iPad Vs Kindle

kindle vs ipad e readers

Updated 9/15/2010

Only a year ago, Amazon’s Kindle unquestionably towered over its e-reading competitors with a sleek design, low price and always-on 3G access built right into the purchase price. Then along came Apple. Although the iPad differs in many ways from a dedicated e-reader, Apple’s marketing has depicted it as a suitable replacement for books. Can it do the job as well as the e-reading champ? We compared both in all the relevant categories to see which you should build your digital library atop.

kindle vs ipad amazonReadability

Winner: Amazon Kindle

The foundation of all e-readers prior to the iPad started with e-ink and for good reason: Nothing comes closer to the smooth, comfortable look of paper. While the iPad’s IPS LCD screen technically boasts better contrast, the Kindle manages an excellent approximation of newsprint, you can read it easily even in direct sunlight, and the lack of a 60Hz refresh rate makes it easier on the eyes over many hours.


Winner: Apple iPad

As a drawback to all the Kindle’s newspaper-like qualities, it’s also cursed with graphics capability that makes the print version of USA Today look like a technological triumph. The reader offers just 16 shades of grey in comparison to the iPad, which boasts full color, not to mention the ability to refresh up to 60 times per second for fluid video. For magazines and interactive features, the Kindle truly can’t compare.


Winner: Amazon Kindle

We would take either of these devices compared to a sagging backpack full of books and magazines, but the Kindle has the iPad beat by a mile when you start counting specs. Measuring only 0.34 inches thick and weighing 8.7 ounces, the Kindle makes the 0.5-inch thick, 1.5-pound (24-ounce) iPad look and feel like an anvil.

Battery Life

Winner: Amazon Kindle

Apple’s iPad actually offers impressive 10-hour battery life, which is more than most folks will even be able to read in a sitting before tossing it back on the charger, but the Kindle can go days and weeks without a charge. The company estimates the 3G version will last up to a month with the wireless off, and up to 10 days with wireless on. The Wi-Fi version? Three weeks.

kindle vs ipad itunesLibrary

Winner: Apple iPad

You could pile numbers to the ceiling comparing Apple’s iTunes book library to Amazon’s Kindle library, but the simple fact is this: The Kindle can only access Amazon’s library, the iPad can access Apple’s iTunes store, the Amazon Kindle store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook library, and more, all through apps. In an unusual twist, Apple actually has the more platform here, and until that changes, iPad owners have access to more printed content than any other e-reader can deliver.


Winner: Amazon Kindle

Like comparing a motorcycle and a muscle car, comparing the Kindle to the iPad is unfair for a couple of reasons, but for most folks, the most glaring will be price. The Kindle now runs for only $139 for a Wi-Fi-only version, and $189 for a version with lifetime 3G access for downloading books on the go. The cheapest Wi-Fi iPad runs for $499, and adding 3G spikes that number to $629, plus data charges of at least $15 monthly from AT&T. The total price disparity after using a Kindle and an iPad for two years? $800.

Overall Winner: Amazon Kindle

The Kindle was designed to do one thing and do it very well. And it does. When it comes to reading digitally, the Kindle owns the humble iPad, thanks in no part to a screen designed specifically for reading. Fair comparison? Not really, considering the iPad comes with a full Web browser, e-mail client, and can made to perform pretty much any other conceivable task with apps. Magazine lovers and those with a taste for obscure titles should also take note, since its color screen and access to three major media libraries give it a real reader’s edge of the Kindle, too. That said, anyone looking to trade in well-worn copies of Othello, Huck Finn and maybe even a fresh copy of Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design for a digital device should reach for the Kindle, unless a super-sized iPhone sounds like it could be handy, too.

Want the best of both worlds? Then download the Amazon Kindle app for the Apple iPad. Yup, you can have your cake and eat it too! So where is the Barnes & Noble Nook in all of this? Well, we pitted the Amazon Kindle against the Nook, and well, the Nook just didn’t fair too well – so it’s out of the equation.

Check out our video: Is Apple’s iPad the Ultimate e-Reader?