The Amazon Fire Max 11 is the largest and most powerful tablet in Amazon’s lineup, featuring a metal build that feels premium compared to other Fire devices.
With an 11-inch LCD screen and a resolution of 2,000 x 1,200 pixels, it delivers decent visuals for consuming media content. However, the 16:9 aspect ratio indicates its primary focus on movie watching rather than productivity tasks.
The tablet also includes a fingerprint reader on the side power button, a microSD slot for expandable storage, and support for Wi-Fi 6.
That’s a lot of awesome stuff to be sure, but it’s not quite enough to justify its price. All told, I might suggest scraping some of the expandability that comes with the add-on keyboard and stylus, and keeping things in the lean-back space that made its predecessors so attractive.
See, the Fire Max 11 aims to be more than just a content consumption device, but it fails to deliver a compelling productivity experience.
While the tablet’s metal chassis, eight-megapixel camera, fingerprint scanner, and magnetic keyboard case and stylus attachment provide a premium look and feel, the software limitations hinder its usability for work tasks.
While the Fire Max 11 is marketed as a premium tablet, it fails to justify its price tag. Amazon’s Fire OS, a modified version of Android, lacks essential features and access to the Google Play Store. Consequently, the tablet is best suited for users who primarily consume Amazon content, such as movies, books, and music.
Don’t get me wrong, the tablet aspires to be more and do more, but it falls well short on this attempt. At least in that cohesive experience that feels like the software and the hardware teams talk to each other.
For users seeking a more versatile tablet experience that encompasses productivity and a broader app selection, there are better options available at similar price points.
The core issue with the Fire Max 11 lies in its software. Fire OS is heavily tailored towards promoting Amazon’s own ecosystem, making it challenging to perform tasks beyond consuming Amazon content.
It lacks Google apps and the Play Store, restricting users to the limited offerings of Amazon’s App Store. Attempts to install the Play Store on the device require additional steps and may not work reliably. Overall, the software limitations hinder the tablet’s functionality and versatility.
The biggest hurdle faced by the Amazon Fire Max 11 is its software experience, which falls short in meeting the demands of productivity tasks. Running on Fire OS, a modified version of Android, the tablet lacks crucial updates and features that would enhance its usability for work.
Fire OS is heavily geared towards promoting Amazon’s content and services, with a focus on delivering a seamless experience for consuming Amazon media. However, it neglects essential productivity applications and tools needed for work-related activities. The absence of Google apps and services further limits the tablet’s functionality, leaving users without access to popular productivity apps like Google Docs, Gmail, and Google Maps.
Now, to be fair, I absolutely love this on the right tablet. Time and again I find that a full-on Google Play experience opens the door up a bit more than I’d like. I tend to prefer the “lean back” vibe and content consumption that comes with earlier Kindle Fires.
Here, the tablet endeavors to do more, especially with add-on hardware accessories. Sadly, the OS and extras only go to show the limitations of the custom platform.
The Fire Max 11 runs an aging version of Fire OS, which I believe is based on Android 11, despite the availability of more recent versions. This means missing out on significant software advancements and improvements found in newer Android iterations. The lack of gestures for navigation and reliance on virtual buttons at the bottom of the screen hampers the overall user experience, making it less intuitive compared to tablets with more modern software.
Another notable drawback is the presence of ads on the lock screen, which can be removed for an additional fee. This can be off-putting for users seeking a distraction-free and professional environment for productivity. And considering the higher price of the tablet, I think that the $15 could be absorbed by Amazon.
Moreover, Amazon’s app store, the primary source for acquiring applications on the Fire Max 11, is limited in its offerings. Many essential productivity apps are absent from the store, leaving users with a limited selection and unable to access widely used tools. While some workarounds exist, such as sideloading the Google Play Store, this process requires additional steps, compromises security features, and is not easily accessible to the average user.
Overall, the software experience of the Fire Max 11 is a significant obstacle to its viability as a productivity tablet. The lack of essential apps, outdated software version, and limitations imposed by Fire OS hinder users’ ability to perform work-related tasks efficiently.
Here’s a list of some of the daily productivity apps and tools that I’d love to use on a more well-rounded device:
- Google titles like Keep, Gmail, Calendar
While the tablet may serve adequately for basic productivity needs, it falls behind competitors that offer a more comprehensive and up-to-date software ecosystem.
What We Like
The Fire Max 11’s metal build offers a premium feel, and its performance is noticeably faster than previous Fire tablets. The inclusion of a fingerprint reader, Wi-Fi 6 support, and front and rear cameras enhance the tablet’s usability. For those focused on consuming Amazon content, the tablet delivers a satisfactory experience and provides access to a range of Amazon Prime features and perks.
The Amazon Fire Max 11 boasts a design that aims to offer a more premium look and feel compared to other Fire tablet models. With its metal chassis and refined build quality, it distinguishes itself from the plastic-backed tablets in Amazon’s lineup.
The tablet’s 11-inch LCD screen, with a resolution of 2,000 x 1,200 pixels, delivers punchy colors and wide viewing angles. While it performs well in indoor environments and offers reasonable brightness for outdoor use in shaded areas, the 5:3 aspect ratio may feel cramped when browsing the web or working on documents. In portrait orientation, the tablet’s usability can be awkward and less comfortable compared to devices with more productivity-oriented aspect ratios.
One notable addition is the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner integrated into the power button, a first for a Fire tablet. This provides a convenient and secure method for unlocking the device and adds an extra layer of user privacy.
The Fire Max 11’s design also includes a keyboard case and stylus. The keyboard attaches magnetically to the tablet’s bottom edge, drawing power directly from the device, eliminating the need for separate charging or Bluetooth pairing.
The keys are adequately spaced and offer decent travel, with a row of function keys for media and system controls. However, the trackpad on the keyboard is criticized for being cramped and sticky, making precise gestures challenging to execute. And when you’re using the tablet in portrait mode it just feels wonky and wrong.
The stylus, utilizing USI 2.0 technology, provides a smooth and lag-free writing experience akin to using an Apple Pencil on an iPad. While it falls short in terms of software support and the availability of dedicated note-taking apps, the stylus itself performs admirably. In the right context and usage, I like having one available, but there’s got to be a better way to attach it than magnetically on the side edge.
What We Didn’t
The tablet’s biggest drawback is its price-to-performance ratio. Compared to other tablets in the market, including the base model iPad, Pixel Tablet, OnePlus Pad, and Lenovo’s Tab P11 Pro, the Fire Max 11 falls short in terms of power and software capabilities.
Fire OS’s limitations and lack of essential apps hinder productivity and restrict users to Amazon’s ecosystem. Given the availability of superior alternatives at similar or slightly higher price points, it’s challenging to justify purchasing the Fire Max 11.
The Amazon Fire Max 11 attempts to position itself as a high-end tablet, but it ultimately fails to deliver the value and versatility expected at its price range. I appreciate the effort and slight pivot for Amazon, but perhaps they’d be better off introducing a new product line and letting the Fire series stay with what made it so appealing.
While it excels in consuming Amazon content, the tablet’s limited software and lack of essential apps hinder its usability for other tasks. Unless you are solely focused on accessing Amazon’s ecosystem, there are better tablet options available that offer superior performance and a more robust software experience.
You can learn more about the features and capabilities of the Fire Max 11 at (where, else?) Amazon. It’s currently available for $229.99. For your money you’ll get the 64GB model with lock screen ads. It’s also offered with 128GB storage, a keyboard and/or stylus, and more.