Want to buy a tablet for less? This Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 2022 review looks at the latest version of this basic device, to assess whether it's worth buying. I'll start, though, by providing a bit of context.
Amazon tablets are not the best tablets in the world by any means. But they are pretty decent if you just want something basic for watching TV and movies, listening to music, checking your emails, surfing the web, using Alexa, and other day-to-day tasks.
If you want to spend as little as possible, though, the cheapest Amazon tablet is the similarly titled Amazon Fire HD 8 2022, which costs just under $100/£100 at time of writing. This one, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 2022, costs $20/£20 more... so what's the difference? Well, in truth, it's almost the same device, but with four main points of distinction.
Firstly, you get 3GB RAM rather than 2GB, which makes the system run faster and is good if you're keen on multitasking, switching between apps, opening lots of browser tabs, and that kind of thing. Secondly, it comes with a better, 9W charger, allowing you to charge your battery in three hours rather than five. Thirdly, it's compatible with wireless charging, although you'll need to buy a separate, Qi-certified wireless charger for that. And finally, it has a 5MP camera, rather than 2MP.
Not sure if that's all worth the extra cash? Neither were we, so we tested one out to see what it was like in practice.
One more thing: be aware this is the '2022' (aka '12th Generation') version of the HD 8 Plus we're talking about. Older versions are still available, and may be cheaper, but won't offer the same specs or capabilities.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 2022 review: price and availability
The cheapest version of the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 2022 costs £119.99, and comes with 32GB of storage and screensaver ads. If you want to remove the ads, the price goes up to £129.99. There's also a 64GB version which costs £149.99 with ads, and £159.99 without the ads.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 2022 review: design and display
Looks-wise, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 2022 is what you might call 'plain'. It's essentially a black rectangle, with thick bezels and a 16:10 display in the centre. If you hold it in landscape, you'll see a selfie camera in the centre of the top bezel, and a main camera in the top right of the rear. At the top are two speaker grills on the left and right. On the bottom right is a slot for microSD card. On the side are volume controls, an on/off button, a charging port, a Kensington slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Overall, then, there's nothing exciting about the design of the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus, but it's well-made and does the job. Compared with its 2020 predecessor, it's thinner (down from 4 inches to 3.7) and lighter (down from 355g to 337g) and stronger than before. But really, those are things most of us would struggle to notice.
The display here is exactly the same as on the Amazon Fire HD 8, and indeed as the 2020 and 2018 versions of the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus. Which is to say, you get HD… well, just. This is not what they call 'Full HD', but 1280 x 800 pixels, with a pixel density of 189ppi, which is a drop below it.
That said, the picture is bright and colourful and so I was happy watching my movies overall.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 2022 review: performance and battery life
For most people, the biggest edge between the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus has over its cheaper sibling is the 50 per cent extra RAM, giving it a total of 3GB. So how much faster and smooth does that make it in practice?
When I tested it out, I felt there was marked improvement in performance compared with the Amazon Fire HD 8. Everything feels a bit zippier, and doing lots of things at once doesn't slow things down to a crawl, like it occasionally does on the cheaper tablet.
This faster processing means it's easier to take advantage of some cool new multitasking features for 2022, including split screen and picture-in-picture. I'll be honest: I didn't find these particularly intuitive to get started with. But once I'd got my head around how they worked, it meant I could do things like check an email while still having my TV show running. That's never going to be an amazing visual experience, given that this is only an eight-inch screen to start with, but it's nice to have the flexibility, at least.
The speakers, boasting Dolby Atmos, also performed surprisingly well. So if all you want is to watch TV and movies on the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus, you're well served.
Note, though, that if you want to stream to your TV from this tablet, you'll need to buy a Fire Stick. Yes, we know that you can use a Chromecast with Amazon Prime on an iOS or Android tablet… but they still don't work with Amazon tablets themselves. Annoying, much?
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 2022 promises the same (decent) battery life as the Fire HD 8, with an estimated 13 hours of mixed-use on a single charge. In our test running a downloaded movie on repeat, with Wi-Fi and Alexa turned off, it lasted an impressive 20 hours 35 minutes. That's 85 minutes more than when we ran the same test on the Amazon Fire HD 8 2022, which is probably down to the higher level of RAM here running things a little more efficiently.
