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Amazon Fire HD 8

All-new Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) review: The best budget tablet?

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT (with "special offers")

Amazon’s Fire HD 8 gets a faster processor, more RAM and USB-C for its 2020 refresh

Still great value
Much-needed hardware upgrades
Huge battery life improvement
£10 more expensive than last year
Fire OS restrictions remain

Tablets that don’t come from Apple’s factories tend to get a bad reputation, but Amazon’s low-priced devices are unbeatable for the price and often make great gifts for kids or first-time tablet buyers.

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It helps that Amazon improves things with new versions every few years, and the latest Amazon tablet to receive a fresh lick of paint is the Fire HD 8. With a more powerful chipset, extra RAM and USB-C charging, this is Amazon’s biggest tablet update yet – but is it worth the increased cost?

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) review: What you need to know

Still, there are many things that haven’t changed this year. The Fire HD 8 still has an 8in screen with a resolution of 1,280 x 800, still has a quoted battery life of 12 hours and it still has the same tough, matte plastic casing as its predecessor.

Take a peek at the internal specifications and you’ll find most of the Fire HD 8’s upgrades. It’s powered by a faster MediaTek MT8168 processor this year, and the total RAM has seen a slight boost from 1.5GB to 2GB. Amazon has also doubled the base storage to 32GB and is offering a 64GB option for the very first time.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) review: Price and competition

Whichever storage size you choose, the Fire HD 8 is available in two variants: “with special offers” and “without special offers”. Special offers are basically Amazon’s way of pushing its adverts through to your lockscreen – if you’d rather not have this, then you will have to pay an extra £10.

The new Fire HD 8 is available today for £90, which is £10 more than the 2018 model. There’s also the option to double your storage to 64GB for £120, or you can choose to upgrade to the Fire HD 8 Plus, which adds wireless charging as well as an extra 1GB of RAM. Depending on how much storage you want, the Fire HD 8 Plus costs either £110 or £140.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) review: Design and key features

As I mentioned earlier, the Fire HD 8’s design changes are relatively minor, but it is possible to spot a few subtle differences if you look hard enough. Amazon’s budget tablet is still encased in a tough textured plastic with large screen-bordering bezels, but Amazon has clearly designed this new tablet to be used in landscape orientation, rather than the portrait-friendly design of the previous model.

The 2-megapixel selfie camera now sits above one of the screen’s long edges, and the power button, volume rocker and 3.5mm headphone socket are located to the right. This area of the tablet also includes the new USB-C port. This charges the tablet from zero to full in less than five hours, which is still rather slow. A pair of speakers point upwards on the top edge, and the microSD slot, which can take cards up to 1TB in capacity, is on the bottom.

This is a cheap tablet, so you shouldn’t expect luxurious finishes and materials, but the Fire HD 8 remains a well-made, robust-feeling device. It’s lightweight at only 355g, doesn’t flex or bend under considerable pressure, and it’s well built, with only a slim gap separating the glass-topped screen and plastic backing. The Fire HD 8 can be picked up in a choice of four pastel colours: black, plum, twilight blue and white.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) review: Display

Despite receiving a fresh lick of paint in other areas, the Fire HD 8’s display remains largely unchanged. It still measures 8in across the diagonal – it would be weird if it didn’t – and uses an IPS panel with a resolution of 1,280 x 800.

Due to the size and low resolution, a pixel density of just 189ppi makes for a screen that looks rather pixellated and fuzzy by modern standards. Likewise, a recorded sRGB colour gamut coverage of 70% means colours look tonally muted when compared with the punchy, vibrant screens offered by Apple and the like.

Still, for less than £100, the Fire HD 8 was never going to set the standard for screen quality. On a more positive note, the Fire HD 8’s screen gets bright enough, at 396cd/m2, contrast is good at 1,440:1 and viewing angles aren’t too bad either.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) review: Performance and battery life

Despite the zero love given to the display, the Fire HD 8 has seen a good bump in specs over its predecessor. Its quad-core 2GHz MediaTek MT8168 CPU is now 30% more powerful compared to the 2018 version, with more RAM at your disposal (2GB) and a larger, 4,850mAh battery.

Since this is the fastest chipset in a Fire tablet to date, performance is unbeatable at this price. The duo of Geekbench 3 single- and multi-core test results speak for themselves and, while quickly swiping between applications can be a bit juddery at times, the experience remains mostly fluid. I certainly wasn’t tearing my hair out in frustration as I have done with previous Fire tablets.

Gaming performance is equally improved, achieving double the predecessor’s frame rate in the GFXBench Manhattan 3 onscreen test. The list of gaming applications isn’t as far-reaching as other tablets, which I will discuss shortly, but you should be able to run most games on Amazon’s Appstore without too many hiccups

Battery life is another area that has seen a huge increase over the previous version. Despite the small 2% bump in battery capacity, the Fire HD 8 lasted for 15hrs 23mins in our video-rundown test with aeroplane mode engaged. This a massive stamina increase of almost 38% compared to the 2018 model.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) review: Fire OS and Alexa

Like the rest of the Amazon Fire family, the Fire HD 8’s software is Android-based, with Amazon’s own software launcher, Fire OS, placed on top. Fire OS 7 is the new version for this year, which uses a more recent version of Google’s widely used mobile operating system, Android 9 Pie.

If you’ve used a Fire tablet previously, then the experience remains largely the same. Your Kindle library, Prime Video content, Amazon Music tracks and more can be accessed with simple swipes left and right of the homescreen, as well as a list of your downloaded apps.

The amount of applications on the Amazon Appstore continues to be rather limited, though. As an example, we typically use the Geekbench 5 app for performance testing of various devices, but Amazon’s store only contains the much older Geekbench 3 benchmark. Although most popular apps can be found, such as Facebook, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Disney Plus, many games available on the Apple App Store and Google Play are missing in action.

The Fire HD 8 also includes hands-free Alexa. This allows you to bark your orders at Amazon’s digital assistant without pressing any buttons, and it functions just the same as on Amazon’s Echo devices. You can ask Alexa to tell you the weather, show sports fixtures or play the latest TV show on Amazon Prime Video, for instance.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) review: Verdict

Once again, Amazon has cooked up a fantastically priced tablet with its newest Fire HD 8. The 2018 model was already a five-star product, so Amazon's decision to boost performance, extend the battery life and add USB-C charging for 2020 was always going to lead to another recommendation.

Make no mistake, even with its drawbacks – the old-school screen and slight software restrictions – you won’t find a better tablet for less than £100. The iPad will continue to reign supreme, but there’s no beating the Fire HD 8 in terms of sheer value for money.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) specifications
ProcessorQuad-core MediaTek MT8168 (2GHz)
Screen size8in
Screen resolution1,280 x 800
Pixel density189ppi
Screen typeIPS
Front camera2MP
Rear camera2MP
Dust and water resistanceNo
3.5mm headphone jackYes
Wireless chargingNo
USB connection typeUSB-C
Storage options32GB; 64GB
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
Cellular dataNo
Dual SIMNo
Dimensions (WDH)202 x 137 x 9.7mm
Operating systemAndroid 9 (Fire OS 7)
Battery size4,850mAh

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