Fire TV Stick Lite vs Fire TV Stick 2020: Amazon’s newest streamers compared

amazon fire tv stick (2020)
(Image credit: Amazon)

The Amazon Fire TV range of devices allows you to stream content from apps like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube and Hulu to your TV – even if it isn't a smart TV. This is a great option for those who want access to the latest streaming services but have a TV that doesn't come with them built-in already.

But with more and more Amazon Fire TV devices being released, which model is right for you? 

We've put some of the top Amazon Fire TV models head-to-head in our Fire TV Stick vs Fire TV Stick 4K vs Fire TV Cube guide. But 2020 saw the introduction of two newer Amazon Fire TV devices: the Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick (2020)

Here we'll be putting these two latest devices head-to-head to find out which of these shiny new models is right for you and your TV. 

amazon fire tv stick 2020 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Fire TV range: overview

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Amazon offers a range of Fire TV stick streamers to choose from, which offer different resolutions, form factors and features. 

The cheapest HD streaming device is now the Fire TV Stick Lite, one of the newest models for 2020 we'll be looking at in more depth below. 

It's much like the Fire TV Stick (2020) but lacks some functionality and extras, including volume / TV controls on its Alexa remote and support for Dolby Atmos audio. 

Although they won't be covered here, there are plenty more Amazon Fire TV devices to consider too. Most notably, there's the Fire TV Stick 4K, which (as you'd expect) adds 4K resolution to the mix. 

Then, at the top end, you have the Amazon Fire TV Cube, which is basically a Fire TV streaming box that's built into an Amazon Echo speaker.

For the rest of this article, we'll focus specifically on the Fire TV Stick Lite and the Fire TV Stick (2020). Although these two models might be similar, they each offer specific benefits that are bound to appeal to certain people over others. Let's find out which you should buy. 

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

The Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite (Image credit: TechRadar)

Fire TV Stick Lite vs Fire TV Stick 2020: pricing

The Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite is available for $29.99 or £29.99 in the US and UK respectively. You can also buy one for AU$59.99 in Australia (this marks the first time a Fire TV model has landed in the territory).

In contrast, the Fire TV Stick (2020) is $39.99 or £39.99 and not available in Australia. It might cost a little more than the Lite, but it does offer more in the way of functionality (more on this below)

To put both of these prices into context, the Fire TV Stick 4K is more expensive still at $49.99 / £49.99.

Fire TV Stick Lite vs Fire TV Stick 2020: design and features

On the surface, it's hard to tell many of the Amazon Fire TV Stick models apart. Both the Fire TV Stick (2020) and Fire TV Stick Lite come in the form of a small HDMI dongle, the shape of a small candy bar, which plugs into the back of your TV. 

The Fire TV Stick (2020) remote

The Fire TV Stick (2020) remote packs in volume controls too (Image credit: TechRadar)

The main difference between the two in terms of design, and what you get in the box, is that with the Fire TV Stick (2020) you'll get a remote with a few more button inputs.

Of course, every Fire TV device ships with some version of the Alexa voice remote. They all support voice functionality and some basic inputs such as return, home, menu, power, and navigation. But with the Fire TV Stick (2020), you also get volume controls for increasing/decreasing audio levels, as well as a mute button for switching off the sound entirely.

The Lite version doesn't have this. So if you want to make the TV louder or quieter, or turn any connected AV equipment on and off, you won't be able to do it with its remote. This might not be a deal-breaker for most people but is a little inconvenient.

Fire TV Stick Lite vs Fire TV Stick 2020: content and resolution

Both the Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick (2020) bring you the same Fire TV platform. This means you're able to watch content from the same apps.

In the US, you’ll find Netflix, HBO, Starz, Hulu, PlayStation Vue and Crackle – there are plenty of other apps to choose from too. 

You'll also find equivalent services like BBC iPlayer and Freeview Play replacing US-only apps in the UK. While YouTube isn’t yet on the platform, Amazon and Google are working at amending this for users

One thing that might seem obvious, but is worth pointing out: you'll need separate subscriptions for many of these apps - whether that be streaming services themselves or other apps like Amazon Fire TV Stick VPNs. You won't be able to watch Netflix shows or Amazon Prime movies for free on a streaming stick.

Image Credit: Amazon

Image Credit: Amazon

The Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick (2020) support Full HD resolution quality (1080p). Though if you're watching on a 4K TV it should be upscaled to 4K resolution by the set's processor. 

What's more, both support the HDR10+ format favored by Amazon Prime Video. This uses metadata to calibrate your picture settings on a shot-by-shot basis – and the HLG (hybrid log gamma) broadcast format. 

There's also 60fps playback in both, which should make for smoother motion with less blur or judder during fast-moving scenes, though some of this will come down to your television's processing. 

You'll get a similar viewing experience with both, but they're not identical when it comes to performance. The Fire TV Stick (2020) also supports Dolby Atmos passthrough. Instead, the Lite makes do with regular Dolby Digital audio, so there are a couple of key features that the Lite misses out on.

You'd have to pay extra and get yourself the Fire TV Stick 4K if you want to reach 4K UHD resolution – around four times the number of pixels. The Fire TV Cube also supports 4K streaming.

Other streaming devices to consider

There are other competing streaming devices out there, all with their own interfaces and selection of apps, like the Apple TV 4K of the range of Roku streaming devices. 

What's worth remembering is it often makes sense to stick with products and services you already use. For example, iOS devices play best with Apple TV. Amazon Echo speakers were designed to work in tandem with Fire TV and make a lot of sense for Amazon Prime members.

The Google Chromecast is a similarly-priced competitor. However, it doesn’t pack in the Amazon Prime Video app and we've found it can also be frustrating to navigate. There’s an in-depth comparison of all the leading models in our Apple TV vs Amazon Fire TV Stick vs Roku vs Chromecast guide.

Fire TV Stick Lite vs Fire TV Stick 2020: takeaway

Both the Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick (2020) are similar streamers from Amazon and bring smart features and apps to TVs that don't already have them built-in.

If you want to keep expenses down, or you're not sure whether you'll get much use out of a streaming stick, go with the cheaper Fire TV Stick Lite. However, for a slightly improved experience, as well as volume controls on your remote, pick the Fire TV Stick (2020) instead. 

If you're after the best of the best viewing experience, and (crucially) have an Ultra HD television, we'd recommend the Fire TV Stick 4K instead. But for anyone with an HD television, you'll be satisfied with the Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick (2020).