Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) vs. Fire HD 10 (2017): Big, budget tablet gets better

The best tablet for most people right now is the Apple iPad 10.2-inch, but what if your budget won’t stretch to $330? Amazon has a 10-inch screen tablet of its own for less than half the price and it has just been updated. Maybe you picked up a Fire HD 10 back in 2017 and you’re starting to think about an upgrade, or you’d just like to know precisely what Amazon has improved. We’ve got the details you seek right here. We’re going to explain exactly what has changed as we compare the 2019 Amazon Fire HD 10 to the old, 2017 model.

Specs

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017)
Size 262 × 159 × 9.8 mm (10.3 × 6.3 × 0.4 inches) 262 × 159 × 9.8 mm (10.3 × 6.3 × 0.4 inches)
Weight 504 grams (17.8 ounces) 500 grams (17.7 ounces)
Screen size 10.1 inches 10.1 inches
Screen resolution 1,920 × 1,200 pixels (224 pixels per inch) 1,920 × 1,200 pixels (224 pixels per inch)
Operating system Customized Android, Fire OS Customized Android, Fire OS
Storage space 32GB, 64GB 32GB, 64GB
MicroSD Card slot Yes, up to 512GB Yes, up to 256GB
Tap-to-pay services No No
Processor Octa-core 2GHz processor Quad-core 1.8GHz processor
RAM 2GB 2GB
Camera Rear 2MP, front 720p HD Rear 2MP, front VGA
Video 720p 720p
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 4.2 (TBC) Bluetooth 4.1
Ports USB-C, 3.5mm audio jack Micro USB, 3.5mm audio jack
Fingerprint sensor No No
Water resistance No No
Battery Up to 12 hours mixed use Up to 10 hours mixed use
App marketplace Amazon Appstore Amazon Appstore
Network support None None
Colors Plum, Twilight Blue, Black, White Black, Marine Blue, or Punch Red
Price $150 $150
Buy from Amazon Amazon
Review score News 3.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Amazon Fire HD 10 USB-C
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The aging 1.8GHz, quad-core processor that was in the original Fire HD 10, has been replaced with an 2GHz, octa-core processor in the Fire HD 10 (2019). That means it’s going to be significantly faster, more capable of running the latest games, and smoother in general navigation. Amazon says it’s 30% faster than the older chip. Both tablets have just 2GB of RAM, so multitasking capability is limited and switching in and out of apps may not be as swift as you’d like.

The newer Fire HD 10 also boasts more stamina, with Amazon suggesting it’s capable of 12 hours of mixed use, compared to 10 hours for its predecessor. Perhaps more important in the battery department is the fact that Amazon has finally made the leap to USB-C. The 2017 Fire HD 10 took five hours to charge up via the fiddly Micro USB port; the 2019 Fire HD 10 has an always-right-side-up USB-C port that will charge it much quicker. The charger in the box will take four hours to refill your battery, but with a 15W charger and the right USB-C to C cable you can knock that down to three hours.

Winner: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

Design and durability

The design of the Fire HD 10 has not changed much, if at all. You’ve still got a 10.1-inch screen with thick bezels and a matte plastic back that curves around the edges. The bezels look big compared to most other devices today. The power and volume controls are on the top edge when you hold the tablet in portrait, with the charging port and the 3.5mm audio port in between them. The 2019 model has upgraded to USB-C rather than Micro USB. The new tablet also comes in a different range of colors, including white.

Neither of these tablets is going to survive submersion in water, but the plastic body ensures they are fairly durable. Amazon claims the new Fire HD 10 is four times as durable as the latest iPad Pro in “tumble tests,” but a case is always advisable.

Winner: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

Display

Amazon Fire HD 10 video
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The screen was always the highlight of the original Fire HD 10, so it’s not a big surprise that Amazon has chosen to leave it as is. Both tablets have a 10.1-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels, which translates to 224 pixels per inch (ppi). For comparison, the latest iPad has a 264 ppi display. It is bright, sharp, and colorful enough to watch movies or play games on. The big bezels around the screen make these tablets feel somewhat dated, but you have to factor in the price. At $150, this is still a good quality screen.

Winner: Tie

Camera

Amazon Fire HD 10 plum
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Even though Amazon offers free, unlimited cloud storage for the photos you take with the Fire HD 10 tablet, we don’t recommend using the 2-megapixel camera if you want to get good shots — your phone is going to be much more capable. Amazon hasn’t bothered to upgrade the main, rear-facing camera here, but it has slightly improved the front-facing camera from VGA to HD 720p, which will come in handy if you plan to use your Fire HD 10 for video calls.

Winner: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

Software and updates

Amazon Fire HD 10 screen closeup
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

All of Amazon’s Fire tablets run Fire OS, which is Amazon’s customized version of Android. It’s based on an older version of Android and it comes without Google’s Play Store, so you get access to the more limited library of apps and games in the Amazon Appstore. It’s very easy to use, but it’s also very much geared toward the Amazon ecosystem. The Fire HD 10 is a much more attractive prospect if you’re a Prime member because you get access to TV shows, movies, books, music, and more for free, but you can also install big apps like Netflix and there are various premium channel options you can subscribe to.

While the software experience is likely to be identical, the older Fire HD 10 may not be supported for much longer. We’re giving the 2019 Fire HD 10 the win here as we think it will continue to get software updates for longer going forward.

Winner: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

Special features

Amazon Fire HD 10 screen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Probably the headline special feature for the Fire HD 10 is the Alexa hands-free functionality, which allows you to ask Alexa to play a song, start a movie, or find a recipe. If you have other compatible smart home devices you can also control them with voice commands through Alexa on your tablet. But Alexa is an option on both versions of the Fire HD 10. What the 2019 tablet has that the older one lacks is a new picture-in-picture mode that lets you stream video from Prime or other services while you check your email or browse the web.

Winner: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

Price and availability

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) is $150 and you can buy it directly from Amazon. It begins shipping on October 30. That’s the same price as the old Fire HD 10, which is now discontinued. If you pre-order the new Fire HD 10 before October 30 you also get the Minecraft app for free.

Overall winner: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

This is a relatively minor upgrade for the Amazon Fire HD 10, but the faster processor, the inclusion of USB-C for charging, and the picture-in-picture mode are all welcome changes, especially when you consider that Amazon has kept the same $150 asking price. If you have the older Fire HD 10 and it’s still working for you then there’s no need to upgrade, but if it’s starting to show signs of age the new model should serve you well. It’s also a great option if you aren’t willing to pay more than $150, but you want a bigger screen.

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