The Best Amazon Fire Tablet (2020): Which Model Should You Buy?


(*)(**)(***)(***)(***)(****)(*****)Amazon’s Fire tablets(******) are some of the only high-profile, ultra-affordable tablets around. The prices seem too good to be true—and in some ways, they are—but Fire tablets are also completely functional, reasonably capable devices. To help you decide if one of these slates is right for you, we reviewed every model. These are our unfiltered recommendations. (*******)(****)Be sure to check out our many other (********)guides(*********), including (**********)Best Tablets(*********) and (***********)Best Alexa Speakers(*********).(*******)(****)(************)Updated for July (****************************************************************): We’ve added our impressions of the new Fire HD 8 range.(*************)(*******)(**************)(****)(************)If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. (***************)Learn more(*********). Please also consider (****************)subscribing to WIRED(*********).(*************)(*******)(*****************)(****)The Best Fire Tablet(*******)(****)(******************)(*******************)Fire HD (******************************************************************************************) ((*****************************************************************))(*********)(********************)(*******)(*********************)(**********************)(*****)Photograph: Amazon(******)(***********************)(************************)(****)The Fire HD (******************************************************************************************) is the speediest and most well-rounded Amazon tablet. Amazon refreshed it in late (*****************************************************************) with a slight processor bump and 2 gigabytes of RAM. The bigger news was the addition of a USB-C charging port, which has since spread to the Fire HD 8 models as well. Most Android phones and several laptops use USB-C for charging, so having it on this tablet means one less cable to carry around.(*******)(****)The Fire HD (******************************************************************************************) has a larger screen with more pixels ((*********************************************************************)p) than its siblings, making it better for watching videos. And, like the Fire HD 8, you can shout commands at Alexa from across the room. To use Alexa’s Show Mode, just swipe down on the notification overlay and check the Show Mode box. After that, you can set your HD (******************************************************************************************) on a stand (we like the (*************************)official magnetic standing case(*********)) and it essentially becomes an Echo Show.(*******)(****)You can choose between a (*************************************************************************************)-gigabyte or a (***********************************************************************************)-gigabyte model (with a MicroSD slot on both if you need more space). Whichever you choose, Amazon will serve up advertisements on the lock screen. To get rid of that you’ll need to spend $(***************************************************************************************) more for the version without “special offers.”(*******)(**************************)(**************************)(***)(***)(****)(******************)(*******************)The Fire HD (******************************************************************************************) costs $(*************************************************************************) at Amazon(*********)(********************)(*******)(****)The Best Value Fire(*******)(****)(******************)(***************************)Fire HD 8 ((****************************************************************))(*********)(********************)(*******)(*********************)(**********************)(*****)Photograph: Amazon(******)(***********************)(************************)(****)The newly refreshed (****************************************************************) version of the (****************************)Fire HD 8(*********) is quite possibly one of the best values around for a tablet. The travel-friendly size, combined with a processor upgrade and a (*****************************)Plus model ($(****************************************************************************))(*********) with 3 gigabytes of RAM and wireless charging, make the new Fire HD 8 series nearly as capable as its larger sibling.(*******)(****)It’s portable enough to take with you anywhere, and its screen won’t torture your eyes when you watch Netflix. That said, the screen is not quite as nice as the one on the larger Fire HD (******************************************************************************************), which boasts a higher pixel density.(*******)(****)Still, the HD 8 has most of the benefits of the HD (******************************************************************************************), including hands-free Alexa, stereo sound, USB-C, and nearly (****************************************************************************************) hours of battery life. I recommend picking up (******************************)Amazon’s magnetic stand-up case(*********) if you plan on watching movies or TV, or, if you opt for the Plus model, the (*******************************)Wireless Charging Dock(*********) turns your tablet into an Echo Show speaker.(*******)(****)(******************)(********************************)The Fire HD 8 costs $(*********************************************************************************) at Amazon(*********)(********************)(*******)(****)The Best Fire Tablet for Kids(*******)(****)(******************)(***************************)Fire HD 8 Kids Edition ((****************************************************************))(*********)(********************)(*******)(*********************)(**********************)(*****)Photograph: Amazon(******)(***********************)(************************)(**************************)(**************************)(***)(***)(****)Amazon offers kid-friendly versions of all its Fire tablets. We think the HD 8 is the best device for most kids. Compared to the older (*********************************)Fire 7 ($(*****************************************************************************))(*********), the larger screen is sharper and you get Dolby stereo sound with dual speakers. The (**********************************)Fire HD (******************************************************************************************) ($(************************************************************************))(*********) (which also has all those features) is (************)really(*************) big in kid hands, especially with the Kids Edition case around it, so it’s better suited for older children.(*******)(****)The Kids Edition versions are exactly the same as the regular Fire tablets, except they come with a rugged case and a two-year worry-free guarantee, which means Amazon will replace the tablet for free if your kids break it. It also comes with one year of FreeTime Unlimited, offering access to kid-friendly movies, books, games, and apps. It costs $3 per month after the first year.