The Amazon Fire HD 10 offers plenty for your money, this is an almost-perfect cheap tablet that can be made even better with a simple tweak
- Great price
- Sharp screen
- Punchy speakers
- Alexa smarts
- No Google Play Store out of the box
- Button placement
If you’re looking for a cheap tablet, chances are you’ll be considering an Amazon Fire Tab. I’ve come to think of Amazon’s tablet range as a reliable entry point to the tech world. They’re dependable without being flashy, and get on with life with zero drama. The new Amazon Fire HD 10 is no different.
Unlike the wallet-busting Apple and Samsung models that tend to dominate the space, Amazon’s provide a budget offering for those looking for an Android-toting tab. The Amazon Fire HD 10 is the latest flagship slate in the company’s roster, bringing a full HD screen, improved innards and improved battery life. Plus Alexa tricks, of course. Not bad for a bit of kit that starts from $180/£150.
There is a catch, however. There’s no Google Play Store, which means you’re stuck with Amazon’s Appstore and its more limited selection of apps and games. For people looking for a casual tablet experience — namely browsing, watching movies and firing off a few emails — that’s fine. But if you’re an app fiend and/or mobile gamer, the app store handicap might be a dealbreaker.
I say might, because with five minutes of work, you can easily load up the Google Play Store and unlock full access to all the delicious apps you could shake a stick at.
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Design: plastic fantastic
The Fire HD 10 won’t win any design awards, but that’s not to say it’s ugly. Its plastic build feels sturdy in the hands, and I rather like its matte dark grey slate-coloured finish. It’s pleasant to the touch while offering decent grip which, combined with the lightweight build, makes for a comfortable holding experience, without arm fatigue kicking in.
The rear finish is prone to fingerprints, but it’s nothing that a quick wipe won’t fix. Flip it around and you’ve got the screen, with the power button, volume controls, USB-C charging port, and headphone socket placed on the top in portrait mode.
My only real gripe with the design is the placement of these buttons, as I quite often find myself accidentally turning off the display with my palm in landscape mode. That’s not ideal when you’re trying for a Call of Duty killstreak or in the waiting to find out the latest Traitors cliffhanger. It’s something I eventually got used to.
Screen: Comfortably sharp
While I’m a sucker for OLED displays with their true blacks and vibrant colours, an LCD screen is totally understandable at this price point. Amazon’s 10.1in panel is no slouch either, thanks to its Full HD resolution and decently punchy colours.
From games and movies, to browsing and reading, your eyes won’t be left wanting for more — unless, of course, you have a direct side-by-side comparison with a more expensive pixel-packing tablet.
Ultimately this is a screen that will serve you well, even with its larger bezels which provide plenty of space to grip on. As long as you’re not planning to binge-watch your favourite show outside on a sunny day (the display could be a bit brighter), you’ll have no qualms consuming content on the Fire HD 10.
The built-in stereo speakers do a great job at higher volumes to create a 3D-esque soundscape. Performance is quite punchy, given the slim nature of the tab.
OS and software: A game of two halves
Let’s cut to it. The Fire HD 10’s weakest link is its lack of the Google Play Store. On the other hand, its integration with Alexa is top-notch, essentially transforming it into a portable Echo Show.
The first point might not matter to some people, but it’ll be a sticking point for most. If you’re not sure how big a deal it is then you’ll likely be fine, but if you’re an existing Android user it won’t be long before you realise big apps like YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps and Call of Duty: Mobile are absent from the Amazon Appstore.
Thankfully, there is a super-quick fix. All you have to do is download a few files, install them in a certain order, and boom — you’ve got yourself a full-fat Android tablet, complete with the Google Play Store and all the tasty apps that come with it. There are numerous tutorials online, and I found these instructions clear and easy to use, with the whole process taking around five to ten minutes. Some people will be more comfortable doing this than others, and if you’re buying this tablet as a gift for a user who’s not tech-savvy in the slightest, then it’s simple enough to do on their behalf. I believe in you.
Tinkering aside, let’s talk Alexa. Amazon’s smart assistant needs no introduction or explanation at this point, so I’ll simply say that its integration with the Fire HD 10 is excellent. You can call upon her at any point, even when the screen’s off and the tablet is across the room. You’ll be presented with all the usual gubbins, from weather and news reports, to playing music, ordering from Amazon, and more.
You’ll be presented with visual information too, unlike a screen-less Echo speaker. From sports results and hourly weather, to names of songs and photos from Amazon or Facebook, the inclusion of the screen takes Alexa’s game to a whole new level.
Unfortunately, Amazon has discontinued the wireless charging dock that worked with the (also discontinued) Fire HD 10 Plus tablet. This kept the outgoing tablet upright and constantly charging in docked mode. Now, you’ll have to resort to an aftermarket stand and an altogether less neat charging solution.
The inclusion of a 5MP front-facing camera also means you can use the Fire HD 10 for video calls, including those made to Echo Show owners. If you have friends or relatives with a Show device, this makes it particularly useful for virtually dropping by and saying hello.
There’s also a 5MP rear camera, but it’s nothing to write home about. Shots are pretty grainy if the lighting isn’t bright enough, and the quality just isn’t there at all compared to even smartphone cameras. Given that I literally never use cameras on my tablets outside of testing though, this will be a moot point for many.
Power and battery life: Surprisingly impressive
The biggest upgrade is inside, where the Fire HD 10 gets a new octa-core processor. It’s coupled with 3GB of RAM, with a MicroSD slot for up to 1TB of expandable storage, in addition to the base 32GB or 64GB options.
Despite not having the fastest processor around, I still managed to play demanding games like the aforementioned Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends at max settings, with very little to complain about. Loading times might have stuttered a little compared to more expensive devices, but on the whole, everything is surprisingly perfectly playable, made all the more enjoyable by the larger screen experience.
Battery life is impressive too, pretty much delivering on Amazon’s promise of up to 13 hours per charge. I saw the battery drop to around half after three day of Netflix, gaming, TikTok and some reading, so even power users should be able to make it a whole day with very heavy use.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2023) verdict
For the price, the latest Fire HD 10 offers incredible value, thanks to its large, sharp screen, punchy speakers, built-in Alexa smarts, and the ability to keep up with demanding games while offering a smooth user experience.
Its only real downside is the lack of the Google Play Store, but as we’ve seen, that’s a quick and easy fix. Regardless of whether you want to take that extra step or not, there’s no escaping the sheer bang for buck on offer here, making this a solid contender for your Android tablet shortlist.
Offering plenty for your money, this is an almost-perfect tablet that can be made even better with a simple tweak
No Google Play Store out of the box
Amazon Fire 10 HD technical specifications
|10.1in touchscreen 1080p full HD, 1920 x 1200
|Octa-core 2.0 GHz
|5 MP with 1080p HD video recording (front and back)
|32 or 64 GB (expandable up to 1 TB)
|Up to 13 hours
|246 x 164.8 x 8.6 mm, 433.6g