This Amazon Fire HD 8 review 2022 asks whether this sub-$100 device is a fantastic bargain or a false economy
If you want a tablet for basic tasks, such as watching Netflix, listening to music, using Alexa, making video calls, checking emails or using social media, this will do the job well. You’ll have to compromise a little on video resolution and processing speed, you can’t run Google apps, and it’s not much good for photography or productivity tasks but overall, it offers excellent value.
- +Bright and colourful screen
- +Easy to use
- +Strong battery life
- +Low price
- -Can’t run Google apps
- -Occasionally runs slowly
- -Low-res camera
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Amazon has just brought out a brand-new version of its entertainment tablet for 2022. I’ve taken it for a test drive, and in this Amazon Fire HD 8 review 2022, I’ll go through what I thought of it.
Before I start, though, be aware this is a basic tablet. If you want high-end performance and features, there are much more capable ones out there; they just happen to be more expensive. At the other end of the spectrum, for example, the new iPad Pro M2 12.9 starts at $1,099.
In contrast, the main reason to buy the Amazon Fire HD 8 – in my view, the only reason to buy one – is its low price. But credit where credit’s due: that price is impressively low, at less than $100/£100 at the time of writing.
If you have more to spend and want something that’s very powerful, flexible and lets you do more things, then head straight to our roundup of the best tablets. If, though, you just want to spend as little as possible, then keep reading. You may find that the Amazon Fire HD 8 has everything you need, and you can spend the cash you’ve saved on other things.
One more thing to note: if you shop online and find an ‘Amazon Fire HD 8 ‘ at a great price, it might not be the one we’re reviewing here. Amazon isn’t like, say, Apple, who gives each iteration of the iPhone a different name (the iPhone 13, for instance, has just been superseded by the iPhone 14). So before you buy your Amazon tablet, make sure it says either ‘2022’ or ’12th generation’ somewhere in the product name; otherwise, you may be getting an older, lesser version.
Amazon Fire HD 8 2022 review: Price and availability
The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022) starts at $99.99 in the US and £99.99 in the UK. This model comes with 32GB storage and serves you ads as your screensaver. There’s an ad-free model for $109.99 / £109.99.
There is also a 64GB model which costs $129.99 / £129.99 with ads as your screensaver, or $139.99 / £139.99 without ads.
Amazon Fire HD 8 2022 review: design and screen
All the buttons and ports are on one side, save the microSD slot
(Image credit: Tom May)
The design of the Amazon Fire HD 8 is pretty basic: a black rectangle with sizeable bezels and screen in the centre.
Holding the tablet in landscape model, there’s a selfie camera at the top, in the centre, and another camera for taking pictures on the back, at the top right. On the right side, you’ll find an on-off button, volume rockers, a charging slot, a Kensington slot, and a headphone jack. At the very top, there are two vents for the left and right speakers. At the bottom, there’s a microSD slot, which takes up to a 1TB card. And that’s your lot.
In short, there’s nothing particularly fancy about the design of the Amazon Fire HD 8: it certainly won’t attract ‘oohs’ like the latest iPad Pro. But at the same time, it looks fine, it does the job, and you can’t say fairer than that.
In the box it comes with a charger, so you don’t need to buy anything more to use it. That said, you’ll probably want a case to protect it, ideally with a kickstand to prop it up when watching movies or making video calls.
If you’ve used an earlier version of the Amazon Fire HD 8 then it’s worth noting that compared with its predecessor, this version is thinner (down from 4 inches to 3.7) and lighter (down from 355g to 337g). It’s also stronger than before: Amazon claims it’s twice as durable as the iPad mini (2021). That said, while it feels solid enough, this is certainly not a rugged tablet, so we’d still recommend getting a protective case.
One of the main reasons people buy a tablet like the Amazon Fire HD 8 is to watch TV and movies – in bed, in the kitchen, on the sofa, while travelling – with maximum portability and minimal fuss. But what’s that experience actually like?
Well, for a start, video resolution is only 1280 x 800 pixels, with a pixel density of 189ppi. This is technically HD, but it’s less detailed than the more standard 1920 x 1080 resolution, aka Full HD.
