Samsung Galaxy Note vs Amazon Kindle Fire

October 8, 2011
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The Samsung Galaxy Note is a 5.3″ device that should be the biggest, yet still pocketable, Android device once it’s on the market. It blurs the line between a tablet and a smartphone. You could watch videos on it, play games, browse the web and read books, too.  This is why it could a much more portable reading and media consumption device, while still being pocketable, than something like a Kindle Fire. So, let’s see how they stack up against each other.

Samsung Galaxy Note Specs

  • Processor: dual core 1.4 Ghz Exynos chip
  • Display:  5.3″ Super AMOLED + Gorilla Glass
  • Resolution: 1280×800 (285 PPI)
  • Storage: 16 GB
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Cameras: 8MP rear-camera and 2 MP front-camera
  • Video: 1080p@30fps
  • Body: plastic
  • Weight: 178g
  • Battery: 2500 mAh
  • Connectivity: 3G + Wi-Fi
  • OS:  Android 2.3 Gingerbread

Amazon Kindle Fire Specs

  • Processor: dual core processor, possibly OMAP 4430, but could be a weaker one to cut costs
  • Display: 7″ IPS + Gorilla Glass
  • Resolution: 1024×600 (169 PPI)
  • Storage: 8 GB
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Cameras: no cameras
  • Video:  no video recording
  • Body: plastic
  • Weight: 413g
  • Battery: Unknown
  • Connectivity: Wi-fi only
  • OS: Android 2.3 Gingerbread + Amazon’s UI redesign

Processor

I suspect that the Kindle Fire’s CPU is weaker than the current crop of dual core chips, but even if it’s a dual core 1 Ghz OMAP 4430, it would still be significantly weaker than the Galaxy Note’s dual core 1.4 Ghz Exynos chip in both computing performance and graphics performance. It may not matter much if you mainly want it for reading books or watching videos, but the difference will be shown in playing games and browsing the web.

The Kindle Fire does have the Silk browser which should compress web pages and make browsing faster, but you could more or less do the same with Opera Mobile or Opera Mini, if you want your pages compressed by their servers and then delivered to you.

Display

The Amazon Kindle Fire has great IPS display, but it’s no match for Samsung’s Super AMOLED, which is even better for media consumption because of the deep blacks and strong contrast it offers, but it’s also better for reading. Why? Because of the almost double PPI (285 vs 169), which makes fonts a lot sharper. For a non-e-ink display, the more PPI the better if you want a more enjoyable reading experience. Although, you’ll still have to deal with backlighting on both devices. But that’s the compromise you have to make if you want to also be able to play games, browse the web and watch movies.

Body

As mentioned earlier, the Galaxy Note may be the single best device with the biggest screen that is also pocketable. It’s quite a bit harder to put a 7″ device like a Kindle Fire in your pocket, and even then it has to be in your backpocket, if it fits.

Both are made of plastic, but the Galaxy Note is less than half as heavy, weighing only 178 grams, while the Kindle fire weighs 413 grams. I expected the Kindle Fire to be much lighter, considering Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Tab 7.7 will have about 335 grams. It will be bigger but weigh almost 100 grams less. I suppose Amazon didn’t want to spend too much money on slimming down the device.

Market

With the Galaxy Note you get the complete Android Market with over 250,000 applications. On the Kindle Fire you only get a few thousand (granted most are high quality and hand-picked by Amazon). But you still can’t sideload apps to the Kindle Fire, and you won’t be able to use any of Google’s apps on it. Plus, you will have to pick your choice of ecosystems – it’s either Google or Amazon. At least on Google’s ecosystem, you can still take advantage of some of Amazon’s apps. On Amazon’s ecosystem’s, not so much.

Additional Considerations

The Kindle Fire is intended first as a reader, and then as a tablet that allows you to use other types of media. If you are looking for a direct pipeline to Amazon’s media ecosystem, and desire the additional functionality that a regular Android device provides, plus the stylus, pen type functionality that the Galaxy Note affords additionally, then the Kindle Fire is a sound choice – particularly considering its price. The Galaxy Note is intended to be more like the one device to help you get rid of all the other devices. It’s a smartphone, it’s a reader, it’s a tablet, a gaming device, and so on. So at the end of the day, you’ll have to decide if you want a more specialized device like the Amazon Kindle Fire that costs only $200, no contract, or a “all-in-one” device like the Samsung Galaxy Note that will probably cost $200 on contract, or over $500 unlocked. What would be your choice?

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