Which Amazon Fire Tablet Is Best for You?
Amazon's Fire tablets">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. We list Amazon's base price, but we suggest you spend the extra $15 to get an ad-free model.
Be sure to check our other buying guides, like the Best Tablets, Best iPads, and Best Alexa Speakers.
Updated January 2023: We've updated the Fire HD 8, Fire HD 8 Plus, and Fire HD 8 Kids tablets to the latest models, and added a new section on useful Fire HD accessories.
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The Fire HD 10 is the largest and speediest of Amazon's tablets. Amazon refreshed it in 2021 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) with a brighter screen and 3 gigabytes of RAM. Alongside it, there's a Fire HD 10 Plus, which bumps the RAM to 4 GB and adds wireless charging, which is worth the extra $30 if you plan to do more than watch movies and browse the web. And Amazon is hoping you'll do more, as there's a "productivity bundle" that includes a nice keyboard (no trackpad though) and a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365. Working on the Fire HD 10 isn't bad, so long as you don't need Google apps. None of Google's office apps work on the Fire HD 10, not even in the browser. (There is a workaround.)
The Fire HD 10 has a larger screen with more pixels (1080p) than its siblings, making it better for watching videos. And, as with the Fire HD 8, you can shout commands at Alexa from across the room. To use Alexa's Show Mode, swipe down on the notification overlay and check the Show Mode box. After that, you can set your HD 10 on a stand (if you opt for the Plus model, we like the official wireless charging stand) and it essentially becomes an Echo Show.
You can choose between 32-gigabyte or 64-gigabyte models (with a MicroSD slot on both so you can add up to 1 TB of storage down the road 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 $15 more for the version without "special offers."
Amazon's recently refreshed 2022 version of the Fire HD 8 (6/10 WIRED Review) features a faster processor and slightly thinner design, but it's very much an incremental update. The processor upgrade is welcome and makes this more travel-friendly-size tablet very nearly as fast as our top pick. The big difference is the screen, which isn't nearly as nice as the Fire 10 HD screen. On this smaller model, pixels are often still visible and movies often feel flat.
Still, the HD 8 has most of the benefits of the HD 10, including hands-free Alexa, stereo sound, USB-C, and nearly 12 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, which turns your tablet into an Echo Show speaker.
Recognizing that "kids" covers a wide range of hand sizes and other factors, Amazon has two different Kids Edition Fire tablets. There's the regular Kids Edition and a "Pro" model. The latter, aimed at older kids, has a streamlined case with a little less padding. We think the 2022 Fire HD 8 Kids ($150) is the best device for younger kids, while the 2021 Fire HD 10 Kids Pro ($200), which is really big in little-kid hands, is better for older children. The Fire 7 Kids ($110) is an even cheaper option for young children, though mine have always found the 7-inch screen size more challenging to use.
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 Amazon Kids+, offering access to kid-friendly movies, books, games, and apps. It costs $5 per month after the first year (for Prime subscribers, $8 if you don't have Prime). Be sure to see our guide to managing Amazon Kids+ content.
Last year Amazon refreshed its smallest Fire tablet, the 7-inch model. The 2022 version features a slightly more powerful processor, double the RAM, and longer battery life. It also charges via USB-C. Unfortunately, the paltry 16 gigabytes of storage remains, though the supported SD card size has gone up to 1 terabyte, so if you want more storage (and believe me, you do), you can add it. Also up for this release is the price, which jumps from $49 to $59.
In the past, we've recommended avoiding this one because it was underpowered and the small screen makes it less useful. After a few months of testing, it's become apparent that the processor is actually good enough--not fast, but it's fine for web browsing and watching video. The screen, on the other hand, remains small. We still think you're better off spending $40 more for the Fire 8, but if that's out of your budget, the new Fire 7 will do.
Fire tablets are sturdy enough, but I've found the screens do scratch quite easily. It's worth protecting your investment with a cover. Amazon's covers are nice-they're not too bulky and provide good protection-but they are expensive. At $30, Fintie's Folio Cases aren't much cheaper, but they are frequently on sale for more like $15 to $20; if you can grab one at that price they're well worth it.
I won't go so far as to suggest a Fire Tablet can replace your laptop, but I have found that I can get a good bit of work done on my Fire HD 10 when I pair it with Finitie's Bluetooth Keyboard ($50). This is the same keyboard Amazon sells as part of its productivity bundle. It lacks a trackpad, and the keys are a little smaller, but it's otherwise quite nice to type on. If you score a Fire HD 10 for $55 during a sale, get the keyboard for $55 (it's often on sale for less) and use our guide to get the Google Play Store installed, and you'll have very usable work device for around $100. That's tough to beat.
Only buy one of the 11th or 12th Generation Fire tablets. We suggest sticking to the models we talk about in this article (also listed here). Older-model Fire tablets won't get software updates for as long as the current generation will. You'll also miss out on the faster processor and more RAM in the newer models. A far better idea is to wait for Prime Day or another sale when you can get the new models at 30 to 50 percent off.
If you won't be deterred from buying an older Fire tablet right now, be sure to 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. And bear in mind that Amazon does cut off old devices from accessing its content.
A faucet for Amazon content: If you subscribe to Amazon's Prime service, you can consume all the included movies, music, TV, and books, shop for all the items you can get with its free two-day shipping, and browse 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.
A faucet for Amazon content:
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 128-GB MicroSD card for $17.)
Built "good enough":
You can make them even more capable by following our guide to installing the Google Play Store on your Fire device. That will give you access to the full range of Android apps. (Note that some apps won't work, but 99 percent of the apps out there for Android will run just fine.)
Cheap: Did we mention the price? They all cost $200 or less, which is a price that would have legitimately shocked you a few years ago. They're a great value. You can also get them with Amazon lock-screen ads, which will lower your price by $15.
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.
Non-Amazon content is lacking:
You can download third-party apps like Netflix on Amazon's Appstore, but the selection is far more limited than what's available on Apple's iPad or the Google Play Store on standard Android tablets. To help you get around this limitation, we put together a guide to installing the Google Play Store on your Fire device. Installing the Google Play Store gives you access to the full range of Android apps. In the end, you get a $60 tablet that's capable of 95 percent of what a $330 iPad can do. Don't worry--you don't need to be a command line guru to install the Google Play Store. Our guide walks you through each step you need to get it up and running.
Old tech: The tech inside these tablets is old. The processors aren't the fastest, and you'll likely notice small fits of lag and a general lack of power compared to more expensive Android tablets. Since many of the apps for Fire OS 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 11, which came out in 2020. Amazon keeps updating its tablets to some degree, but not nearly as often as it should.
Short warranties: Only the Fire HD 10 comes with a full one-year warranty. Oddly, the smaller devices come with 90-day warranties.
Special offers: Over time Amazon's Special Offers ads have gotten more overt and annoying. We recommend you pay the extra $15 to buy a Fire tablet without them.