Amazon’s Fire tablets are some of the only high-profile, ultra-affordable tablets around. The prices seem too good to be true—and in some ways, they are—but Fire tablets are also completely functional, reasonably capable devices. To help you decide if one of these slates is right for you, we reviewed every model. These are our unfiltered recommendations. We list Amazon’s base price, but we suggest you spend the extra $15 to get an ad-free model.
Updated June 2023: We’ve added our thoughts on the new Fire Max 11.
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Best Fire Tablet
The Fire HD 10 remains our favorite of Amazon’s tablets. Amazon refreshed it in 2021 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) with a brighter screen and 3 gigabytes of RAM. Alongside it, there’s a Fire HD 10 Plus, which bumps the RAM to 4 GB and adds wireless charging, which is worth the extra $30 if you plan to do more than watch movies and browse the web. And Amazon is hoping you’ll do more, as there’s a “productivity bundle” that includes a nice keyboard (no trackpad though) and a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365. Working on the Fire HD 10 isn’t bad, so long as you don’t need Google apps. None of Google’s office apps work on the Fire HD 10, not even in the browser. (There is a workaround.)
The Fire HD 10 has a larger screen with more pixels (1080p) than its siblings, making it better for watching videos. And, as with the Fire HD 8, you can shout commands at Alexa from across the room. To use Alexa’s Show Mode, swipe down on the notification overlay and check the Show Mode box. After that, you can set your HD 10 on a stand (if you opt for the Plus model, we like the official wireless charging stand) and it essentially becomes an Echo Show.
You can choose between 32-gigabyte or 64-gigabyte models (with a MicroSD slot on both so you can add up to 1 TB of storage down the road if you need more space). Whichever you choose, Amazon will serve up advertisements on the lock screen. To get rid of that, you’ll need to spend $15 more for the version without “special offers.”
The Max Tablet
If you’re all in on all things Amazon, the Fire Max 11 (5/10, WIRED Review) is the company’s most powerful tablet. It’s also much pricier than the Fire 10. With a base price of $230 you’re only $30 away from an iPad. And the list of things an iPad can do that the Fire Max 11 can’t is longer than I have space for here. That said, if all you plan to do is consume Amazon content, and the price doesn’t bother you, the Fire Max 11 is a nice way to do it. The screen is bright and sharp enough, the speakers aren’t bad, and the cameras are 1080p and much nicer than the cameras on the rest of the Fire tablets.
However, this premium-priced tablet is still hamstrung by the same Fire OS that powers the cheaper models. While Fire OS seems okay when you pay $50 for it on sale, it feels a lot more limiting at $230. If you want to do anything more than watch Prime video and browse the web, we suggest you spend the extra money for an iPad, Pixel, Lenovo, or OnePlus tablet. See our guide to the best tablets for more mid-level tablet options that offer a better value than the Fire Max 11.
Best-Value Fire Tablet
Amazon’s 2022 version of the Fire HD 8 (6/10 WIRED Review) features a faster processor and slightly thinner design, but it’s very much an incremental update. The processor upgrade is welcome and makes this more travel-friendly-size tablet very nearly as fast as our top pick. The big difference is the screen, which isn’t nearly as nice as the Fire 10 HD screen. On this smaller model, pixels are often still visible and movies often feel flat.
Still, the HD 8 has most of the benefits of the HD 10, including hands-free Alexa, stereo sound, USB-C, and nearly 12 hours of battery life. I recommend picking up Amazon’s magnetic stand-up case if you plan on watching movies or TV, or, if you opt for the Plus model, the Wireless Charging Dock, which turns your tablet into an Echo Show speaker.
Best Fire Tablet for Kids
Recognizing that “kids” covers a wide range of hand sizes and other factors, Amazon has two different Kids Edition Fire tablets. There’s the regular Kids Edition and a “Pro” model. The latter, aimed at older kids, has a streamlined case with a little less padding. We think the 2022 Fire HD 8 Kids ($150) is the best device for younger kids, while the 2021 Fire HD 10 Kids Pro ($200), which is really big in little-kid hands, is better for older children. The Fire 7 Kids ($110) is an even cheaper option for young children, though mine have always found the 7-inch screen size more challenging to use.
The Kids Edition versions are exactly the same as the regular Fire tablets, except they come with a rugged case and a two-year worry-free guarantee, which means Amazon will replace the tablet for free if your kids break it. It also comes with one year of Amazon Kids+, offering access to kid-friendly movies, books, games, and apps. It costs $5 per month after the first year (for Prime subscribers, $8 if you don’t have Prime). Be sure to see our guide to managing Amazon Kids+ content.
Best Budget Fire Tablet
Last year Amazon refreshed its smallest Fire tablet, the 7-inch model. The 2022 version features a slightly more powerful processor, double the RAM, and longer battery life. It also charges via USB-C. Unfortunately, the paltry 16 gigabytes of storage remains, though the supported SD card size has gone up to 1 terabyte, so if you want more storage (and believe me, you do), you can add it. Also up for this release is the price, which jumps from $49 to $59.
In the past, we’ve recommended avoiding this one because it was underpowered and the small screen makes it less useful. After a few months of testing, it’s become apparent that the processor is actually good enough—not fast, but it’s fine for web browsing and watching video. The screen, on the other hand, remains small. We still think you’re better off spending $40 more for the Fire 8, but if that’s out of your budget, the new Fire 7 will do.
Best Fire Accessories
Get a Cover
Fire tablets are sturdy enough, but I’ve found the screens do scratch quite easily. It’s worth protecting your investment with a cover. Amazon’s covers are nice–they’re not too bulky and provide good protection–but they are expensive. At $30, Fintie’s Folio Cases aren’t much cheaper, but they are frequently on sale for more like $15 to $20; if you can grab one at that price they’re well worth it.
Get a Keyboard for Work
I won’t go so far as to suggest a Fire Tablet can replace your laptop, but I have found that I can get a good bit of work done on my Fire HD 10 when I pair it with Finitie’s Bluetooth Keyboard ($50). This is the same keyboard Amazon sells as part of its productivity bundle. It lacks a trackpad, and the keys are a little smaller, but it’s otherwise quite nice to type on. If you score a Fire HD 10 for $55 during a sale, get the keyboard for $55 (it’s often on sale for less) and use our guide to get the Google Play Store installed, and you’ll have very usable work device for around $100. That’s tough to beat.
I find the Fire 10 with a keyboard better value than the Fire Max 11, which also has a productivity bundle that includes a keyboard. It’s a nicer keyboard–though it is not free standing, balancing it in your lap is awkward–and it does have a trackpad, but its more than double the price of the Fire HD 10 keyboard combo and it just isn’t worth that much money.
Amazon Sells Older Fire Tablets. Don’t Buy Them
Only buy one of the 11th or 12th Generation Fire tablets. We suggest sticking to the models we talk about in this article (also listed here). Older-model Fire tablets won’t get software updates for as long as the current generation will. You’ll also miss out on the faster processor and more RAM in the newer models. A far better idea is to wait for Prime Day or another sale when you can get the new models at 30 to 50 percent off.
If you won’t be deterred from buying an older Fire tablet right now, be sure to 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. And bear in mind that Amazon does cut off old devices from accessing its content.
What’s WIRED About All Fire Tablets
A faucet for Amazon content: If you subscribe to Amazon’s Prime service, you can consume all the included movies, music, TV, and books, shop for all the items you can get with its free two-day shipping, and browse 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 for $17.)
You can make them even more capable by following our guide to installing the Google Play Store on your Fire device. That will give you access to the full range of Android apps. (Note that some apps won’t work, but 99 percent of the apps out there for Android will run just fine.)