Comparing the new Apple TV to the potential new Amazon Fire TV


Now that the new Apple TV has been annouced, the big question is, how does it compare to the next generation Fire TV? We won’t be able to fully answer that question until Amazon officially announces a new Fire TV, but based on the leaked specs and the FCC filing, which we believe to be for the next generation Fire TV, we can make some pretty good guesses. Join me on a magical speculative voyage into the future of streaming set top boxes.

I am writing this article with the assumption that the leaked specs and the FCC filing are accurate and are in fact for the next generation Fire TV. Obviously, if the future proves this to not be true, this article will be inaccurate. Remember, this is mostly speculation based on the information we currently know about the upcoming Fire TV.


Decoding video for playback is both a difficult and easy task for the mobile processors like the ones found in the Apple TV and Fire TV. It’s difficult because it requires heavy computation that can potentially consume 100% of the CPU’s resources, but it’s easy because these devices contain dedicated hardware designed specifically for decoding video which frees up the CPU from the burden. That’s why, for example, my old HTPC struggled with 720p YouTube flash videos but breezed through h.264 1080p video, and why an inexpensive device like the $39 Fire TV Stick can play buttery smooth high-bitrate 1080p video. The Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, next-gen Fire TV, and new Apple TV all have dedicated 1080p decoding, but only the new Fire TV has dedicated 4K decoding.
Advantage: New Fire TV

CPU and GPU Power

The new Apple TV comes with Apple’s A8 processor from the iPhone 6 which is a dual-core CPU clocked at 1.4GHz paired with a PowerVR GX6450 GPU. The new Fire TV has a quad-core 1.5GHz (or 1.9 GHz) CPU with a similar PowerVR GX6250. When it comes to raw power, the Fire TV wins in the CPU department, but the Apple TV wins in the GPU department. When comparing benchmarks of the leaked Fire TV device with the iPhone 6 which contains similar specs to the new Apple TV, the A8 in the new Apple TV outperforms the new Fire TV system-on-a-chip in most categories. Since Apple designs their own chips, as opposed to Amazon’s off-the-shelf chips, they have a knack for getting every last bit of performance from their processors. Resulting in superior performance, even when they’re less powerful than the competition.
Advantage: New Apple TV

Voice Capabilities

The new Apple TV comes with Siri. With that comes not only natural voice search, but also a bit of the personal assistant features like weather and sports lookup. This is leaps and bounds better than the voice capabilities built into the current Fire TV, which is limited to a comparatively rudimentary voice search. That said, Amazon has a potential ace up its sleeve by the name of Alexa (from the Amazon Echo). If Amazon builds Alexa into the new Fire TV, its capabilities will be on par with Siri in the Apple TV and potentially better. Amazon has been improving Alexa faster than I’ve seen them improve any product. Every few weeks Alex gains new skills and Alexa’s new developer options leave it with the potential to grow far beyond Siri’s closed skillset.
Advantage: New Fire TV if it comes with Alexa, otherwise Apple TV


The new Apple TV finally comes with a real app store. With an operating system based on iOS, the new Apple TV benefits from the iPhone and iPad’s industry leading app ecosystem and developer pool. The new Fire TV, on the other hand, will certainly inherit most of the existing Fire TV’s nearly 3,000 apps. That said, I have no doubt developers will race to create Apple TV apps and quickly surpass the Fire TV in both app quantity and quality.
Advantage: New Apple TV


The Apple TV remote comes with an accelerometer for motion gaming capabilities out of the box. A little known fact is that the current Fire TV voice remote also contains an accelerometer, but Amazon has chosen not to use it. To me this means Amazon may have had motion gaming aspirations for the current Fire TV that never panned out which we may see surface with the new Fire TV. We don’t know anything about the new Fire TV’s remote capabilities, so it’s difficult to compare it to the new Apple TV’s remote. That said, it’s unlikely the new Fire TV remote will come with a touchpad like the new Apple TV remote, which has potential for gaming controls. However, the Fire TV has a first-party game controller made by Amazon which we expect to carry over to the new Fire TV. While the new Apple TV does support third-party game controllers, there’s something to say about having official hardware for advanced gaming from the device’s manufacturer. It’s not as good as including a game controller with every device, but it’s better than relying solely on third-party options.
Advantage: Tied

