Amazon Fire HD 10 vs. iPad 10.2: Which should you buy?

Amazon Fire HD 10 official render
Amazon Fire HD 10 official render (Image credit: Amazon)

Apple iPad 10.2 (2019)

Apple iPad 10.2 colors

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Apple's iPads have long been the industry standard for tablets, and this version is another example of the product line's quality. This latest entry-level iPad now has magic keyboard and iPadOS support.

Apple iPad 10.2 (2019)

Creativity and productivity in one

Fantastic build quality
OS updates and support for years
Huge app ecosystem
New iPadOS for enhanced productivity
Extensive accessory market
Still pretty expensive entry price
Not quite as rugged as Fire tablets

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

The Fire HD 10 is Amazon's best device to showcase their extensive content ecosystem. It is durable, has a full-HD screen and decent audio, and it is insanely affordable.

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

A hot tablet for media consumption

Affordable flagship device
Full HD screen is best in Fire lineup
Best-in-class family and children controls
Multi-user and multi-login support
Expandable storage via microSD
Most expensive Fire tablet
App ecoystem not nearly as expansive as iPad's
Not as useful as a productivity device

All tablets are the same, right? Heck, the white iPad 10.2 and Fire HD 10 even sort of look the same. So they must be pretty similar, right? Not really, no. That's not to say that one is bad and the other is perfect... it's a little bit more nuanced than that when you look at these devices. I'll explain more below, and you can see if you agree with my conclusions.

Break it down now...

These 10-inch tablets can do a lot of the same things, but there are plenty of areas where their capabilities differ. Let's take a look at how they compare spec-wise before we dive into their respective strengths and weaknesses.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple iPad 10.2
(2019)
Fire HD 10
(2019)
Size250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm262 x 159 x 9.8mm
Weight1.07 pounds1.11 pounds
Display10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD (2160x1620)10.1-inch IPS LCD
(1920x1200)
Internal storage32 GB
128 GB
32 GB
64 GB
Expandable storageNoUp to 512 GB via microSD
SpeakersStereo speakersStereo speakers
Dolby AudioYes — Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital PlusYes — Dolby Atmos
Cameras1.2MP front camera
8MP rear camera
2MP front camera
2MP rear camera
Video recording720p
1080p
720p
Operating SystemiPadOSFireOS (built on Android)
Smart AssistantSiriAlexa
Biometric loginYes — Touch IDNo
Cellular modelsYesNo
Multi-user loginNoYes
Multi-window/multi-tasking supportYes, up to 4 windowsNo
ColorsThree aluminum-covered
Space Gray
Gold
Silver
Four plastic-covered
Black
Twilight Blue
Plum
White
Price$329$150

Ecosystem advantages

Apple iPad 10.2 with Pencil

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

Let's face it, when you think of tablets, you probably picture an iPad. It has almost reached the Kleenex/Xerox/Velcro level of a genericized trademark or proprietary eponym. This is so not only because Apple sells more iPads than any other tablet manufacturer, but because... well... there just AREN'T that many tablets out there to compete with it (at least, not many good ones).

Apple's tablet lineup is more diverse and complete than ever, from the newly-updated iPad Mini to the super-premium iPads Pro. Sitting toward the bottom end of that spectrum is the iPad 10.2, otherwise known as the best deal in tech today. At $329, this iPad is already in the "affordable" gadget range, and many vendors discount it even further.

The iPad 10.2 has some really impressive specs for an entry-level device, including an 8 MP camera capable of filming in 1080p, a biometric fingerprint reader for secure logins and purchases, two really good speakers, and the option to have a cellular data plan. You also get Apple's new iPadOS which allows for homescreen widgets and multi-window productivity (up to four windows if you count slide-over and picture-in-picture windows). Apple typically maintains software support for anywhere from 4-6 years for its devices, and all of this is powered by Apple's custom A10 Fusion chip for really smooth performance.

Another advantage for the iPad 10.2 over the Fire HD 10 is Apple's extensive ecosystem. Not only does it have a massive advantage in the number, kind, and quality of available apps, but there are way more vendors that produce accessories like cases, keyboards, and other accoutrements. If you prefer first-party accessories, this iPad now supports Apple's Smart Keyboard as well as the Apple Pencil (1st Gen). All-in-all a pretty great device.

There are some areas where the iPad loses points, however. For one, it doesn't really support multiple users (unless you're a school), so if you want to lend the device to a friend or family member, they're going to have access to ALL OF YOUR STUFF. Not great, especially for a premium product (heck, even Macs have had feature this forever). Plus, it's also almost $200 more than the Fire HD 10. While we've outlined why the iPad is a superior device, that's a lot of cash to fork over for most people who just want a tablet to play games on, surf the interwebs, look at Facebook, or watch Netflix.

Family value(s)

Amazon Fire HD 10 Tent Mode

Source: Amazon (Image credit: Source: Amazon)

While the iPad 10.2 is on the low-end of Apple devices, the Fire HD 10 is the top dog in Amazon's tablet lineup. Refreshed in late 2019, it comes equipped with a full HD 1080p display, hands-free Alexa support, and a microSD slot for memory expansion. You can get it in four different colors, including new Plum and my favorite, Twilight Blue.

Where Amazon's tablet really shines though is in its family-friendliness. It starts almost $200 cheaper than the iPad 10.2, and is arguably just as good a content consumption device (particularly if what you want to consume is Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime, etc). Amazon's FreeTime parental controls and kid-friendly content ecosystem are first-rate, and with its multi-user support, you can truly share this tablet the family. Each person can create their own login with content and apps specific to their tastes, which if you think about it really helps spread the cost per user down ever further.

Despite all of these benefits, there is a reason we didn't pick the Fire HD 10 as our winner in this tablet shootout. Well, two reasons really. The iPad just outguns the Fire in terms of software and software support, and in the area of accessories. With iPadOS you can actually use the iPad 10.2 as a productivity device if you want, and the iPad's internals (memory and processor) are capable of handling intensive tasks for years. Additionally, the iPad 10.2 comes with a connector for Apple's Smart Keyboard and is compatible with the Apple Pencil (1st Gen), as well as a wide ecosystem of third-party accessories. The Fire HD 10 is a great value for families, but it can't compete in performance.

The verdict

Apple iPad 10.2 with Keyboard

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

Apple's tablet may be almost $200 more, and the accessories even more on top of that, but even this entry-level iPad is SO much more capable than this top-of-the-line Fire tablet. iPad OS is evolving into a legitimate operating system for getting things done, and the device is still a great content consumption computer. With Apple's immense ecosystem of iOS apps, and new services like Apple Arcade available on the iPad, it is the easy choice for me. Plus, sites like Amazon and stores like Target, Best Buy, B&H, and Walmart all regularly offer substantial discounts on this model, so chances are you will be able to pick up the iPad 10.2 (opens in new tab) for $20-$50 off or more in the coming months.