We’d love to see the Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet get an upgrade, we’re just not sure this is it. You’ll need a microscope to find improvements over the 2020 model because the new tablet gets a slight boost in the processor and maybe a gigabyte more RAM, but that’s it. You won’t even notice those differences.
The Fire HD 8 is a small, cheap tablet with the potential to be even cheaper. During an Amazon Prime Day-type sale, the older model dropped in price by about half later in its lifespan. Prime Days are a great time to buy the best Amazon Fire tablets.
For the $99.99 starting price, we’d have a hard time recommending this tablet against the cheapest Samsung you can buy, the Galaxy Tab A7 Lite. At half of Amazon’s asking price, go get that one, who’s gonna tell on you? These are both among the best cheap tablets you can buy.
What you get for this price is a clunky, unresponsive device that acts buggy, but it does a good enough job playing movies and TV shows. If you just want to watch some Amazon Prime Video or Disney+ you’re good. Try playing games or browsing the web, though, and you’ll wish you made a better choice.
Once you’ve read our full review, you can find plenty of great affordable options in our roundup of the best cheap tablets.
Amazon tablets cut costs in a number of ways. Besides the cheaper hardware, Amazon skimps on software as well. This is an Android tablet, effectively running Android 11 (two generations behind the current Android 13), with Amazon’s Fire OS 8 on top.
It has no Google apps or services. No Play Store. No Gmail app. No Chrome browser. If you want to see Google Photos you can navigate the included web browser to the Google site.
There are plenty of third-party apps available, including your favorite streaming video services and the most popular social sites. You can watch Netflix or Hulu and connect with Facebook and Twitter. However, you won’t be able to play the latest Android games and there’s no way to easily load Android apps that aren’t included in Amazon’s own app market.
Upgrades to the 2022 Fire HD 8 are few and far between. If you spring for the 64GB of storage, you get 3GB of RAM instead of 2GB. In use, this hardly makes a difference, as the tablet is slow and unresponsive throughout even on our upgraded review unit. There is a microSD card slot, so you can add more storage with an expandable memory card instead of paying more.
None of our past issues with the Fire HD 8 (2020) have been addressed. The screen is still very low quality. It looks hazy and grainy, and the resolution is low. It may be called an ‘HD’ tablet, but it’s not Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. The build quality feels very cheap, with a lot of plastic on the shell.
If you’re looking for a cheap tablet in this price range, you can do better than the Fire HD 8, but if the price drops on an Amazon sale day, it wouldn’t hurt to drop your spare change to have an extra viewing screen on hand.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022) review: price and availability
- $99.99 / £99.99 for 32GB; $129.99 / £129.99 for 64GB
- Costs more than 2020 model
- Amazon has a history of major sales
The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022) goes on sale on October 19, with a starting price of $99.99 / £99.99 for the 32GB model and $129.99 / £129.99 for the 64GB model. The larger storage also gets you more RAM and 3GB of memory versus 2GB in the smaller model. That could make a difference, but the tablet’s performance wasn’t good enough to convince us it would matter.
The Fire HD 8 (2022) costs more than the 2020 model. We understand the current economic climate means higher prices, but that especially stings when you don’t get much more for the cost. The processor has two more cores, so perhaps those are worth a few bucks each.
Otherwise, we see the same screen size and resolution, the same cameras, and the same storage as the 2020 model. That older tablet just went on sale for more than 50% off during the Prime Early Access sale.
All this is to say that you shouldn’t buy this tablet at full price: Amazon often offers generous discounts on tablets that drop even the cheapest models to irresistible prices.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022) review: Design
- Almost exactly the same for 4 years
- Big and bulky, lots of plastic
- Made to be durable and withstand a drop
The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022) is practically the same device it was two years ago. The buttons and ports have moved slightly, but in measurements, it’s within a millimeter of its kin in every direction.
The Fire HD 8 seems built to take a tumble, and Amazon confirms that. The company brags that in tumble tests, the Fire HD 8 is twice as durable as the Apple iPad mini (2021). It feels like a toy, so that makes sense.
The front-facing camera is on the top of the tablet when it’s in landscape mode; the way it’s propped up when you use one of Amazon’s cases with a kickstand flap. When you hold the tablet in portrait, the camera’s on the side of the screen, which actually looks more naturally in video calls than looking too far up or down. It’s a nice if accidental, touch.
The tablet can get confused about which way on the volume rocker turned the sound up. Sometimes if we rotated the orientation too quickly, pressing up on the volume actually turned it down.
