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Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus may not be perfect, but it’s a whole load of kit bundled into a not-too-shabby price.

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
£109.99
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review
Pros: Great value for money
Easy to setup and use – especially if you’re an Amazon customer
Wireless charging
Impressive battery life
Cons: Mediocre display and cameras
Basic, cheap design
Sluggish at times
No Google apps – including Google Drive and Google Docs

Compared to the rest of the Amazon tablet range – past and present – the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is a bit of an anomaly. Not only is it the first of its name, but it’s also Amazon’s first foray into the world of wireless charging.

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Amazon tends to refresh its Fire tablet and Echo lineups at least once a year, and there are rarely any real surprises. We usually see a slightly upgraded Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10, followed by relatively minor hardware updates to the Echo Dot and Echo Show ranges. 

Last summer, however, Amazon threw us this curveball. In addition to all of the above, the Amazon Fire HD 8 was joined by a slightly more expensive, slightly more powerful Fire HD 8 Plus. This mid-range, 8-inch tablet (£110) does everything the cheaper Fire HD 8 (£90) can do, with a couple of standout features thrown in for good measure. 

In this Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review, we put these new features – wireless charging, increased RAM and better-quality display – to the test. We also look at its camera quality, how easy it is to set up, its design, battery life, and software features to discover if this is the best tablet for you.

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Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review: summary

Price: The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is available at Amazon for £109.99.

Key features

  • 8-inch HD tablet powered by Amazon’s take on Android – Fire OS
  • Wireless charging (charger sold separately)
  • Built-in Alexa voice controls
  • Comes with Amazon apps pre-installed, allowing you to automatically add them to, and control, your existing Echo network of devices
  • Can be used for media streaming, games, reading (as an alternative to the Kindle), phone calls (via the Alexa App) and as an alternative to the Echo Show

 Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Easy to set up and use – especially if you’re an Amazon customer
  • Wireless charging
  • Impressive battery life

 Cons

  • Mediocre display and cameras
  • Basic, cheap design
  • Sluggish at times
  • No Google apps – including Google Drive and Google Docs

What is the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus?

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is a Fire OS-powered, Alexa-enabled tablet designed for streaming, gaming and surfing the web.

In the wider Fire tablet family, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus sits at the higher end of the range. As its name suggests, it has an 8-inch HD screen with 3GB of RAM, a minimum 32GB expandable storage, and 12-hour battery life.

It doesn’t come with the higher-resolution screen and faster processor of its larger sibling, the Amazon Fire HD 10. But it’s also £40 cheaper. It has exactly the same dimensions, display, camera, storage, speakers, and battery life as the £90 Fire HD 8, yet comes with added wireless charging and an extra GB of RAM.

Its Dolby Atmos dual speakers are superior to the mono speaker found on the entry-level Amazon Fire 7, and it’s much faster thanks to having three times the RAM and almost twice the power.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus ports

What does Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus do?

Amazon describes the Fire HD 8 Plus as its “best 8-inch portable tablet for entertainment”. This shows how Amazon wants you to view this device – for keeping yourself and others entertained. As a result, Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Audible, and Kindle services are front and centre. And the tablet comes with a host of games and streaming services via the Amazon App Store.

  • Media streaming with Amazon Prime Video installed by default, plus Netflix, BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub, SkyGo and Disney+ apps available from the Amazon App Store. YouTube is available but only as an optimised mobile site accessed via a bookmark from the App Store
  • Kindle e-reader and access to the Kindle Store
  • Audible audiobooks
  • Turn your Fire HD 8 Plus into an Echo Show with Show Mode and use voice controls to get the full Alexa Skills experience
  • Control all other Echo and compatible smart devices on the same network using your voice, or the built-in Alexa app

How much is Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus?

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus comes in two storage sizes – 32GB and 64GB – and you can choose to buy with lock screen Amazon ads or with the adverts removed. Both devices are expandable up to 1TB.

The prices, when bought directly from Amazon, are as follows:

If you want to add a charging dock, you’ll pay an additional £39.99 on top of each of these options.

You can also buy the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus from the following places:

  • Currys: £110 for 32GB, or £140 for 64GB
  • AO.com: £109 for 32GB, or £139 for 64GB

Is the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus good value for money?

Amazon’s Fire tablet range is renowned for offering portable entertainment at an affordable price, and the Fire HD 8 Plus is no exception. Not only do you get a decent 8-inch tablet and all the various streaming and gaming apps that come with such devices, but you’re also getting an Echo Show and a Kindle effectively thrown in. For the relatively bargain price of £110.

If you were to buy all three devices separately – the HD 8, the Echo Show 8 and a basic Kindle – you’d end up paying in excess of £280. In fact, this means you could buy two of the 64GB Fire HD 8 Plus for the same price. Plus, you get the added benefit of wireless charging.