Modding and Unofficial Apps

The current generation Apple TV was never jailbroken (i.e., rooted). The new Apple TV will likely be just as difficult, if not more difficult, to crack. This means you cannot install any unsanctioned apps, like Kodi, on the new Apple TV. I fully expect to be able to sideload apps like Kodi on the new Fire TV as easily as the existing Fire TV. This is the nature of Android. Being based on Android, the new Fire TV will also be more susceptible to rooting than the new Apple TV, which means there is greater potential for modding the device beyond its default capabilities.
Advantage: New Fire TV


The new Apple TV comes in a 32GB and 64GB variant. The new Fire TV appears to have 8GBs of internal storage like the current Fire TV. This is a big advantage to the new Apple TV, but the new Fire TV does support expandable external storage through a USB port and an included microSD card slot. Internal storage is better for apps since not all apps can be stored on external storage. The advantage of external storage is obviously the flexibility to add as much or as little as you need. If you want to load up your streaming box with dozens of games, the new Apple TV is probably better for you, but if you want to load up your streaming device with media files or want to easily transfer files around, then the new Fire TV, with its removable storage, is probably better for you.
Advantage: Tied


Comparing what we know about each next generation streaming device reveals advantages and disadvantages for both. There isn’t a clear winner which, if you ask me, is the best outcome. It means there’s a variety of features for us, the users, to choose from. Some will jump ship for the new Apple TV, while others will laugh away the new Apple TV as an irrelevant competitor. There are many other small nuances for each device, like the Fire TV’s optical audio port or the Apple TV’s remote volume buttons, that are not covered in this article. Regardless of whichever device is right for you, it’s great to see the market expanding and moving forward with exciting new features and capabilities.

  1. Dave69 says:

    Kodi and Fire TV all the way!

  2. mjbxx says:

    Advantage: New Apple TV

    Really? Fire TV wins this one hands down, unless Apple TV allows the ability to add Kodi or even Plex for that matter.

    • AFTVnews says:

      I debated whether to include Kodi as an advantage in the Apps category, but decided to stick to official apps there and consider Kodi in the modding category. Perhaps I should have named the “Apps” category the “Appstore” category.

    • Kliffard says:

      Without Plex on Apple TV the battle goes to Fire TV. I am not paying for a device that forces me to use the Apple Ecosystem….

      • Wakey says:

        Seeing as Plex is on Apples other devices that have an App Store then Plex will almost certainly be on the AppleTV fairly quickly

  3. Len Mullen says:

    CPU and GPU Power: any head to head comparisons to show how different the gpus and cpus bench? Any fps on games or other real world implications? Just curious.

    Gaming: Need a list of launch games for the Apple TV or FTV wins. Only Apple fanboys play games with a touch pad. FTV supports the venerable xbox 360 controller. If the 360 doesn’t have an accelerometer, gamers don’t need one. The library of FTV games is large, diverse, and inexpensive. I’m not a fan of app counts, but FTV has 864 games and 339 of them are free.

    Price: You didn’t talk about this, but it matters a lot to everyone who is not an Apple devotee. $150 for a streamer is a lot.

    Fans: For all its horses, the FTV is fanless and extremely cool during use. This minimizes noise and maximizes hardware life.

    Apps: Again, I’m not a fan of raw numbers, but there’s a reason Roku has stopped talking about how many apps their streamer supports. Plex, Tablo, Netflix, Amazon Instant, Sling TV, YouTube, and Hulu Plus are killer apps. What is Apple launching with?

    Parental Controls: Does Apple have these? FTV has good parental controls out of the box and adds freetime. People still have kids.

    Captive Portal: Can you easily take the Apple TV streamer on the road?

