Apple TV vs Amazon Fire: Which Should You Buy?
Comparison of Firestick and Apple TV: Channels\Apps | Features | Costs | User interface | Ease of Installation | and more…
Quick Fire TV vs. Apple TV Comparison
Fire TV and Apple TV are two of the most popular OS-based streaming devices on the market. However, they cater to widely different demographics – while Fire TV represents budget-consciousness, Apple TV represents elite exclusivity.
The decision between Fire TV and Apple TV should be a pretty simple one. The most advanced Fire TV device costs half as much as an entry-level Apple TV device. As such, you can easily choose between one or the other, depending on your budget.
However, one would assume that such a great difference in price would also be accompanied by a stark difference in features. And that’s where things get muddled.
After all, both Fire TV and Apple TV support Ultra HD 4K and Dolby Vision HDR content, both have impressive libraries of content and streaming platforms, and both have native streaming platforms (called Amazon Prime and Apple TV+, respectively).
Considering all those similarities, why does Apple TV cost so much more? Is it worth paying so much for an Apple TV? And, who are these devices suitable for?
In this article, we review all the Fire TV and Apple TV devices, comparing their core features against each other.
What is Fire TV? Overview of Fire TV Devices
Some people use the terms ‘Fire TV’ and ‘Firestick’ interchangeably because the first few generations of Fire TV devices were exclusively designed as a streaming stick. However, with the Fire TV Cube release, we can no longer use the term ‘Firestick’ as a default term for all Amazon streaming devices. As such, I’ll use the term ‘Fire TV’ when referring to Amazon’s line of streaming devices.
Amazon Fire TV is a line of budget-friendly streaming devices running on the Fire OS operating system. So far, Amazon has released several generations of Fire TV devices, but it currently has three active streaming devices — Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Fire TV Cube.
Fire TV Stick
Fire TV Stick is an entry-level streaming device without a built-in Alexa and maximum video output of 1080p with no HDR support.
Fire TV Stick 4K
Fire TV Stick 4K is a mid-range streaming device with Ultra HD 4K and Dolby Vision HDR support, but no built-in Alexa.
Fire TV Cube
Fire TV Cube is a high-end streaming device with Ultra HD 4K and Dolby Vision HDR support and a built-in Alexa speaker.
Pros & Cons of Fire TV Devices
What is Apple TV? Overview of Apple TV Devices
Apple has truly made a mess of their naming system. Before I give you an overview of Apple TV, I’ll take a moment to explain what the term ‘Apple TV’ refers to. ‘Apple TV’ refers to Apple’s high-end and premium streaming devices. ‘Apple TV’ also refers to Apple TV’s iOS app. And ‘Apple TV+’ refers to Apple’s native streaming platform. In this article, I’ll use the term ‘Apple TV’ to refer to the streaming devices and ‘Apple TV app’ when referring to the smartphone app.
Apple TV is an elite and high-cost range of streaming devices. While Apple TV can be used by anyone, it is most suitable for iOS users because all Apple devices interact with each other beautifully. There are currently three active Apple TV devices on the market — Apple TV HD, Apple TV 4K 32GB, and Apple TV 4K 64GB.
Apple TV HD
Apple TV HD is an entry-level Apple TV streaming device with a maximum video output of 1080p Full HD and no HDR support.
Apple TV 4K 32GB
Apple TV 4K 32GB is a high-end Apple TV streaming device with a maximum video output of Ultra HD 4K and HDR Dolby Vision support. It has a 32GB internal storage capacity.
Apple TV 4K 64GB
Apple TV 4K 64GB is a high-end Apple TV streaming device with a maximum video output of Ultra HD 4K and HDR Dolby Vision support. It has a 64GB internal storage capacity.
Pros & Cons of Apple TV Devices
Comparison of Fire TV and Apple Devices
In this section, I’ll give you a thorough overview of the Fire TV and Apple TV devices, comparing them across various verticals, including design, installation, user interface, smartphone integration, and more.