This makes the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus superb value for money.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus apps

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus features

All Fire tablets, regardless of size or price, run Amazon’s take on Android. A software called Fire OS. It looks and feels much like Android, so if you’re used to Google’s operating system, Amazon’s version won’t feel too strange. However, because it’s what’s classed as an Android skin, it means Fire OS doesn’t come with the full selection of apps or menus available on standard Android systems.  The one notable omission being Google’s suite of apps, namely Google Drive and its related apps, Gmail, and YouTube. It is possible to access all of these via the mobile browser, but not as standalone apps.

All Fire tablets come with Amazon’s bespoke Silk Browser pre-installed, alongside Amazon’s array of services – Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Audible, Kindle and, of course, the Amazon Shopping app  – and they all come with 2MP cameras on the front and rear.

If you opt for one of the three Fire HD models, you get dual Dolby Atmos-powered speakers and the option to use the tablet in Show Mode. This effectively turns the Fire HD 8, HD 8 Plus and the HD 10 tablets into Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 10 alternatives.

Show Mode gives you the full-screen Alexa experience without forking out for an extra device. This makes it easier to make video calls while cooking dinner, for example, or seeing Alexa updates such as shopping alerts or weather reports from a distance on your Fire HD 8 Plus.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus show mode

If you pay extra for the Amazon wireless charging dock, you can enable Show Mode on the Fire HD 8 Plus simply by placing the tablet into this dock. Alternatively, just say: “Alexa, enable Show Mode,” and your tablet’s lock and the home screen will switch from the standard view to the view seen across Amazon’s range of Show devices. This unlocks the full list of Alexa Skills, all of which can be controlled via your voice and all shown in an easy-to-understand way. You then disable it by saying: “Alexa, turn off Show Mode.” There’s also an on/off switch in the control centre, accessed by swiping from the top of the screen.

It’s this feature that stood out most for us during testing. We already have a small network of Echo devices around our home and, while they’re great for simple commands, we do find them a little restrictive. Yet, because we already own Echos, and because they largely do what we need them to do, buying an Echo Show seemed excessive. With the Fire HD 8 Plus, you get the best of both worlds. You can use it as a tablet, or an Echo Show, as and when you need to and can switch between the two when you see fit.

In fact, we’d go a step further and say we feel it’s more convenient than a standard Echo Show because it’s more portable. You don’t need to keep it plugged into the mains, meaning you can switch between a tablet and a Show wherever and whenever you like.

The only real feature, though, that distinguishes the Fire HD 8 Plus from the HD 8 is the introduction of wireless charging. Once you go wireless, it’s very difficult to go back to scrambling for the cable and plugging it in. We’re big fans of the convenience, and we’d happily pay £20 extra for it (or £50 if you factor in a charging dock), but it depends on your needs and budget.

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Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus screen and sound quality

Despite its name, the Fire HD 8 Plus does not come with a Full HD screen. The term HD stands for high definition, and it refers to any image resolution higher than 720 x 1,280 pixels. When you multiply these numbers together, you get a total pixel count of 921,600. This is the lowest image resolution considered high definition.

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus has an image resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels (around 1 million pixels in total). This puts it a tad above regular HD, but not quite Full HD. The latter of which requires a minimum of 1,920 x 1,080, or approximately 2 million, pixels.

This is a little complex, and for most tasks – especially browsing the web, playing simple games and using social media – this difference in quality is barely noticeable. To be honest, the only way you can see a discernible difference on a screen of this size is when you put a higher quality screen next to it.

There are a few areas where the lower screen quality can make a difference. If you’re playing games with detailed graphics or that require a large amount of computing power, you’ll definitely notice lags, glitches, pixelation and muted colours. Some of the smaller icons, such as the notification icons that appear along the top of the screen, look a bit blurry. Small lines of text on Amazon Prime Video thumbnails do, too. You won’t get to see films such as Godzilla vs Kong as vibrantly or as detailed as was intended, but on the whole, the screen quality is OK. Especially at this price point.

One downside is that the screen is highly reflective. This means you need to whack the brightness up to avoid a lot of glare in highly lit environments. For instance, in direct sunlight, you can get away with dropping the brightness to around 50% and still see what’s on the screen. Anything lower than that, and you’ll be struggling. Amazon does have an option to automatically adjust the brightness based on light, so this is a minor complaint. As is the fact having the device brightly lit a lot of the time can cause the battery to lose charge faster.

In terms of sound quality, the partnership with Dolby Atmos makes the output much more well-rounded and less tinny than on previous versions of the Fire HD and Fire tablets that weren’t tuned by Dolby. Even at full volume. Voices are clear on podcasts, and you can distinguish between different instruments in classical music. We were pleasantly surprised not only in how well we could hear music and loved ones on video calls but that it didn’t become distorted. The dual speakers aren’t super loud, but they do the job well, especially for this price. Plus, if you have Echo speakers, chances are you’d use those to fill entire rooms with audio and use your tablet for more personal listening.

