Best Amazon Fire Tablets: The Ultimate Tablet Guide

Amazon’s entries into the world of consumer devices have encompassed both huge hits – their Kindle e-readers – and gigantic misses – the Amazon Fire phone. Their Amazon Fire tablets, though, hit somewhere in between. While they lack the power, speed, and customization of their iOS and Android counterparts, the Fire tablets are nearly perfect media streaming devices at a shockingly low price point. If you only plan on using a tablet for watching Amazon Prime video (or Netflix, HBO Go, and Hulu) and already have a personal relationship with Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, it’s hard to go wrong with an Amazon Fire tablet.

Comparison Table

Getting To Know the Amazon Fire

fire hd 8 tablet

Image via Amazon

Perhaps the cheapest functional tablet on the market, the Amazon Fire comes in three screen sizes, with each screen size paired with two possible internal memory sizes. Their latest models also allow for expanded memory, up to 256 GB, through the use of a microSD card slot. The addition of expandable memory makes the lowest possible internal storage size the best value at each screen size.

How Does the Amazon Fire Compare To Similarly Sized iPads or Android tablets?

fire hd 8 tablets with alexa

Image via Amazon

There’s no doubt that when it comes to computing horsepower, screen resolution, or even the number of available accessories, the Amazon Fire is outclassed by most of its competitors. However, as we keep hinting at, the Fire is a perfectly acceptable media streaming device at an outrageously low price.

For example, the cheapest iPad comes in at around $330. For that price, you could buy six of the most inexpensive Amazon tablets (the Fire 7), with an extra $30 leftover for apps and accessories. In fact, even the most expensive Amazon tablet (the Fire HD 10 Kids Edition) comes in at $130 cheaper than the cheapest iPad model.

So, what exactly is lost, then, in buying a Fire tablet? Well, Amazon’s devices use a modified version of Android’s operating system to power their units. As Amazon and Android’s parent companies are not getting along right now, unfortunately, you will not get access to most Google apps on Amazon, including Gmail, YouTube, and Google Docs. While you can access these websites, you won’t have access to the app. (Meaning, you can go to youtube.com and browse and play videos, but you cannot download the standalone YouTube app).

While there are ways to get around those app restrictions, you do so at your own risk of freezing or bricking your Amazon device. If you’re comfortable with and knowledgeable of terms like sideloading and rooting, you should be able to turn a Fire tablet into a standard Android one.

What Are the Kids Editions?

different colors of amazon fire hd 8 for kids

Image via Amazon

The Kids Editions take the baseline Fire tablet models and add some nifty features to help parents monitor their children's activity on the device. They also come with plenty of product protections. For only $50 more at each screen size level, the benefits are worth it:

  • A free year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, a subscription service consisting of 15,000 apps, books, games, movies, and television shows that are appropriate for children aged three to 12.
  • Additional parental controls, like screen time limits and prompts to use educational apps before playing games.
  • Included kid-proof case.
  • Two-year full warranty (as opposed to the 90-day limited warranty of regular Fire tablets).

What’s the Price Range?

While the range of customization here (e.g., screen size, internal storage size, and advertising), doesn't necessarily make pricing easily, there's no doubt that these tablets represent some of the best values in the market:

  • Fire 7: $49.99 (8 GB) or $69.99 (16 GB)
  • Fire 8 HD: $79.99 (16 GB) or $89.99 (32 GB)
  • Fire 10 HD: $149.99 (32 GB) or $189.99 (64 GB)

The Kids Edition tablets cost $50 more and are only available with the highest internal storage option at each screen size (so, the Fire 7 Kids Edition comes with 16 GB).

Amazon offers the ability to select whether you'd like to include "special offers" when purchasing a Fire or Kindle. By selecting this option, you'll receive personalized advertising as your screen saver or at the bottom of your screen when browsing books, and in exchange, you'll receive a slight discount. (The prices listed above are with the special offers option turned on). If you'd prefer not to have these ads, you should expect to pay $15 more for each Fire tablet variety.

How We Reviewed

To ensure a well-rounded approach when examining each Amazon Fire tablet, we compiled reviews from individuals and websites, then compared them to our personal experiences. This method produced results that encompassed the wide range of opinions regarding these products and helped remove potential bias.

The Best Overall Fire Tablet: Fire 8 HD, 16 GB

Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8" HD Display, 16 GB, Black - with...
  • Up to 12 hours of battery life, a vibrant 8" HD display, a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, and Dolby Audio....
  • 16 or 32 GB of internal storage and a microSD slot for up to 256 GB of expandable storage
  • Just ask Alexa for quick access to the information and entertainment you want. Ask questions, play music, check your...

Screen size:

Eight inches

Screen resolution:

1280 x 800, 189 ppi

Internal storage options:

16 GB or 32 GB

Processor:

Quad-core 1.3GHZ

RAM: 

1.5 GB

Battery life:

12 hours

Warranty:

90-day limited

Now, as stated earlier, there's no doubt the iPad is more powerful and has a better display than the Fire HD 8, but that doesn't mean you should knock the feature set of Amazon's tablets:

  • 12 hours of battery life
  • Alexa-enabled
  • High-def, eight-inch display (1280 x 800 screen resolution)
  • Free month of Amazon Prime (if you aren't already a subscriber)
  • Front- and rear-facing camera, the former capable of shooting in 720p
  • MicroSD card slot capable of up to 256 GB of additional storage

Amazon developed a new feature within the past couple of months that makes the Fire 8 HD an even better value. For an additional $40 you can purchase the Show Mode charging dock, which turns the tablet into something akin to their Echo Show smart display. The dock also charges the device and enables a full-screen mode, so the screen is visible even from across the room.

