Prime value

Amazon Music Unlimited

Not just for fanboys

Apple Music

Amazon Music Unlimited is a premium streaming service with a similarly large catalog as Apple Music. What it may lack in personalization, it makes up for in options and pricing.

From $8/month at Amazon

Pros

  • Great deal for Amazon Prime members
  • Several plans, including HD audio options
  • Works well cross-platform
  • Fastest-growing music service

Cons

  • Personalization not great
  • Social aspects are underdeveloped
  • Doesn't have the "cool" factor

Apple Music brings personalization and custom curation on par with Spotify, along with tons of original content and exclusives. It's been a good citizen on Android for years despite the name.

From $10/month at Apple

Pros

  • Available on Android (and Apple, of course)
  • Fantastic music curation and personalization
  • Works well cross-platform
  • Beats 1 radio

Cons

  • Parts of the interface feel confusing and redundant
  • Difficult to find recently played songs
  • No free or ad-supported options

For purposes of this showdown, I'll be comparing Amazon Music Unlimited's single-user plan to Apple Music's single-user plan. Both services have family plans with similar catalogs, features, and pricing, but Amazon Music offers a half-dozen other plans, including student plans, HD plans, and single-device plans.

Break it down now...

As you might expect, these two tech giants have a lot of the same content deals and similar music catalogs. They are priced competitively with one another and the rest of the field (though Amazon offers its Prime subscribers a price break for individual plans and single-device plans). When it comes to high-definition and high fidelity music, however, Amazon definitely steals the show.

Amazon Music Unlimited Apple Music
Monthly Fee From $8 $10
Number of Songs > 50 million > 50 million
Standard Audio Quality 256 kbps 256 kbps
HD Options Up to 3730 kbps* NA
Platforms Android
Fire OS
Echo
iOS
macOS
Windows
web
Android
Echo
iOS
macOS
Windows (in iTunes)
web
Smart Assistant Alexa Siri
Social Features Yes Yes
Special Features My Soundtrack
My Discovery Mix
Side by Side
Favorites Mix
Friends Mix
Beats 1

Amazon Music HD is a premium add-on at an additional fee. See the table below for details.

Even though I'm just looking at the single-user plans for each service in this article, it is important to note that there are other plans available on both Amazon Music and Apple Music. For quick reference, see the table below for each plan's monthly fees:

Amazon Music Apple Music
Free, Ad-Supported Plan* Yes NA
Prime Music Plan Free with Prime membership
limited to 2 million songs
NA
Unlimited Single-User Plan From $8 $10
Unlimited Single-Device Plan From $4 NA
Unlimited Student Plan $1 for Prime Student members
$5 per month if not Prime member
$5 for 48 months
Unlimited HD Plan From $13 NA
Unlimited Family Plan $15 $15

Amazon Music's free, ad-supported tier is only available on Echo speakers and Alexa-supported devices

Amazon Music Unlimited

Amazon Music lifestyleSource: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central

If you're already an Amazon Prime member and you either don't currently pay for another subscription service or if you are unhappy with your current one, you should give Amazon Music Unlimited serious thought. It offers a full music catalog of over 50 million songs (not unlike Spotify or Apple Music), and it has several tier options to suit different needs and setups, including free plans (Prime Music), single-device plans, student plans, family plans, and HD plans.

Amazon Music doesn't have a reputation for expertly-curated music or personalized playlists that Apple Music, Spotify, and even Pandora are known for. Still, it is getting better in these areas. Part of that growth is a commitment to improving its customizations, and features like the Side by Side playlist series with artist commentary and its My Soundtrack and My Discovery Mix show it's improving.

Amazon is also aggressively promoting its music service via its website, Echo smart speakers, and advertising all over the web and physical world (like those huge banners in New York's Times Square). The company even had Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, and others perform for an exclusive Prime Day concert, which is showcased and promoted heavily across its media platforms like Fire TV. It may not have the cool points that Spotify or Tidal have, but it's doing everything it can to gain mindshare along with its growing market share.

Apple Music

Apple Music lifestyleSource: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central

After changing the music industry with iTunes and the iPod, Apple was admittedly late to the streaming music scene. However, as with anything Apple does, when it finally did arrive, it did so in a big way. In 2014, Apple acquired Beats, not so much for the fashionable headphones, but Dr. Dre's streaming music service of the same name and its many content deals. Beats already existed as an app on Android at the time, so it made perfect sense to transition Apple Music to that existing platform and user base. And you know what? It's actually a pretty great experience!

Apple Music on Android offers all of the same features as on Apple devices, including the company's outstanding music curation and AI-powered personalization and customization. I've been blown away by how good the suggested music is, particularly when compared to the suggestions Amazon Music gives me.

As good as Apple Music is on Android (and other platforms), it does have a few drawbacks. For starters, there is no free or ad-supported music tier, which is something that pretty much every other music service on Android offers. While Apple does offer student discounts and family plans, it doesn't offer any other price breaks (not even for super fanboys who subscribe to other Apple Services).

I've also been frustrated by how difficult it is to find songs that I've recently listened to on Apple Music (not just recently downloaded). This is something that Amazon Music has always been good at. Apple Music also has to overcome the undercurrent of hostility (sometimes blatant) as an invader of sorts on a competing platform in a way that other services do not.

Battle of the brands who wins?

Both of these music services offer an outstanding selection and good value, but ultimately, I believe that Amazon Music Unlimited edges Apple Music out for a few key reasons. For one, Amazon offers a lot more choice to its users when it comes to plan options and pricing (and choice is what Android is all about!). Additionally, Amazon Music Unlimited is available at higher quality bitrates than Apple Music, and that kind of detail matters to a lot of audiophiles.

Ultimately your choice may be driven by other factors, such as what your family wants, what your friends use, or what kinds of extras you prefer. Either way, your options for streaming music services on Android may be even better than what you'd previously imagined.

Best for user choice

Amazon Music Unlimited

Amazon offers users the most options

Amazon Music Unlimited offers over 50 million songs, exclusives, and tailored playlists and stations. It's already affordable, but Amazon Prime members can even get some money off.

Feature-rich streamer

Apple Music

Apple's take on music streaming is worth a look

Even if you're a diehard Android user, Apple Music is a worthy contender in the music streaming space. It has a huge library, helpful features, and a generous free trial that lets you test drive it for three months with no money down.

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