Amazon Fire review

It's so cheap they're selling it in multi-packs

Amazon Fire review

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Picking up the Amazon Fire, and actually using it, makes for two very different experiences. The promise of the hardware and basic performance evaporate in the face of the lack of some core apps and the confusingly designed user interface.

We liked

With a robust build, various cases and a care plan available, this is a tablet you won't be afraid to bash about a bit. The screen is decently bright, the speakers produce an acceptable volume and battery life is about what you'd expect.

Performance too was something of a strong suit for the Fire tablet, with the device flying through Amazon's proprietary version of Android and most games I could throw at it. And did I mention it only costs £50 (US$50)?

We disliked

With its poor screen resolution, watching video or reading for any length of time on the Fire, especially with black text on a white background, isn't as enjoyable as it could be with a slight bump in pixel count.

While it offers robust and innovative features for the family, Amazon's version of Android is cluttered and confusing, and is geared too strongly towards selling products to the user. And it'll cost you £10 (US$15) to remove those advertisements on the lock screen, partially erasing the Fire's price advantage over better competitors.

Final verdict

Amazon is selling the Fire for £49.99 (US$49.99) (or in the aforementioned 6 for the price of 5 multipack). At this price it should be easy to recommend the tablet to everyone, and yet it isn't.

The race to the bottom in terms of tablet prices over the last year or so means there are a number of strong Android competitors which offer both better specs and better value.

If you factor in the cost of removing the lock screen ads, the Asus MemoPad 7 is around the same price, and boasts better stamina and power, and a nicer screen, in addition to offering an exponentially higher number of apps.

For first-time tablet owners, for parents looking for strong child controls, or for those already highly invested in the wider Amazon ecosystem, the Fire is a relatively easy sell. But for the wider public, it simply isn't worth the cash – some things are just worth spending a little more on.

First reviewed: October 2015

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