Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2022) Review
It’s a good buy as a general-purpose family tablet. But the extra cost of the Plus features bumps up the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus’s price close to that of some other brands’ Android tablets, which have access to a better library of apps and games.
- Good value, particularly during Amazon sales
- Sturdy build
- Wireless charging is unusual in budget tablets
- Limited app and games library
- Not very powerful
- Wireless charging accessories may be a little pricey
- UKRRP: £119.99
- USARRP: $119.99
- Wireless chargingThis Plus model supports Qi wireless charging of up to 10W, and can function like a smart display when used with the “made for Fire HD” wireless dock charger.
- Stereo speakersWhile not the last word in sound quality, the Fire HD 8 Plus’s dual speakers do offer stereo sound for games and video.
- 8in 720p screenThe Fire HD 8 Plus has screen resolution of well below Full HD, but it doesn’t look too bad in person when you watch video or play games.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is a budget tablet, and the slightly more expensive alternative to the standard Fire HD 8.
These two tablets are a match in most areas, but this Plus version has slightly more RAM, an upgraded rear camera, a more powerful bundled adapter and wireless charging.
It’s a marginally better tablet. But every penny counts in this entry-level category and the cheaper model may be the one to get given you may well be able to get faster charging using your phone’s adapter. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus also brings the cost up closer to rivals from Nokia, Lenovo and Samsung, which can run more, and more interesting, apps and games.
However, if you find the Fire HD 8 Plus on sale — Amazon has been known to sell its devices at up to 50% off during sale periods — it could well be a 5-star buy.
Design and screen
- Sturdy plastic design
- Relatively large screen borders
- Non-laminated screen makes the display look grey in brighter lighting
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is a no-frills tablet that feels better made than most cheap models. It’s a super-rigid, non-creaky design with a grippy embossed plastic back, and is of a great size.
An 8-inch screen makes this clearly a load bigger than any phone, but it feels great to use one-handed. It’s just a little larger than an iPad mini. That tablet has a slightly larger screen, but the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus has thicker borders. Its casing is a lot thicker as well, at 9.6mm.
This tablet’s speakers are OK-ish too. Two speaker grilles sit across the long side of the tablet, telling you they are designed for stereo sound when the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is held on its side.
Their output is a little thin, and the maximum volume isn’t amazing, but they are good enough to make watching YouTube videos without headphones seem largely uncompromised.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus also has a microSD slot on one side, so picking the right amount of storage when you buy isn’t as crucial as it is for iPad shoppers.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus screen hasn’t changed all that much in this generation. It is either going to look pretty great to your eyes, or out of date, should you be a tech head or an iPad owner.
Starting with the good stuff, the IPS panel gives this screen a character similar to that of much pricier tablets. Viewing angles are good, colour looks natural if a little undersaturated and, at almost dead on 400 nits, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is brighter than plenty of £1000-plus laptops I’ve tested over the years.
You can see one of the most obvious technical limitations when the screen is off. This is a non-laminated screen. As a result the display area looks grey, not black, when you are in a well-lit room. Dark room? No problem? However, the way I use the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus I find it’s obvious 99% of the time.
This is caused by little gaps between the touchscreen and the display. During the review process I sat it next to a fully-laminated iPad Air. The difference is obvious. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus also lacks a good fingerprint-resistant coating, and the fairly high reflectivity is no friend to outdoor use.
But does that make this a bad budget tablet screen? Not at all. It’s just worse than the Google Nexus 7 screen from a decade ago.
- Amazon Appstore has a much more limited app library than Google Play
- Not a great fit for high-powered 3D gaming despite generational performance bump
- There’s no getting away from Amazon ads
Buying an Amazon tablet involves a trade-off. You get good hardware for the money, but in return it uses software geared around advertising Amazon services. There are none of the familiar Google apps on an Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus. While this system uses Android at its core, you download apps from the Amazon Appstore rather than Google Play.
This brings what I think is the biggest issue of the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus. Amazon’s Appstore is not a patch on Google Play, and rivals like the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite, Nokia T10 and Lenovo Tab M8 have access to a lot more apps than the Fire HD 8 series.
Hundreds of thousands of apps and games are on the Appstore, but few of the more ambitious titles are there. Square Enix’s Life is Strange series, Telltale’s adventure games, the fab The Room series of puzzlers — and music creation apps from companies like Korg and Steinberg — they are all absent.
A low-end tablet like this isn’t the best showcase for high-powered games and apps, but some of these are really not all that demanding. I’d recommend having a browse through the Appstore online before buying a Fire HD 8, in case there’s a specific app or game you want to use.