Fire TV vs. Apple TV Design
Winner (design): Apple TV
I’m yet to find a single streaming device with a design sensibility as cohesive, minimalistic, and functional as Apple. Every element of the Apple ecosystem looks premium and polished. Compared to that, Amazon Fire TV’s device, remote control, and operating system are ordinary.
Fire TV vs. Apple TV Installation
The Fire TV devices have to be connected to the TV’s HDMI port and a power outlet. Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K are styled like USB devices to be connected to the HDMI port. However, Fire TV Cube has to be connected to the HDMI port via an HDMI cable.
Following that, all Fire TV devices can be connected to either the TV’s USB port or an external power source via a USB cable. Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K need at least five volts of power from the TV. The Fire TV Cube, however, should be connected to an external power supply because it requires more power.
Fire TV Cube also needs more internet speed. If your wireless connection is insufficient, you can connect it to your router via an ethernet cable and adapter, both of which come with the package.
After connecting the devices, you have to install them and set them up. Once you activate your TV, you have to follow the on-screen prompts to connect to the WiFi and install all the necessary apps. If you have an Amazon account, you’ll have to enter your account credentials or create a new one.
The Apple TV devices have to be connected to the TV’s HDMI port and a separate power outlet. The Apple TV devices need a lot of power, so you have to connect to a separate power outlet — not the TV’s USB port. You can also connect the devices to the router via an ethernet cable for greater speed.
After connecting the devices, you have to set up the software. You need to follow the on-screen prompts using the remote control, create or sign in to your Apple account, and download the apps you want.
However, if you’re an iPhone user, you don’t need to do any of that. You can simply tap your iPhone to your Apple TV to automatically transfer all the configuration details, such as WiFi details and your Apple account credentials. If you need to type anything, a keypad will automatically appear on your iPhone.
Winner (Installation): Tie
All streaming devices are incredibly easy to install and set up. Anyone can do it with a few minutes to spare.
Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K, however, are the easiest to connect because you can connect them to your TV’s USB port instead of an external power supply. Meanwhile, the Apple TV devices are the easiest to set up for iOS users because you simply have to tap the device with your iPhone to complete the setup process.
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t be concerned about the installation and setup since both devices are pretty easy. However, Apple TV’s installation process sets a pattern for the entire Apple TV ecosystem, i.e., Apple TV devices favor iOS users in every aspect of their interface.
Fire TV vs. Apple TV Content Quality
Winner (content quality): Tie
All Fire TV and Apple TV devices support Dolby Atmos audio, which is the highest standard of audio quality, capable of producing three-dimensional moving audio. However, you can only access the Dolby Atmos theatrical experience if you have a Dolby Atmos-compatible speaker system.
The entry-level versions of both the Apple TV and the Fire TV support a maximum of Full HD content with no HDR support. And the high-end versions of both the Apple TV and Fire TV support Ultra HD content with Dolby Vision HDR support, currently the best standard in HDR video. However, you can only access Dolby Vision content with a Dolby Vision-compatible TV and HDCP port.
As such, Fire TV and Apple TV are on equal footing in terms of content quality, and both are equally future-proofed.
Fire TV vs. Apple TV Interface (Ease of Use)
Amazon Fire TV runs on Fire OS, which has been flagged for being complicated. The moment you launch Fire TV, you’re met with large banners for Amazon Prime content. When your navigation hovers over the banners, they automatically play trailers that you can’t disable.
Following the banners, you get various categories of menu items. The first line of menus relates to recently played apps, which can be useful because the most relevant and used apps appear before the rest. However, the remaining menu categories feel pretty random, promoting content that may have no relevance to your interests. The lack of relevance and personalization is due to Amazon’s interest in pushing its native content. Amazon Prime shows and movies dominate most of the menu items.
