CPU: 2.0 GHz quad-core processor
RAM: 2GB (3GB with Plus model)
Storage: Up to 64GB
Display: 1280 x 800 HD display
Size: 8 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 0.8 pounds
The Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet (reviewed at $89.99) has gotten a refresh in 2020, and although I'm a passionate techie who typically gets excited about new devices, I’m apathetic about this slate update.
Well, I’ve experimented with this tablet’s predecessor in 2018, and as many would expect, the Fire HD 8 was filled with pre-installed Amazon apps: Prime video, Audible and more. As someone who purchases her content from non-Amazon platforms, these apps were inutile for me and — dare I say it — shameless plugs to get you to spend even more money on Amazon products.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying that I didn’t like the last-gen Fire HD 8 tablet. However, I was not the target consumer for this slate. In my eyes, the 2018 Fire HD 8 tablet was an advertisement-heavy, panhandling portal for the Amazon ecosystem disguised as a tablet. But if you’re a satisfied Prime subscriber, the 2018 Fire HD 8 might have been a digital utopia.
That being said, in this review of the 2020 Fire HD 8, I’ll swat away my preconceived notions and start off with a clean slate (pun intended). After all, this Fire HD 8 update has cool upgrades, including a USB Type-C port, greater storage capacity and faster performance. But will this current-gen model change my perspective on Amazon tablets? Let’s find out.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) price and configuration
My plum-colored review unit of the Amazon Fire HD 8 is the base model, which you can snag for just $89.99. It comes with 32GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM. For an additional $30, you can get 64GB of storage. You can choose from four colors: black, white, plum and twilight blue.
You can also get the Fire HD 8 Plus, which features 3GB of RAM. The Plus comes with a faster charger and a wireless charging dock. However, there’s only one color option for the Plus model: slate gay.
Storage is expandable up to 1TB via microSD for the base and Plus models.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) design
Don’t expect the Amazon Fire HD 8 to have a chic, modern look with slim bezels like the pricey iPad Pro.
With its budget-friendly price tag, the Amazon Fire HD 8 has a functional, thick-bezel design. This Amazon tablet says, “This isn’t a beauty contest! I’m here to win you over with my awesome features.”
One big design difference I’ve noticed with this current-gen Fire HD 8 tablet is its awkwardly placed camera. On last-gen models, the front-facing camera is on the top bezel when you’re holding it in portrait mode. Now, in order to get the camera on the top bezel, you’ll have to hold the tablet in landscape mode. This might be a good change, though — this new position brings wide-viewing angles for video-conferencing calls.
While inspecting the back of the tablet, I found the famous smiling Amazon logo. My review unit has an attractive lilac-colored body, but it’s made out of plastic and certainly doesn’t feel premium — it’s just a concession you'll have to make for a low-priced tablet.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 is the perfect lightweight companion for your commute and travels. The Amazon tablet (0.8 pounds, 8 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches) is lighter, but thicker than its competitors: the Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus (1.09 pounds, 9.7 x 6.8 x 0.28 inches) and the Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite (1.1 pounds, 9.6 x 6.4 x 0.3 inches).
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) ports
The two connection options on the Amazon Fire HD 8 — the USB Type-C port and the headset jack — are found on the right side of the device.
You’ll also find a microSD card slot on the bottom edge of the tablet.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) display
The Amazon Fire HD 8 sports an 8-inch, 1280 x 800-pixel display. If sharp imagery is an absolute must for you, this tablet’s low-resolution screen may not be your cup of tea.
But if you can tolerate a display that lacks crispness and high detail, but offers vibrancy (the Fire HD 8 has a 0.2 color-accuracy score; a score of 0 is ideal), this Amazon slate might be for you.
I watched Netflix’s Space Force on the Fire HD 8 tablet, and while John Malkovich’s camel-colored blazer popped and Steve Carell’s multicolored military medals were vivid, the display’s definition was unimpressive. You won’t be able to spot muted facial features, such as the actors’ pores and bulging forehead veins, which is par for the course for a tablet in this price range. Overall, the display isn’t awful, but it isn’t great either — it’s simply passable.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet reproduced 80% of the sRGB color gamut; this is lower than category average, which is 99%. Lenovo’s Tab 4 10 Plus and Huawei’s MediaPad M5 Lite offered higher color ratings of 109% and 114%, respectively.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet emitted 444 nits of brightness; this score outshone the tablet average of 439 nits. This sub-$100 tablet also bested the 400-nit Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus and the 427-nit Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite.
Despite the Amazon tablet’s rival-defeating brightness, I found the screen to be a bit dim when I used the Fire HD 8 outside.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) audio
The Amazon Fire HD 8’s dual speakers can be found on the top edge of the tablet.
The sound quality that emanated from the tablet’s Dolby Atmos speakers were surprisingly pleasing to the ears. On Spotify, I listened to “Break My Heart” by Dua Lipa, and the speakers delivered honeyed, jazzy vocals and well-balanced audio.
The only downside is that the speakers, even at max volume, weren’t as loud as I would have liked. The sound didn’t quite fill my large testing space.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) performance
The new Fire HD 8, equipped with a 2.0-GHz quad-core CPU and 2GB of RAM, pales in comparison to its competitors when it comes to performance. However, to be fair, the Fire HD 8 is $89.99; the Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus and Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite both hover around the $300 price range. So naturally, Amazon’s higher-priced rivals have the edge.
