Amazon Fire tablet.

Amazon’s Fire tablets are popular for their super affordable price tags. However, as tempting as those prices may be, there are glaring drawbacks. You may regret your purchase if you don’t know what you’re getting into.

You Get What You Pay For

First, we’ll start with the obvious. Cheap gadgets are cheap for a reason. You can snag an Amazon Fire 7 for $50. Clearly, some sacrifices were made to get the price down that far.

The biggest area of sacrifice is performance. You may not care much that the display isn’t even 720p, but you probably will notice when the tablet is struggling to open Disney+.

The cheapest Amazon Fire tablets typically have very low-end processors, 1 or 2GB of RAM, and around 32GB of storage. That’s really not much to work with. Most low-end smartphones have better specifications than that.

The good news is you can pay more for better specs. The Amazon Fire HD 10 starts at $150, but that extra $100 gets you a 1080p display, a better processor, 3GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of storage if you toss in an extra $40.

Not all Amazon Fire tablets are created equal. Don’t expect to get the same experience from all of the models.

Fire Tablets Are Not Kindles

A person reading on a Kindle outside.

Amazon Fire tablets were originally known as “Kindle Fire” tablets, but they’re distinctly different from Kindle e-readers. While it’s totally possible to use a Fire tablet as an e-reader, you should know the experience is not comparable.

Fire tablets have color touchscreens and they feature a full operating system that can run apps and games. Kindle e-readers—such as the Kindle Paperwhite—have black and white “e-ink” displays. They do support touch, but there are no apps or games to download from an app store.

The Fire tablets are nice if you want to do more than just reading, but that also means the reading experience is not quite as good as a Kindle. An e-reader like the Kindle Paperwhite is much easier on your eyes and the battery can last for weeks.

In short, if you’re looking for the best e-reader experience you can find, an Amazon Fire tablet is not what you want.

Limited App Selection

Another thing you may not be prepared for is the limited app selection. If you’re expecting to easily find every app that’s available on your iPhone or Android device, you’re going to be disappointed.

Amazon Fire tablets come with the Amazon Appstore, which is the company’s own app store for Android apps. While the app selection isn’t horrible, it’s also not nearly as good as the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

For reference, the Google Play Store has over 3 million apps and games, the Apple App Store has over 2 million, and the Amazon Appstore is only around 500,000. That’s a pretty major size difference that you should be aware of.

The good news is you do technically have access to those 3 million+ apps in the Play Store. You can sideload Android apps on Fire tablets relatively easily.

No Google Apps

Amazon Fire Tablet.

As mentioned in the previous section, there’s no Google Play Store on Amazon Fire tablets. Despite running Android, Amazon has opted to use its own services instead of Google’s. That goes beyond just the Play Store, though.

Not only do Amazon Fire tablets not come with the Play Store, but they’re also missing all the Google apps you may be used to having. That includes YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, Google Assistant, Google Drive, Google Calendar, etc. They’re all missing.

Don’t worry, there’s good news about this as well. If you’re willing to do some tinkering and download the necessary files, you can get the Google Play Store up and running on your Amazon Fire tablet.

This requires more effort than simply sideloading individual apps, but you only have to do the initial setup once and then it’s smooth sailing. From there you can download all the Google apps you want.

It’s important to know what you’re getting when you purchase an Amazon Fire tablet. In some ways, you’re getting a lot for a very affordable price, but there are certainly some shortcomings to know about. Hopefully, we’ve helped you make a more informed decision on your tablet buying.

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Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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