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Kindle Fire HDX

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: WiFi-only, AT&T and Verizon versions
Manufacturer: Amazon
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What's Hot: Superb full HD display, fast Snapdragon 800 CPU, Mayday for newbies. Super-easy Amazon content consumption.

What's Not: OS is highly customized and this isn't a general purpose Android tablet. No access to Google Play.


Reviewed October 18, 2013 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

As with other name brand consumer electronics, the Kindle Fire keeps getting better. The new Kindle Fire HDX 7", officially available today, is certainly Amazon's best Kindle to date. With a 1920 x 1200 sharp and rich display, a cutting edge Snapdragon 800 quad core 2.2GHz CPU, Adreno 330 graphics and an improved OS, it's all good. No, it's great. That's a lot of nice hardware for $229 (WiFi 16 gig model with "offers", aka ads on the sleep screen).

Kindle Fire HDX

As ever, the Fire isn't a general purpose Android tablet, even though it does run Android Jelly Bean under Fire OS 3.0 "Mojito". The software is purpose built to make it easy to consume Amazon's vast array of digital products: ebooks, magazines, music, Prime Instant Video and apps from Amazon's Kindle app store. You do get some standard tablet functions like the Amazon Silk webkit web browser with support for HTML5 video, contacts, calendar and email. It can sync the email, contacts and calendar apps with Google and MS Exchange. And Amazon's app store has many of the popular staples that you'd find on Google Play like The Weather Channel, Evernote, MS Office compatible suites, Flixster and file managers. The tablet is family-friendly with a sandboxed kid mode where you can specify allowed apps, websites and books and there's Kindle FreeTime for individualized setups for the various children in your house.

Design and Sound

The 7 inch tablet weighs 11 ounces and has a soft touch back with a shiny strip along the top where the Dolby enhanced stereo speakers live. As ever, Amazon gets some impressive sound from small speakers and the Kindle Fire HDX is loud, clear and full enough to hear even in a room with background noise. I use a whirring exercise bike while I watch video and I have no trouble hearing the audio tracks, and I can't say the same for some 13" laptops I've used in the same setting.

Kindle Fire HDX

The power and volume controls are on the tapered back edges, and though they're extremely tactile, I still find myself looking behind the tablet to remember where the controls reside. At least they're easy to feel if you don't mind running your fingers up and down the tablet's backside until you've got the locations memorized. Since the back edges are beveled, or rather canted up, the speakers don't lay flat on a table so they aren't muffled. The micro USB cable sticks up at an odd angle due to the cant, so don't worry: your port isn't misaligned.

The tablet has a square-ish shape compared to the elongated Nexus 7 2013 model. Amazon favors a wider design because it feels more book-like, but the screen is widescreen format that's well suited to video content, though the design might make you think otherwise.


Amazon has Whispersync that keeps your devices in sync for the last read page, X-Ray for getting more info on movies and now music too (complete with Karaoke-friendly lyrics), and now we have Mayday. That's a button at the top of the screen you can press to get live video chat help in 15 to 20 seconds. Don't worry- video chat is one-way: you can see the Amazon rep but they can't see you. This is the perfect feature if you're gifting the tablet to a techno-newbie like grandpa or Uncle Joe who still holds his Jitterbug phone upside down. They'll bug Amazon instead of you: priceless.

Kindle Fire HDX


Deals and Shopping:


Kindle Fire HDX 7" Video Review


Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 Video Review


Despite Amazon's claims that this is a glare fighting display, it's not. This is a very reflective and glossy screen, which may bother ebook types when compared to the nearly glare-free Kindle Paperwhite e-ink display. The good news is that the IPS display is bright and it has excellent color saturation and balance. Whites are neutral and contrast is high. It's a great match for the excellent 2013 Nexus 7 in terms of display quality, and I find the colors slightly more vibrant on the Kindle Fire HDX 7". Viewing angles are wide and auto-brightness does a reasonably good job of matching ambient light. It's simply superb for reading with sharp text with no halos or jaggies. Magazines with their tiny fonts are readable on this relatively small display and movies look simply fantastic.


Kindle Fire tablets have been second class citizens with lackluster CPUs and graphics. That's changed with the Kindle Fire HDX, and you get the cream of the crop Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad core CPU clocked at 2.2GHz. That's the same CPU used in the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, upcoming 4G LTE version of the 2014 Edition Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and the LG G2. It's one of the fastest mobile CPUs on the market, and the Adreno 330 GPU is equally impressive. Amazon wants to sell more high end 3D games on their app store, and now they've got a tablet that can handle the most demanding games.

While past Kindle Fire models have felt sluggish (we were never sure if it was Fire OS or the hardware to blame), the Kindle Fire HDX is fast, smooth and responsive. The tablet has 2 gigs of RAM, just as do higher end Android tablets and smartphones that often cost more. It's available with 16, 32 or 64 gigs of storage and there's no microSD card slot to augment storage. Amazon's cloud services for file storage and all Amazon content (movies, books, magazines, music) offset the need for gobs of internal storage since that content is streamed wirelessly. You can even put your own content on your Amazon cloud drive, so you need not buy lots of stuff from Amazon just to stream. I've uploaded my music to my Amazon cloud drive and it appears for streaming on the Fire HDX.


