Which Amazon Fire Tablet Should You Buy?


Person holding an Amazon Fire HD 10
Amazon

Amazon’s Fire Tablets are incredibly popular, mostly because they are cheap: the entry-level Fire 7 only costs $49.99 with ads. There’s more than just one model, though, so which one should you get?

The Hardware

Amazon sells three Fire Tablets — the Fire 7, Fire HD 8, and Fire HD 10. There are also ‘Kids’ versions of those tablets with pre-installed cases and content for children, but otherwise they are identical to their non-Kids equivalents.

Fire 7 (2022, 12th Gen) Fire HD 8 (2020, 10th Gen) Fire HD 10 (2021, 11th Gen)
Screen size 7 inches 8 inches 10.1 inches
Display resolution 1024 x 768 1280 x 800 1920 x 1080
Internal storage 16 or 32 GB 32 or 64 GB 32 or 64 GB
RAM 2 GB 2 GB (regular) or 3 GB (plus version) 3 or 4 GB
System-on-a-Chip (SoC) MediaTek MT8168V/B MediaTek MT8168 MediaTek MT8183
Wi-Fi Dual-band (2.4 and 5 GHz) Dual-band (2.4 and 5 GHz) Dual-band (2.4 and 5 GHz)
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0 LE Bluetooth 5.0 LE Bluetooth 5.0 LE
Software Fire OS 8 (Android 11) Fire OS 7 (Android 9) Fire OS 7 (Android 9)
Rear-facing camera 2 MP 2 MP 5 MP
Front-facing camera 2 MP 2 MP 2 MP

The main difference between the three models is the physical size. The Fire 7 has a 7-inch screen, the Fire HD 8 has an 8-inch display, and the Fire HD 10 has a 10.1-inch screen. For comparison, the iPad Mini has an 8.3-inch screen, and the regular iPad is 10.2 inches. The resolution is also different on each model, with the Fire 7 having the lowest-quality screen and the Fire HD 10 having a full 1080p display.

The internal hardware is similar across all Fire tablet models. They all use low-end MediaTek chipsets, so don’t expect the same performance you’d get from a base iPad or Samsung’s Galaxy S tablets. Thankfully, they all support dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0, and USB Type-C ports are standard across the entire lineup.

The Software

The main difference between Fire tablets and other Android tablets (and iPads) is the software. Amazon uses a heavily customized version of Android on its tablets, called Fire OS. Google services like Maps and Gmail are nowhere to be found, and the Amazon Appstore is in the place of the Google Play Store.

Amazon rarely updates its tablets to newer major versions of Fire OS (usually only security updates), so the version of Fire OS that a model ships with is usually where it will stay. The current Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 both have Fire OS 7 (based on Android 9), but the Fire 7 is newer, so it has Fire OS 8 (Android 11). There aren’t that many differences between the two versions, except that Fire OS 8 adds dark mode support and a few new permissions options.

It’s possible to install the Google Play Store on Fire tablets, giving you access to Android apps that aren’t available on the Amazon Appstore (like YouTube, Google Maps, and so on), but the process is a bit hacky. If you absolutely need Google apps, you shouldn’t get a Fire tablet.

Which Tablet Should You Buy?

The entry-level Fire 7 tablet is only $49.99 with lock screen advertisements ($64.99 without), outside of occasional sales that can drop it to $40 (or sometimes even less). That tablet has the lowest-resolution screen and the slowest chipset, but it’s perfectly capable of reading Kindle books or doom-scrolling on Facebook. The low price also makes it a great option for children — accidental drops and spills won’t mean paying hundreds of dollars for a replacement.

There’s not much of a difference between the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8, as most of the internal hardware is the same, and the display is only an inch larger. The software on the Fire HD 8 is older, but that won’t impact which apps and games you can install — the Fire HD 8 is based on Android 9.0, and most popular software still supports Android 6.0 or 7.0 at a minimum. It starts at $89.99 for the 32 GB model with lockscreen advertisements.

The Fire HD 10 is the best of the bunch, with a larger screen, slightly faster chipset, more memory and storage, and a 1080p resolution for crisp visuals. However, it starts at $149.99 with lockscreen ads and 32 GB storage, and maxes out at $205 for 64 GB storage and no ads.

Apple 10.2-inch iPad
You might be able to buy an iPad for around the same price as a Fire HD 10. Apple

Unless you get the Fire HD 10 at a great discount (it has dropped to $100 a few times), it makes more sense to buy the Galaxy Tab A7 Lite (usually $160) or another mid-range Samsung tablet instead. Samsung’s tablets have the full Android experience, complete with the Google Play Store and apps like Chrome and YouTube, without the need for any hacks.

You might even be able to find a used iPad in decent condition for $150-200 on sites like Swappa, and Apple sells the 10.2-inch iPad for around $300. Any iPad is going to be significantly faster than any Fire tablet, and more apps and games are available on iPads. There are also more high-quality accessories available for iPads, and the latest model supports the Apple Pencil (sold separately) for handwriting notes or sketching. The only catch is that some older models won’t receive the upcoming iPadOS 16 update, so if you go far enough back with used models, you might not get new system features.

Amazon Fire 7

Amazon’s Fire 7 tablet costs just $50, making it the cheapest option for those who want a dedicated smart home control center. It works with Alexa and Google Home, though you have to sideload the Google Home app to get it up and running.

Amazon Fire HD 10

The Fire HD 10 is Amazon’s best tablet, and if you can snag it on sale, it’s a good deal. Otherwise, save up a bit more money and buy a Galaxy tablet or used iPad.





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