On your normal TV, you’d certainly notice that climb down if you’re used to watching in Full HD, 2K or 4K. However, given that this tablet’s screen is only 8 inches wide, it doesn’t really make that much difference in practice. Overall, the LCD display is sharp and bright, and I certainly didn’t find ourselves yearning for more picture detail when I watched TV and movies on the Amazon Fire HD 8. It was fine.
Amazon Fire HD 8 2022 review: performance and battery
The video resolution qualifies as HD, but only just
(Image credit: Tom May)
The main criticism of Amazon’s tablets over the years has been that they run slowly, and often crash. This 2022 version of the Amazon Fire HD 8 comes with a six-core MediaTek MT8169A processor that’s claimed to be 30 per cent faster than its predecessor (which had four cores). And as far as I can tell, it has made a difference.
On the whole, this tablet is mostly smooth and responsive, and while it’s still a tiny bit slower than my (much more expensive) phone or laptop, and still occasionally stutters and freezes, this didn’t happen so much that it put me off using it.
That said, its relative slowness does make switching between apps or opening multiple tabs less than smooth. So if you’re expected to do that kind of thing a lot, it’s worth paying an extra $20/£20 for the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus, which has an extra GB of RAM and so is better for multitasking in general.
I was nervous about the audio quality on such a cheap device. But again, Amazon seems to have pulled it off. The sound, which features Dolby Atmos, is perfectly decent through headphones (and in this day and age, it’s nice to have an old-school audio jack to plug them into). The speakers do a good job too. They’re loud enough to fill a small room, with a surprisingly deep and rich level of bass, and don’t distort when turned up to the max. So while true audiophiles won’t be satisfied, I’d say this is good enough for most people, most of the time.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 takes five hours to charge with the supplied charger, which isn’t great, but if you happen to have a more powerful one (like the 9W charger the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus comes with), that drops down to just three hours.
What about battery life? Amazon predicts you’ll get 13 hours with mixed use from a single charge, and my experience with the tablet suggests that’s pretty much right.
On occasion, you might need even more battery life than that if you’re travelling a long way, and you need to watch several movies and TV shows to break the tedium. For instance, the last time I went to Sri Lanka it took a good 24 hours between leaving the house and reaching the door of my hotel.
Well, turns out I would have done well to have the Amazon Fire HD 8 that time because when I ran a test showing a movie downloaded from Amazon Prime on repeat, it kept going for an impressive 19 hours and 10 minutes. Not bad for a cheap tablet!
Amazon Fire HD 8 2022 review: apps and features
Every time your tablet goes to the lockscreen, it brings up a different ad
(Image credit: Tom May)
The Amazon Fire HD 8 interface is pretty straightforward. Much like most tablets and phones these days, it runs on a version of Android. And although this is quite different from ‘normal’ Android (Amazon have created their own version called FireOS, and this is FireOS 8), most things seem pretty familiar and easy to use.
As we mentioned in our pricing section above, the cheapest version of the Amazon Fire HD 8 comes with screensaver ads. To my surprise, I didn’t actually find these that intrusive. My main personal use for a tablet is for entertainment, so seeing ads for say, the latest Amazon Prime movie or Kindle book is actually quite useful. Should you feel differently, though, you can always change your mind later: just go into Settings and you can remove the ads for a one-off fee.
One improvement over previous versions of the Amazon Fire HD 8 is the new display size feature, which you can use to magnify on-screen elements. That’s useful for anyone who has low or impaired vision, as well as in challenging situations like the sun shining directly on the screen. Alternatively, you can reduce the size of specific elements, giving you extra space to do more on the display. In all honesty, this isn’t a tablet you want to do anything too complicated with, but it’s nice to know these features exist.
When it comes to accessibility, of course, all Amazon tablets support voice control through Alexa. This 2022 tablet now brings a twist to that dynamic, via a new ‘Tap to Alexa’ feature that allows you interact with Alexa through touch instead of voice, should you prefer.
There’s also a ‘Text to Speech’ tool that allows you to type out phrases and have them spoken out loud. Other new innovations include the ability to watch picture-in-picture with Prime Video, and a split-screen tool that lets you, say, send an email when you’re on a video call.
