Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review

An excellent tablet that is essentially a portal to all things Amazon

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9
Can you even class this as an iPad competitor?

TechRadar Verdict

A great tablet for all things Amazon, but not much else


  • +

    Mayday live assist

  • +

    Great display

  • +

    Good battery life

  • +

    Excellent design


  • -

    Heavy on Amazon services

  • -

    Lack of Android apps

  • -

    Poor camera

  • -

    Browser doesn't support Flash

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The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is here, which is the Kindle Fire HDX 7's bigger brother, and it's going to be your portal into all things Amazon if you want it to be.

After all, if you're looking at buying this thing, it's because you're either already invested in Amazon's ecosystem, or you're prepared to dive in.

For pricing, you can get several models between 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, with or without ads, and with Wi-Fi only or with 4G LTE. It starts at £329 (around AU$555) and goes all the way up to £419 (around AU$752) depending on your configuration.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review

What's nice about the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is that if you're just looking to consume movies, books and music - which is what most of us use tablets for - it's all quite literally at your fingertips.

However, if you're looking for a tablet for more serious productivity, you might want to try an iPad Air or Microsoft Surface 2.

This iteration of the Kindle Fire HD is quite beautiful. It's slim and lightweight at just 13.2 ounces, and the display is an 8.9-inch, 2560 x 1600 resolution screen. That gives you 339 PPI in what Amazon says is 100% sRGB color accurate.

The display makes photos, videos and gaming a real pleasure. This is even made sweeter by the fact that you'll have access to so many TV shows and movies if you're an Amazon Prime member.

Speaking of Amazon Prime, you've gotta be careful with your impulsiveness with this tablet, as it's so easy to get carried away and shop for everything you don't need.

Amazon's tablet features Fire OS 3.0, which is based on Android, though you won't find Android mentioned on the box or on much literature.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review

You also won't find the Google Play Store here, either. Instead, you'll see Appstore for Android, which might offer just enough apps and games to keep you satiated, but will skew heavily toward making sure you're an Amazon-first customer.

This tablet's experience is pretty immersive in Amazon, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you're looking for a number of your favorite Android apps here, you might be disappointed.


The first thing you'll notice about the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 - say that 10 times fast - is how thin and light it is. For its size, we expected to be a little heftier, but we're glad that's not the case. It makes holding the device for extended periods of time, like when you're watching a movie, pretty easy.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review

Around the edges are contours and bevels that make the tablet feel even slimmer than it is, and it also gives a nice look to the device. It definitely helps make it stand out from other flat slabs out there.

As mentioned before, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 has a 2560 x 1600 display with 339 PPI and 100% sRGB color accuracy. If that all sounds fancy to you, it's because it is, but all you need to know is that the display is sharp, colorful and has good contrast. We like it.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review

There is a front-facing 720p HD camera, and an 8MP rear camera with an f/2.2 aperture and electronic image stabilization. You can also record 1080p HD videos with the rear camera, but for courtesy's sake, we rarely ever recommend anyone use the camera to shoot photos or video.

The backside has two speakers up top, which aren't as loud as we'd like, but they sound very clear and actually offers good stereo sound. The rear camera is in the top middle along with an LED flash. On one side you have volume controls on the bezel, and opposite that is the power button. These buttons are placed nicely where the device contours and where your fingers naturally rest.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review

Smack in the middle of the soft-touch back cover is the Amazon logo. The left edge of the device, if you're looking directly at the display, has a micro-USB port for charging and syncing, and the opposite edge has a 3.5mm headset jack.

Overall, the in-hand feel and weight of the device gives it a very premium feel. Compared to other Android offerings out there, though this isn't truly an Android tablet, it's one of the best built tablets.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review

We can't stress enough the light weight of the device, which really helps in portability and sustained holding/viewing.

Placement of the micro-USB and 3.5mm headset jacks are nicely done, as they're mostly out of the way if you have to have either plugged in while watching videos. The only improvement would've been to place the headset jack on the bottom so that it's completely out of the way when viewing the screen, but that's a minor gripe.

The speakers are also nicely placed because they are completely out of the way of your hands when you're holding the tablet to watch videos. This helps because they're not the loudest speakers, so being free from any obstruction is a huge help.

Amazon has improved on the Kindle Fire's design tremendously since the first version, which in itself wasn't all that bad. The soft touch edges and back, the contours and placement of ports, buttons and more is nicely executed.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review

You can really tell a nicely designed device when things are there when you need them, and out of the way when you don't. The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 pulls this off well, so you'll rarely ever find yourself becoming frustrated saying, "Why on earth did they do that or put this here?"

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review

As far as accessories go, there is simply a charging brick and USB cable for charging the device and connecting it to a computer if you like. It's pretty minimal, but we wouldn't expect much else for a device of this caliber at this price point.