The 2014 edition of the Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is powered by a 2.5 GHz, quad-core, 32-bit Snapdragon 805 processor from Qualcomm. This gives it quite respectable performance. It’s not cutting-edge, but it is more than capable of handling day-to-day jobs.
With the Geekbench 3 benchmarking app, it had a score of 1080 in the single-core test and 3050 in the multi-core test. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 scored about 340 and 1150, while the HTC Nexus 9 averaged about 1900 and 3300. The Apple iPad Air’s scores are roughly 1470 and 2660.
It’s score with the Quadrant benchmarking tool is an impressive 22500.
Amazon offers versions of the Fire HDX 8.9 with 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB of storage, with each doubling of the capacity adding $50 to the price. The lack of a microSD memory car slot means that built-in storage is important, so those expecting to install large numbers of apps, videos, and other files should either buy a version with 32 or 36 GB, or invest in something like the Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2, though Amazon’s free cloud storage helps too.
The Fire HDX 8.9 runs Amazon’s Fire OS, but don’t be confused: this is a modified version of Google Android 4.4.3 not a different operating system. Everything is the same behind the scenes, but the design of the app launcher has been simplified.
The feature that really sets the design apart from the standard version is a carousel of icons for recently-opened software. Below this is a grid of icons that can be arranged up by the user. Icons can be moved into sub-folders, handy because there’s only one homescreen.
Ebooks,, albums, and mmovies are included in the carousel, as Amazon puts an emphasis on accessing these, as well as trying to sell more to users of this tablet. Links to Amazon’s various webstores for books, videos, and music appear prominently in the Fire OS. Apple does something similar with its iPads, and Google does the same with Android, but neither are as blatant as the Fire OS, especially as a link to Amazon’s full website is also prominent.
Speaking of shopping, this tablet includes support for Amazon Firefly, an app that enables users to find items on Amazon’s website by pointing the camera at real-world examples, or by listening to songs, movies, and TV shows.
On the positive side is Family Profiles, which allows a group of up to two adults and four children to easily share one Fire HDX 8.9, with each person being able to customize the device for themselves. Adults can control what the children have access to.
Amazon added support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi, so this new version can transfer data up to 4x faster than the previous Fire HDX 8.9. It also includes MIMO (Multiple Input and Multiple Output), which means it has more than one Wi-Fi antenna, further increasing transfer speeds. Of course, any real-world increase requires a wireless router that also includes these technologies.
An optional feature is support for 4G LTE, with versions for AT&T or Verizon. This adds $150 to the price of the tablet, but brings near ubiquitous wireless Internet access. This requires a monthly service plan with the appropriate carrier, naturally.
The Fire HDX 8.9 has an 8 MP rear-facing camera with LED flash. While people generally prefer phones over tablets for taking pictures because the smaller devices are much less unwieldy, Amazon has built a quality camera into this device, and one quite capable of taking good photos in not just ideal conditions, but in bad lighting too. And it supports recording 1080p HD video.
The front-facing camera supports 720p HD for video calls and selfies.
Amazon says the Fire HDX 8.9 is good for 8 hours of mixed use – web browsing, video, ebook reading, etc. According to our tests, that’s actually pessimistic. For example, we found that the battery had more than a 50% charge after 3 days of moderate use.
Contributing to this is Smart Suspend, which can be set to automatically turn off Wi-Fi at times of the night or day when it’s not being used.
This tablet comes with a charger designed to completely refuel it in about 5 hours.