Three years ago I bought a brand new Google Nexus 7 and an Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7, both were Android tablets with 7in screens. How have they lasted over the last three years and which one turned out to be the best? There is a lesson to be learnt here.
Both of the tablets are still working and are occasionally used. I'm not a heavy tablet user and I also have an iPad Air, which is bigger, faster and better in every respect. However, sometimes the iPad is just too big, for example, when I read books. The two 7in Android tablets are about the size of a paperback, although being three years old, they are about the weight of a hardback. They are easier to hold and to read books on than the iPad.
This isn't about the iPad or Android vs iOS though, but about two old tablets and which one turned out to be the best.
<----- Google Nexus 7 | Amazon Kindle Fire HD ----->
One major difference between the two tablets is that Google pushes out operating system updates very quickly to Nexus devices. I am always one of the first people to get the latest Android and have been running Android 5.1.1 for quite some time. I get updates months before some other Android phones and tablets. That means that the tablet is bang up to date with the latest software, features and user interface.
The Kindle Fire HD however, has had few updates and none of them have been major. Just a minor bug fix or tweak and the tablet is more or less the same as it was when it was new. The version of Android it was running was not the latest when the device was launched and it just had a custom Amazon interface on Android 4.03. It is hard to tell what it is now because Amazon uses its own version numbers, so my Fire HD is running system 7.5.1, whatever that is.
Upgrading to the latest version of Android on the Nexus 7 has almost ruined it. The hardware is really struggling to run Lollipop and it is very slow. It is difficult to use the tablet because of the time it takes to respond to taps, switch between apps and actually do anything useful. The Nexus 7 is frustrating, but hey, it runs the latest version of Android and it looks fantastic. It is just a shame it is such a slouch at running it.
While the Nexus 7 is only just usable, and even then with difficulty, the Kindle Fire HD has hardly changed. It is still reasonably quick to navigate the menus and screens, switch apps, run apps and so on. It looks no different to when it was new, but that is what has kept it quick and usable.
So I have one tablet with the latest cutting edge OS that is tediously slow and almost unusable, and one tablet that has an old OS, but works well. I have to keep up to date with the latest mobile operating systems, but if I was you, I would avoid installing any OS updates. Most Android apps do not need Lollipop to run and the OS runs very slowly on old hardware. My advice is to stick with the OS that came with the tablet if you want to keep it running smoothly and quickly.
If you are thinking that this is just an Android problem, try running iOS 8 on an iPad 2. It's slow.
So which is the best tablet? Neither is perfect and no Google apps are available in the Amazon app store for instance, but most other popular apps are, like Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft apps, top games, and so on. The Nexus 7 would be the best tablet if only it was faster, but it is not and the Kindle Fire HD is quicker and is still fun to use, so that has turned out to be the best of the two.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 31 May 2015