In addition to the menu items, all of the apps also default to Amazon’s native ecosystem. When you search for music, Amazon will default to Amazon Music. When you search for videos, shows, or movies, Amazon will pull search results from Amazon Prime. If you want to access content from other services, you have to enter the applications; you can’t access them from the main menu.
Fire TV also has a lot of advertisements. Instead of pushing the ads to one side, the ads are mixed in with your menu items. Even the ads slant toward the Amazon ecosystem, encouraging you to purchase items from the Amazon store. Amazon also pushes certain third-party streaming platforms that it’s incentivized to promote.
Fire OS can also get pretty heavy because of features like the abundance of menu items and the banners with auto-play trailers. These features can slow down the system, and you may need to connect to an external power source for a speedy interface.
All things considered, Fire TV has a clear agenda — driving you as deep into the Amazon ecosystem as possible. That drive can also get in the way of sensible content recommendations and user experience. However, if you’re comfortable with the Amazon ecosystem and don’t mind the random recommendations and ads, you won’t have a problem.
Fire OS has one redeeming factor when it comes to playback and navigation — X-Ray. While playing Amazon Prime content, you can tap the Up button on your remote for the X-Ray feature. This basically gives you complete background information on any given scene in your movie or show.
The X-Ray reveals the cast members present in any scene, including extras, and the artists and composers of background music. You can also tap the name of an actor to check their biography and acting history, navigating to other movies they may have appeared in that are also available on Amazon Prime.
Apple TV runs on the tvOS operating system, widely hailed as the fastest and most effective streaming operating system available. Apple TV devices use a 64-bit A10X Fusion Chip, which is the same chip used in iPad Pro, making it one of the most powerful streaming devices. As such, the tvOS interface is incredibly fast and smooth.
tvOS is also aesthetically beautiful, its interface mimicking Apple’s signature minimalism. The buttons are attractive and the screensavers feature gorgeous high-definition images of drone footage from several destinations across the globe. Furthermore, Apple TV doesn’t feature any advertisements, not even in any discreet corner of the screen. They don’t want anything interfering with the user experience.
The top of the menu features banners with Apple TV+ content. When you hover over the banners, the content’s trailer starts playing automatically. However, this feature wasn’t well-received by many users. As such, Apple released a tvOS 13.3 update, introducing a disable option in the settings, allowing you to turn off the auto-play feature.
Apple TV’s interface also includes an Up Next section featuring upcoming episodes from content you’re currently watching. The list gets updated whenever a new episode comes out on any streaming platform. When you select the content, you’re automatically taken to the content’s native streaming platform. Apple TV doesn’t give any favoritism to Apple TV+ content and provides updates from all streaming platforms.
Apple TV also has a Single Sign-On feature with which you don’t have to enter your account’s details repeatedly. This feature saves all of your account details and preferences for all your streaming platforms, ensuring you’re always signed on.
Apple TV also allows you to create multiple accounts within the same device. Since the same household may have multiple members, you need multiple accounts to prevent others from ruining your recommendations. With multiple accounts, you can share your device with several people, and know that your Up Next list will stay intact.
Winner (Ease of use): Apple TV
tvOS wins out over Fire OS by miles!
Apple TV’s interface is gorgeous, sleek, and it runs on an incredibly powerful processor. Apple TV doesn’t have any advertisements, and it has some useful features like Up Next and multiple accounts. Sure, Apple TV pushes its native Apple TV+ content, primarily through the banners, but you can disable auto-play trailers.
Fire TV, in comparison, looks pretty ordinary and runs slower than tvOS. Fire OS also pushes Amazon content hard, forcing you to try Amazon Prime, Amazon Music, and buy things from the Amazon store. It also has frustrating advertisements between your menu items. All things considered, Fire TV has a pretty confusing — at times infuriating — interface.
Fire TV vs. Apple TV Remote Control
The Fire TV remote control is sleek and modern, including minimalistic buttons for essential functions. It doubles as a TV remote control, allowing you to control the Fire TV and host TV with the same remote. The Fire TV remote also includes a microphone button, allowing you to navigate the menu through Alexa voice commands. As an IR remote, it has a fairly limited range, and you need to be in the same room as the Fire TV.
