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.
|Apple iPad 10.2
|Fire HD 10
|Size||250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm||262 x 159 x 9.8mm|
|Weight||1.07 pounds||1.11 pounds|
|Display||10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD (2160x1620)||10.1-inch IPS LCD
|Internal storage||32 GB
|Expandable storage||No||Up to 512 GB via microSD|
|Speakers||Stereo speakers||Stereo speakers|
|Dolby Audio||Yes — Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus||Yes — Dolby Atmos|
|Cameras||1.2MP front camera
8MP rear camera
|2MP front camera
2MP rear camera
|Operating System||iPadOS||FireOS (built on Android)|
|Biometric login||Yes — Touch ID||No|
|Multi-window/multi-tasking support||Yes, up to 4 windows||No|
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.
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.
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 for $20-$50 off or more in the coming months.
An all-around winner
Entry-level doesn't mean low quality
Hardware and software enhancements make this entertainment device suitable and capable of real productivity too. It's a little pricier, but you get so much value for the money.
The best Amazon tablet
This is one of the best media consumption devices you can buy under $200.
With its rugged build, low price, excellent parental control features, and its multi-user support, the Fire HD 10 is a great family tablet.
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