The main difference between the two tablets in terms of battery life, though, is that the pricier tablet takes only takes three hours to charge in full, rather than five. Note, though, that this is nothing to do with the tablet's internals, and everything to do with the more powerful charger it's bundled with. So if you already happened to have a compatible 9W power adapter, then that advantage over buying the cheaper Fire HD 8 would instantly disappear.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 2022 review: cameras
The other big differentiator of the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is that it has a better rear camera, boasting 5MP to the Amazon Fire HD 8's 2MP. However, maybe 'better' is not the right word to use here. Once you've tried both out for size, 'slightly less terrible' feels more apt.
Comparing the photos I took with both tablets, back-to-back, I couldn't honestly tell which was taken with which camera. That's because these are both very low-end cameras, as anyone who's used a modern camera or smartphone will instantly realise. So they're only really useful for the rare occasion when you need to take a photo for reference, you don't care about quality, and you don't have any other device to hand.
The selfie camera, meanwhile, is the same as the Amazon Fire HD 8's: a 2MP sensor capable of 720p video. Again, that's okay but nothing to get excited about, and if you have a modern phone or laptop, they'll almost certainly be a better bet for your Zoom or Teams calls. If you have to use this tablet, though, it works okay.
Of course, having poor cameras isn't a major problem for the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 2022. After all, who in their right minds buys a tablet to use as a camera, rather than a phone or, well, a camera? It's just that there's no real point in upgrading from the Amazon Fire HD 8 2022 to the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 2022 just for the extra 3MP, because in practice, this doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference to the picture quality.
Amazon Fire HD 8 review: apps and features
We don't want to end on a downer, but it would be remiss of us not to point out the major drawback of Amazon tablets in general. Namely, that despite running a version of Android, you can't download or run apps from the Google App Store. You can only use apps from the Amazon App Store which, as you might guess, locks out many popular apps.
The major biggies you might miss include YouTube and anything with 'Google' in the title, such as Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Podcasts and Google Meet. Amazon does have its own equivalents, however, or you could try accessing Google apps via the Silk web browser (again, you can't use Chrome on this device). But all that's a lot of hassle, and you probably just won't want to bother.
Most annoying of all will be if you've bought a movie or TV episode through the Google Play Store; if so, you won't be able to download it here. On the plus side, non-Google apps such as Netflix, Disney+, Minecraft, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and Spotify are mostly present and correct, so it really comes down to how wedded you are to the Google ecosystem.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review: verdict
If you're looking for a cheap tablet, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus has a lot to offer. For just a little over $100/£100 you can do a ton of stuff: watch movies, listen to music, check emails, read ebooks, listen to audiobooks, surf the net and (of course) shop on Amazon.
The hardware itself isn't particularly amazing or stylish looking, but it does the job at hand well enough. The screen is pretty good, and the audio is particularly impressive at this price point. I found it a little annoying that I couldn't use Google apps, especially the Chrome browser, but ultimately, as long as you've got another device to do that stuff on, this may not be a deal breaker for you.
In short, if you want a cheap tablet for entertainment, rather than productivity, this is an excellent buy. But is it that much better than the Amazon Fire HD 8, or should you save the extra $20/£20?
Well, certainly don't do so for the rear camera alone. It may be technically better, but only marginally so, and neither tablet's rear camera is ultimately worth using, unless you absolutely have to.
What about the wireless charging or faster charging generally? Neither would move the needle for me personally, but if you find charging a hassle, it might for you. So that just leaves the extra 1GB of RAM. Is that really worth the extra $20/£20?
If you're the sort of person who likes to do two or three things at once, then I'd say: yes, absolutely. I found that doing things like checking email or doing a web search while watching a TV show was that little bit smoother here than the Amazon Fire HD 8. However, if you're happy doing one thing at a time – like reading an ebook or watching a movie and just focusing on that alone – you'd probably be just as happy with the cheaper tablet.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review: also consider
If you're a regular iOS user and you're hunting for a tablet on a budget then take a look at the Apple iPad 10.2-inch. It may be a lot more expensive than a Fire slate but it's relatively inexpensive for an Apple device. Not only is it great value, but it's really fast with a strong screen and the design is on point too.
A good quality Android tablet that won't cost you the earth is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. Again, it's a lot more expensive than this but it's a lot better quality too, and it even includes an S Pen for digital note-taking and drawing.