Apple TV has a sleek and modern Siri remote control. As mentioned earlier, the remote looks just like the Apple TV streaming device — a combination of glossy black and matte black with minimalistic buttons. It’s made of glass and aluminum rather than plastic, which further enhances its aesthetic quality.
However, in this case, the aesthetic sensibility may have come at the expense of comfort. The Apple TV remote is so small and minimalistic that it often slips out of the palm. In fact, there have been so many instances of people dropping the Siri remote that several companies have started developing Apple remote cases to enhance thickness and sturdiness.
The Apple TV remote features a touchpad with which you can navigate through swiping gestures. I found the touchpad could be a little too sensitive, making the navigation a bit inaccurate. However, I could easily activate directional keys through the online settings, turning it into a traditional directional pad. The Siri remote also includes a microphone button with which you can access Siri voice commands for navigation.
The Apple TV remote distinguishes itself from all other remote controls in one significant way — it’s Bluetooth-based. While most remote controls have IR sensors, Siri remote control uses Bluetooth. As such, you can control your Apple TV from another room, as long as you’re within range. You have to charge the remote via a lightning cable about once a month.
The Siri remote can’t be paired with your TV, so you’ll still need your regular TV remote for on/off and volume functions.
Winner (remote control): Tie
The Fire TV remote and Apple TV remote have most of the same buttons. Both are minimally designed, with only the most essential buttons. Both Fire TV and Apple TV have microphone buttons, through which they access Alexa and Siri voice commands, respectively.
The Fire TV remote doesn’t look nearly as good as the Siri remote, but it doubles as a TV remote, and its design makes it easier to hold. The Apple TV remote, meanwhile, looks a lot better than the Fire TV remote and has a greater range, but it doesn’t double as a TV remote, and it doesn’t fit into the palm securely.
Basically, comparing the Fire TV remote and Siri remote is a toss-up between form and function.
Fire TV vs. Apple TV Smartphone Apps & Integration
Fire TV has done a pretty terrible job with its smartphone app. The app’s features are pretty basic, making it act like just another remote. You can navigate through the menu using the app’s trackpad, access different apps, use the microphone button for voice controls, and control the volume — basically all the same features as the remote.
The Fire TV app only has one useful feature — the smartphone keypad. When you need to search for something, you can use the phone’s keypad rather than entering the text on the TV, which can be cumbersome. However, the app is so prone to glitching and disconnecting from the Fire TV device that I stopped using it after a few days.
Basically, the Fire TV app is so buggy and inefficient that you might as well say Fire TV has no smartphone integration.
Apple TV only has smartphone integration for iOS devices. However, the integration is so brilliant that you don’t even need an Apple TV app.
The Apple TV app is fairly rudimentary, only acting as a cellular interface for your tvOS interface. Apple TV has menus with Apple TV content, and it allows you to search for other apps and download them. You can also use the Apple TV app to purchase or rent content, which will appear in your Apple TV device.
However, you don’t really need the Apple TV app for smartphone integration. Your iPhone automatically becomes a remote control for your Apple TV device. The level of integration between iOS devices and the Apple TV device runs so deep that I’d need an entire article to mention all of the great ways they interact.
However, for now, the following is a brief overview of the things you can do with your iPhone:
Most iPhones can automatically be used as a remote control for the Apple TV. However, if that doesn’t happen, you can manually activate remote control from Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls > Apple TV Remote.
You can download the Apple TV app from the Apple Store.
Winner (Apps & Integration): Apple TV
Apple TV has some of the most brilliant smartphone integration features and controls. However, the Apple TV app and smartphone integration are only available for iOS users. If you’re an Android user, you’ll have to download third-party apps to access a fraction of the features available, by default, to all iOS users. This is typical of Apple — it does all it can to push people to embrace an all-Apple ecosystem.