Unsurprisingly, given Amazon’s credentials when it comes to voice recognition, the tablet picks up commands well. Even in noisy environments – such as over two children watching TikTok and YouTube on separate devices at the same time…

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Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus design

Amazon Fire HD 8 Design

While the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus punches above its weight in terms of features, versatility and sound quality, its design well and truly reminds you that it sits at the cheaper end of the tablet spectrum.

The smooth plastic back, large bezel, rounded edges and thick casing (almost 10mm compared to the iPad and Samsung’s 7mm tablets) make the Fire HD 8 Plus feel like an entry-level tablet. There’s little finesse or luxury.

On the plus side, it’s not overly weighty yet is heavy enough to make it feel robust. We feel confident we could drop this tablet, and it would survive the odd knock here and there, which is fortunate because the plastic can be slippy.

We don’t feel confident, however, in the tablet’s balance. If you hold it too far down, when using it to read a book on the Kindle app in portrait mode, the tablet feels top-heavy. It has a tendency to either tip out of our hands, or you’ll end up with a wrist ache propping it up. By contrast, when held in landscape mode, the Fire HD 8 Plus is a comfortable size and weight to hold for long periods. The positioning of the power and volume buttons on the top right side of the device (when it’s being held in landscape with the camera at the top) suggests this landscape positioning is how Amazon intends people to use the tablet.

Other ports include:

  • 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
  • USB-C charging port
  • Microphone

The front-facing camera sits in the middle of the device, on the top bezel (if you’re holding the tablet in landscape mode). The rear-facing camera sits in the top-right hand corner on the back. Both are pretty inconspicuous and equally as underwhelming.

Granted, tablets aren’t designed to replace your DSLR or souped-up smartphone camera, yet 2MP is mediocre at best. Even at this price point, and especially when Amazon sells it largely on the fact you can make video calls in Show Mode. You’ll have the convenience of taking and making these calls, yet the quality for your loved ones will be poor, to say the least.

The tablet is only available in black, or Slate as Amazon calls it. By comparison, the Fire HD 8 comes in black, blue, purple or white.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus set-up

There are numerous online reviews bemoaning the fact the Amazon Fire HD 8 and 8 Plus are complicated and long-winded to set up. This was not our experience. It took us less than two minutes to get the tablet set up for this Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review. And a large part of that was finding our Wi-Fi password and scrolling through Amazon’s promotional videos and messages to get to the homepage.

If you’ve ever owned a smartphone or tablet, you’ll be very familiar with the setup process – connect to a Wi-Fi network, sign in to your account, download any relevant apps. Nothing tripped us up, and all menus are clear. The only time-consuming thing was waiting for the apps to download and trying to remember our passwords, which isn’t Amazon’s fault.

The tablet also makes it very easy to enable parental controls from the get-go. The menus in Settings are well labelled if you want to make any changes to notifications, Alexa, manage your app permissions more.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus homescreen

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Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus battery life and performance

Amazon promises a battery life of 12 hours and, in our looping video test (in which we played an HD video on repeat at 70% brightness and with aeroplane mode enabled), it took 12 hours 17 minutes to go from full charge to flat.

When using the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus for everyday tasks – the odd game of SimCity, an hour or so of TikTok, social media scrolling and occasional voice commands – the tablet lasted well into the second day.

Even better, when used purely as an e-reader, reading for an hour a day, we got almost three days’ battery life from this tablet. This was beyond impressive.

Part of this may come down to the fact that, performance-wise, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus isn’t anything to write home about. There is a slight, yet noticeable, delay between pressing an icon and an app loading or a page scrolling. When we unlock the device, the sound occurs shortly after the screen has been unlocked. It doesn’t appear to be doing anything at any pace, certainly not to warrant significant use of the battery. We’d prefer a bit more oomph and power for a little less battery life.

Our verdict: should you buy the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus?

If you’re looking for a versatile tablet that won’t break the bank, you’ve found it. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is far from perfect – the screen and sound quality fall flat in a few places, its design is basic, some of the hardware is mediocre, and its somewhat sluggish performance counteracts its impressive battery life. Yet we’d still recommend this device, particularly over the Fire HD 8. Being able to charge the device wirelessly is a significant improvement, and Show Mode elevates this beyond just any old Android-based tablet. We’d even go as far as to say you don’t need to pay extra to remove the ads. They’re largely unobtrusive and if you only have the budget for one upgrade, go for the bigger storage.

Features: 4/5

Screen and sound quality: 3/5

Design: 2/5

Set-up: 5/5

Battery life and performance: 3/5

Overall: 3.5/5

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