Amazon isn’t giving up the tablet fight. Its Fire Phone might have failed to persuade buyers of its charms, but the Fire tablets have seen better success. Now Amazon has launched a high quality 7in tablet that costs less than £50 – and that’s not a typo.
See also: best budget tablets
Amazon Fire tablet release date and price
You can pre-order the Fire tablet immediately and it will be released on 30 September.
If you’re happy to have special offers (adverts for Amazon and other sponsored products) on the lock screen the Fire costs £49.99 including delivery from Amazon’s website here.
To remove those ads, you can pay an extra £10.
There’s also a deal where you can buy five Fire tablets and get a sixth free. That makes them £41.66 each. Few families are likely to want six tablets, we think.
Amazon Fire tablet specifications
There’s plenty of good news when it comes to the tablet’s features and specs. For the first time, there’s a microSD slot for adding storage. This was the Achilles Heel of previous Fire tablets, especially those with 8GB of internal storage.
The new Fire has this capacity – only 5GB is available to you as usual. But you can provide your own microSD card (up to 128GB) or add a SanDisk Ultra Class 10 microSD card to your order.
32GB costs £11.99, 64GB costs £19.99 and 128GB costs £53.99.
The tablet has a 7in screen and it uses the same IPS technology as an iPad so viewing angles, colours and contrast will be good (we’re currently waiting for a Fire tablet to arrive for in-depth testing).
Resolution is fairly low at 1024x600 (171ppi) but you can’t complain too much at this price.
There’s a quad-core 1.3GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, which should be enough for acceptable performance considering the price. Judging by Fire tablets we’ve tested in the past, it should be plenty enough – especially if you’re buying for a child who will mainly play games, read books and watch videos.
The built-in Wi-Fi is more basic than flagship tablets, but it’s unlikely to make a noticeable difference in general use. The Fire charges via micro USB, but the bad news is that it takes around six hours – roughly the same time as the battery lasts for browsing the web, reading books and watching video.
Cameras are an obvious cut corner: just VGA at the front and 2Mp at the rear. Expect poor quality photos and video all round.
At least there’s built-in Bluetooth for compatible headphones, speakers and low-energy Bluetooth accessories. A mono speaker and microphone are also built-in.
It measures 115x191x10.6mm and weighs 313g.
You have a choice of several different cases, including Amazon’s own for £19.99 or third-party cases for a few pounds less.
Amazon Fire tablet features
Amazon’s Mayday help service is no longer limited to the flagship tablets – it’s on the £49.99 Fire tablet. That means you can get help any time, day or night, even on Christmas Day.
The tablet runs the latest version of Amazon Fire OS 5, which now includes the Underground app store which contains truly free apps (with no in-app purchases).
There’s even more of a focus on entertainment. So while you get all the benefits you’ll see on previous Amazon tablets such as the ASAP predictive buffering (which means videos start playing as soon as you tap on them), a new ‘On Deck’ feature automatically downloads videos and the first episodes of Amazon original series – such as Extant, Transparent and Bosch – so there’s always something to watch even if you’re offline. Downloading only applies if you have a subscription to Amazon Prime, or Prime Instant Video, of course.
If you own a PS3 or PS4, you can ‘fling’ videos to your TV and use the Fire tablet as a second screen. This also works with the Fire TV or Fire TV Stick.
If you’re buying the tablet for a child, the Fire for Kids app provides a filtered, safe environment where you control which apps and what content they see – and can even apply time limits for different activities such as reading and playing games.
The tablet is also available in a dedicated Kids Edition which comes with a protective bumper case, a year’s subscription to Fire for Kids unlimited and a two-year guarantee that covers accidental damage. The package costs £99.99.