Despite some naming overlap in the latter, the Amazon Kindle and Amazon Fire lines of tablets are two completely separate things, and if you’re looking to buy either from the company, you’ll want to know the difference between them.
Both of these families are low-cost devices compared to their competitors and are popular among cheap tech enthusiasts. However, even at a budget-friendly price if you choose an e-reader expecting a tablet or vice versa, you’ll likely be disappointed.
Amazon Kindles are e-readers, which use black and white E Ink displays, and are designed to read books, magazines, comics, and audiobooks. The Amazon Fire tablets are cheap Android tablets that are closely tied into Amazon’s hardware ecosystem.
The source of the confusion between these ranges, other than the “Amazon” name in them, is that the Amazon Kindle Fire name was actually in use until 2014, to refer to the tablets we now call the Fire line, but now “Kindle” is only exclusively for e-readers.
If you’re confused about the difference between Amazon Fire tablets and Kindle devices, and the specific products in these lines (or want to know which one is best for you), we’ll quickly compare the main differences so you can come to a decision.
Pricing Amazon Kindle vs. Amazon Fire Tablet
There are three different types of Amazon Kindle devices: the basic version, that’s just called, then the Kindle Paperwhite which is a mid-range device with more storage, a sharper screen and an IP rating, and the Kindle Oasis, which has a premium metal design and more storage space And a bigger screen.
Each of these devices costs a little more than the model below, and each device gets an updated version every few years. We’ll show you current prices for them below:
Amazon Fire tablets are a bit different, and the main thing that differentiates them is the screen size and resolution. There are Amazon Fire 7, Fire HD 8, and Fire HD 10, where the number indicates the screen size (in inches) and “HD” says the device has a high definition resolution.
There are some differences, too: The Fire HD 8 Plus has wireless charging and a few extra features over the HD 8, and the Kids Edition tablets come with child-protection features and hard shells so your kids won’t break them.
As with Kindles, each version is updated in size every few years. Below are the prices for the latest releases:
Design and presentation of the Amazon Kindle device versus the Amazon Fire
The main difference between Amazon Kindle and Fire tablets is their screens. Kindle devices are e-readers, and as such use E Ink screens – this technology essentially replicates the look of books, with electrical signals making ink appear where it’s needed, to form writing or images. E Ink screens are monochrome, so they don’t display color, just black and white.
As a result, e-readers are designed for reading books and documents—you won’t be able to use a Kindle to play games or watch movies, for example, but it’s great for sitting in the sun reading a novel.
Amazon Fire tablets have LCD screens, the same type of technology you’ll find in many televisions, computer monitors, and smartphones. As such, if you like to watch TV shows or play games, Fire Tabs have much better screens for that.
In terms of design, the Amazon Kindle and Fire devices share a lot in common. They are usually made of plastic, which is rugged enough to withstand bumps or drops. Compared to the “premium” devices in their market, they aren’t as good-looking, but that doesn’t matter to everyone.
All Amazon Kindle devices (at the time of this writing, at least) have micro USB ports, and this type of cable has been the standard for many devices. However, many newer devices now use USB-C, which is faster to charge, and recent Fire devices have this newer type of input.
You can tell the port is USB-C because it’s completely oval in shape, while the micro USB is wider on one side than it is on the other.
Most Fire tablets have 3.5mm headphone jacks—these are the round plugs you plug headphones into—but Kindles generally don’t have any music-playing apps. The exception is the Kindle Oasis devices, which you can use to listen to electronic readings of books.
In terms of waterproofing, different Fire tablets and Kindle devices have different ratings, so we recommend researching your specific device before reading a book in the pool.
Amazon Kindle vs. Amazon Fire tablet cameras and battery life
Amazon Fire tablets generally have a camera on both the back and the front, so they can be used to take photos or video calls, but the cameras are usually of very low resolution, and your average smartphone will outpace them.
Kindles don’t have cameras, so you can’t take pictures with them.
In terms of battery life, all of Amazon’s devices are excellent compared to most of the competition, but the Kindles are the best.
Depending on your Kindle, it can last up to six weeks between charges, if you read for half an hour a day – that’s a lot of charge, so Kindles are great for the holidays if you don’t want to bring along a charger.
Amazon Fire tablets don’t last very long, but that makes sense, because E Ink is known for being great at conserving battery. Newer Fire tablets last about twelve hours of use between charges, making them good for car trips or entertaining the kids.
Amazon Kindle vs. Amazon Fire tablet software and performance
What you’ll do on your Amazon Kindle or Fire tablet really depends on the software — that is, the software and apps loaded on the device.
Since Amazon Kindle devices are only designed for reading, the services you get are a bit limited. You can access the Kindle Store to buy and download books, and you can also check out your Kindle library to see your downloaded books. Some Kindles also have access to Goodreads, a social reading tool (so you can record the books you’re reading and compare them with your friends).
The Kindle Store isn’t just for books—there are plays, poems, magazines, and comic books, too.
Not everyone knows, but you don’t have to limit your reading to the Amazon Kindle store — you’re actually able to upload your own PDFs and other files to your Kindle. Thanks to this you can read working documents, as well as scientific papers or books from Project Gutenberg, for example, on your device.
Fire tablets run on the popular Android operating system, but with Amazon’s own Fire user interface laid on top. What this means is that tablets encourage (well, force you) to use the company’s suite of apps.
You can stream video from Amazon Prime Video, music from Prime Music, read books from the Kindle service, and the App Store only contains apps approved by Amazon. Some of Amazon’s competing services are also available, such as Netflix and Spotify.
Due to the special services available, Amazon Fire tablets are considered portable entertainment devices. On the other hand, you can’t play games, watch movies, or listen to music on Kindle devices — they’re only for reading.
Fire tablets don’t have many productivity apps, but they’re mainly for fun stuff. Compared to most tablets, they don’t have a lot of processing power, but they do have enough for the apps that Amazon allows.
Most Amazon devices are Wi-Fi only, so you can only download stuff and browse the web when you’re on Wi-Fi, but you can buy some on LTE/4G networks, which gives you access to the internet when out and about.
Takeaway Amazon Kindle vs. Amazon Fire Tablet
As mentioned, you can read books on a Fire tablet, but many prefer to do so on a Kindle, as its screen looks more like a Paper and can be nicer on the eyes. Plus, its battery life makes it run for a longer time.
If you want a bunch of features, and not just reading, the Amazon Fire tablet lineup is where you should look, as you’ll be able to stream movies, make video calls, and play games.
If you want a useful tablet for productivity, such as document annotations, photo editing and multitasking functions, then neither the Kindle nor Fire tablets are for you – instead, look at the Samsung Galaxy tablet or iPad.