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New Amazon Fire tablet costs just £50

Amazon Fire tablet 2015

Amazon's cheapest tablet yet has a 7in IPS display and ditches the carousel wheel for a more traditional Android experience

Amazon’s no stranger to making own-brand tablets, but its latest Fire slate is its cheapest yet, costing just £50. Announced today, the new Fire packs quite a specification for its low price, including a 7in IPS display, front and rear facing cameras and a microSD card slot that takes cards up to 128GB.

There’s no word yet on resolution, but Amazon’s keen to sing its praises, claiming that it not only has the best display of any tablet in its price range, but that it’s also twice as durable as the iPad Air 2 according to its own tumble tests – which we’ll no doubt be putting to the test once we get one in for review.

The Fire tablet also has front and rear-facing cameras, but Amazon is keeping tight-lipped on just how large the sensors are, suggesting the rear camera is probably no larger than 5 megapixels at best. I certainly wouldn’t expect any more from a tablet this cheap, and the front-facing camera is likely to be a token addition at best. Still, the microSD card slot is a welcome extra, as it means you’ll have plenty of storage for videos and music files when you’re offline.

Amazon also claims the tablet has “all-day” battery life, despite then going to say that it can only deliver up to seven hours of reading, web browsing and music and video playback. That’s not bad for a tablet of this price, as even the Tesco Hudl 2 only managed 6h 58m in our continuous video playback test, but when most other budget tablets are starting to hit eight or nine hours in the same test, seven is decidedly below average.

Still, I’ll be interested to see how Amazon’s new Fire OS 5 Bellini operating system differs from the older Fire OS 4 Sangria. According to Amazon, Bellini is meant to replicate the look and feel of a magazine, so browsing and searching for content is even easier than before. More importantly, Amazon seems to have finally ditched its outdated carousel interface completely, opting for a more traditional Android-based grid system. The carousel was something that always held back previous Amazon tablets, so hopefully the new Fire will be more approachable and easy to use compared to its predecessors.

It also comes with Amazon Underground, the company’s new app store, the Mayday help service for when you have any problems with your tablet, Amazon’s X-ray music and film identification software, and Activity Centre, an upgraded parental control settings menu which will be available over an OTA update in the coming months.

Amazon Prime members will also be able to take advantage of the Fire’s On Deck feature, which automatically downloads popular Prime movies and TV shows and Amazon Original series straight to your tablet for offline viewing. This might sound like a recipe for disaster for the Fire’s storage space, but Amazon insists you won’t have to keep clearing space to make room for it. Instead, it only uses what’s currently available on your tablet and does so in a special ‘shadow mode’. It’s not quite clear how this works yet, but we’ll be finding out in the coming weeks.

The Fire will start shipping on 30th September and will be available direct from Amazon as well as Dixons, John Lewis, Argos and Tesco. There will also be a variety of colourful protective covers to buy, each of which cost another £20.

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