Kindle Fire vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0)

With the introduction of the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Samsung has entered the low-cost tablet space with an excellent entrant. Priced at $249, it’s only $50 more than the $199 Kindle Fire from Amazon.

The price alone is enough to tempt many users, but $50 is a significant gap when budgets are tight. Is the Galaxy Tab 2 worth the $50 premium?

For many consumers the answer is yes, but price isn’t the only aspect you should consider. There’s also ease of use, access to content, available apps, and how you want to use the device. Comparing the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 and the Kindle Fire round by round reveals key differences that will help you decide which is better for your needs.

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Kindle Fire vs Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

Software and Interface

Both the Galaxy Tab 2 and the Kindle Fire run on Android, though with the latter you wouldn’t know it by looking. Each represents a different experience that can be a big factor in your decision of which to buy.

Galaxy Tab 2 Home Screen

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The Tab 2 runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with a interface/skin over it called TouchWiz. TouchWiz changes the look of Android a little and makes it a bit easier to use by tweaking features and functions. However, the experience you get is pretty much the same as with most Android devices.

Galaxy Tab 2 TouchWiz

You’ll also get the benefits of the newest Android operating system — one that’s made specifically to work on large displays. Samsung doesn’t place any extra limitations on the apps you can download or sideload.

The Kindle Fire runs Android 2.3 with a heavily modified, simpler user interface. This makes it much friendlier to consumers who aren’t tech-savvy and aren’t familiar with Android.

Kindle Fire UI Books

It also means the tablet is restricted in many ways. Amazon’s own apps and media are privileged, of course, and the only official source of apps is the Amazon App Store. Users can’t easily access all of the settings available in Android and sideloading your content isn’t always easy.

There are ways to get around some of these restrictions, some of which don’t involve rooting the device, but the bottom line is that these are hacks and Amazon can cut them off at any time if they wanted with a software update. Plus, it’s a lot of hassle to do something that’s inherent on the Galaxy Tab 2.

Hardware and Design

Going along with the concept of the Kindle Fire as a simpler tablet experience, Amazon left off some hardware components found on other tablets. There are no cameras, no Bluetooth connectivity, no microSD slot. This is part of the reason why the bookseller is able to price the Fire at $199.

The camera isn’t a necessary spec. Even tablets that include them seem to assume that users are’t all that interested. However, a microSD slot for expansion and the ability to stream audio to Bluetooth accessories makes sense for a media-focused tablet. Plus, the Fire’s single USB port doesn’t support USB Host, which is a technical way of saying that you can’t connect external peripherals like a keyboard.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 microSD card slot

The Galaxy Tab 2 doesn’t have top-of-the-line specs, though it does have all of the components consumers expect out of tablets. You get front and rear-facing cameras, a microSD slot for expansion, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity, plus the ability to connect to Samsung accessories via the port on the bottom.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 bottom edge

On the inside both tablets have similar components. They each have 8GB of internal storage and dual-core processors, which indicates speedy performance. However, the Tab 2 has 1GB of RAM — twice as much as the Kindle Fire. That means better multitasking.

I’ve never been much impressed by the Kindle Fire’s display. Like the Galaxy Tab 2 the resolution is 1024 x 600, but Samsung’s tablet offers better colors and quality plus wider viewing angles.

Overall, the Tab 2 is just a better piece of hardware, even if you don’t need the extra stuff.

Multimedia and Content

Kindle Fire Amazon Instant Video

This is where things get interesting. Because for all the Kindle Fire’s limitations, customers flocked to it because it pulls together all the different bits of the Amazon ecosystem into one device. People don’t just want the ability to watch video or play music, they want good selection at their fingertips that’s easy to purchase and begin watching. The Fire offers that.

The Galaxy Tab 2 offers that as well, though Samsung doesn’t yet have the brand recognition that Amazon does on the content side. Owners can purchase or rent movies and TV shows via the Samsung Media Hub and the latest album releases via the Music Hub. Google also has video and music stores via the Play Store. And there are dozens of media streaming apps available from Netflix to HBO Go to Pandora to Spotify.

Galaxy Tab 2 Media Hub Movies

One big omission: Amazon Instant Video. Currently, the Fire is the only tablet with access to that video content via an app. Since the Tab 2 supports Flash you can watch via the browser, but that experience isn’t optimal.

Amazon MP3 and Kindle eBooks are available on the Tab 2, though.

Due to the superior display and better speakers, the Tab 2 is also better for playing media as well. The tablet’s ability to act as a remote and integrate with Samsung TVs is another bonus.

