Amazon Fire HD8 (2017) review

Tiny changes for Amazon’s low-cost tablet

Battery life

  • Very good battery life
  • Micro USB charging
  • Charging is not ultra-fast

Amazon says the Fire HD 8’s battery lasts for up to 12 hours, a pretty lofty claim. A 90-minute video with the brightness set to maximum takes 17% off the battery, suggesting you’ll get just under nine hours of locally-stored movie playback with the screen maxed-out.

This really isn’t too far from Amazon’s claims, although come here expecting 12 hours of solid use for things like gaming and you’ll be disappointed. 30 minutes of Real Racing 3 takes 9% off the battery, suggesting you’ll squeeze roughly 5.5 hours of gaming out of a charge.

Such a variance applies to any tablet of course. We’re just making the point, as some prospective Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) buyers may not have owned a tablet at all before.

You charge the tablet using a micro USB cable, and an adapter comes in the box too. The Fire HD 8 doesn’t support fast charging, so you might want to try to charge it overnight.

Camera

  • Very poor image quality
  • Reasonable camera responsiveness
  • Non-wide selfie camera

The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) has bad cameras. Terrible cameras. But Amazon knows this. When the first version of the Fire HD 8 arrived in 2015 it had a rear 5MP camera. This model and the last have downgraded 2MP back cameras.

Comparing the two generations, image quality is very similar: similarly dreadful. And in certain cases this new tablet seems to have even softer images, although you have to butt up against the pixels to notice.

There’s very little detail, and unless you use a feature phone or a very cheap smartphone bought a handful of years ago, it will take better photos than the Fire HD 8 (2017).

This is a ‘just for fun’ camera.

It is much more fun to use than almost any other mobile camera that produces such lo-fi images, though. A lot of low-end cameras are laggy and slow, making it feel like you have to wait for the device to actually take a shot.

The Fire HD 8‘s camera feels quite quick, so you don’t dread using it. This sounds like a pretty poor consolation prize, but at this price that means something.

You can’t take macro shots as the focus is fixed, although prodding part of the scene does cause the exposure to change, giving you some control.

Around the front sits a very basic VGA camera. Again, it’s not too slow but the image quality is poor and the lens doesn’t have a wide-angle view of the world, so you can rule out those group selfies. Not going to happen unless you get those mugs very close together.

Camera samples

Image 1 of 5

The low-res sensor has left the flower here looking a bit splotchy.

The low-res sensor has left the flower here looking a bit splotchy.

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Image 2 of 5

Distant trees have been reduced to green splodges, like an impressionist painting.

Distant trees have been reduced to green splodges, like an impressionist painting.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 3 of 5

The detail here is terrible, almost looking as if the image is out of focus. But it isn’t.

The detail here is terrible, almost looking as if the image is out of focus. But it isn’t.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 4 of 5

This is probably the clearest shot we took, as the Fire HD 8 (2017) can at least cope with simple, higher-contrast detail.

This is probably the clearest shot we took, as the Fire HD 8 (2017) can at least cope with simple, higher-contrast detail.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 5 of 5

You can’t get too close to a subject, but as the lens is quite ‘zoomed in’ anyway, you can at least take some nature shots like this.

You can’t get too close to a subject, but as the lens is quite ‘zoomed in’ anyway, you can at least take some nature shots like this.

Click here to see the full resolution image