I would normally strike a point from Apple for being so exclusive, but the Fire TV app is so terrible that there’s really no competition. The Fire TV app is available for both iOS and Android devices. However, the Fire TV app is so terribly, buggy, and lacking in features that it’s like having no smartphone integration at all.
Fire TV vs. Apple TV Smart Features
Fire TV Voice Control
Fire TV is linked to Alexa voice assistant. You can access voice controls through the remote controls, smartphone app, external Alexa devices, or Fire TV Cube’s internal Alexa speaker.
The remote control and the smartphone app feature a microphone button. You have to tap and hold down the button to provide voice commands to Fire TV’s Alexa.
If you want to provide voice commands without hands, you’ll need an Alexa device. If you have a Fire TV Cube, you don’t need an external Alexa device because it comes with an internal Alexa speaker. However, if you have the Fire TV Stick devices, you’ll need an external Alexa speaker because they don’t come with built-in Alexa. Alexa speakers allow you to provide voice commands without even touching the device. You can simply say, “Alexa, turn on YouTube,” and it will follow your commands.
You can use voice commands to search for any content within the Fire TV interface. You can use the Alexa speakers to control your other smart home devices as well, such as your smart lights, smart locks, and other devices.
Fire TV Private Listening
Fire TV technically has a private listening feature, but it’s not very effective. You can only access private listening by going into the settings and connecting your wireless headphones. Furthermore, there have also been complaints about audio delays.
Apple TV Voice Control
Siri isn’t known for being one of the best voice assistants on the iPhone. However, Apple TV has a pretty brilliant Siri voice navigation feature. You can access voice controls from your Siri remote, iPhone, or Apple HomePod, or other HomeKit devices.
If you use the remote and iPhone, you’ll have to tap the microphone buttons to provide voice commands. If you use an external HomePod or HomeKit-compatible device, you’ll need to simply say “Hey Siri” to give voice commands.
When you give voice commands, you see them converted into text on your TV screen. As such, you can read Siri’s interpretation of your voice and modify it if it’s incorrect. Furthermore, Siri also gets smarter as it gets more familiar with your voice.
Apple TV Private Listening
Apple TV has an incredibly streamlined private listening feature. iOS users can simply connect their headphones to their iPhone, either physically or through Bluetooth, and listen to Apple TV on their phones. However, Android users will have to activate private listening through Apple TV’s settings.
Apple TV Mirroring & Casting
Thanks to AirPlay, screen mirroring, and iOS integration, Apple TV has the most brilliant screen mirroring and casting features.
You can simply swipe up from your phone and tap Screen Mirroring or AirPlay to either mirror your phone’s screen or cast content from your phone to your Apple TV.
However, this feature is only available for iOS users. Android users will need to download third-party apps like AllCast to access such features.
Apple TV Accessibility Features
All Apple devices have a wide range of thoughtful accessibility features for people with disabilities. These features make the user interface friendlier for people with physical and motor skill impairments, learning disabilities, vision impairments, or hearing impairments.
The following are some of Apple TV’s most useful accessibility features:
Winner (smart features): Apple TV
Apple TV has more and better features than Fire TV. But let’s compare them one-by-one.
Fire TV and Apple TV have similar voice control features. While Fire TV uses the Alexa voice assistant, Apple TV uses Siri voice assistant. But that’s the only significant difference. Fire TV Cube, however, comes with a built-in voice assistant, while Apple TV devices don’t have a built-in assistant.
Fire TV doesn’t have a very effective private listening feature. Apple TV has an incredibly streamlined private listening experience for iOS users, but even Android users can access it through the menu.
Fire TV doesn’t have built-in mirroring features. Apple TV has an incredibly effective mirroring and casting feature for iOS users, but no such feature for Android users. Apple TV also has various useful features for those with disabilities, something Fire TV lacks completely.
