Amazon’s Fire tablets continue to offer a popular alternative to the iPad, and with the choices of Android tablets slowly 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’s 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?
We’re breaking down the differences to make it easy for you.
Amazon Fire tablet design
- Fire 7: 115 x 192 x 9.6mm, 295g
- Fire HD 8: 214 x 128 x 9.7mm, 369g
- Fire HD 10: 262 x 159 x 7.7mm, 432g
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, silver and white.
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-inch, 1280 x 800 pixels, 149ppi
The big difference between the Fire tablets is the display. As the name suggests, the Fire HD has an high definition display, but it’s not quite as simple as it sounds.
The Fire 7 has a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution display, which equates to 171ppi across its 7-inches. That means it packs in pixels tighter than the larger HD model and in this newly refreshed model, Amazon has improved the contrast, clarity and the sharpness over the older versions.
The 8-inch model has a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, which comes out at 189ppi. The Fire HD 10 has the same resolution display as the HD 8, meaning a drop to 149ppi, which is pretty low for a tablet of this size, so some content might look at little softer as it’s spread across the display.
The result is that the Fire HD 8 is likely to look the best in many conditions, because it can make best use of the content it is provided.
Amazon Fire tablet hardware
- Fire 7: 1.3GHz quad-core, 8/16GB storage + microSD
- Fire HD 8: 1.3GHz quad-core, 16/32GB storage + microSD
- Fire HD 10: MediaTek 1.5GHz quad-core, 1GB RAM, 16/32/64GB storage + microSD
When it comes to the internal specs, there’s also a difference in the power that you’ll get from the Fire HD and Fire tablets. The Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 have a new 1.3GHz quad-core processor, while the Fire HD 10 has an older 1.5GHz processor. It’s difficult to tell which will be faster, although Amazon has confirmed that the new 2017 HD 8 is faster than the 2015 model it replaces.
All three models have microSD support for storage expansion (up to 256GB on the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8, “up to 200GB” on the HD 10) , 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 16, 32 or 64GB options.
The battery life on the Fire 7 comes in at 8 hours, as does the HD 10; the new Fire HD 8 claims 12 hours of battery life. 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 and stereo speakers, meaning sound quality is likely to be better on these two latter models.
In terms of camera performance, the Fire 7 and HD 8 both have a front-facing VGA camera and a 2-megapixel rear snapper, capable of 720p video recording. The HD 10 on the other hand, has a HD front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel rear camera capable of 1080p video recording, meaning this is likely to offer better quality video calls and image results compared to the Fire 7 and HD 8.
Amazon Fire software
- Fire OS
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.
New to these tablets in the UK is Alexa: 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. The software experience across the models is the same.
Amazon Fire price: Which is the best model?
The Amazon Fire 7 steals the headlines with a price of just £49.99/$74.99 for the 8GB version. 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 Amazon Fire HD 8 will cost you just £79.99/$119.99 for a 16GB model so is stunningly good value for money, while the Fire HD 10 is £169.99/$254.99 for 16GB, so the Fire HD 10 feels much more expensive than the other models and it’s now the oldest tablet in the collection.
We’re drawn to the Fire HD 8. It gives you a little more screen space, power, boosted storage, but still at a price that’s amazingly affordable.