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Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020) review: Should you spend more?

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
110
inc VAT (with "special offers")

With wireless charging, extra RAM and a faster charger, is the Fire HD 8 Plus worth the extra money?

Pros 
Better battery life than Fire HD 8
Wireless charging and extra RAM
Hardware improvements on 2018 model
Cons 
Regular Fire HD 8 is better value
Wireless Charging Dock not included
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In the nine years since Amazon announced its first tablet, the Fire lineup has received several major upgrades. The Fire HD 8 is the latest in a long line of tablets and it’s perhaps its most substantial update yet.

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Aside from the usual decision whether or not to pay extra and remove the lockscreen adverts, though, Amazon has also launched a souped-up model for your consideration this year. The Fire HD 8 Plus, as the name suggests, provides a handful of extras for a bit more money, but should you stump up more cash or buy the regular model instead?

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020) review: What you need to know

The differences between the Fire HD 8 Plus and the basic version are relatively minor. Design-wise, they’re practically identical and both have a 1,280 x 800 resolution screen, drop-friendly plastic chassis, and USB-C charging. Both tablets also benefit from a new MediaTek MT8168 processor and run a tweaked version of Android 9 Pie with Amazon’s Fire OS 7 launcher placed on top.

So, what do you get for the extra money? Well, the Fire HD 8 Plus includes 3GB of RAM, rather than the 2GB offered with the normal model, and has a faster 9W charger in the box. The Fire HD 8 Plus also comes with three months of Kindle Unlimited for free.

The main reason why you might want to pick up the Fire HD 8 Plus, however, is for wireless charging. The tablet works with Amazon’s new Wireless Charging Dock (£40), which can also be used as a stand for a pseudo-Alexa smart display.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020) review: Price and competition

Naturally, you don’t get all these extras for free. If you don’t mind lockscreen adverts (you can pay another £10 to remove them) the Fire HD 8 Plus costs £110 for the 32GB model and £140 for 64GB of storage. That’s £20 more than the bog-standard Fire HD 8.

If you want to buy both the Fire HD 8 Plus and Wireless Charging Dock, Amazon is currently running a bundle offer for £140, saving you a total of £10. If you prefer a larger screen, and still don’t fancy spending a huge amount, however, last year’s Amazon Fire HD 10 is another good option starting at £150.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020) review: Design and key features

There’s not a jot of difference between the two tablets as far as design is concerned. If I was pushed for time, I could simply copy and paste this section from my review of the regular Fire HD 8 and it would do the job. In fact, the Fire HD 8 Plus is identical in so many ways that I’m in danger of repeating myself as it is.

The Fire HD 8 uses the same hard plastic backing as the 2018 model, and it can be picked up in six different colours: black, plum, twilight blue, white and slate. It is clearly designed to be used in landscape orientation, with a pair of top-firing speakers on one of its long edges, and a 7MP selfie camera sitting below, just above the screen.

The Fire HD 8 Plus also uses USB-C for charging, rather than the micro-USB charger supplied with its predecessor. Amazon also includes a faster 9W charger in the box (the other model comes with a 5W charger) which can charge the tablet from empty to full in less than four hours.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020) review: Wireless Charging Dock

Of course, a key new feature this year is the arrival of wireless charging, which is only available on the Fire HD 8 Plus. As I’ve already mentioned, for an additional £30 the tablet can be bought in a bundle with Amazon’s own Wireless Charging Dock, which is a rudimentary wedged stand that allows you to place the tablet in either landscape or portrait orientation, at a fixed angle.

There’s not much else to say about it though, really, except that it charges the Fire HD 8 Plus to 80% in less than two hours and transforms it into a makeshift Echo Show-like device. This allows for all sorts of things, from streaming Amazon Prime Video to showing graphics for a seven-day forecast when you ask about the weather.

Despite what Amazon’s heavy-handed marketing materials would have you believe, however, the optional Wireless Charging Dock isn’t a necessary purchase. Because the Fire HD 8 Plus uses the Qi wireless charging standard, most third-party wireless chargers will work just fine.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020) review: Display

Back to the tablet itself. The Fire’s 8in screen uses an IPS panel with a resolution of 1,280 x 800. This remains unchanged from previous models, which is a bit of a shame. The tablet’s pixel density of 189ppi is quite poor by modern standards, too.

An overall sRGB colour gamut coverage of 74% isn’t ideal, either. The screen looks quite dull compared to higher priced tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite and iPad family, but an overall contrast of 1,381:1 isn’t too bad. Viewing angles are also better than expected, despite the overly reflective screen coating.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020) review: Performance and battery life

An area of major improvement is in the Fire HD 8 Plus’ performance. Both of Amazon’s new 8in tablets are fitted with a newer MediaTek MT8163 chipset, which is clocked at 2GHz and uses a Mali-T730MP3 GPU for graphics processing duties. As I mentioned earlier, the Fire HD 8 Plus also has 3GB of RAM, instead of the 2GB offered by the regular Fire HD 8.

As expected, then, performance is the best we’ve seen from a Fire tablet to date, but it can still feel a bit sluggish from time to time. In the Geekbench 3 test, the Fire HD 8 outperformed the 2018 version by up to 50%. This translates to a tablet that feels much more fluid and responsive in operation than ever before, but you will still notice a bit of slowdown when quickly switching between applications, for instance.

Gaming performance is equally good, although it’s worth highlighting there’s a rather limited selection of games in Amazon’s app store. The Fire HD 8 Plus reached an average frame rate of 24fps in the GFXBench Manhattan 3 on-screen benchmark, more than tripling the score of the previous model.

Running our in-house battery test, which plays a 20-hour looped video with aeroplane mode engaged and the screen set to a standard 170cd/m² brightness, the new Fire HD 8 Plus lasted over 17 hours before needing a recharge. This is frankly extraordinary and is one of the best results we’ve seen from a tablet, no matter the cost.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020) review: Verdict

Aside from the unloved screen, the Fire HD 8 Plus is almost the complete package. It’s an affordable tablet which massively improves on previous generations in the hardware department and manages to boost stamina by a considerable degree.

It’s a tablet I would have no hesitation in recommending, although it falls just short of a Best Buy for the simple reason that the Fire HD 8 offers better value for money. Unless you’re keen to use the Fire HD 8 Plus as a tablet-cum-smart display, I’d be inclined to save the £50 and go for the Fire HD 8 instead.

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