(Read: Using The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 With Your TV)

For customers deeply tied to Amazon’s ecosystem, the Kindle Fire makes sense. Especially if you’re a Prime member with access to streaming movies and TV episodes. But that’s really the only advantage the Fire has over the Galaxy Tab 2. In every other respect Samsung’s tablet is a better choice, even when it comes to content.

Apps

Galaxy Tab 2 Apps

Google Play Apps

Just going by the numbers, it’s easy to see which tablet wins this round. The Amazon App Store has almost 17,000 apps available for the Kindle Fire. The Google Play Store has over 40,000 apps. Granted, not all of these apps are made for tablet screens or work correctly. Amazon at least tests each app to ensure it runs correctly and looks good on the Fire. But in terms of choice, the Tab 2 offers more.

Of the top 10 free and paid (non-Google) apps available in the Play Store, only four are available in the Amazon App Store. Of the top 10 games, Amazon only has half.

Since the Tab 2 runs on Android 4.0, apps made for this operating system are designed to scale up and down since ICS is for both small and large devices. Down the line the app compatibility issue will hopefully shrink down to non-existent.

Amazon Kindle Fire Apps

Kindle Fire Apps

Still, this issue highlights the core advantage of the Kindle Fire: simplicity. With Amazon’s tablet you don’t have to worry about incompatibility or question whether an app will work. They will. And you’re less likely to encounter apps will ill-intentions as is possible on the Tab 2.

However, with this simplicity comes limitation. Not a problem on the Galaxy Tab. If an app exists for Android, you can probably load it on this tablet.

The Bottom Line

Consumers looking for a full-fledged Android tablet with all the features and specs one expects plus full access to Google Play apps and experience will be happy with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. It more than justifies its $50 premium over the Fire both on the hardware and software fronts.

Consumers deeply tied into Amazon’s ecosystem or who need a simplified tablet experience will be happy with the Kindle Fire. It’s a capable device and a better choice for less tech-savvy users.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Review | Amazon Kindle Fire Review

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Comments

  1. Aimee says

    I read the article and it was well done. But I still have no idea which one is better or which one would be better for me at that.

  2. DINA says

    I love the Kindle Fire, but being a Prime member definately is what keeps me loyal to the brand. Once you’ve downloaded so many book and movies, it’s tough to switch to anything else. The apps definately seem adequate, although maybe as a professional with 4 kids at home, I dont have the time to enjoy as many apps as the typical user (who downloads thousands of apps, anyway?). However, I also have a Galaxy S2 phone and I LOVE IT. Its amazing. I’m tempted to check out the Galaxy 2 Tab. On the other hand, I feel like I’ve already got the best of both worlds. I recommend both!

  3. Massive Singer says

    I really enjoy my Kindle Fire but the only drag is that to get apps you need a credit card..I might give the Galaxy Tablet a go too

  4. Banners Broker says

    I think that the Tab 2 offers more functionality overall but once it starts to gain more status more people will realize this instead of just going with the Kindle Fire.

  5. themmm says

    The Kindle Fire comes with 1GB of ram. The article incorrectly indicates
    there is only 500mb.

  6. zavera says

    Size matters.
    The problem with large phones is the battery life when used for reading, etc.
    The advantage of the USB connection to the Kindle is additional storage, printing, transfer to laptop, desktop, etc.
    I am slightly worried about browser compatibility, flash player, etc.

  7. cyndy says

    i was almost ready to by the kindle fire. i read books on my kindle touch, so i probably won’t use the fire for books anyway.
    i want to search the internet but i don’t want to pay another $30.00 per month for data like i have on my android phone.
    so the galaxy has no data charges? and with either device can I print out info that i find on the internet, and take the card from my camera and insert it into the slot. is there a slot for headphones?
    I AM NOT very tech-savvy ..it takes me forever to learn my phones when i renew. I just can’t see the internet on my phone very well and I would like it for that…maybe enventually for movies and pics and facebook.
    any advice?

  8. Jenny Jones says

    After extensive usage of both the Galaxy and Kindle Fire I’m going to have to say the Kindle Fire wins. It’s usability is just off the charts compared to the Galaxy and it has many more useful features. I’d recommend checking out the Kindle Fire before settling on the Galaxy, trust me, you won’t regret it. I got mine on amazon here http://amzn.to/QdkqCN

    • Willow says

      I regretted it. I’ve had the pleasure of owning both, and sorry Amazon I love you, but the Galaxy Tab was far superior. The Fire’s decent enough, but Samsung wins in the long run.

  9. Bilgah says

    I have had both, I loved the kindle it was my first love. The features on the galaxy blows the kindle out the water.

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