Amazon's Fire tablets continue to offer a popular alternative to the iPad, and with the choices of Android tablets reducing over the past few years, the Fire family has offered affordable tablets that do just about everything you need.
But with three tablets in the offering, there is a decision to be made about which tablet best suits your needs. Is the size worth the increase in price, and exactly what do you get for your money?
Amazon Fire tablet design
- Fire 7: 115 x 192 x 9.6mm, 295g
- Fire HD 8: 214 x 128 x 9.7mm, 363g
- Fire HD 10: 262 x 159 x 9.8mm, 500g
The Fire tablets are designed to be sturdy, offering plastic backs in a range of colours. The sizes and weights step up progressively as you'd expect along with the size of the display on offer.
The build quality is very much the same across all the devices, with curved rears and a bezel around the display that gives you plenty of space to grip the tablet.
The Fire 7 and the Fire 8 HD are available in black, blue, red and yellow. The HD 10 is available in black, blue and red. All the tablets have a range of cases and covers available to provide additional protection.
Amazon Fire tablet display
- Fire 7: 7-inch, 1024 x 600 pixels, 171ppi
- Fire HD 8: 8-inch, 1280 x 800 pixels, 189ppi
- Fire HD 10: 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200 pixels, 224ppi
The Fire 7 has a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution display, which equates to 171ppi across its 7-inches. Amazon has improved the contrast, clarity and the sharpness over the older versions of these tablets, so they all look better as a result.
The 8-inch model has a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, which comes out at 189ppi. Again, this is a boosted display compared to previous versions of this tablet so has reasonable contrast and clarity, with a slight boost in pixel density over the Fire 7, although there's very little difference other than the size.
The 10-inch model makes a bigger step to 1920 x 1200 pixels, which is 224ppi. This is quite a bit sharper than both the smaller tablets as well as giving you 2 inches more on the diagonal. If it's size you crave, then go for the Fire HD 10. This is also a Full HD display, offering greater potential to show you richer details so the experience is better as a result - especially when watching video.
Amazon Fire tablet hardware
- Fire 7: 1.3GHz quad-core, 1GB RAM, 8/16GB storage + microSD
- Fire HD 8: 1.3GHz quad-core, 1.5GB RAM, 16/32GB storage + microSD
- Fire HD 10: 1.8GHz quad-core, 2GB RAM, 32/64GB storage + microSD
- Fire HD 8 and HD 10 offer "Dolby Atmos" sound
When it comes to the internal specs, there's also a difference in the power that you'll get from the Fire tablets. The Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 have a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, while the Fire HD 10 has a 1.8GHz quad-core processor. These tablets get incrementally faster, with the Fire 7 offering 1GB RAM and the Fire HD 8 stepping it up to 1.5GB RAM. The Fire HD 10 steps up both the RAM and the processor power for a faster overall experience.
All three models have microSD support for storage expansion (up to 256GB on the 7 and 10, 400GB on the HD 8), as well as free unlimited cloud storage for Amazon content. In terms of internal memory however, the Fire 7 is offered at 8GB and 16GB, while the HD 8 comes in 16 or 32GB models and the HD 10 in 32 or 64GB options. Those 8GB tablets fill very fast, so a microSD card is well worth hunting down.
The battery life on the Fire 7 comes in at 8 hours; the Fire HD 8 claims 10 hours of battery life, while the Fire HD 10 also claims 10 hours of battery live. All the tablets offer dual-band Wi-Fi, there is no LTE offering on any of the models. The Fire 7 has a mono speaker, while the HD 8 and HD 10 both offer "Dolby Audio" stereo speakers, meaning sound quality is better on the two larger models, with much more pronounced stereo separation and better high volume fidelity.
In terms of camera performance, the Fire 7 and HD 10 both have a front-facing VGA camera and a 2-megapixel rear snapper, capable of 720p video recording. The Fire HD 8 has a 720p camera on the front, so video calls will look better than the other devices.
Amazon Fire software
- Fire OS
- Alexa available on all devices
The Fire tablets all run Amazon's skewed version of Android for a unique experience that's bespoke to Amazon's needs. You're served by the Amazon Appstore, with seamless integration with Amazon's content, Kindle Books, as well as Music and Video. For Prime members, there's a whole world of content that you have access to, and that's before you get to doing your shopping.
These tablets also tap into Alexa's skills. You'll be able to control your home and ask questions of Alexa through your tablet and get the answers served up as cards, or via voice. On the Fire 7 you'll have to press and hold the home button to trigger Alexa.
The 2018 Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 devices support Alexa hands-free. With this, you can just speak to the tablet and Alexa will respond. That means you can use it in the kitchen for example, without having to use your hands in the same way you'd use the Amazon Echo. They also offer Show Mode, compatible with the Show Mode Charging Dock, to give Alexa a visual display like the Echo Show.
Amazon Fire price: Which is the best model?
The Amazon Fire 7 steals the headlines with a RRP of just £49.99 for the 8GB version, or $49.99 in the US. That makes it one of the most affordable tablets you'll find and it's a perfect tablet for those who might break it, like kids - although do also consider the Fire Kids Edition too. The kids edition gets a bumper, 2-year warranty and 1-year subscription to Fire for Kids Unlimited.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 will cost you just £79.99 for a 16GB model ($79.99 on Amazon US) so is stunningly good value for money, giving you more space and a better display than the Fire 7, but still at a really attractive price. It sits in an appealing position, offering portability, excellent battery life as well great sound. The latest update means a better camera and more memory expansion too.
The Fire HD 10 is £149.99 for 32GB or $149.99 in the US, and following its recent refresh, offers a lot for the money. You get more power, much more space to play with a sharper display, as well as battery life that will see you through most long flights. Add to that great stereo sound and it's one of the most appealing media tablets you'll find without breaking the bank, although it's pretty chunky.