Amazon Fire HD 10 and Fire HD 8 review

Okay for Amazon's media offerings, and that's about it

Amazon Fire HD

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One of the defining flaws of Amazon's tablets in the past has been their lack of utility compared with other popular tablets.

Obviously the iPad range has its strong stock Apple apps and access to the imperious iOS App Store, while Android has access to Google's peerless apps and the pretty well-stocked Google Play Store.

Amazon's tablets don't have access to any such goodies, despite FireOS being built on solid Android foundations. Amazon has opted to go it alone along a forked Android path, and this decision continues to bite their tablets in the behind.

Amazon Fire HD review

The Fire HD 10 and 8 have an adequate spread of solid default apps covering the essentials, including email, calendar, weather, calculator, contacts, clocks, and even maps.

But none of these are as good as the Google equivalents that are available on even a bog-standard Android tablet, not to mention on the iPad. What's more, the Amazon Appstore remains a substandard place to source alternatives.

I wasn't fond of the stock keyboard that comes with both Amazon Fire HD tablets either. In landscape mode – and this is the orientation Amazon intends you to use the most, remember – it somehow feels simultaneously overstretched and a little cramped.

Amazon Fire HD review

It seems poorly optimised for the extra space a tablet affords, with no dedicated numerical keys, among other issues. That said, it does offer an impressive number of word suggestions as you type, and it also has a built-in swipe-to-type system should you prefer it.

Put simply, you'll be able to do pretty much everything you'd want to do on a tablet on your Amazon Fire HD 10 or HD 8, but you probably won't be able to do it quite as well as on most other tablets.


The Amazon Fire HD 10 and the Fire HD 8 come packing an identical 5-megapixel main camera. It probably won't surprise you to learn that it's not very good, but it certainly surprised me by just how bad it is.

Focusing seemed to be a real issue during my time with both tablets, with attempts at simple sunny day landscape snaps producing blurry, ill-defined results. I also found that I regularly had to manually tap to focus if I wanted to get anything approaching a clear shot.

Amazon Fire HD review

Meanwhile, moving in for a close-up shot of a sunlit flower resulted in a gaudy, blown-out foreground subject and a murky background. Closer macro shots seemed beyond the camera's capabilities.

I'd never recommend using any tablet as your main camera, and I wouldn't even stretch to accepting most as an occasional point and shoot alternative. In the case of the Amazon Fire HD 10 and HD 8, however, I'd go one step further and actively advise against using their cameras at all – they're that bad.

Amazon Fire HD review

These aren't smartphones, of course, so the camera quality isn't particularly important or all that relevant to the duo's overall success. But be warned: if you do tend to use your tablet for casual snaps (and anecdotal evidence suggests many people do), you're unlikely to get even passable results here.


As I've been emphasising, playing media is the central function of the Amazon Fire HD 10 and HD 8.

Both tablets are hard-wired into the Amazon ecosystem, offering instant access to the retailer's online videos, ebooks, music, apps and more. This means your experience with the devices is greatly enhanced if you have an Amazon Prime membership.

Amazon Fire HD review

In fact, I'd argue that Prime membership is essential if you're considering purchasing one of these Amazon tablets.

Amazon Prime Instant Video in particular is an increasingly impressive service that offers a viable alternative to Netflix. Its original TV content isn't perhaps quite at the same level (although it's improving all the time), but its free movie selection is arguably superior.

Amazon Music isn't anywhere near as well developed, with a severely limited selection of tracks compared with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. I also found it irritating that there was no lock screen widget for this music player, seemingly thanks to the screen-filling ad system that helps subsidise the devices (unless you opt to pay a little extra initially).

Amazon Fire HD review

Storage is one of the few areas in which the HD 10 and HD 8 differ slightly. The HD 10 is available with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, while the HD 8 comes with 8GB or 16GB.

8GB seems inadequate regardless of your needs, although with most varieties of Amazon media streamable, it's only really an issue when it comes to downloading lots of apps, or if you need to load up your tablet with lots of media for an extended trip.

And if storage does become an issue, both tablets come with a microSD slot for expansion purposes.

Amazon Fire HD review

As already noted, both tablets are reasonably capable when it comes to playing games. Rather than performance, the major issue here is the relative lack of games available through the Amazon Appstore.

It doesn't compare well to the Google Play Store range that's available on most other Android-based devices.