The Amazon Fire HD 10 sees the mega-retailer finally put a great tablet out that won't primarily win folks over with a low price. Its new octa-core CPU makes it faster than Amazon's previous tablets and its USB-C port is a more-than-welcome upgrade from microUSB. Plus, it lasts over 13 hours on a single charge.
That all adds up to one of the best tablets period. Its drawbacks will sound familiar to those who have previous played with Amazon's slates. Fire OS still doesn't offer the Google Play app store and Google's own apps, such as Google and Gmail, are also off the table (though you can browse them on the web).
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This is why my Amazon Fire HD 10 review will pit Amazon's tablet against not just some great Android tablets, but the iPad 2020, the best tablet there is. Let's see how they stack up.
Amazon Fire HD 10 review: Price and availability
The Fire HD 10 starts at $149.99, and that gets you 32GB of storage. Not enough? A $190 model doubles its internal capacity to 64GB. Personally, I'd rather spend $15 to remove Amazon's "special offers," aka its lock-screen advertisements. For another $60, Amazon's got a bundle with a folding cover case, a pair screen protectors and a 15W charging brick for faster refueling.
Of course, Amazon also offers a $199 Fire HD 10 Kids Edition, and that extra $50 gets you a 2-year no-questions-asked warranty, a protective case with kickstand and a year of Amazon Kids+ (aka FreeTime Unlimited).
CPU: 2.0GHz octa-core CPU
Display: 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel
Storage: 32GB, 64GB
Ports: 1x USB-C, headphone jack, microSD
Battery life: 6:56 (touch-only Alexa), 6:16 (hands-free Alexa)
Dimensions: 10.3 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 17.8 ounces/1.1 pounds
Amazon Fire HD 10 review: Design
The Amazon Fire HD 10 is a fairly simple tablet, and we tested it in its blandest suit: a matte black shell with a glossy Amazon logo. Amazon also makes it in white, Plum and Twilight Blue).
The Fire HD 10 feels sturdy, though there's a little bit of flex to be found if you apply pressure near the center of the slate.
Weighing 17.8 ounces and measuring 0.4 inches thick (27.4 ounces and 1-inch if you get the Kids Edition, the Fire HD 10 is slightly thicker and heavier than the Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite (17.6 ounces, 0.3 inches), Apple iPad (2020) (17.6 ounces, 0.3 inches) and Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus (17 ounces, 0.4 inches), but we doubt anyone could tell holding them in person.
If you're not happy to see the USB-C port in the Fire HD 10, you will be once that port becomes more popular. Amazon's realizing that it can't stay wed to the microUSB port (which has always felt flimsy) forever, and unlike that port, there's no "right way up" for USB-C — so no more fumbling around trying to figure out which side is "up."
Huawei and Lenovo have already moved to USB-C for the MediaPad and Tab 4 10 Plus. The iPad is still stuck on Lightning.
Amazon Fire HD 10 review: Display
I've never really liked a Fire tablet display, until I saw the Fire HD 10's 10.1-inch Full HD (1920 x 1200-pixel) screen.
Watching one of the latest episodes of The Boys on the Fire HD 10, I saw Homelander's extremely patriotic cape and outfit come through in correct reds, whites and blues, and the hues of shock of bleach blonde hair and Queen Maeve's reddish hair also rendered accurately. Even the dirt on the set of the ad the Supes were shooting, and the camo print of a soldier's uniform came through clearly.
According to our Klein K10-A colorimeter, the Fire HD 10 produces a solid 106% of the sRGB spectrum, which beats the 97% rating from the new iPad (2020), while falling slightly behind the 109% from the Tab 4 10 Plus and the 114% rating from the MediaPad M5 Lite.
In terms of brightness, the Fire HD 10 maxes out at 403 nits, which is similar to the 400-nit Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus, but it's outshined by the 484-nit iPad 2020 and the 427-nit MediaPad M5 Lite.
The Fire HD 10 may be a bit reflective, but it's bright enough to be viewed from a decent range of angles. As Stormfront demolished a building's walls, I was able to see the action when I viewed the Fire HD 10 from 30 degrees to the left and right. Pretty impressive for a sub-$200 tablet.
The Amazon Fire HD 10's touchscreen provided speedy response times as I tapped and swiped around the Fire OS home screens. The animations for zooming in and out of photos, however, had some lag time — but nothing too bad.
