Phonearena), the display of Google Nexus 7 looks really gorgeous and sharp.

The screen looks crisp, the colors look popping out, the viewing angle is great and everything just looks nice on this device.

One of the things where it gets the most benefit from its full HD resolution is definitely when browsing the web or reading books.

The text is readable even in overview, every image looks crisp and you’re not required anymore to do a lot of pinch-to-zoom gesture everytime you see tiny texts on the web pages.

And this is why more and more manufacturers start adopting this type of resolution on their 7-inch tablets.

The story is totally different with Amazon Fire HD 7.

With just only 720p resolution on the same screen size of Google Nexus 7, the display of Amazon Fire HD 7 just looks okay for a low-end budget tablet.

It doesn’t look bad, but it’s also not that sharp for today’s standards. But it’s acceptable given its lower price tag.

But the good thing is, unlike Google’s tablet that has adequate hardware (CPU and GPU) to execute its full HD display, the processor and GPU of Amazon Fire HD 7 is only sufficient to handle 720p resolution.

So the use of HD resolution on this tablet is actually a good decision by Amazon because it will allow this tablet to perform much faster and smoother, plus more efficient in battery life.

User Interface

On the software side, Google Nexus 7 is full of features thanks to the stock Android UI, while Amazon Fire HD 7 is more comfortable to make use of a light-weight Sangria UI (Fire OS based on Android OS).

So when it comes to richness of features, of course Google Nexus 7 is the one that comes out as the winner here against Amazon Fire HD 7.

It has all the standard features and visual interface of Android Jelly Bean 4.3, as well as the standard Android layout with widgets.

On the other hand, the Sangria UI of Amazon Fire HD 7 is definitely the most straight-to-the-point UI I’ve ever seen on Android camp.

So the UI of this tablet is all about media contents.

And I think, there’s nothing wrong with that because vast majority users of Amazon tablets just want to have a tablet that they can use easily on the get-go without any complicated learning curves.

They just want to buy media contents like movies, books or music on Amazon and enjoy them straightly from the tablet.

So the decision of buying any of these devices will come down to your personal preference.

I mean, if you want to get an Android tablet that has all the elements of Android operating system, then Google Nexus 7 is the one to go.

But if you’re looking for an entertainment tablet that you can use to enjoy media contents from Amazon, then Amazon Fire HD 7 can also be a good choice, especially in the low-end market.

Back to Top

I think it’s quite clear that Google Nexus 7 is just way more powerful when it comes to gaming performance than Amazon Fire HD 7.

And that’s shown perfectly by the hardware package that this tablet comes with.

It’s packing a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, coupled with Adreno 320 GPU to handle the graphics.

Not to mention, 2GB of RAM is provided to allow this tablet to perform smoothly when opening many tasks at once, especially when playing games.

As far as the gaming performance is concerned, Google Nexus 7 is no doubt more than adequate to execute some of the latest and most graphics-intense games you see today on Google Play Store.

And that’s true because according to video reviews on YouTube, this Google’s tablet is capable to handle heavy games like Asphalt 8: Airborne, Modern Combat 4, NOVA 3, Need for Speed Most Wanted, Dead Trigger 2, GTA Vice City and many more. And all of these game perform smoothly even in full graphics.

Unfortunately, despite having a more powerful gaming performance than Amazon Fire HD 7, one game from Rockstar Games, GTA San Andreas, runs extremely laggy in full graphics (max resolution, max draw distance, max effects, max shadows, etc).

This can be seen on one video review from one YouTuber named Oode (Chris Nacca).

As you can see, the game performs poorly with low FPS below 20 and it’s just not playable in full graphics. But luckily, you can still play this game with low graphics setting.

Meanwhile, compared to Google's tablet, Amazon Fire HD 7 is definitely not an ideal tablet for playing games. It has lower-grade hardware and I don't think this tablet is capable to handle games like Asphalt 8: Airborne and GTA San Andreas in full highest graphics.

But the good news, you can still throw some casual games like: Jetpack Joyride, Sonic 4 Episode 2, Minecraft Pocket Edition and Sonic Dash.