I tested the Fire HD 8’s multitasking muscle by running 10 apps in the background. I then opened the Silk browser and launched 11 tabs, including a 1080p YouTube video. Except for taking a split second to load, I didn’t experience a system slowdown. In addition to those 10 apps, I pulled up a few more apps, such as Amazon Shopping and Newsstand, and the load time was only negligibly longer than usual. I was surprised to see that there was no stuttering or lagging while perusing through all the apps.
On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the Fire HD 8 tablet earned a middling score of 2,437, which is far lower than the category average of 7,901. The Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus and the Huawei Media M5 Lite netted scores of 4,097 and 3,705, respectively.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) battery life
Amazon declared that the Fire HD 8 tablet can offer up to 12 hours of battery life, but on our Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness), the Amazon tablet lasted a whopping 13 hours and 49 minutes. This time is higher than the category average of 10 minutes and 57 seconds.
The Fire HD 8’s rivals — the Lenovo’s Tab 4 10 Plus (13:06) and Huawei’s Media M5 Lite (13:13) — could not keep up with the Amazon tablet’s longevity. The 2020 Amazon Fire HD 8 also outlasted the last-gen model, which offered about 11 hours of battery life.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) webcam
The Amazon Fire HD 8 features two 2MP cameras: one in the front and one in the rear.
As aforementioned, if you’d like to use the cameras, you’ll have to hold the slate in landscape mode. The Fire HD 8’s picture quality is nothing to write home about. The trim around my doorway is a rich, cherrywood color, but on both cameras, it looked like a dull brown.
The cameras also struggled with reproducing textures; my burgundy, snake-skin satchel looked more like a solid, dark-red bag.
However, the cameras are still satisfactory. They won’t help you create an eye-catching Instagram profile nor an award-winning YouTube channel, but if you need to take a quick snapshot — and the Fire HD 8 is the closest device within reach — this Amazon slate will do the job.
You can also record videos with the two cameras.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) and Alexa
Alexa is the Fire HD 8’s shining star, especially when you command the digital assistant to turn on Show Mode, which transforms your tablet into a smart display. If you opt for the pricier Plus model, you can prop it on the included wireless charging dock to turn your tablet into an Echo Show-like device.
One awesome use case for show mode is its amazing utility in the kitchen — ask Alexa for a taco recipe, for example, and a carousel of delicious recipes from different websites will appear. Alexa will also walk you through the instructions for the selected recipe step-by-step.
While your fingers are sullied with remnants of pico de gallo, you can command Alexa to turn on some music while you make your tacos. On top of that, you can even make hands-free calls to anyone on your contact list.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg; there’s so much more that you can do with Show Mode and Alexa.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) software and warranty
Amazon Fire HD 8 runs on Fire OS. This is a tablet fully built around Amazon’s ecosystem — Audible, Amazon Games, Amazon FreeTime, Prime Video are some of the pre-installed apps you’ll find on your home screen.
The default internet crawler is Amazon’s Silk browser, which can feel awkward if you’re used to Chrome or other popular browsers.
Despite the Amazon-cluttered home screen, you can still access some popular apps on your Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet, including Netflix, Disney+ and Spotify.
However, it’s worth noting that Amazon’s app store doesn’t measure up to the Google Play Store’s wide-ranging selection of apps — you won’t be able to download Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps nor the official YouTube app. Fortunately, there is a workaround solution for Google Play Store lovers.
On this tablet, you’ll often be presented with “special offers” from Amazon.
Whenever I’d wake the tablet from sleep mode, I’d always be greeted with an Amazon advertisement. Thankfully, you can get rid of the lock-screen ads by paying an extra $15 for an Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet without special offers.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet ships with a 90-day limited warranty.
My perception of the Fire HD 8 hasn’t changed much, even with the update. There’s a reason why this slate is so cheap. Amazon, like a twisted, genius mastermind, has somehow managed to convince countless consumers to spend money on an advertisement-heavy trap — er, I mean “tablet” — to get ‘em hooked on Amazon Prime.
For someone like me (a non-Amazon Prime subscriber), the Fire HD 8 tablet simulates the feeling of walking through Times Square and being panhandled to death. But for others, the Fire HD 8 will mimic the sensation of frolicking through a digital Amazon paradise.
That being said, I would highly recommend the Fire HD 8 for one specific audience: Prime subscribers and frequent patrons of Amazon platforms such as Kindle and Audible. If you fall into this category, you’ll love the Fire HD 8 — this tablet makes the Amazon ecosystem feel more interconnected with quick and easy-access to Amazon products. And of course, Alexa is still a highly engaging feature on the Fire HD 8 tablet.
However, if you’re not into Fire OS, but you also don’t want to shell out too much cash for a pricey iPad, consider getting the Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus. The Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus offers the same awesome battery life as the 2020 Fire HD 8 tablet, but outputs better performance. Check out our best tablets list for more options.
Overall, the Fire HD 8 is arguably the best tablet in the sub-$100 range — but it might not be the right one for you.