So far, you might be thinking: well, I can do everything I need to on the Amazon Fire HD 8, why should I spend more? Unfortunately, now we come to this tablet’s Achilles heel. Like all Amazon tablets, it only runs Amazon apps.
That means it doesn’t run iOS apps. It doesn’t run Windows apps. And, most crucially, it doesn’t run Google Play Store apps. In other words, whatever phone (or non-Amazon tablet) you have, it probably won’t run the apps you’re used to.
That may not be a deal-breaker: after all, the Amazon app store does have a lot of the most popular apps, including Netflix, Disney+, Minecraft, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and Spotify. However, it’s missing a lot of specifically Google-owned apps such as YouTube and Google Drive. And if you’ve bought movies or music through the Google Play Store, you won’t be able to play them on the Amazon Fire HD 8.
There are workarounds, of course. For example, you won’t be able to download the Gmail app, but you can access your existing Gmail account through the onboard Email app. You can’t use the Chrome browser, but Amazon’s own Silk browser does a good enough job. And that means you can access all your Google Drive content, Google Podcast subscriptions and the like through the web, rather than natively on the device.
It is all quite a faff though, and given that the main attraction of tablets is the convenience they offer, it’s a big mark against the Amazon Fire HD 8.
One more thing. You may be used to casting entertainment from your phone or previous tablet to your smart TV. If you want to do this from your Amazon Fire HD 8, you’ll need to buy a Fire Stick: it doesn’t support Chromecast. (This seems weird, because you can stream Amazon Prime content from your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet to Chromecast, but trust us, you can’t do it from any of the Amazon Fire tablets).
Amazon Fire HD 8 2022 review: cameras
You’ll find most of your favourite apps here, but none of the Google ones
(Image credit: Tom May)
We wouldn’t recommend you buy the Amazon Fire HD 8 for taking photos. Unless, maybe, you’ve never used a camera in your life, and want to try one out. Or you’ve got a seriously old feature phone from the early 2000s, and the 2MP cameras on the front and back of the Amazon Fire HD 8 here will actually be a step up.
That said, these basic cameras are fine for what they are. Sometimes you don’t care about the quality of the picture, and just need to take a photo for reference, or do something like scan something like a QR code.
The most likely reason you’ll use the front camera, meanwhile, is for video calls. And it works perfectly okay for that, providing 720p video at 30fps, which matches up to even some high-end laptops released in the last two or three years. Again, we’re not talking the best picture quality, but like most things on this tablet, it does the job just fine.
Amazon Fire HD 8 2022 review: Verdict
The bottom line is that this tablet does a good job at basic tasks
(Image credit: Amazon)
Should you buy an Amazon Fire HD 8? As with most tech, the honest answer is: it depends what you want it for.
If you specifically want to run Google apps, use the Chrome browser, access media you’ve bought on Google Play, or stream to your TV via Chromecast, the answer is probably no. Also, if you want to do any productive work, such as photo or video editing, this tablet will not be powerful enough for you.
More generally, if you can spend substantially more than the sub-$100/£100 of the Amazon Fire HD 8, then you are likely to get a smoother interface experience, a higher-resolution display and a nicer looking device for your trouble.
If this is all you want to spend on a tablet, though, why spend more? Yes, the cameras are low-end, and the device as a whole isn’t particularly stylish looking. But for basic tasks like watching video, listening to music, using apps and surfing the web, it does a perfect decent job. The screen is sharp, bright and colourful, and the audio surprisingly good for a tablet this cheap. Overall, I’d say the Amazon Fire HD 8 offers exceptional value.
Amazon Fire HD 8 2022 review: also consider
If you’re looking to buy a cheap tablet because you plan to give it to your children to use, then you’ll be better off buying the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition. It has a tough rubber case with a kickstand for durability and ease of use as well as an unlimited subscription to Fire for Kids included.
Another cheap slate to think about if you’re on a tight budget is the Lenovo Smart Tab P10 which is admittedly a lot more expensive than this but you do get full access to the Google Play Store, and it can be used as an Alexa smart display through Show Mode as well.