And I also believe this device also has the power to run older games like Gangtar Rio, ShadowGun, Dead Trigger and many more. So you can still count on its gaming performance, although it's not going to fully satisfy you.

However, for today's standards, of course both Google Nexus 7 (2013) and Amazon Fire HD 7, in my opinion, are not really ideal as gaming devices.

So if you’re looking for an alternative, you can switch to other options like HP Slate7 Extreme, Nvidia Shield Tablet, Amazon Fire HDX 7, Xiaomi MiPad or iPad mini.

Anyway guys, if you want to know more about their gaming performances, including what games that will run on these tablets, check out my YouTube video playlist or Pinterest page. :)

Cameras

Camera is starting to become one of the most important elements either on smartphones or tablets. And this is why Google and Amazon are really eager to push the rear-facing cameras on both devices.

However, as 2 budget tablets, the camera quality of either Google Nexus 7 or Amazon Fire HD 7 apparently is not something to write home about.

Google Nexus 7 has 5MP camera on the back (while none on predecessor), while Amazon Fire HD 7 is armed with a much lower 2MP camera on the rear side.

But according to some reviews on YouTube (PhoneArena, theVerge and MKBHD), the rear camera of Google’s tablet is sadly really mediocre at best.

There’s just nothing special about it besides it’s just there to avoid complaints from users, and not to impress or satisfy them.

Meanwhile, I haven’t seen nor gathered information about the camera quality on Amazon Fire HD 7. But I can assume that its 2MP rear-camera is mediocre as well or much even worse than the 5MP rear camera on Google Nexus 7.

But even so, at least these 2 tablets are prepared on the sector of photography. So it might come in handy especially if you forgot to bring your digital camera/smartphone at your disposal.

The quality may not be there, but at least you can capture some important moments with their cameras.

Battery Life

One of many things that is really interesting about Google Nexus 7 is, despite using a lower capacity of battery than the predecessor (3950mAh vs 4325mAh), this Google’s tablet is capable to last much even longer in mixed usage, of course on one full charge.

And what makes it even more amazing is, Google Nexus 7 is sporting a much higher resolution of display than the first-gen Nexus 7 (1080p vs 720p), but yet, it has longer battery life than the predecessor.

I believe this has something to do with the optimizations made by Google on the newer build Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, especially with the battery saving feature.

Not to mention, its Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU is probably the other one that contributes to its long lasting battery. It’s more than adequate to handle full HD display but its also efficient with the use of battery.

However, if you’re a type of power user, and you will mostly use it to do some heavy tasks like playing games without resting the screen at all, then its battery life would drop much faster to probably around 4 to 6 hours.

On the other hand, as an entertainment-dedicated tablet, Amazon Fire HD 7 is probably not gonna consume a lot of power because users of this tablet will not likely use it to play heavy games.

So they probably will only use Amazon Fire HD 7 to watch movies, read books, listen to music, browse the web or play some casual games.

Besides, it’s only sporting the lower-720p resolution on its 7-inch display.

Its screen is efficient, its UI is light in weight, its processor is not power hungry and everything about this tablet has been optimized by Amazon to not consume a lot of power. So there you go.

So I believe the 8 hours of battery life stated by Amazon is gonna deliver as it promised.

My Personal Opinions

So to sum this review up, I think Google Nexus 7 is definitely the winner here against Amazon Fire HD 7.

And that's clearly because:
  • It has a much sharper full HD display,
  • bigger 2GB of RAM,
  • higher megapixel count on its cameras (5MP vs 2MP),
  • better looking design,
  • full-fledged Android stock UI
  • And of course, more powerful gaming performance.
I’m not saying that Amazon’s tablet is a horrible tablet, but I think at $180, you can get a much better option like HP Slate7 Extreme, Nvidia Tegra Note or Xiaomi Mi Pad, which costs around $199 - $250.

So you can just add some extra dollars to your current budget if you want to switch to any of these devices.

You can even get another better alternative with more powerful gaming performance at just $150 by choosing HP Slate7 Plus. Its Tegra 3 processor is a beast, especially for gaming.

