The Best Amazon Fire Tablet (2019): Which Model Should You Buy?

If you’re on a tight budget, the 2017 Fire HD 10 is often available refurbished for considerably less than the new one. The downside with it and other, older model Fire tablets is that they may not get software updates for a long as the current generation will. You’ll also miss out on the faster processor and more RAM in the newer model (and the USB-C).

It’s a pain, but if you’re buying an old device you should also cross reference the latest update available for the tablet you’re going to buy (find it on this sheet) with the latest version of Fire OS to see how up-to-date your software will be.

What’s WIRED About All Fire Tablets

A Faucet for Amazon Content: If you subscribe to Amazon’s Prime service, you can listen to all the included music, movies, TV, and books while also shopping for all the items you can get with its free two-day shipping or browsing your free Amazon photo storage. You can do most of the same things from an Android tablet or iPad, but the Fire OS interface is crafted specifically to deliver Amazon goods, with swipeable pages for each type of media Amazon sells.

Built ‘Good Enough’: Physically, Amazon’s Fire tablets are made of cheap-ish plastic, but they’re designed with enough care that the build quality won’t bother you too much. The Kids Editions are also some of the best-quality tablets for kids, encased in a rugged bumper, and all have MicroSD slots so you can add extra storage. (We recommend this 128 GB MicroSD card.)

Cheap: Did we mention the price? They all cost $150 or less, which is a price that would have legitimately shocked you a few years ago. They offer high value for the price. You can also get them with Amazon lock-screen ads, which will lower your price by $15.

What’s TIRED About All Fire Tablets

Non-Amazon Content is Lacking: The greatest strength of these tablets is also their greatest weakness. If you aren’t an Amazon Prime subscriber and don’t plan to get your video, audio, or books from Amazon, the Fire tablet line is far less compelling. They do have Alexa, so that could be a plus, but again, that’s tied deeply into Amazon’s content library.

You can download third-party apps like Netflix on Amazon’s Appstore, but the selection is far more limited than the apps available on Apple’s iPad or the Google Play Store on standard Android tablets. Tech-savvy users have found ways to add the Google Play Store or sideload apps, but these devices are built to serve up Amazon’s library first and foremost.

Old Tech: The tech inside these tablets is old. They all run on processors that would have impressed 4+ years ago but show their age today with small fits of lag and a general lack of power. Since many of the apps are built with weak processing power in mind, you don’t notice it too much. The operating system is also dated (depending on which Fire tablet you’re buying), which could hide some of the weaknesses. Amazon’s latest Fire OS is a modified version of Android 9 Pie, which came out in 2018. Amazon keeps updating its tablets to some degree, but not nearly as often as it should.

Short Warranties: Only the Fire HD 10 comes with a full one-year warranty. Oddly, the smaller devices come with 90-day warranties.

Special Offers: In the last year, Amazon’s Special Offers lockscreen ads have gotten more overt. We recommend you pay the extra $15 to buy a Fire tablet without them.


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