The only aspect in which Fire TV might come ahead is voice control because Fire TV Cube has a built-in voice assistant. Other than that, Apple TV has far superior features on all counts, even though most of them are restricted to iOS users.
Fire TV vs. Apple TV Apps & Channels
Winner (Apps & Channels): Apple TV
Both Apple TV and Fire TV have incredibly large libraries of content and apps. Fire TV might have an overall larger number of apps, but both feature most of the popular apps.
However, Apple TV comes ahead primarily because of its AirPlay and mirroring features. Thanks to these features, you can cast content from any streaming platform or website to your Apple TV, regardless of whether Apple TV has the relevant app.
Fire TV vs. Apple TV Support
Amazon has a knowledge base with instructional guides, troubleshooting guides, and articles. You can also contact their live chat or customer support for immediate assistance.
Apple TV has a brilliant support system. Their support page features a wide knowledge base with installation guides, troubleshooting guides, and other manuals. You can also join the Apple Support Community to post your comments and concerns for the entire community.
You can access 24/7 live support. And you can also pay for an AppleCare Protection Plan, which entitles you to priority service. As such, Apple TV provides various avenues to seek help and support.
Winner (support): Apple TV
Fire TV has a pretty standard support system with a knowledge base and customer support. Apple TV, however, goes above and beyond with live chat, community support, knowledge base, and a paid protection plan for priority service.
Fire TV vs. Apple TV Cost
Winner (Cost): Fire TV
When it comes to cost, Fire TV is the clear winner. By miles!
The most advanced Fire TV device with a built-in voice assistant costs less than the entry-level Apple TV device without 4K or HDR support. That comparison pretty much says it all.
Furthermore, Fire TV allows you to access 4K Dolby Vision content at just $49.99, while Apple TV only provides 4K Dolby Vision support at $179.
Fire TV promotes itself as a budget-friendly device. Apple TV prides itself on being a premium and exclusive product. The pricing reflects that. If you’re budget-conscious, Fire TV is the clear winner.
Verdict: Fire TV or Apple TV?
Fire TV and Apple TV are meant for completely different sets of people. Fire TV is largely meant for budget-conscious buyers while Apple TV is meant for those who are willing to pay more for advanced non-essential features. Fire TV is largely meant for Android/Amazon users. Apple TV is largely meant for Apple purists, i.e., those with various iOS devices.
You should get a Fire TV device if you:
You should get an Apple TV device if you:
Choosing between Fire TV and Apple TV is pretty easy. All you have to do is consider your budget and whether you’re willing to pay an exorbitant amount for advanced features and smartphone integration.
Personally speaking, I’m a total Apple enthusiast. Since most of my devices are Apple-based, I love how smoothly they interact with each other. But even though I love Apple, I object to their exclusivity and think they’re terrible value for money. Fire TV, in comparison, gives brilliant value for money.
In this battle between the two powerhouses, Amazon and Apple, which side are you on?
FAQs About Fire TV and Apple TV Devices
Does Apple TV work with Fire TV?
Apple TV and Fire TV are both streaming devices. As such, you can use one or the other, but not both together. You can even connect both to the same TV through different HDMI ports, but you can’t use them together.
However, you can use Apple TV+ (the streaming platform rather than the streaming device) with Fire TV. You can download the Apple TV+ app on your Fire TV and access all Apple TV+ content after subscribing to the streaming platform.
How do you connect Apple TV to Fire TV?
Search for Apple TV on your Fire TV home screen. You can also ask Alexa to search for Apple TV. Once the menu pops up, tap ‘Get’ to start the download. The Apple TV app will appear on your home screen. Subscribe to Apple TV+ and start watching Apple content.
What is the difference between Fire TV and Apple TV?
The primary difference between Fire TV and Apple TV is that the former uses the Fire OS operating system with Alexa voice assistant while the latter uses the tvOS operating system with Siri voice assistant. Besides this crucial difference, there are several smaller differences in their features and capabilities.