(*******)(****)(******************)(***********************************)The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition costs $(**************************************************************************) at Amazon(*********)(********************)(*******)(****)Avoid the Fire 7(*******)(****)The Fire 7 is Amazon’s cheapest tablet, with a tantalizingly low price. But if you’re making more demands on your Fire tablet than a 3-year-old who loves (************)(************************************)Carl the Super Truck(*********)(*************), you should probably cough up a little extra and buy an HD 8. Like we said in our (*************************************)Fire 7 review(*********), the 7-inch screen will feel somewhat cramped and its screen resolution is noticeably pixelated. You won’t love the mono speaker, which is easily blocked by a single finger. Its battery also lags behind the other two tablets, and the 8-gigabytes of internal storage is pitifully small, mandating a (**************************************)MicroSD card(*********) from the get-go.(*******)(****)Amazon Sells Older Fire Tablets. Don’t Buy Them(*******)(****)Only buy one of the “9th Generation” or “(******************************************************************************************)th Generation” Fire tablets. We suggest sticking to the tablets we talk about in this article ((***************************************)also listed here(*********)).(*******)(****)If you’re on a tight budget, the (*******************************************************************) Fire HD (******************************************************************************************) is often available refurbished for considerably less than the new one. The downside with it and other, older model Fire tablets is that they may not get software updates for a long as the current generation will. You’ll also miss out on the faster processor and more RAM in the newer model (and the USB-C).(*******)(****)It’s a pain, but if you’re buying an old device you should also cross reference the latest update available for the tablet you’re going to buy ((****************************************)find it on this sheet(*********)) with the (*****************************************)latest version of Fire OS(*********) to see how up-to-date your software will be.(*******)(****)What’s WIRED About All Fire Tablets(*******)(****)(******************)A Faucet for Amazon Content: (********************) If you subscribe to Amazon’s Prime service, you can consume all the included movies, music, TV, and books while also shopping for all the items you can get with its free two-day shipping or browsing your free Amazon photo storage. You can do most of the same things from an Android tablet or iPad, but the Fire OS interface is crafted specifically to deliver Amazon goods, with swipeable pages for each type of media Amazon sells.(*******)(****)(******************)Built ‘Good Enough’: (********************) Physically, Amazon’s Fire tablets are made of cheap-ish plastic, but they’re designed with enough care that the build quality won’t bother you too much. The Kids Editions are also some of the best-quality tablets for kids, encased in a rugged bumper, and all have MicroSD slots so you can add extra storage. (We recommend this (******************************************)(***************************************************************************) GB MicroSD card(*********).)(*******)(****)(******************)Cheap: (********************) Did we mention the price? They all cost $(*************************************************************************) or less, which is a price that would have legitimately shocked you a few years ago. They offer high value for the price. You can also get them with Amazon lock-screen ads, which will lower your price by $(***************************************************************************************).(*******)(****)What’s TIRED About All Fire Tablets(*******)(****)(******************)Non-Amazon Content is Lacking: (********************) The greatest strength of these tablets is also their greatest weakness. If you aren’t an Amazon Prime subscriber and don’t plan to get your video, audio, or books from Amazon, the Fire tablet line is far less compelling. They do have Alexa, so that could be a plus, but again, that’s tied deeply into Amazon’s content library.(*******)(**************************)(**************************)(***)(***)(****)You can download third-party apps like Netflix on Amazon’s Appstore, but the selection is (************)far(*************) more limited than the apps available on (*******************************************)Apple’s iPad(*********) or the Google Play Store on standard Android tablets. Tech-savvy users have found ways to add the Google Play Store or sideload apps, but these devices are built to serve up Amazon’s library first and foremost.(*******)(****)(******************)Old Tech: (********************) The tech inside these tablets is old. They all run on processors that would have impressed 4 years ago but show their age today with small fits of lag and a general lack of power. Since many of the apps are built with weak processing power in mind, you don’t notice it too much. The operating system is also dated (depending on which Fire tablet you’re buying), which could hide some of the weaknesses. Amazon’s latest Fire OS is a modified version of Android 9 Pie, which came out in (******************************************************************). Amazon keeps updating its tablets to some degree, but not nearly as often as it should.(*******)(****)(******************)Short Warranties: (********************) Only the Fire HD (******************************************************************************************) comes with a full one-year warranty. Oddly, the smaller devices come with (*******************************************************************************)-day warranties.(*******)(****)(******************)Special Offers: (********************) In the last year, Amazon’s Special Offers ads have gotten more overt. We recommend you pay the extra $(***************************************************************************************) to buy a Fire tablet without them.(*******)(********************************************)(*********************************************)(****)More Great WIRED Stories(*******)(**********************************************)(***********************************************)How masks went from (************************************************)don’t-wear to must-have(*********)(*************************************************)(***********************************************)Poker and the (**************************************************)psychology of uncertainty(*********)(*************************************************)(***********************************************)An infrastructure arms race is (***************************************************)fueling the future of gaming(*********)(*************************************************)(***********************************************)How to get Safari’s privacy features (****************************************************)in Chrome and Firefox(*********)(*************************************************)(***********************************************)Everything you need to (*****************************************************)work from home like a pro(*********)(*************************************************)(***********************************************)👁 The therapist is in—(******************************************************)and it’s a chatbot app(*********). 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