Amazon’s Fire Tablets offer some of the best bang for your buck you can get in a tablet today, but there are more differences to these tablets than just the size. Here’s a breakdown of what you get with each.
But before we dive under the hood to look at the hardware specs, though, let’s take a look at the basics about each tablet and their similarities.
The Immediate Differences: Screens and Storage
First, the primary and most immediately noticeable difference is the size. The newest Fire HD tablets comes in three sizes: Fire 7, Fire HD 8, and Fire HD 10. The names are a direct reference to the diagonal measurement of the device’s screen. Each model also comes with two storage options— 8GB/16GB for the Fire 7, 16GB/32GB for the Fire HD 8, and 32GB/64GB for the Fire HD 10—as well as the option to get the tablets with or without Special Offers.
Special Offers are basically Amazon’s way of subsidizing the tablets’ prices with ads. If you opt to get one with Special Offers, you’ll see ads on the lockscreen and sometimes in the notification shade. You don’t have to tap on them, of course, but you will have to put up with looking at them if you want to save fifteen bucks.
Regardless of which tablet you choose, they all run identical software, as well—there’s no benefit in getting the largest device over the smallest one in terms of the operating system, which is nice.
As far as general similarities are concerned and basic “this one has a bigger screen” differences, however, things shake out quite differently between the models when you peek at the hardware specs.
The Subtle Differences: Under-the-Hood Specs
Aside from size, of course, the main difference in the three Fire HD models can be found under the hood. Amazon is somewhat ambiguous about what exactly you’ll find under the hood of each model—this approach is becoming more common among device manufacturers, as they’d likely prefer the device’s performance and experience speak for itself. I can respect that, but c’mon—at least knowing the specs is important. Fortunately, a little digging on Amazon’s Developer site sheds light on all the details.
Basically, the gist is this: the larger the Fire tablet is, the more powerful it is. Here’s a look at each model with the most important specs compared:
|Fire 7||Fire HD 8||Fire HD 10|
|Processor||MediaTek MT8127B (1.3GHz)||MediaTek MT8163V/B (1.3GHz)||MediaTex MT8173 (1.8GHz)|
|GPU||ARM Mali-450||ARM Mali-T720||PowerVR GX6250|
There are a few other differentiating factors as well, like the fact that the HD 10 has support for 802.11 a, b, g, n, and ac Wi-Fi, and the 7/HD 8 lack 802.11 ac support. Interestingly, the HD 8 is the only one with 10-point multitouch—the 7 and HD 10 only offer 5-point multitouch.
Otherwise, the HD 10 is the only one with always-listening Alexa capabilities—even with the device’s display is turned off. The other devices have to be on charge for this feature.
The 7 is also the only one that’s lacking an ambient light sensor—that means it doesn’t support any sort of auto-brightness function.
What About the Kids Tablets?
The Fire 7 and HD 8 both also have Kids Edition tablets, but are fundamentally the same as the non-Kids variants. The primary different (save for the adds-on included with Kids Editions) is that they only come with one storage option and do not have an option for Special Offers.
That said, if you’re considering buying either the Fire 7 or HD 8, you should really considering buying the Kids Edition instead of the standard model—the extra features easily outweigh the additional cost, even if you never plan on sharing the device with a child.