Amazon Fire HD 10 review: Audio
The Fire HD 10 provides decent visuals, but its sound lacks slightly. Jamming out to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," at my home office, I noticed that while the tablet can fill a small-to-medium sized room, its low-end sounds were a little flat, and when I could hear some bass it was slightly distorted. Listening to Lizzo's "Truth Hurts," her vocals sounded a little too sharp, and not full enough.
Amazon Fire HD 10 review: Performance
The Fire HD 10's 2.0 GHz octa-core CPU and 2GB of RAM enable decent performance, faster than I've seen in any Amazon tablet yet.
As I smoothly tapped through Amazon's channels of home-grown content, the Fire HD 10 loaded everything pretty quickly, from songs in the Music app to samples of Kindle ebooks.
The one annoyance I had was the slight pause upon switching through tabs in the Silk web browser, though that app has never lived up to its namesake in terms of seamlessness. I even saw a bit of visual stutter upon opening a new tab.
You could try and rock the DuckDuckGo browser, which is in the Fire OS app store, but it limits you to a single tab at a time. That's not how I'd want to fix the Silk browser's issues juggling multiple tabs.
In terms of gaming, the Asphalt 9 racing game looked great when all of the cars were revving their engines, but as the game introduced more chaotic elements, the Fire HD 10 had trouble keeping up. And what good is a neat-looking Mitsubishi when the frame rate drops when you're pushing it through cool stunts like a spinning leap off a ramp.
This tablet is rated for 30% faster performance over previous versions, but we could not get benchmark tests to run on it, unfortunately.
Amazon Fire HD 10 review: Battery Life
The Fire HD 10 provides shockingly long-lasting battery life that beats the field. The Tom's Guide battery test (web surfing on Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness) drained the Fire HD 10 in 13 hours and 45 minutes, beating the times posted by the Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite (13:13), iPad 2020 (12:57) and Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus (13:06).
Amazon Fire HD 10 review: Cameras
The Fire HD 10 features 2.0-megapixel front and rear cameras are pretty decent, and can do for video calls, but neither will replace the cameras in your phone any time soon.
A selfie I shot at home showed surprising amount of detail in my hair — not just the split ends you see in most low-end webcams — and captured the hues of my cheeks and lips relatively accurately. Its rear camera also did a pretty good job picking up the purple of the tag on my Roku remote control, but that photo, and all the images I shot with the Fire HD 10, were still slightly soft, lacking the strong detail most phone cameras can get.
Amazon Fire HD 10 review: Software
Your view of the Fire HD 10's operating system — Fire OS, a fork of Android — will likely depend on how much content you consume from Amazon. If you live a Prime-based lifestyle, with the Unlimited-version of Amazon's Kindle and Music services, the Fire HD 10 will be a gateway to those buffets of content.
If you still use Google services, though, you'll be frustrated that Gmail and YouTube don't have real apps on Fire OS. Instead, all Google services are relegated to their web versions, which look a little outdated at this point. Especially YouTube.
Fire OS also puts "special offers" (i.e. ads) on the Fire HD 10's lock screen. Sometimes, those are great — my mom's tablet gives her Purina ads that are well suited for her new dog — but other times I just am left scratching my head. Why, on earth, is AT&T Business advertising to me? Makes no sense.
Amazon lets you pay the ads away, but that's not a bribe I'm paying on a tablet — where it feels like my eyesballs are being sold to keep the price of the Fire HD 10 under $200.
Amazon Fire HD 10 review: Verdict
It's hard to hate the Fire HD 10. Yes, it costs $100 more than the popular Fire 7, but I've got them sitting next to each other in front of me, and I'd never give the cheaper one as a gift to a relative, but rather invest a little more to make sure their favorite TV shows look better and their tablet lasts for longer.
You can get a brighter screen with the new iPad, which has none of the app issues that Fire OS has (plus it also has the Amazon Prime Video and Kindle apps), but that will cost you an extra $179. That's enough to buy a second Fire HD 10 for a loved one. You can also get true Android apps with the Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus, but you're going to be spending an extra $60.
So, for those looking for the ultimate Amazon tablet, this Amazon Fire HD 10 review has explained why this is the slate for you. Plus, you're not getting that USB-C port on any other Fire tablet.