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(Pocket-lint) - 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.

Amazon's most recent update to this line is the Fire HD 10 and 10 Plus, sprucing up the larger tablets and fully detailed below. The best prices on the Fire tablets are often on Prime Day or Black Friday, but there are regular sales through the year.

With three different-sized 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 summary: Which is the best model?

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The Amazon Fire HD 8 is great 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 as great sound. The latest update means plenty of power and more storage at your disposal - and it's our favourite tablet from the selection that Amazon offers.

Alternatively there's the Fire HD 8 Plus, which adds Qi wireless charging with an optional compatible dock - so you can use it as an Echo Show.

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The Amazon Fire 7 is one of the most affordable tablets you'll find and it's perfect for those who might break it - like kids - although do also consider the Fire 7 Kids Edition too. The Fire 7 is the least powerful and still has an old Micro-USB connection on it, while also offering a slightly elongated build compared to the newer models.

The Kids Edition gets a case, 2-year warranty and 1-year subscription to Fire for Kids+ and there are two versions, one for ages 3-7 and one for 6-12 with a slightly different type of case. The older model is called the Fire 7 Kids Pro.

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The Fire HD 10 (2021) offers a slightly more compact design over the older 2019 version, a brighter display and more power, so it's likely to be popular and a worthy upgrade over the 2019 model.

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The Fire HD 10 Plus is the most powerful of the Fire tablets, adding wireless charging to the mixture too. This could double up as a smart display if you opt for the dock too, with Amazon also offering a productivity version with a Bluetooth keyboard.

Amazon Fire tablet specs comparison

Here's a rundown of all the major specs for the tablets to compare them.

Amazon Fire tablet design

  • Fire 7: 115 x 192 x 9.6mm, 286g
  • Fire HD 8: 202 x 137 x 9.7mm, 335g
  • Fire HD 8 Plus: 202 x 137 x 9.7mm, 355g
  • Fire HD 10 (2021): 247 x 166 x 9.2mm, 465g
  • Fire HD 10 Plus: 247 x 166 x 9.2mm, 468g

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 Fire HD 8 and 8 Plus are the same size, but the 8 Plus is a little heavier.

The build quality is very much the same across all the devices, with flat backs and a bezel around the display that gives you plenty of space to grip the tablet.

The Fire 7 comes in black, sage, plum and blue, the Fire 8 HD is available in black, blue, plum and white. The Fire HD 8 Plus is only available in slate. 

The Fire HD 10 and 10 Plus are a slighly different shape to the old model. They are thinner and lighter and look better, while the new HD 10 offers the same colours as the old HD 10, while the HD 10 Plus comes in slate - so just like the Fire HD 8 Plus, if you see a slate colour, it's the more advanced model.

All the tablets have a range of cases and covers available to provide additional protection. The Fire HD 8 Plus and the Fire HD 10 Plus are compatible with a Wireless Charging Dock, but each is a different size specific to the tablet model.

Amazon Fire tablet display

  • Fire 7: 7-inch, 1024 x 600 pixels, 171ppi
  • Fire HD 8 (all models): 8-inch, 1280 x 800 pixels, 189ppi
  • Fire HD 10 (all models): 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.

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 a larger 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. All the Fire HD 10 models (old and new) have the same size and resolution display.

Amazon Fire tablet hardware

  • Fire 7: 1.3GHz quad-core, 1GB RAM, 16/32GB storage + microSD (512GB)
  • Fire HD 8: 2.0GHz quad-core, 2GB RAM, 32/64GB storage + microSD (1TB)
  • Fire HD 8 Plus: 2.0GHz quad-core, 3GB RAM, 32/64GB storage + microSD (1TB)
  • Fire HD 10 (2021): 2.0GHz octo-core, 3GB RAM, 32/64GB storage + microSD (1TB)
  • Fire HD 10 Plus: 2.0GHz octo-core, 4GB RAM, 32/64GB storage + microSD (1TB)

When it comes to the internal specs, there's a difference in the power that you'll get from the Fire tablets, with progressive performance increases as you get larger.

The Fire 7 has a 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1GB RAM. The Fire HD 8 and the Fire HD 8 Plus both have a 2.0GHz quad-core processor, with 2 or 3GB RAM, and are noticably faster than the Fire 7. The Fire HD 10 models have an octa-core 2.0GHz chip, with the 2021 models increasing to 3 or 4GB RAM.

All models have microSD support for storage expansion from 512GB up to 1TB - that's a lot of downloads! These tablets fill very fast, so a microSD card is well worth hunting down.

In terms of internal memory, the Fire 7 is offered at 16GB and 32GB, while the HD 8 models and HD 10 models come in at 32 or 64GB. 

The battery life on the Fire 7 is cited as 7 hours; the Fire HD 8 and 8 Plus claim 12 hours of battery life, while the HD 10 models claims 12 hours. The Fire HD 8 models and the Fire HD 10 have USB-C, while the Fire 7 still has Micro-USB for charging.

The Fire HD 8 Plus and Fire HD 10 Plus makes itself different by also offering wireless charging. This works with Qi-standard chargers (5W) and will work with the Wireless Charging Dock. There are different docks for the 8 Plus and 10 Plus models, the former rated at 10W, the latter at 15W, which it pretty fast wireless charging.

All the tablets offer dual-band Wi-Fi, there's no 4G LTE offering on any of the models. The Fire 7 has a mono speaker, while the HD 8 models and HD 10 both offer "Dolby Atmos" stereo speakers, meaning sound quality is better on the larger models, with much more pronounced stereo separation and better high volume fidelity when watching videos.

In terms of camera performance, all the fire models have 2-megapixel cameras on the front and the rear.

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 do 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. 

All these devices also 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.

You can also turn these tablets into an Echo Show, thanks to the Show Mode. For the Fire HD 8 Plus and Fire HD 10 Plus, there's a Wireless Charging Dock that will enable this. For some older Fire tablets, there has been a Show Mode Dock, although this now appears to be hard to find.

Writing by Chris Hall and Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 17 September 2015.