The Amazon Fire HD 8 is a tablet designed for people who are dedicated users of the company’s entertainment offerings, with the tablet working well as a portable media system. However, it’s not a huge upgrade from its 2018 predecessor, with only a few tweaks, so unless you think you’ll make the most of the extra storage and faster charging on offer here, you may not need this newer model.
Given that Amazon updates its tablets on average every two years, it was about time the Fire HD 8 received an update. In the middle of 2020, the company’s medium-sized tablet, which had previously received an update in 2018, was up for an update.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) isn’t a major makeover of the Fire HD 8 (2018); in fact, it’s hardly even a redesign because the slates seem so similar. It was released with the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus variation (with wireless charging and additional RAM) and a Kids’ Edition (with a protective cover). Instead, a few changes are made to the new tablet to assist it keep up with the competition and rank among the top affordable tablets.
The 2020 edition has been improved with USB-C connectivity (which enables quicker charging), greater storage, and a longer-lasting battery. The tablet experience isn’t precisely redefined by these, but they are all positive upgrades.
Although it’s understandable given the price, some of the problems we’ve had with Amazon’s tablets in the past aren’t resolved by those little changes. For instance, the screen resolution isn’t great, which can be problematic if you’re seeking for a portable entertainment system. Similar to the cheap-feeling build, which is mostly attributable to the usage of plastic for the back, the price point is only a symptom.
The bigger problem is Fire OS, the Android fork that powers all of Amazon’s tablets. It is a rather constrained ecosystem, especially if you aren’t already heavily reliant on Amazon’s services like Amazon Prime Video, Kindle, and Amazon Music. There aren’t many non-Amazon apps available for download, and you don’t have the same customizing options as you would with a tablet running’stock’ Android or a forked version on this device.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 might be the correct choice for you if you’re searching for a cheap and portable entertainment system and don’t mind being limited to Amazon’s apps and a few specific games, but there are other tablets available at this price point that provide better software.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) price and availability
On June 3, 2020, the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) tablet, along with the Plus and Kids’ Edition tablets, went on sale. Although Amazon’s tablets are rarely made available in Australia, the 32GB storage version costs $89.99 / £89.99, while the 64GB variant costs $119.99 / £119.99, or around AU$210.
In contrast, if you want to use your tablet to stream information directly from the internet, you should be good with 32GB provided you often download the content you view. In any case, it’s a very affordable tablet, and its high rating among the best Android tablets is mostly due to its low price.
Because Amazon keeps its older tablets on sale for a long at a discounted price, it’s important to note that you must make sure you’re looking at the correct model: this is the ninth-generation construction. It’s important to note that there may soon be a refresh for this tablet, but as of this writing, nothing has been declared.
To put things in perspective, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus costs $20 / £20 (about AU$30) more than the non-Plus device for each storage option. If wireless charging is important to you, however, the extra cost might be justified.
If you’re interested in any of these slates, you should know that they are already quite reasonably priced by tablet standards, but they may become even more so during sales like Amazon Prime Day, which as of this writing is quickly approaching.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) is a large rectangle with a screen, therefore it doesn’t offer anything particularly innovative in terms of appearance. This particular rectangle is 202 x 137 x 9.7mm in size and weighs 355g, which is about normal for a tablet of this kind even though it is lighter than many rivals.
Instead of being on top like on most tablets, this one’s front-facing camera is halfway down on the left side when you hold the slate in portrait mode. This makes it ideal for video calls because it allows you to stare at the screen while appearing to look at the camera.
The tablet’s top edge houses the tablet’s USB-C connector, 3.5mm headphone jack, power button, and volume rocker while it is in this mode. The presence of a 3.5mm plug and a USB-C port will appeal to those who prefer wired headphones, however we had a problem with the volume rocker.
It sounds straightforward, but the volume rocker on the Amazon Fire HD 8’s portrait mode cranks up the volume and turns it down. Interestingly, these actions are actually the opposite when you turn the iPad to landscape. It took us a bit to adjust to this, and in the beginning, before we realized there was a problem, it was very perplexing.
The only things on the tablet’s back are the rear camera and Amazon’s smile-tick logo. The material used here is plastic, another sign of the low cost, but it does give the slate a somewhat flimsy appearance.
The 8 in the name of the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) designates that it features an 8-inch screen. It has an LCD screen with a resolution of 800 x 1280, which is quite low-res given that the majority of inexpensive phones have screens smaller than 8 inches and share the same resolution.