This new feature makes the Fire 8 HD a perfect bedside table or kitchen accessory, capable of handling HD video, wake up alarms, and recipe recitation with intuitive ease. The dock is only available for this model of Fire tablet.

The Best Kids Tablet: Fire 8 HD Kids Edition, 32 GB

Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet, 8" HD Display, 32 GB, Blue Kid-Proof...
  • Up to $144 in savings on Fire HD 8 tablet, 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, and a Kid-Proof Case, versus items...
  • Not a toy, a full-featured Fire HD 8 tablet with a vibrant 8" HD display, 32 GB internal storage, up to 10 hours of...
  • The included 1 year of FreeTime Unlimited gives your kids access to over 20,000 popular apps and games, videos, books,...

Screen size:

Eight inches

Screen resolution:

1280 x 800, 189 ppi

Internal storage options:

32 GB

Processor:

Quad-core 1.3GHZ

RAM: 

1.5 GB

Battery life: 

12 hours

Warranty:

Two-year full warranty

Since the Kids Edition Fire tablets are not all too different from their baseline counterparts, choosing the best tablet for your kid is mostly a matter of picking the best Fire tablet. In this case, that means going with the Fire 8 Kids Edition.

With this selection, you’ll get all the same significant benefits and specifications as the standard Fire 8 HD tablet, as well as a practically indestructible case, a two-year warranty that’s well above industry standard, and some added protection to make sure your kids aren’t spending too much time on their tablet.

It should be noted, that the Kids Edition is not compatible with Amazon’s new Show Mode charging dock, as none of the child-focused tablets include Alexa. So, if you’re looking for a smart display for your kid, the baseline Fire 8 HD edition is still the way to go.

Cheapest Fire Tablet: Fire 7

Fire 7 Tablet (7" display, 8 GB, with Special Offers) - Black
  • 7" IPS display; 8 or 16 GB of internal storage (up to 256 GB with microSD)
  • 1.3 GHz quad-core processor
  • Up to 8 hours of battery life

Screen size:

Seven inches

Screen resolution:

1024 x 600, 171 ppi

Internal storage options:

8 GB or 16 GB

Processor:

Quad-core 1.3GHZ

RAM:

1 GB

Battery life:

Eight hours

Warranty: 

90-day limited

Considering what a fantastic deal the Fire 8 HD is, it's hard to imagine Amazon offering an even less expensive tablet. 

The big difference is performance and screen quality. While the Fire 8 HD offers eight inches of high-def screen, the Fire 7 operates with less RAM and a non-HD screen. This means the display will not be as crisp as you would hope, and you will suffer through some frozen screens and stuttering video.

Still, if you're not tasking it with memory-intensive apps, or if you're looking to purchase a child their first tablet, the Fire 7 makes much sense as an option. 

Best Screen: Fire 10 HD

Fire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa Hands-Free, 10.1" 1080p Full HD Display,...
  • Brilliant 10.1" 1080p Full HD display (1920 x 1200), up to 1.8 GHZ quad-core processor, 2 GB RAM, and up to 10 hours of...
  • Our largest display, now with over 2 million pixels, stereo speakers, Dolby Audio, and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi-perfect...
  • Use Alexa hands-free mode to pause videos, play music, open apps, show sports scores, display the weather, and more-just...

Screen size:

10 inches

Screen resolution:

1920 x 1200, 224 ppi

Internal storage options: 

8 GB or 16 GB

Processor:

Quad-core 1.8GHZ

RAM: 

2 GB

Battery life:

10 hours

Warranty: 

90-day limited

We started off the review of the Fire 8 HD by saying that it would have to cost twice as much not to be considered a value. 

While the screen is larger and the processor a tick faster than the smaller model, you also lose two hours of battery life. Otherwise, the specs are pretty similar. Due to the not-quite-doubling of the Fire 8 HD's price, the Fire 10 HD should be passed over, unless you absolutely require a 10-inch screen.

Concluding Thoughts

There is no doubt that, regardless of screen size or amount of internal memory, the Amazon Fire tablet is one of the best deals in the gadget market. For under $100, you can get one of two fully functional media streaming devices. For slightly more, you can get a bigger and better screen. While we prefer the Fire 8 HD model, it’s tough to go wrong with either the Fire 7 or Fire 10 HD, depending on your preferences.

Amazon’s addition of the Show Mode charging doc nudges the Fire 8 HD as the best overall model, as it can transform the device to something similar to Amazon’s Echo Show or other similar smart displays. Park it on your bedside table or the kitchen counter, and this device can stream video, set alarms, play music and podcasts, and even recite recipes.

If you have kids, Amazon’s child offerings are difficult to beat as well. Sure, the $50 increase means that the Fire 7 model’s price doubles, but the included case and extended warranty are worth it. Even still, the Fire 10 HD Kids Edition costs $130 less than the cheapest iPad model, which does not come with the screen time and device protections that Amazon’s tablets include.

If you need the best screen or the fastest processor, then these Fire tablets may not be for you. You won’t be able to edit videos, watch videos in 4k resolution or have access to the broadest range of iOS or Android apps. However, if your day-to-day tablet use consists of streaming videos or music, and you’re already part of the Amazon ecosystem, the Fire tablets are tough to beat.

Featured Image via Amazon

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