Amazon’s Fire tablets advance at a crawl. Each generation makes such minor changes it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. However, the latest update to the Fire HD 10 is unusually substantial. Not only does it come with a faster processor and better battery life, it finally makes the jump to USB Type-C for charging and data.
Amazon uses Google’s Android operating system on its Fire tablets, but you won’t find any mention of that on the product page. These devices run a heavily skinned version of Android that Amazon calls Fire OS, but they do not have Google apps and services installed. Instead, buyers of Fire devices are plugged into all of Amazon’s content channels like Prime Video and the Amazon Appstore. Since the tablets are largely a vehicle for getting Amazon services in front of more people, it can charge less for the hardware.
The new Fire HD 10 has the same $149.99 price tag as the old version, but it adds a new octa-core processor that is reportedly 30 percent faster. Amazon doesn’t like to specify specific system-on-a-chip models, but this is presumably a newer version of the MediaTek chip it used in the old version — it’s not going to be as fast as something running on the latest Snapdragon chips. Battery life is also about 20 percent better, according to Amazon. Again, Amazon doesn’t like to provide actual battery specs, so we don’t know if the gain is thanks to efficiency improvements or a larger lithium-ion cell.
Amazon’s focus on budget hardware has meant it stuck with the old port standards for much longer than most tablet makers. With the new Fire HD 10, Amazon has finally switched to USB Type-C. These ports are more durable and easier to plug in as they’re fully reversible. Many people also have USB-C cables around the house from all the devices that have already moved to the newer port, including almost all Android phones and the Nintendo Switch. Even Apple is using USB-C on its laptops and the iPad Pro.
Alongside the new Fire HD 10, there’s an updated Fire HD 10 Kids Edition (above). This is essentially the same piece of hardware, but it’s inside a big rubber bumper case with an adjustable stand. The Fire HD 10 Kids Edition costs a little more ($200) because it also comes with a robust no-questions-asked warranty. Both devices are available for pre-order today, and they’ll ship on October 30th.
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