Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) review

Is this tablet line on Fire for another year?

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)
(Image: © Future)

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Interface and UI

  • Fluid interface
  • Amazon's take on Android provides a walled garden

It is well known by this point that Amazon has its own version of Android, which lives on all of its devices. The sole purpose of this version is to push Amazon’s own services onto the user, encouraging them to sign up for as many subscriptions and products as possible. This is the business strategy, and it is likely that most Fire tablets are sold at a loss to aid this strategy.

What does this mean for you?

Having mentioned flights, it is quite fitting that the experience of using a Fire tablet is akin to an in-flight entertainment system. The software has certainly gotten better over the years, however there is no question that you are locked in.

Apps are arranged on a ‘carousel’, and each ‘stop’ on the carousel is themed to a different type of content. There’s ‘Apps’, ‘Videos’, ‘Books’ and the like, each thrusting Amazon’s apps to the forefront.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Not that this is necessarily wholly a bad thing. If you are already significantly bought into Amazon’s products, this will be no issue at all likely. There is also an app store, however this is a pale imitation of the Google Play Store, with nowhere near as many apps and with those that do exist often being stripped down versions of their Google-certified brethren.

The main attraction/failing of a ‘walled garden’ approach such as Amazon’s is that the manufacturer controls minutely whose apps are allowed on its devices. This means that should a company fall out with Amazon, the consequences can be significant.

An example of this is a dispute between Amazon and Google. This has theoretically been resolved, but you still can't install YouTube on Fire tablets.

It is possible to ‘add’ the Google Play Store via sideloaded APKs, we don’t recommend that you should try this without knowing exactly what you are doing - as it may invalidate your warranty.

Regardless of the above, the interface is at least fluid, swiping through the various options is fuss-free and there are no overly long animations getting in the way. Getting used to the way that the interface works can be a little jarring given how unusual it is, however, it is ultimately intuitive.

Alexa exists too on the device, and continues its function well as the most complicated means of setting an alarm available to consumers in the west.

Movies, music and gaming

  • The speakers aren't special but it has a headphone port
  • Good for most media - especially if you're an Amazon Prime member

It has been said already, but if you are already an Amazon Prime customer, this is the tablet best suited to you. Each of Amazon’s own services is tightly integrated, making it very easy to catch up with your favorite Prime shows. Netflix, BBC iPlayer and more are also present and correct, meaning that plenty of choice is available.

And with 32GB of in-built storage, there’s plenty of space for downloads - the tablet can also take up to a 512GB microSD card as expandable storage.

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Luckily the app store hosts Spotify, and the Fire 10 HD comes with Amazon Music, making it easier to listen to music on the go, while the 3.5mm headphone jack makes it simple to plug in a pair of earphones while on the commute.

The included speakers mention ‘Dolby Atmos’ in their marketing blurb - we found them to be loud enough in general use, however they don’t provide anything close to stereo audio.

As for gaming, this tablet is not a good choice. With limited RAM and an anemic processor, it can’t handle top titles, and with the limited selection available in the Amazon app store, there simply isn’t a lot to play. A Nintendo Switch Lite would be a better choice for the dedicated gamer.

Performance and benchmarks

  • Will really struggle with demanding games
  • Adequate for basic tasks

As a budget option, this tablet should not be the first port of call for those looking for a new gaming machine. We’re also sad to report that this holds true for those looking to benchmark. While the world has moved on inexorably, the Fire HD 10 (2019) refuses to run any Geekbench test other than the third incarnation.

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This may be to benefit from a marketing perspective, for the tablet is indeed more powerful than almost any mobile device released in 2015 (the only results shown by the app in question).

Regardless, the test returned 1,578 for its single-core performance, and 6,362 for its multi-core showing - not world-beating but certainly good enough for day-to-day usage.

And indeed, as before, in day-to-day usage this is a tablet which has no issue in getting the basics done, this includes light gaming. Anything particularly intensive will prove to be at least a little sluggish, but in general terms this is a real workhorse of a tablet.

Sean is a Scottish technology journalist who's written for the likes of T3, Trusted Reviews, TechAdvisor and Expert Reviews.