  Quadrant 3D Mark Ice Storm demo test Sunspider JavaScript Test
Kindle Fire HDX 7" 20,382 16,657 (Extreme test) 572
Google Nexus 7 (2013) 5339 7304 (Extreme test) 1058
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 7054 3299 1024
LG G Pad 8.3 11,913 6480 (extreme) 22,644
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 23,355 13,785 (unlimited) 34,890
2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1(Exynos Octa) 17,914 9322 (Unlimited test) 605
Sony Xperia Tablet Z 7450 10,101 (Extreme test) 1501


Battery Life

As with most mobile OS tablets, the battery is sealed inside. Amazon doesn't disclose its capacity, but they claim 11 hours of mixed use and 17 hours of reading time on a full charge (that's actual use time, not standby). In our tests, the 7" HDX comes close and we averaged 10 to 10.5 hours of mixed use with the brightness set to 50% and WiFi turned on. Standby times are excellent and we haven't suffered mysterious overnight battery drain as we sometimes do with Android tablets. Amazon includes a 5 watt, 1 amp charger in the box and a micro USB cable.


The Kindle Fire HDX has dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n with MIMO and Bluetooth that works with devices like keyboards. As with the last generation Fire, WiFi speeds are excellent and range is good. If you want 4G LTE, Amazon will offer AT&T and Verizon versions of the tablet for $100 more. The 4G models have GPS with a aGPS, but the WiFi only models do not.

It's Still a Kindle

This isn't a general purpose Android tablet. Many of you know this by now. Amazon has heavily customized the Android UI so you might not even recognize it as Android at first (or second) blush. There's no Google Play Store here, no Google Maps or native Gmail client. While Amazon might come up with a mapping solution at some point for 4G models, you won't get the wide array of mapping solutions that you'd find on a standard Android tablet. The Fire HDX 7" has a front 720p video chat camera, but no rear camera. There's no NFC or haptic feedback--those little extras that you might expect to find on a standard Android tablet. The Fire HDX is made for the consumption of Amazon services, and it excels at that.

Now that I've scared you, here's a secret: it's pretty easy to get some Google services and apps on board. Heck, I've even side-loaded the Nook app and it works perfectly. You can use the USB cable to side-load content or apps to the Fire HDX. If you want to install Google Play Books, Google Play Magazines, Google Play Music and Gmail, simply go to settings-> applications and turn on the option that allows you to install apps from unknown sources. Get a hold of the apk (installation) files for the apps you want to install, put them on the Fire HDX in the download folder (or anywhere, but that's a logical location) and use a free file manager like ES File Explorer or AndroXplorer from the Kindle app store to run the apks. XDA Developers is a good place to start if you want to hack your Kindle Fire HDX. has a helpful how-to and you can download the required Google apks there too. The caveat? Get the apks from places you trust, and keep in mind they won't get updated since there's no Google Play Store on the Kindle for apps. Google Play Store doesn't work on an unrooted Kindle Fire HDX so far.

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9"

As with the last generation Kindle Fire HD models, Amazon also offers an 8.9" model that's particularly well suited for watching videos. It has a 2560 x 1600 display, just like the Nexus 10 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition tablets, so you're getting a better than full HD quality. It too will be available in WiFi and WiFi + 4G LTE versions, and the price starts at $379 for the 16 gig WiFi model with offers. Beyond screen size and resolution, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 adds a rear 8MP camera. It has the same CPU, RAM and wireless as the 7" HDX.


If you want a tablet primarily to consume Amazon services and content, the Kindle Fire HDX is the way to go. Books, movies, magazines and music--it's all here and easier to use than on a PC with a web browser. Since there's no Amazon Prime Video for Android, your only other option is the iPad if you want to watch Prime videos on a mobile OS tablet. If you have a large investment in Google Play Store apps, need a rear camera (7") or want access to the full features of Android, a general purpose tablet like the 2013 Nexus 7 would be a better choice in this price range. But for Amazon customers and as a gift for techno-newbies thanks to Mayday, the latest Kindle is a definite buy. Better yet, you finally get cutting edge specs in the CPU and display department, so your Nexus or Samsung-toting buddy might even envy you a little.


Price: $229 for 16 gig WiFi, $329 for WiFi + 4G LTE 16 gig model. 32 and 64 gig models available at higher prices. $15 addition if you don't want "offers" (ads on the sleep screen).

Related Reviews:

Amazon Fire HD 6 Review

2013 Google Nexus 7

LG G Pad 8.3 Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

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The 2013 Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7"




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Display: 7" IPS touch screen. Resolution: 1920 x 1200 (323 PPI). Has ambient light sensor and accelerometer.

Battery: Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable. Claimed use time: 11 hours of mixed use, 17 hours reading.

Performance: 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad core CPU with Adreno 330 graphics. 2 gigs RAM and 16, 32 or 64 gigs internal storage.

Size: 7.3 x 5.0 x 0.35 inches. Weight: 11 ounces.

Cellular: On 4G LTE models, available for AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

Camera: 720p front camera.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers with Dolby audio, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n with MIMO and Bluetooth.

Software: Kindle Fire OS 3.0 "Mojito", based on Android OS 4.x Jelly Bean.

Expansion: None.


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