Last Updated on October 4, 2020
Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, mostly known as the Firestick, is the best-selling Fire TV device, with millions of Firesticks sold worldwide. It’s known for its affordability and features that no other Android-powered media streaming player is supposed to deliver.
However, the competition in streaming devices has recently got a little bit fierce, with affordable Android TV boxes from popular brands and a new generation of Roku devices.
In comparison, Amazon’s cheapest offering in the Fire TV lineup is four years older at this point, and its entry-level hardware from that era is now considered obsolete.
To keep up with the competition, Amazon has recently launched a successor to the 2nd Gen Firestick, priced the same as the previous one.
Apart from that, the company has also announced the Firestick Lite, which basically is a cut-down version of the 3rd Gen Firestick, and it’s even more affordable than any other Fire TV device in the market.
Roku and other streaming media players often used to undercut Amazon’s offerings, but the new Firestick and Firestick Lite are hard to beat at this entry-level price range.
If you have been shopping for a new streaming device for your home cinema setup, then the Firestick is the affordable solution to start with.
Firestick Lite vs Firestick: What are the Differences?
Now that there are two Firestick variants, you might be confused about which one you should go for. Don’t worry, as we have prepared this comparison guide to show you the exact differences between the Firestick (3rd Gen) and Firestick Lite.
We also will discuss the sacrifices Amazon has made for the Firestick Lite to hit such a low price point.
The Firestick Lite and 3rd Gen Firestick share the same design as the 2nd Gen Firestick from 2016. Both have the exact dimensions (86 x 30 x 13 mm) and weight (32 g). From outside, the Firestick Lite and the new Firestick look virtually the same.
At this point, it’s not surprising that the Firestick Lite and Firestick (3rd Gen) is connected to TVs in the same way as before, via their dedicated HDMI ports.
If you don’t have enough space behind the TV or the Firestick itself is interfering with other cables, then you can use the HDMI extender Amazon ships in the box.
This year’s Amazon Firestick devices are made with the die-cast aluminum as before, but it’s 100% recycled this time around. Amazon is taking its ‘Climate Pledge Friendly’ program seriously, which is a good thing.
The biggest difference between the Firestick Lite and Firestick (3rd Gen) is arguably the remote. The Firestick Lite is bundled with the Alexa Voice Remote Lite, which ditches the buttons that let you control your TV or other AV equipment.
On the other hand, the Firestick (3rd Gen) comes with the regular Alexa Voice Remote, which has the Power button, Volume, and Mute buttons. However, it doesn’t have the Guide button that the Alexa Voice Remote Lite offers.
Amazon’s decision to not include the Guide button on the Firestick (3rd Gen) remote is weird nonetheless. However, the absence of the TV controls on the Alexa Remote Lite is justified, considering that the Firestick Lite had to hit a lower price point.
Fortunately, Amazon still ships two AAA batteries in the box for the remote. The new remotes are built with the same polycarbonate material as every other Fire TV remote.
Like the 2nd Gen Firestick, both the Firestick Lite and Firestick (3rd Gen) offer up to 1080p@60Hz (Full HD) video output.
However, they now both have support for HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), HDR (High Dynamic Range), HDR10, and HDR10+ content, unlike the previous iteration of Firestick. Dolby Vision is available only on the Firestick 4K.
Unless you have a TV that supports HDR playback, supported content will be streamed in SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) only.
In terms of audio, both devices support Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+, and Dolby Atmos playback. However, the Firestick Lite can process the following audio codecs via HDMI passthrough only, whereas the Firestick (Gen 3) supports them natively.
Overall, there are zero differences in streaming quality between the Firestick Lite and Firestick (3rd Gen). However, if you happen to have a sound system with Dolby Atmos support, then the Firestick is much easier to set up, and it won’t require HDMI passthrough.
The Firestick Lite and Firestick (3rd Gen) are powered by the MediaTek MT8695 SoC, which brings a meaningful 50% performance gain over the 2nd Gen Firestick.
The CPU cluster on the following chipset consists of four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.7 GHz. It’s significantly faster than the MediaTek 8127D quad-core chipset found on the 2nd Gen Firestick.
The same can be told for the GPU. The MT8695 chipset has the PowerVR GE8300 GPU cluster clocked at 660 MHz. Compared to the Mali-450 MP4 on the MT8127D chipset (2nd Gen Firestick), it supports newer video codecs, and it’s capable enough to handle 1080p@60fps (w/ HEVC) stream playback.