We appreciate some of the old-school mobile technology on this device, including the headphone port and the expandable memory. This is a great device to hand to a kid for easy backseat viewing, and wired headphones are more economical than wireless.
Expandable memory means you don’t need a network connection where you’re out. You just need to download a ton of content to a microSD card then you can stream whether you have Wi-Fi or not.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022) review: Display
- LCD display with 1280 x 800 resolution
- Lower than Full HD resolution
- Fine for TV but not great for reading
The Amazon Fire HD 8 display looks cheap, but it’s fine for watching movies and shows. The LCD panel is somewhat low resolution, only 1280 x 800 pixels, so it’s more of a 720p form of HD than a Full HD 1920 x 1080 screen.
The lower resolution isn’t our biggest complaint, though. The screen just looks a bit washed out and grainy. It lacks contrast and deep color. It doesn’t get very bright, so it’s not a good screen for watching TV outside on a nice day.
Text isn’t as legible as we’d like, and we’d certainly recommend any Kindle ereader over the Fire HD 8 if books on tablets are your thing. Games look more pixelated than videos. The low resolution, combined with terrible performance, make games unenjoyable.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022) review: Specs, performance and camera
- Six-core processor is 30% faster than last model
- Delivers on Amazon’s 13-hour battery promise
- Charges very slowly
The biggest difference between the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022) and the 2020 model, according to the spec sheet, is the new MediaTek processor. We won’t get too technical, but the older processor used four cores and the new one uses six. Amazon says this equals a 30% improvement in performance.
The numbers don’t matter, though. This tablet is slow. It’s very slow. When you tap on the screen, there’s a delay. When you open apps, there’s a delay. Everything on the tablet moves slowly, and it feels unresponsive.
The good news is that video playback runs smoothly, and that’s the main feature we want on this tablet. Once we started playing an episode, whether downloaded or streamed over Wi-Fi, we never had a hiccup or stall. Amazon’s version of your favorite streaming service looks the same as on your big-screen TV.
The battery on the Fire HD 8 delivers on Amazon’s promise. We could get more than 13 hours of battery life playing videos downloaded to the memory card. This would be a fine tablet for viewing on the longest flights and road trips.
It takes five hours to charge using the included 5W power adapter, but the tablet uses USB-C, so if you have a faster charger, up to 15W or more, you can charge the Fire HD 8 in 2.5 hours.
That’s incredibly slow, even for a tablet. While there are other improvements we’d like to see, faster charging is certainly one of our top requests and has been for years.
There’s a 2MP camera on both the front and back of the Fire HD 8 (2022). These might be useful for things like scanning QR codes or basic video calling. You won’t be using them to take photos worth sharing.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022) review: Software
- Android 11 running Amazon’s Fire OS 8
- No access to Google Play apps and services
- Show mode turns it into an Echo Show home controller
While Amazon uses Google’s Android, it doesn’t pay to license all the Google Play features, so you get Amazon’s version of Android, a very reduced beast compared to what you’ll find on a more robust tablet. There’s no Google Maps, Google Movies, or Google Play Store with all of its games. There isn’t even a Gmail app.
Our review device was an ad-supported model, so every time we turned it on, there was a different ad on the lock screen. The screen was resistant to touch, and we had to swipe twice or more to clear the ad every time and enter our passcode.
The home screen pages are not customizable and come pre-arranged by Amazon. You get the Home screen, with every app you download tiled at the bottom and a locked recommendation bar up top filled with junk apps.
Swipe left for your Library, which has your apps, plus your Amazon content, including Kindle books, Audible audiobooks, and a Prime Video watchlist.
If you swipe right from Home, you get the For You page, which offers contextual suggestions. You get the weather, your recent apps, and a bunch of suggestions for you to download, buy and try. There are also suggestions for things to say to Alexa.
If you call out for Alexa, the Fire HD 8 will answer. In our tests, it always answered after the Amazon Echo devices and answered slower. It had more trouble connecting and gave us far more errors.
The Fire HD 8 has a ‘Show’ mode that turns it into an Echo Show device. It’s sluggish and unresponsive, which are very bad qualities in a home control screen. Still, this could be a good use for the device if you got it on sale and can’t figure out what to do with it.
If you’re looking for a tablet that can truly run all the apps you need, check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite. It costs a little bit more than the Amazon Fire HD 8 but outdoes Amazon’s offering in every way. It also runs Android 12 currently and has full access to the Google Play Store.