Amazon has managed to take control of the budget tablet market with its range of Fire tablets thanks to its powerful brand and the fact that it can undercut its Android competitors on price.

This means you’ll get better quality hardware than on the equivalent Android tablet, but with the disadvantage that Amazon tablets don’t have any Google services on them. If you have an Android phone and you’re used to using Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, the Chrome web browser and other apps you may be disappointed that you can’t install them on a Fire tablet.

Instead Amazon has its own web browser, email app, maps and – of course – its own video service, Prime Video.

Ultimately, Amazon wants you to use its video service, buy apps from its app store, books from its Kindle store and physical products from its main store. Not entirely surprising if you think about it.

But none of these are reasons not to buy an Amazon tablet. After all, you probably shop on Amazon already and if you’re after a tablet primarily for entertainment, you’ll hardly notice the difference between the Fire range and an Android tablet.

There are loads of big-name apps available including Netflix, UK catch-up TV services plus lots of free games and apps which are more often than not actual Android versions.

Fire tablets are great for kids and adults alike and Amazon offers specific kids versions of all three models. Those cost more but come with a protective case, a great two-year warranty that covers accidental damage and a 12-month subscription to its kids content (Fire for Kids Unlimited - or FreeTime Unlimited if you're in the US.) which includes videos, games, apps and books.

So the question is, which model should you buy? Briefly, here’s a summary of their key specs showing how they compare.

 

Fire 7

Fire HD 8

Fire HD 10

Price (from)

£49.99

£79.99

£149.99

Display

7in

8in

10.1in

Resolution

1024 x 600 (171 ppi)

1280 x 800 (189 ppi)

1920 x 1200 (224 ppi)

Colours

Black, Marine Blue, Punch Red and Canary Yellow

Black, Marine Blue, Punch Red and Canary Yellow

Black, Marine Blue and Punch Red

Processor

Quad-core 1.3 GHz

Quad-core 1.3 GHz

Quad-core up to 1.8 GHz

Alexa-enabled

Yes

Yes, hands-free

Yes, hands-free

Sound

Mono speaker, built-in microphone

Dolby Atmos, dual-stereo speakers, built-in microphone

Dolby Atmos, dual-stereo speakers, built-in microphone

Storage

8 or 16 GB (expandable by up to 256 GB)

16 or 32 GB (expandable by up to 256 GB)

32 or 64 GB (expandable by up to 256 GB)

Cameras

VGA front + 2Mp rear

VGA front + 2Mp rear

VGA front + 2Mp rear

Wi-Fi

Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11n)

Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11n)

Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11n)

Battery Life

Up to 8 hours

Up to 12 hours

Up to 10 hours

Weight

295 g

369 g

500 g

Dimensions

192 x 115 x 9.6 mm

214 x 128 x 9.7 mm

262 x 159 x 9.8 mm

Amazon Fire 7

Amazon Fire 7
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The Fire 7 is the smallest tablet with, as you'd guess, a 7in screen. It's great value for under £50 as it has a decent screen and the option of expanding storage with a microSD card.

It's not hugely powerful but you shouldn't expect a lightning-fast tablet for this price and you'll have to put up with waiting a little longer for apps to load than on the Fire HD 10 for example.

The screen uses IPS technology which means good colours and viewing angles, but the Fire 7 has a pretty low resolution of 1024x600. That's why there's no 'HD' in its name.

It's a particularly good choice for kids and you don't necessarily have to buy the £99 Kids Edition. Even the £49.99 version comes with the Fire for Kids app that offers great parental controls and there are dozens of free games that kids love.

The cameras are poor, but that is a trait of all current Amazon tablets, sadly.

For more, read our full Fire 7 review.

Amazon Fire HD 8

Amazon Fire HD 8
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For an extra £30, the HD 8 has a screen that's one inch larger. It also has a higher resolution of 1280x800, but there's really not much of a difference in quality when you put the HD 8 and Fire 7 side by side.

Cameras are the same, as is processing power. What's different is that you get stereo speakers and double the internal storage, with the option to add capacity with a microSD card.

Everything about the interface and available apps and services is the same.  You get Alexa, too, and this "all-new" version now has hands-free Alexa just as you do on the HD 10. That's much more convenient than the Fire 7 which makes you push an on-screen button before you can ask her anything. 

Plus, this 2018 model has an optional charging dock (shown in the photo) which, in addition to charging, also turns the tablet into a sort of Echo Show and, with Alexa on-board, you can use it for video calls, music videos and watching Amazon Prime videos.

You can read our full Fire HD 8 review to find out more about the tablet.

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017)

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017)
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The HD 10 costs a lot more than the smaller tablets, but it also gives you a lot more. The 10.1in screen is obviously bigger, but the resolution of 1920x1200 means it has a higher pixel density of 224ppi. It's enough to make it look sharp and - as with its siblings' - it's a great screen with vibrant colours and good viewing angles.

There's a faster processor and more RAM which means Alexa can work hands-free like an Echo. Alexa is much more useful when you don't have to press a button to wake her up. 

The HD also has more storage: 32GB as standard with the option for 64GB.

You can't get the HD 10 in yellow, but that may not bother you. Assuming it doesn't, anyone looking for a standard iPad-size tablet shouldn't be disappointed with the HD 10 considering the £149.99 / US$149.99 price. And it's now available in a Kids Edition for £199.99 / US$199.99.

As with the HD 8, there's a new charging dock stand which makes the HD 10 more useful. Ask Alexa to enable 'Show mode' and it will basically turn into an Echo Show.

Again, for the in-depth details check out our Fire HD 10 review.