You heard it from us first
The Amazon Fire 10 is a useful tablet for a lot of people. It’s an excellent tablet for families since parents can easily control content on the Fire 10 and keep inappropriate materials from kids.
The specs are also fairly impressive. It has a 10.1 inch, 224ppi LCD display. It features a 2GHz Mediatek MT8183 octa-core processor with 2GB of RAM. You can get models with either 32GB or 64GB internal storage. It also supports a microSD card for extra storage of up to 512 GB.
However, there are a lot of limitations and drawbacks of using an Amazon Fire 10. We’ll cover all of these so you know what you’re getting into when you buy one of these tablets.
1. Annoying Login Ads
When you turn on your Amazon Fire 10 tablet, the very first thing you’re confronted with is a full screen ad. The ad changes every time you log in.
To unlock, you need to drag a finger from the lock icon up.
When you’ve paid from $150 to $190 for an Amazon Fire 10 tablet, the last thing you should have to deal with are ads. And certainly not ads as in-your-face as right on the login screen.
2. Amazon Products and Services
Once you get logged in, you’ll notice that the main page doesn’t let you get very far from Amazon.
Most of the pre-installed apps are for things like Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, and Amazon Kids.
This is understandable considering that ultimately the tablet itself is an Amazon product, so of course they’re going to want to drive you toward using Amazon services.
Unfortunately, Amazon’s self-promotion doesn’t end there, as you’ll see below.
3. The Silk Browser
Then one of the biggest limitations with the Amazon Fire 10 tablet is the Silk browser. It isn’t so much that the Silk browser – the default browser that comes installed on the Amazon Fire tablet – is severely lacking in features. It’s just the fact that you’re limited to use it and nothing else.
We’ll get to that limitation in a moment, but first it’s important to review the limited features of the Silk browser itself.
As a basic browser, it does the job. It defaults to use the Bing search engine (although you can change this). It is a minimalist, fast browser that gets the job done and will let you surf the internet as well as just about any other browser out there.
However, there’s no real room for expansion with extensions or add-ons. Beyond the basic browser features, don’t expect bells and whistles at all.
The menu is where you’ll find most features, which includes bookmarks, switching dark and light themes, forcing desktop viewing of sites, and a “Private Tab” feature like Chrome’s incognito.
But you’ll also notice even the browser itself is integrated with Amazon features. The menu has a link to your Amazon Lists. It also has a quick link to Amazon for shopping, and a feature called Instant Recommendations that monitors websites you visit so the browser can offer other page recommendations and related searches.
Without a doubt, Instant Recommendations is likely a way for Amazon to also offer you ads that are more relevant to your interests – so enable this with caution.
If you want to use some other browser like Firefox or Chrome, you’re out of luck. If you try searching the Appstore for these browsers, you won’t find them.
What you will find is an unusual app called Google Search, which you may think is the equivalent of the Chrome browser. It isn’t.
4. Google Services Are Scaled-Down Alternatives
If you’re a major user of Google services, this is probably the single issue that’ll turn you off from using an Amazon Fire tablet.
Google Search is an app that lets you use the Google search engine. Google Chrome this is not. It’s sort of like a beyond-minimalist app that lets you search Google Web and Google Images.
The menu itself is very basic and offers no real links to many other Google services or your Google account.
Search listings default to mobile view, so they don’t even fill the entire page like you would expect. It does the job, but not very well. Especially if you’re used to all of the features offered by the Chrome browser.
Other apps that seem to offer Google services you might want to use are equally scaled down. For example, Google Calendar is absolutely nothing like Google Calendar on the web, or even the Google Calendar app offered by Google for mobile devices.
You only get a Day and Month view, no weekly view at all. There are really no other features to speak of, and the Settings menu is bare of any useful tweaks or customizations to speak of.
The Google Drive app is the same story. There are few other devices that offer a Google Drive app that’s as bare bones as the one on the Amazon Fire tablet.
Yes, if you sign into your Google account on the app, you can access all of the folders and files in your Google Drive. However, that’s all you can do.
It’s essentially a way to access your files so you can view them, edit them, or download them. That’s it.
You can’t create a new directory or file from the app. This seems like a basic feature you’d expect any app that plugs into your Google Drive account to have. But on the Amazon Fire tablet, the functionality just doesn’t exist.
This is a major drawback. Even worse, viewing or editing files doesn’t even use the Google Drive app itself. It opens the file in the Silk browser, where you can view and edit.
Essentially, the Google drive app is almost entirely useless. You’d be better off just accessing your Google Drive account using the Silk browser instead.
5. Other Amazon Fire Apps are Equally Limited
It isn’t just Google services or apps that are severely limited in functionality. One example is the Facebook app.
Most of the features you’re used to seeing in Facebook online or the mobile Facebook app are missing from the Amazon Fire Facebook app. It also defaults to mobile view, which looks terrible when using the tablet in wide-screen orientation.
If you tap the menu, it lacks almost everything you see in the Facebook menu on the web or mobile version as well. And again, anything you tap like a link or image will always open in the Silk browser. Like Google services, you’re better off just using the Silk browser to access the Facebook site to begin with.
Amazon Apps are Full Featured
What other apps lack in functionality, Amazon apps have in spades. For example, the Prime video app has all of the menus, categories, and most of the options you’re used to seeing on the Amazon Prime website or mobile app.
You can search for and watch content, view Channels, or select My Stuff to access your library and more.
6. There Are Useful Features But They’re Also Amazon Focused
You will find embedded features on the Amazon Fire 10 tablet that are very useful, so long as you’re an Amazon user.
For example, the tablet has a dedicated “Device Dashboard” to access and control your smart home devices. But the entire feature is dedicated entirely to using Alexa to control those devices.
Don’t expect the same kind of easy integration if your smart home control hub is something like Google Home.
If you scroll through the tablet settings, you’ll even see Amazon focused settings here.
The search field at the top of the main screen on the tablet is convenient, but a bit weird. If you search for anything there, it opens something that looks like a very basic web browser – with internet search results displayed in the center window. These results are powered by Bing.
Even internet results are centered primarily on Amazon’s own services. There’s always an Amazon link at the top that you can use at any time to find results for your search on Amazon.
This is clearly yet another opportunity for Amazon to push its own services, and to give you one more avenue to purchase products using Amazon.
7. Tablet Utility Apps are Not Very Useful
One last reason the Amazon Fire 10 is a terrible tablet is the pre-installed utility apps.
If you tap the Utilities icon, you’ll see a list of apps like a calendar, clock, weather, maps, and more.
These are all such bare-bones apps that they’re essentially useless.
The Maps app does let you search for locations and build an itinerary, but it lacks even a quarter of the features you’d find on a mapping app like Google Maps.
The Calendar, Clock, and Calculator utilities are even less functional then similar apps that come standard on your smartphone.
The only somewhat useful utility is the Weather app.
This senses your location (or lets you search for others), and shows everything you’d need to know like current weather, high/low temps, precipitation, sunrise and sunset, and a forecast at the bottom.
As you can see, the few redeeming qualities of the Amazon Fire 10 tablet hardly make up for everything it’s lacking.
If you are a very Amazon-centric customer and don’t mind everything you do online focused entirely on Amazon products and services, then none of this should bother you. But if, like most people, you use and own a variety of products and services – most of these limitations will eventually have you setting aside the tablet for some more useful mobile device.