Amazon launches a new $90 tablet as people are stuck at home

Key Points
  • Amazon announced two Fire HD 8 tablets on Wednesday.
  • The updated models have improved specs, including faster processors and more storage space. 
  • The new tablets launch on June 3 and start at $89.99.

In this article

Amazon's Fire 8 tablets.

Amazon just announced two new 8-inch Fire tablet models that start at $89.99.

The entry-level model, the Fire HD 8, has a faster processor than before and 32 GB of storage. The upgraded model, the Fire HD 8 Plus, can charge wirelessly with the right charger, has more RAM and comes with a six-month subscription to Kindle Unlimited, Amazon's book rental subscription service, for $109.99.

The tablets start shipping on June 3, Amazon said Wednesday.

The new models are launching as a large proportion of the world's population is under some sort of lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

With a bigger screen than a phone, tablets are generally well-positioned for the kinds of tasks people do at home, including content consumption. Lockdowns have boosted sales of tablets and other large electronics in the United States. TV, tablet and PC sales were up 33% year over year in the first week of May, research firm NPC estimated this week.

Amazon's strategy is to sell tablets at low prices and then make money when consumers use them to buy digital content like movies and books on its website. Some of Amazon's devices also bundle in a free trial period to Amazon's content services, which can help boost their subscriber numbers. Amazon's tablets cost much less than competing iPads from Apple, which start at $329, but Apple's devices generally feel more premium

The announcement of the new models also suggests that Amazon's electronics supply chain is operational enough for new product launches. 

In 2019, Amazon was the the No. 4 tablet maker worldwide by number of tablets shipped, behind Huawei, Samsung and Apple, according to research firm IDC. 

The new tablets charge using USB-C, which is the standard charger for most laptops, tablets and Android phones. The devices also have microSD card slots, which can expand the built-in storage. Battery life for both devices has been bumped to 12 hours from 10. 

The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition comes in a durable case.

Amazon is also releasing a version targeted at kids for $139.99 that comes with a durable, kid-friendly case. The Fire HD Kids Edition includes a bundled year-long subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, a subscription service for child-friendly books, videos and games. 

What it's like inside an Amazon warehouse during the Covid-19 pandemic
What it's like inside an Amazon warehouse during the Covid-19 pandemic