Despite an initial boom in popularity, you’re actually pretty hard-pressed these days to find a decent Android tablet at an entry-level price. While they may not immediately look like Android tablets due to the highly-tailored, Amazon-focused interfaces they use, the Amazon Fire Tablets are among your best bet for an Android tablet on the cheap.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 is then one of the best cheap Android tablets you can get, considering its price point.
With some smart new additions to the 2019 refresh of Amazon’s largest tablet, it’s looking set to retain that position, even if it doesn't immediately excite. Read on for our initial hands-on impressions.
Price and availability
The Amazon Fire HD 10 is up for pre-order now, and will be shipped to buyers from October 30 2019.
It’ll be available in two sizes, 32GB and 64GB (each with 512GB microSD expansion support), costing $149 / £149 and $199 / £179 respectively. Four colors are available – blue, plum, black and white. Matching cases, as well as a sage variant, will also be available and sold separately.
When it comes to competition, you’ve only got one option that we could whole-heartedly recommend, and that’s the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1.
It’s similarly sized, has a solid and comparable processor, and while it’s considerably more expensive than the entry Fire HD 10, it’s also running a superior, open version of Android.
First up, the guts of the gear. The new Amazon Fire HD 10 features a 10.1-inch widescreen ratio display, at a 1920 x 1200 resolution. That gives you a pixel density of 224ppi and, from our short time with the device, that’s a pretty attractive display with vivid colors and reasonably strong brightness.
Under the hood is a new octa-core 2GHz processor, backed by 2GB of RAM. It makes for a snappy device in use (remember that Amazon’s got control of the OS here, and can optimize the tablet accordingly), and has been tuned to eke as much use out of a fully-charged battery as possible too.
As such, you’ll get around 12 hours of average play out of a fully charged Fire 10 HD battery, which isn’t to be sniffed at if accurate.
One of the most significant changes is the addition of USB-C charging. It’s faster, has a reversible port, and allows for faster data transfer.
While we’re still all packing multiple cables for our many different devices, the USB-C standard is quickly becoming the go-to for new releases, and it’s good to see the ’One Cable to Serve All’ dream edging closer to reality.
Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11ac) and Bluetooth are on-board, while there are also front-and-rear cameras for video calling and a quick snap respectively.
Amazon claim the speakers are Dolby Atmos compatible too, but you’re not really going to get much of a sense of surround sound, let alone overhead sound, from a tablet.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 uses a forked version of Android, which locks it down to an Amazon-focused interface.
It puts Amazon content, from Kindle books to Amazon Prime video content, front and center, in a visually rich way, with plenty of carousels of apps, magazines and more presented with large colorful artwork across home pages.
What it lacks however is the full breadth of the Android store as is present in a Google Play Store. So, while there may be thousands of apps available, don’t be surprised if you find some missing that may be present on other Android devices.
What the Fire HD 10 offers out of the box which other manufacturers can’t, however, is Alexa voice assistant control. You can talk to this tablet to do everything from opening apps and videos to setting reminders and timers, to even controlling smart home devices around your house.
It’s our favorite of the main voice assistants, and is relatively reliable, providing you feel comfortable with the concept of an AI listening to your requests in the first place.
The last major addition on this revamped version of the tablet is picture-in-picture support. If you want to carry on watching a Prime Video clip while browsing the video or reading a book you can, with the video existing in a small window that hovers above whatever else you’re doing on the tablet.
It can also be accessed using Alexa voice commands, and the multitasking feature is testament to the improvements made with the processor here.
Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition
Got kids? If you’re after an affordable tablet for them too, note that Amazon is also offering a refreshed Fire HD 10 tablet Kids Edition, too.
Costing $199, its hardware is the same as the above, but it also comes with a chunky protective carry case surrounding it, too.
Fire it up, and the main difference is the interface, which is locked down to ensure that only age-appropriate apps, games and books can be accessed. Without a parental pin, the little’uns can’t wander onto the wider web and come across things their innocent eyes perhaps shouldn’t.
There are robust parental controls – also accessible remotely from Amazon’s Parent Dashboard (parents.amazon.com) – to fine tune the experience for individual child profiles on-board. From screen time limits to a new 'Learn First' feature that requires a kid must first do some educational activities before unlocking the wider entertainment content, it’s well considered.
The tablet also comes with a year’s access to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited (otherwise known as Fire for Kids in the UK), which gives access to 20,000 books, apps, videos, as well as 1000 Audible audiobooks, that can all be downloaded for offline use.
These are curated and described by a team of humans at Amazon, so you can rest assured that they’re safe to leave your children using unattended.
A new port here, a battery improvement there, a software feature on top. It’s not a massive change over Fire HD 10 Tablets that have preceded it, but nevertheless 2019’s slate is looking better than any Amazon has put out before.
The jump to USB-C is smart, the price remains attractive, and, as the years have rolled on, the Fire OS skin has become more palatable, even if it remains a walled-garden into Amazon’s world. Given the price tag, you could do much, much worse. Keep an eye out for our final verdict soon.