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?
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 (2022, 12th 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 model)||3 or 4 GB|
|System-on-a-Chip (SoC)||MediaTek MT8168V/B||MediaTek MT8169A||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 5.2 LE||Bluetooth 5.0 LE|
|Software||Fire OS 8 (Android 11)||Fire OS 8 (Android 11)||Fire OS 7 (Android 9)|
|Rear-facing camera||2 MP||2 MP (regular model) or 5 MP (Plus model)||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 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 10 has Fire OS 7, based on Android 9 Pie. The Fire 7 and Fire HD 10 are newer, so they have 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, they share the same Fire OS 8 software, and the display is only an inch larger. The regular Fire HD 8 starts at $99.99 with lock screen ads, while the Fire HD 8 Plus with more RAM (3 GB vs 2 GB), wireless charging, and a slightly better rear camera (5 MP vs 2 MP) starts at $119.99 with ads.
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.
Unless you get the Fire HD 10 at a great discount — it has dropped to $100 a few times, and even as low as $75 — it makes more sense to buy the Galaxy Tab A7 Lite (usually $120-160) 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 that could break at any time.
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 recent iPad is going to be significantly better than any Fire tablet, with longer software support, faster performance, and more apps and games. 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.
In summary, the lower-end Fire tablets are a decent value, if you’re okay with Amazon’s software experience. However, if you can already shell out close to (or more than) $100 for one of the better models, it might make more sense to spend a bit more money on an iPad or full-featured Android tablet.
Amazon Fire 7 (2022)
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 8 (2022)
The Fire HD 8 is the middle-tier option in Amazon's tablet lineup, starting at $99.99 when not on sale. It has a larger screen and slightly better hardware.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021)
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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