Highlights you can play include Minecraft, PUBG and a healthy handful of the chunky Final Fantasy remakes. There’s still plenty of fun to be had.
Buying a tablet for a Fortnite obsessive? That game won’t work either as the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus has 3GB RAM, and Fortnite requires 4GB.
Amazon says this model is 30% faster than the old version, and isn’t massaging the figures here. It has a 6-core processor whereas the last one had four cores. And the graphics chipset gets a bump up from a single core to two cores.
We’re still dealing with very limited hardware here, though, and some popular games will struggle a bit. Gameloft’s Asphalt 9 exhibits an inconsistent frame rate and — the part I find more annoying — takes quite a while to load. However, it runs a lot better than it did on the 2020 version of the Fire HD 8.
I’m mostly pleased with how the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus runs too. While not as responsive as an iPad mini, an observation that should surprise no-one, this tablet does not make you feel as though you end up waiting for the thing to catch up with your commands.
Amazon’s interface is a lot more stripped back than it used to be, too. There are three home screens. Home is where you see all the apps you have installed. For You is a vertical scroll of stuff Amazon thinks you should check out — apps, TV shows, magazines and books — all from Amazon’s own stores and services.
Library is the third page, and shows the apps, games, books and so on that you own, and the shows you are currently watching on Prime Video.
For You and Library are a bit of a busy mess, but this was always likely to be the case when they compile content from so many Amazon sources. Each one of these three effectively contains ads for Amazon stuff, and unless you pay extra, you’ll also see ads on your tablet’s lock screen. If this is going to get on your nerves, look elsewhere. As a long term occasional Fire tablet owner, I find the trade-off here perfectly fine.
Battery life and cameras
- Very basic front camera
- Supports wireless charging
- 12-hour light use battery life
The Fire HD 8 Plus has the same battery as the step-down Fire HD, but includes a slightly faster power adapter and supports wireless charging.
It can wirelessly charge at up to 10W, which is actually an OK speed for a budget device. However, you will need to invest in a higher-quality wireless charging pad to achieve those speeds. Bottom-rung models typically only offer 5W.
Amazon also sells a “made for Fire HD 8 Plus” wireless charging stand, which lets the tablet act as an Alexa smart display. However, it costs £45. A dock of that price makes sense for iPad buyers, but the Amazon Fire audience? I’m not so sure.
For cabled charging, you get a fairly weak 9W adapter in the box, but at least it’s faster than the dismal 5W one included with the standard Fire HD 8 tablet. Speeds of up to 15W are supported, so you may be better off using your phone’s adapter.
Amazon says the Fire HD 8 Plus lasts “up to 13 hours” on a charge. I found that when streaming video from YouTube it lasts a little over 12 hours, at 150-nit screen brightness, so it’s not far off.
Put the processor under more pressure and you can expect it to last around six hours. As in previous generations, the Fire HD 8 Plus’s battery life is good.
This tablet has a better rear camera than the non-Plus model, a 5MP sensor instead of a 2MP one. However, it’s of most use in kids’ games that use the rear camera. It is not as if that jump in quality produces images worth printing out or even sharing on social media. They are still pretty ropey, and the front camera makes my face look pretty anaemic — not the most flattering look for video calls.
However, the Fire HD 8 Plus is not a bad bet as a cheap video chat camera, if you find your phone’s screen just a bit too small for the job.
Should you buy it?
You want a budget-friendly tablet: Solid pricing, dependable design and a good account of the basics like display quality and listenable speakers mean those who just want a budget tablet for the family can’t go too far wrong here.
You want to use popular apps and games: The limited library of Amazon’s Appstore means you may find there are apps you have on your phone that aren’t available for this tablet. Check before buying to make sure.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is one of the better value budget tablets. However, the price jump over the non-Plus model subjects it to direct competition from rivals that have Google Play access. These can use a much wider array of apps and games.
In return, you get wireless charging and a slightly better rear camera, but still one worse than that of almost any phone of the last few years.
As with any Amazon own-brand device, though, it’s a steal during one of the retailer’s regular sales periods.
How we test
We test every tablet we review thoroughly. We use industry-standard tests to compare features properly and we use the tablet as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Used as our main tablet throughout the testing period
Thoroughly tested performance, including both real-world and benchmark tests
Compared performance to other similarly-priced tablets
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There’s no Google Play app here, just Amazon’s Appstore.
The tablet has no waterproof rating so use it carefully around water.
The Plus version has 1GB extra RAM, includes a slightly better charger and supports wireless charging.