Not to mention, the spec sheet of HP Slate7 Plus is also more appealing than Amazon Fire HD 7 (microSD card slot, HD 720p display, 5MP camera, stock Android UI, Tegra 3, 1GB of RAM, etc).

However, for those people on the street looking for an entertainment tablet that you can easily use to buy media contents directly from Amazon (maybe you’ve heavily invested a lot in its ecosystem), then Amazon Fire HD 7 can still be a good tablet at $180.

It’s good for watching movies, reading books, listening to music, browsing the web or playing casual games.

Besides, last time I heard, Amazon has sliced the price for this model for around $120. So with this new price, Amazon Fire HD 7 is definitely a good buying tablet in low-end tablet market.

Okay then, to end this review, let me start answering some of the questions I’ve previously asked above.

Ready? Here you go!

Which one between Google Nexus 7 (2013) and Amazon Fire HD 7 that has what it takes to be the best gaming tablet in this comparison review?

Of course, Google Nexus 7 is the one that’s gonna take the crown here. Its Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM really are just far better for gaming than Amazon's tablet.

So you can expect to see Asphalt 8: Airborne, Modern Combat 4, NOVA 3, Dead Trigger 2, Need for Speed Most Wanted or GTA Vice City to run seamlessly without any hiccup, even in full graphics.

However, it’s worth mentioning that GTA San Andreas sadly doesn’t run smoothly on this device. In fact, it runs really sluggish in full highest graphics.

So as a gaming tablet, I think Google Nexus 7 still leaves a bit to be desired. It’s great but not the best.

Xiaomi Mi Pad, Nvidia Shield Tablet, HP Slate7 Extreme, HP Slate8 Pro and Amazon Fire HDX 7 can all be perfect alternatives if you want a more reliable gaming tablet.

Which one is a much better tablet in the whole aspect?

Again, I have to say that Google Nexus 7 really takes it all in this review against Amazon Fire HD 7.
  • It has a full HD display,
  • bigger 2GB of RAM,
  • more powerful CPU and GPU,
  • full-featured UI,
  • higher megapixel count on its rear camera (5MP vs 2MP),
  • better looking design
  • and pretty much everything about Google Nexus 7 is just way better than Amazon Fire HD 7.
But it’s acceptable given that Google’s tablet costs more than Amazon Fire HD 7 ($229 vs $180). So the discrepancy of their hardware specs can be tolerated here.

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

I will say, yes. Of course, I’m referring to Google Nexus 7 here.

As mentioned above, this tablet handles almost all graphically demanding games perfectly and it’s also efficient in battery life.

However, you may want to switch to other options like HP Slate7 Extreme, HP Slate8 Pro, Xiaomi MiPad, Nvidia Shield Tablet or Amazon Fire HDX 7 because this Google’s tablet still has a tiny bit of weakness when running GTA San Andreas in full graphics.

So Google Nexus 7 is a good gaming tablet. But it’s not the best gaming tablet on the market right now.

There are just many other choices out there that will satisfy you even more as a gamer.

Pros and Cons

Google Nexus 7 (2013)

Pros:
  • Powerful for gaming
  • It now has a rear-facing camera compared to the predecessor
  • Sharp and gorgeous looking full HD display
  • Affordable to buy
  • Software gets updated frequently by Google
  • Fast and smooth performance
  • Stock Android OS
  • Solid battery life
Cons:
  • NO microSD card slot
  • Its 5MP rear-facing camera leaves a lot to be desired
  • It's not as powerful as other flagship affordable tablets like Amazon Fire HDX 7, Nvidia Shield Tablet, HP Slate7 Extreme, HP Slate8 Pro or Xiaomi MiPad

Amazon Fire HD 7

Pros:
  • It's cheap to buy right now
  • Simple to use and light-weight UI
  • Great for enjoying contents like movies, books or music
  • It has a rear-facing camera (2MP)
Cons:
  • NO microSD card slot
  • Generic looking and less appealing design
  • Sub-par build quality
  • Its simple UI could get really boring over the time
  • low capacity of storage


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

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