When it comes to power consumption, the Firestick Lite and Firestick (3rd Gen) is 50% more efficient than the previous Firestick model. It’s due to the 12nm fabrication process used on the MT8695 chipset.
The 2nd Gen Firestick used the MT8127 SoC, which was manufactured in 28 nm.
In terms of CPU and GPU performance, the Firestick Lite and Firestick (3rd Gen) are more in line with the Firestick 4K, as they all share the same chipset.
However, both of them come with only 1 GB of DDR4 memory compared to 1.5 GB on the Firestick 4K, meaning that they can handle only a few apps and services in the background before they start lagging.
Since you will use the Firestick for video streaming purposes only, it should be none of your concern.
Both the Firestick Lite and Firestick comes with 8 GB of onboard eMMC flash storage. It’s more than enough for installing your favorite streaming apps and channels.
There isn’t much of a difference between the Firestick Lite or Firestick (3rd Gen). Like the 2nd Gen Firestick, the devices have 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz) Wi-Fi and 2×2 MIMO interface support.
With the external Fire TV Ethernet adapter, you can get up to 100 Mbps over a wired connection on the following Firestick models.
The Firestick Lite and the new Firestick use the latest Bluetooth 5.0 (LE) modem, in case you are wondering. Also, both devices offer Miracast support for screen mirroring, and you can link your Amazon Echo device for hands-free Alexa voice controls.
The Firestick Lite and 3rd Gen Firestick come with Fire OS 7 based on Android 9.0 Pie. When compared to the previous Firestick releases, the Firestick 4K is running Fire OS 6 (Android 7.0 Nougat), while the 2nd Gen Firestick is still using Fire OS 5 (Android 5.0 Lollipop).
As of now, the differences between Fire OS 6 and Fire OS 7 is negligible. However, Amazon has promised to roll out a new update later this year with a redesigned Fire TV user interface.
You will see most of the changes on the Fire TV home screen, which makes it straightforward for users to browse through a curated catalog of content from several different streaming services.
In addition, you will be able to add and customize profiles for every family member (up to six profiles), each having their own watch history, recommendations, and settings. The new navigation bar replaces the “Your Apps & Channels” row with an Android TV-like apps list, giving easier access to your favorite streaming apps.
Fire OS 7 also brings Picture-in-Picture mode for all supported apps. While you are watching your favorite movies or shows, you can now go back to the content catalog or open another streaming app. The content will continue playing in a pop-up window.
Another use of the PiP mode is to check for the video stream from your Ring or Alexa-compatible security cameras and smart doorbells. Speaking of Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, will now answer your questions inside a compact box instead of using up the whole screen.
Firestick Lite vs Firestick: Comparison Table
|Specs||Firestick Lite||Firestick (3rd Gen)|
|Video quality||1080p@50/60Hz with HLG, HDR, HDR10, and HDR10+||1080p@50/60Hz with HLG, HDR, HDR10, and HDR10+|
|Audio quality||Dolby Atmos (via HDMI audio passthrough)||Dolby Atmos (optional HDMI audio passthrough)|
|Remote||Alexa Voice Remote Lite (no TV controls)||Alexa Voice Remote (IR-enabled)|
|CPU + RAM||MT8695D 4-core 1.7 GHz CPU, 1 GB DDR4 RAM||MT8695D 4-core 1.7 GHz CPU, 1 GB DDR4 RAM|
|Storage||8 GB eMMC||8 GB eMMC|
So which one Should you Get?
Upon closer inspection, there aren’t any significant differences between the Firestick Lite and the new Firestick (3rd Gen), except the Alexa Voice Remote and native Dolby Atmos support.
However, both devices offer a significant upgrade to the 2nd Gen Firestick in performance and software experience.
Those who don’t want to take the hassle of switching between remotes or have a Dolby Atmos sound system, the 3rd Gen Firestick ($39.99) is the obvious choice.
However, if you are on a tight budget and totally fine with the missing features, the Firestick Lite is an excellent media streaming player for only $29.99.
Note that 4K HDR streaming is available only on the Firestick 4K (2018), Fire TV Cube (2018 / 2019), select Fire TV Edition Smart TVs, and Soundbars. If you have a compatible Ultra HD TV, then go for these Fire TV devices instead.