    Brand: Apple wins this. Reputation and price insensitive consumers give Apple an advantage in all areas. No doubt an Apple enthusiast is dreaming of using Siri to control Space Invaders via his iWatch as I type this.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Many of the omissions you mention are simply due to not having enough information at this time. I couldn’t speculate on the game library since we don’t know what the Apple TV will have at launch. I didn’t include price because there’s no way to know how the new Fire TV will be priced. The “Apps” section should have probably been called “Appstore” since I gave it to Apple mainly because their Appstore draws in a stronger developer following then the Amazon Appstore.

    • hiavatch says:

      Love your comment about what Apple enthusiasts would do ;)

      There are so many games available for Android, and only the smallest percentage of them work on the fireTv. I wonder why Amazon isn’t taking lessons from Nvidia Shield and adding a screen-press to controller-button mapping feature, complete with ready-made mappings for popular games and apps? While there will always be some games for which this just won’t work or not well enough to be worth it, this would still rather instantly add support for so many more games, and non-game apps. The number of supported apps would increase dramatically. Amazon’s store is mostly a subset of the google play store, but by adding this feature, complete with the ability for end-users to add their own custom mappings, side-loaded apps not in the amazon store could also benefit.

  4. Dkells says:

    Once again we thank you for the upto the minute news and updates in the FTV community. Now given all the specs and comparing you’ve given us, there’s still a deciding fact between the two that no one can over look…and that’s KODI!!! Hands down FTV wins this with the older model or the potential new model. Until ATV can top that there’s really no comparing!!!

  5. Don_Black says:

    Personally, I believe there will be a root for the new Apple TV, this new TVOS maybe the key to that. If games are being downloaded from the web then one would assume that unofficial apps could also be downloaded. As long as a browser can be installed we may see alternate App Stores like pangu and other app stores. We will just have to wait and see. I believe this will happen this year or early next year their will be rooting capabilities for the ATV4

  6. Bruno says:

    Is there any prediction on the release date of the new Fire tv? Or a date of view of what is capable?

    I was decided to go for the Fire TV (current one) but yesterday the new ATV brought some arguments to the fight. :)

  7. Swanson says:

    Any word on WHEN this new Fire TV might be released?

    It would not seem to be a great situation for Amazon where interested customers are now forced to choose a competitor’s device.

  8. Rich says:

    OK so you are going to have a choice, a stick that plugs convieniently in your TV which basciially can do and perform as well as Apple TV for a prioe point that will be over 300% cheaper than a box, that one must place on a shelf with ugly wires creeping up the wall.
    Apple TV market will essentially be those Apple fans and those without a digital device for their TV who can shell out a couple hundred bucks because its Apple

    • Wakey says:

      The stick doesn’t work as well as the AppleTV will because it already works so much worse and much more restrictive than the the FireTV Box. You will always get better performance out of a box as there is more room for components and it’s easier to cool allowing higher performance. And there is then room for things like Ethernet connections, optical connections (although the AppleTV is missing this which IMHO is an oversight), USB and the likes which a stick is unlikely to ever have.

      The stick is a good entry level device but it’s likely to always be either an introduction device or a second TV device rather than your main hub

  9. u2pop says:

    Guys nobody didnt mention something big is removed on the new AppleTV dont have OPTICAL AUDIO !!!

  10. Wakey says:

    Can’t help but feel that if Amazon don’t increase the storage they are making a mistake. Yes the expandable storage is nice but even if you move the apps onto these as parts of it needs to remain you can quickly run out of space. And you also take a performance hit. I find some streaming video apps for example suffer more playback issues when on the USB rather than running fully from the internal memory. It’s the same with an Android phone that has a microsd slot, sure it’s good to be able to move the apps to the scarf but it then hits the performance somewhat.

    If Amazon upgraded to even 16gb it would certainly have me considering an upgrade but without that I may just buy the AppleTV and keep the FireTV as an Kodi device only (as I expect Amazon will port the iOS apps over)

  11. mr m b mayatt says:

    Very Apple bias review , we don’t have full tech spec of the next gen fire tv yet do no comparison can be made.
    The new Apple tv was very disappointing I thought , doesn’t look great for games, no optical out, no kodi, no proper controller, no 4k.

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