It’s now been almost a year since the Kindle Fire HD was released, and as surely as autumn follows summer, Amazon is preparing to launch an updated line of tablets to compete against the rejuvenated Nexus 7 and the (assumed) iPad mini with Retina display.
According to “trusted sources,” Amazon will be releasing new versions of the 7in and 8.9in Kindle Fire HD and the entry-level Kindle Fire in September – and, if the trusted source is to be believed, the Kindle Fire HDs will come with very impressive hardware specs indeed.
With the new Nexus 7 already released, and receiving generally excellent reviews, how will the new Kindle Fire HD stack up?
Kindle Fire HD 2
According to a source who spoke to BGR, both the 7in and 8.9in Kindle Fire HD tablets, and the entry-level Kindle Fire, will receive significant overhauls in terms of appearance, hardware, and software.
All three tablets will lose their rounded edges (see the pic of the current Kindle Fire HD 7 below) and bezels, and take on a more “chiselled” appearance, apparently making them more comfortable. The new tablets will be lighter, too, though we don’t have any exact figures.
On the hardware front, the 7in Fire HD will have a 1920 x 1200 display, 2GB of RAM, and a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC (clocked at around 2GHz, apparently). There’s a front-facing camera (but no rear-facing camera), Wi-Fi (probably up to 802.11n), and various storage (16/32/64GB) and cellular options.
The 8.9in Fire HD will have a 2560 x 1600 display and a rear-facing camera, but otherwise the specs appear to be identical.
Software-wise, both tablets are apparently running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean internally, with Amazon’s usual customisations. Android 4.3 is still almost brand new, so we’ll almost certainly get Android 4.2.2 or 4.2.3 when the Fire HD tablets launch sometime in September.
Price-wise, Amazon will be trying to match its current line-up (£159 for the 16GB 7in model, £229 for the 8.9in). With Google’s Nexus 7 price bump from £159 to £199, we wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon follows suit – or, on the other hand, Amazon could well try to push the advantage.
Kindle Fire 3
The Kindle Fire 3 will receive its own set of hardware and software upgrades. The display will make the jump to 1280 x 800 (up from 1024 x 600), and it will inherit the SoC that’s used in the current-gen Kindle Fire HD 8.9 (OMAP 4470, SGX544 graphics). RAM will stay at 1GB; and probably so will the price, at £129.
These might sound like fairly small upgrades, but it’s still almost a doubling in pixel density and CPU/GPU performance. It won’t match up to the Nexus 7 or iPad mini, but at £129 it isn’t meant to compete – it’s meant to pick up all of those consumers who want to get in on the tablet thing while spending as little money as possible. (Considering the Kindle Fire is still Amazon’s best-selling product, it would seem there are a lot of people like this).
Kindle Fire HD vs Nexus 7
Just like last year, the big question is, should you buy the Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire HD? And, just like last year, it’s a toss-up. If these specs turn out to be real, then the 7in Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 will have almost identical hardware specs, with the only real differentiator being the rear-facing camera and the software.
The 8.9in Kindle Fire HD, of course, won’t have much in the way of competition (except from the iPad Mini, I suppose, but that will be in a different price bracket) – and the Kindle Fire, at £129, will continue to mop up the remainders. I wonder where in this price range the Surface Mini will debut, too.
If all goes to plan, the new Kindle Fires should be announced sometime in September, and released soon after. Amazon has a tendency to release one or two new products each year, too, so we wouldn’t be shocked if CEO Jeff Bezos also has a surprise product announcement up his sleeve. An Android-based game console or set-top box, perhaps?