Because of this, the slate isn’t ideal for all forms of media; we discovered that games appeared particularly grainy and that TV shows and movies didn’t look great. But, if you use the Kindle e-reader or Amazon Music features, you won’t mind the Fire HD 8 display as much because not everyone requires a top-end screen.
One benefit of LCD panels is that they’re easier to view outdoors in direct sunlight, so this is a tablet that should serve you well if you want to use it outside.
Specs, performance and camera
The MediaTek MT8168 chipset, which is a processor made for low-cost tablets and e-readers, is what the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) has, thus it fits in perfectly here. The tablet isn’t particularly responsive to operate, but with only 2GB of RAM built in, it was never going to be a powerhouse.
As you might anticipate from a cheap tablet with a poor chipset, there is a minor lag while browsing the tablet or opening apps, but gaming was where we ran into the greatest issues. There aren’t many demanding games in the Amazon ecosystem, but one of them is PUBG Mobile, and we had lag and crash problems when playing it. Even the card game Hearthstone was prone to frequent crashes.
But, if you only use the Amazon Fire tablet to view movies or listen to music, you won’t be subject to the wrath of this underpowered chipset, so because those are the tablet’s primary uses, we can overlook the processor issues.
We should also note that the tablet had a bit more difficulty than other devices connecting to the internet, and we needed to be closer to the router to have a dependable network connection. Although it occasionally caused TV broadcasts to lag a little bit, this only truly became an issue when playing online games.
The battery life of Amazon’s tablets is not disclosed, although the firm claims that this model has a 12-hour battery, an improvement over the previous model’s projected 10-hour battery life. Although it’s unclear whether that estimate is based on mostly watching video, listening to music, playing games, or a combination of these activities, given our experience with the tablet, we’re inclined to think it is.
Whether you’re listening to music or reading a book, the tablet will last longer; however, if you play a lot of games, it won’t last you as long. By that, we mean you’ll probably be able to view roughly 12 hours of content before having to charge the device.
Although not particularly quick, charging here is quicker than via the more traditional microUSB connector. The device needs around an hour and a half to fully charge starting from zero.
The Fire HD 8 (2020) has a 2MP camera on both the front and back, although you probably won’t use it as almost all smartphones have superior cameras. While holding the slate landscape, as you probably will for video chats, the front camera is at the top, which we appreciated because it made it simpler to gaze at the camera and screen at the same time.
You are restricted to utilizing FireOS, Amazon’s derivative of Android, when using the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) or any other Amazon Fire tablet. We would argue that this isn’t a wonderful operating system, but your results may differ.
Your interface on Fire OS is more reminiscent of an online retailer because there are no choices for customizing the home screen. You can choose from the following menu options: Home, Books, Video, Gaming & Apps, Store, Music, Audible, and Newstand. As you can undoubtedly guess from the list, Amazon has its hands in almost all of these content categories.
If you go to Video, for instance, you will see Amazon Prime Video. If you are a Prime subscriber, you may view free content here, as well as content that costs money to access. Non-Prime users will only see a list of content that costs money to watch. The majority of the choices on the aforementioned list are the same.
Only “Games & Apps” offers alternatives to Amazon, albeit the selection of available apps is much smaller than in the ordinary Google Play Store. There are a few popular games like PUBG Mobile, Crossy Road, Roblox, Hearthstone, Clash of Clans, and Minecraft as well as some social media apps like Facebook and TikTok, and Amazon rival services like Spotify, Netflix, and Disney Plus (so at least Amazon can’t be accused of limiting competition).
You won’t be able to play many of the well-known Android games because the selection of games is relatively small and only includes those big-name games. You might find your phone or another tablet to be preferable for mobile gaming if the collection here doesn’t include all the games you enjoy playing; the majority of the other games on this Amazon tablet look uninspired.
You desire a mobile TV
The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020), which offers a variety of streaming services in addition to Amazon Prime Video and isn’t overly large, can’t be faulted as an economical method to view movies and TV shows on the go.
You desire a low-cost tablet.
You might be able to ignore this, despite the fact that the Fire HD 8’s low price is obvious in a number of places. This can be the right gadget for you if you want a cheap tablet for shopping, listening to audiobooks, or using Alexa.
You purchase a tablet for children.
Thanks to all of its different media functions, older children will find the Amazon Fire HD 8 to be a great tablet, especially for use in cars and other forms of transportation or for keeping themselves occupied in their rooms. But, the Fire HD 8 Kids’ Edition is perhaps a better option if you have a younger child.