The "1-Minute" Review
- Abysmal front and rear camera
- Delays when opening apps
- Lackluster screen
- Generic "dowdy" design
- Lack of apps in app store
Budget tablets have come a long way in terms of usability and Amazon hopes to overtake that market with the release of their 2015 Amazon Fire. Priced below $100, the Fire 2015 isn't exactly what experts would call a looker. There's no unibody construction or chamfered edges here. Instead, Amazon opted for what critics consider a relatively generic design - a single sheet of glass on the front and a matte finish plastic back. Large bezels surround the screen, giving it what experts call a dowdy and unfashionable appearance. For the most part they were satisfied with build quality though they did notice a bit of give when they pressed down on the plastic back. It is also a bit on the bulkier side compared to other tablets measuring in at 7.5 x 4.5 x 0.4 inches and weighing 313 grams, but critics still found it comfortable to hold thanks to the rounded edges.
The 7-inch, 1024 x 600 display offers a low pixel density of 171ppi. As expected, reviewers were underwhelmed not only because of its lack of clarity but also its low contrast and poor color accuracy. This was most noticeable when they attempted to watch HD movies or video as the images were often blurry and dull. They do offer some praise for its overall brightness and good viewing angles though they mention it is horrible to read in sunlight due to high reflectiveness of the glass. While it can't compare to even their own Fire HDX, critics point out it is perfectly fine for browsing the web and checking email.
With only a 1.3GHz quad core processor and 1GB of RAM, the 2015 Amazon Fire obviously won't be topping the benchmark tests. Still, experts were surprised that it scored last on all these tests. Despite the low test results, it performed relatively smoothly when they were navigating the home screen or using simple apps. Due to its slower processor and smaller RAM allotment, critics weren't surprised to notice delays when opening apps or frame rate drops when playing demanding 3D games. There's not too much room for bigger apps anyway as it only comes with 8G of internal storage, though this can be expanded via the microSD slot. The biggest surprise was the battery life. Experts were able to get around 7 hours of continuous mixed usage, which translated to around a full day of use without charging. Even better, when put on standby mode it lasted some experts over a weak without a charge.
The biggest weakness of the Amazon Fire 2015 is its use of Fire OS instead of Android. This means consumers only have access to Amazon's library of apps (of which there are only a couple thousand). It also means there is no access to popular Google Services such as Gmail, Chrome, Google Maps or the official YouTube app. They do have access to the more popular apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Angry Birds among others. Another perk of the Fire tablets is their easy access to Amazon Prime content and the Amazon store itself.
The other big weakness is its main and front camera. At only 2MP experts have no issue calling it horrible. They point out the camera produces overexposed and blurry photos with poor color depth. Ars Technica adds, "…the rear camera is really only suitable for snapping quick pics for tweets…For everything else it's terrible."
Do reviewers think the Amazon Fire (2015) is worth it? For people who cannot afford a more expensive tablet they recommend it. Engadget states, "…with all these shortcomings, the tablet offers respectable performance and good battery life…for [a] paltry sum." Alphr adds, "There's no question that [you] could do much better than the Fire, but you could pay more and do much, much worse."