Amazon Music vs. Apple Music: Which non-Google service is better for Android users?

Amazon Music Apple Music Android
Amazon Music Apple Music Android (Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

Amazon Music Unlimited

Amazon Music official render

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.

Amazon Music Unlimited

Prime value

Great deal for Amazon Prime members
Several plans, including Ultra HD audio option
Works well cross-platform
HD quality comes standard
Personalization not great
Social aspects are underdeveloped
Doesn't have the "cool" factor

Apple Music

Apple Music logo official render

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.

Apple Music

Not just for fanboys

Available on Android (and Apple, of course)
Fantastic music curation and personalization
Works well cross-platform
Beats 1 radio
Parts of the interface feel confusing and redundant
Difficult to find recently played songs
No free or ad-supported options

For purposes of this Amazon Music vs. Apple Music 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, Ultra HD, 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, which makes them both rank among the best music streaming services. They are priced competitively with one another and the rest of the field (though Amazon offers Prime subscribers a price break for individual and single-device plans). When it comes to high-definition and high fidelity music, however, Amazon steals the show.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Amazon Music UnlimitedApple Music
Monthly FeeFrom $8$10
Number of Songs> 75 million> 90 million
Standard Audio Quality320 kbps256 kbps
HD OptionsUp to 24-bit 192kHzUp to 24-bit, 192khZ
PlatformsAndroidFire OSEchoiOSmacOSWindowstvOSwebAndroidEchoiOSmacOSWindows (in iTunes)web
Smart AssistantAlexaSiri
Social FeaturesYesYes
Special FeaturesMy SoundtrackMy Discovery MixSide by SideFavorites MixFriends MixBeats 1

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:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Amazon MusicApple Music
Free, Ad-Supported Plan*YesNA
Prime Music Planwith Prime membershiplimited in songsNA
Unlimited Single-User PlanFrom $8$10
Unlimited Single-Device PlanFrom $4NA
Unlimited Student Plan$1 for Prime Student members$5 per month if not Prime member$5 for 48 months
Unlimited Family Plan$15$15

Amazon Music's single-device tier is only available on Echo speakers and Alexa-supported devices.

Amazon Music Unlimited

Amazon Music lifestyle

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: 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 75 million songs (not unlike Spotify or Apple Music). It has several tier options to suit different needs and setups, including free plans (Prime Music), single-device plans, student plans, and family plans.

There's also access to 7 million songs in Ultra HD, including exclusive Ultra HD remastered albums, offering up to 24-bit, 192Khz quality, which is 10 times the bitrate of a standard file and helps you hear every nuance in a studio recording. Meanwhile, HD quality tunes come in the standard plan, with twice the bitrate, preserving details in songs for CD-quality lossless audio. There's also spatial audio content, which provides an even more immersive listening experience with compatible songs. These added features make the listening experience rival that of CD quality, or better, which means you aren't sacrificing on sound quality in order to listen to streaming versus tracks on disc or other medium.

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. Features like the Side by Side playlist series with artist commentary and My Soundtrack and My Discovery Mix show it's improving. Plus, Amazon now has podcasts in addition to music, with "millions" from which to choose as part of a subscription. Most recently, Amazon added synced podcast transcripts for following along with the podcasts, which is a really cool addition.

Amazon 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 lifestyle

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: 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 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, along with access to podcasts as well. 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. Also, while Apple offers student discounts and family plans, it doesn't provide additional price breaks (not even for super fanboys who subscribe to other Apple Services).

But, like Amazon, Apple has added spatial audio along with dynamic head tracking that, when wearing a pair of compatible Apple AirPods, can ensure the music follows and stays with you as you walk or move around, always sounding its best. With Dolby Atmos and lossless audio support, you'll get a premium listening experience with Apple Music as well. While the new feature called Apple Music Voice, which allows subscribers to search exclusively for songs using Siri and voice commands, isn't available for Android users, it's an interesting option that gives Apple additional versatility in plan options: Apple Music Voice is $4.99/mo.

With that said, I have 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 regarding plan options and pricing (and choice is what Android is all about!). Since the free, albeit limited, version comes as part of an Amazon Prime subscription, it's also an excellent way to test the waters before delving into a paid tier for much longer than a standard trial period, which both services offer.

Ultimately when it comes to Amazon Music vs. Apple Music, 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 could be even better than what you'd previously imagined.

Jeramy Johnson

Jeramy was the Editor-in-Chief of Android Central. He is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand.