Amazon does a little of everything these days. From books and shopping to hardware and even original motion pictures, the company truly has a wide array of assets. One of the most consumer-facing has become its Kindle Fire tablet series.
These inexpensive tablets are a favorite among families as a budget option.
Amazon was nice enough to let me test the latest edition in the Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus. This new “premium” model is slated to take a more productive approach, but how does it truly match up against its past devices and the competition? Let’s find out in this full review.
The overall look and feel of the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus are pretty familiar. You get a 10.1″ 1080p Full HD screen encased in a plastic surround and back. Our review model is the denim blue edition with a nice matte, soft-touch finish.
One thing I immediately noticed about the updated model from my previous 2019 Kindle Fire HD 10 is the size. While the screen stays the same aspect ratio of 16:10, the older Kindle HD was much taller with a base orientation towards book reading. The new Kindle HD 10 Plus has shaved around a 3/4 an inch off the height and just feels much more comfortable in landscape orientation. Honestly, it’s almost exactly the same size as an iPad.
All your basic keys and ports are on the “top” of the device. Here you’ll find all your major culprits of USB-C charging port, power and volume keys, and a 3.5mm headphone jacket. These are all on the right side of the Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus when in a landscape position.
Rounding out features is a 5MP camera on the rear of the device and another 2MP sensor on the front. Speaker grills are also present on the left side in portrait or top in the landscape position.
Internally the HD 10 Pus is powered by a 2.0GHz octa-core Mediatek processor. This is paired with 4GB of RAM and two storage options. You can opt for either 32GB or for another $40 snag a 64GB model. Either can be expanded up to 1TB via the microSD card slot flanking the right side of the screen in portrait mode.
The Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus is the most powerful mode Amazon has produced to date, and it shows. The bump to 4GB of RAM simply makes this tablet much smoother regardless of what you throw at it. Transitions between apps and even the home screens are buttery in comparison to previous models.
You will still find some hiccups here and there with more intense apps like gaming, but I think this is due more to the Mediatek processor than the RAM. However, for daily use of web browsing, social media, and video playback there is more than enough horsepower for most users.
Microsoft and keyboard bundle
Speaking of horsepower and usage cases, Amazon partnered with Microsoft with the Fire HD 10 Plus in the hope of capturing more of an enterprise market. Included in the purchase of your Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus (with the Productivity Bundle) is a full 12-month subscription of Office365 which includes the mobile editions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
While we weren’t able to test the official keyboard case, we have paired our unit with a Bluetooth keyboard we had lying around. Combined with the canvas Kindle case, this does make for a decent travel machine. larger Exel files may stutter at times, but in comparison to other Android tablets the Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus performs fine in productivity apps as a possible laptop replacement.
The mention of Android brings us to the elephant in the room when it comes to Kindle Fire tablets. The Fire HD 10 Plus is running Android 9 with Amazon’s Fire OS overlay. That brings a couple of things, some good and some bad.
The good is that the optimization by Amazon is really good. From overall performance to the parental controls, the OS feels really good to use. It’s also very Amazon-centric. The home screens revolve around your Amazon content and ways to add more Amazon content.
The far-left screen is For You and features new items available for download or purchase. This is based on an algorithm from Amazon created from past history of Kindle reading, browser history, and apps you’ve used. If you are a present or previous user of Amazon Music it will also suggest songs, podcasts, and playlists.
Your “main” screen is the Home where all your downloaded apps live. Here you’ll find all the apps you’ve synced from the Amazon App Store. Android users will notice that there is no app drawer. These apps are always present on this screen much like an iPad.
While you will see familiar Android elements like the geometric back, home, and multitasking button, the rest is pretty buried. Some, like the Google Play Store, are simply not there. This is the elephant in the room for some folks.
If you are heavily invested in having the same apps as on your Android phone on a tablet, the Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus may not be for you. Amazon has done a pretty decent job in curating a decent App Store, but again, it’s very content-driven. Your major players for video and audio are there: Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Pocket Casts, Spotify, etc are on board.
Where you will run into “trouble” are more niche apps and banking in my experience. Many newer banking apps for Android rely on the Google Play Protect services to verify the system. With Amazon forking a version absent of Google Play they aren’t available in Amazon’s App Store. While I personally haven’t found it a huge deal-breaker, it’s definitely part of the purchase mindset.
Oh, and you can’t have an Amazon device in 2021 without Alexa. Alexa is built-in for hands-free automation and even has a dedicated button on the far left of the home screens to quickly get to your connected home devices.
But wait, there’s more! When the Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus is tossed on a wireless charger is doubles as an Alexa Smart screen. This essentially makes the tablet a portable Echo Show. You get the same home screen, interactions, and prompts. It’s a neat way to utilize both Amazon lineups on a single device while sitting on the charger.
Amazon rates the Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus at 12 hours of mixed-use. I have found this to be consistently accurate. Whether killing time on Twitter or watching Invincible on Prime Video, that 12-hour mark has pretty much been the threshold for the internal battery bank.
Standby is also impressive. You will get numerous days if this Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus is sitting idle with the screen off. You should have no problem picking it back up after several days of not using it and have juice left.
Charging can be done via USB-C or wireless charging. Wired charging takes a little over 3.5 hours to fully recharge. While Amazon promotes a wireless charger by Anker to be paired with the Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus as mentioned in the Alexa bit earlier, good luck finding one. Right now it’s unavailable on Amazon and not even listed on Anker’s site.
I can report that other wireless chargers I had laying around did work, but charge rates were inconsistent. I’d say you need at least that 3.5 hours mark, if not more, using a generic Qi charger to top off the battery.
Ads on Lockscreen
A polarizing option Amazon has chosen to make the price lower is ads on the lockscreen of Fire tablets. You get an option at checkout to discount the purchase by $15 if you don’t mind the ads. This is easy to upgrade at purchase or later if you decide you hate it. That puts the entry cost at $180 with ads and $195 without.
Amazon continues the great lineage of Kindle Fire tablets with the HD 10 Plus. You have a solid tablet experience for under $200 for just the tablet or $210 with the keyboard bundle and Office365. Add $40 to each for the 64GB option. If you can circumvent the lack of Google Play Store, the Fire HD 10 Plus is hard to ignore if in the market for a tablet.
If reading and content consumption is your top priority then the Kindle Fire HD 10 Plus is a winner. Our own editor has stated he actually likes its limited ecosystem to culture a more focused interaction with reading and content. After using this tablet for a few weeks, I think I might agree.