What is the Amazon Fire tablet for under $50, releasing September 30th?

To make sure you have the facts when the topic comes up in social chitchat, we cover what you need to know about the under $50 Amazon Fire tablet which is releasing in under a week. It can be pre-ordered now if you want, but I strongly recommend you read this first, since there are some “ifs and buts” that may apply to you.


 

What is Amazon Fire in general and why are there a lot of Fire products out there already?

Good question, and I’ll keep it brief. Amazon Fire was originally a streaming device for TV, but now there are a family of different standalone Amazon tablets out there running a similar operating system to the streaming devices, so I guess they continued to call it Fire because of the similar way the OS worked. I personally think it would have been smarter to call the tablets something distinctly new, like “Explosion” or “Conflagration” (given that the reader was Kindle, and the TV streamer was Fire).

The tablets can do so much more than the TV streamers that it seems a shame to give them the same class of name, but that’s what Amazon decided. Summary: if you find it confusing they’re all named Fire, you have good reason to be! Let’s move on.

Next: Why should I care about the under $50 Amazon Fire tablet?

In one sentence: because it’s under $50. It’s the world’s first budget-priced tablet, and for that reason it’s pretty remarkable. There are other Amazon Fire tablets, but only one model of these is under $50, and this is the one which most people are talking about these days. It’s the one which is releasing September 30th 2015 and is available to pre-order before that.

What’s the catch? Since most tablets cost way more than $50, what would I be compromising on if I get the Kindle Fire for under $50?

Excellent question. Yes there is a trade-off. Mostly, you’d be compromising on three things:

1. Screen resolution – it’s lower than most modern tablets (see reference 1).
2. The device is slightly thicker than most modern tablets (see reference 1).
3. You’ll see ads on the lock screen – although you can buy your way out of these for $15 (see reference 2).

There may be other compromises than that, but until this model of Fire tablet is actually released and gets fully reviewed, we won’t know what those are. These three issues are what CNET and Forbes identified in their preview of the product (see references 1 and 2). But for a $50 tablet, many may feel this is reasonable.

How can I tell which tablet is the under $50 one, and what are its features?

Aside from the obvious (price tag), the under $50 model is the 7-inch tablet in the family. It has 1GB of RAM and contains 8GB of internal storage. The tablet has 2 cameras, front-facing (0.3 megapixel) and rear-facing (2 Megapixel). If you want to find out more about the specs, check it out below:


Tell me some neat nuggets of information about the under $50 Fire Tablet that my friends may not have heard about yet!

  • You can use Amazon Underground on it, an Amazon app which unlocks apps for free that are normally paid ones, allows extra lives, unlimited add-on packs, etc. Lots of perks you’d normally pay for, basically.
  • It has a microSD card slot, unlike most other tablets on the market. Still, I’m not sure how useful this would be in practice – with so much cloud storage there’s not really as much of a demand anymore for physical device-to-device transfer.
  • You can buy it in a six-pack: if you choose to do this, it works out to buying 5 and getting 1 free.
  • I know I already mentioned the ads on the lock screen, but it’s a point few people know about.
  • There is to be a Kids Edition with parental controls and a durable case – although it costs around $100. It comes with a two-year worry-free guarantee though.

I’ve heard the Amazon OS is based on Android. Can I run Android apps on Amazon Fire tablet?

The short answer is “only if you get them from the Amazon app store”. The Amazon OS (called Bellini) runs on an Android platform, that is true. But there are some differences, and therefore you can’t download apps from the Google Play store – you’ll have to get your apps from Amazon app store instead (reference 2). This may be a deal-breaker for some.

On the other hand, more and more apps are making their way into the Amazon app store as the Fire rises in popularity. Still, this is 10-fold fewer than what is currently available in the Google Play store (see reference 2).

Summary

This is a $50 tablet we’re talking about, so don’t expect too much out of it, especially resolution-wise. The inability to use the Google Play Store may be a deal-breaker for some people. Still, for the price it seems to have some pretty good features, at least in theory.

If you’re thinking of purchasing it, be cautious: it may be wiser to wait for it to come out on the market and see what reviews say. Still, if you don’t mind risking $50 and want to be one of the first of your group to snag the new product, go ahead and pre-order.

Cited sources:

1. Amazon introduces the world’s first $50 tablet (hands-on) in CNET, September 17, 2015.
2. Read the fine print before buying the $50 Amazon Fire tablet in Forbes, September 17, 2015.

If you found this article useful, you may also like to read my review of free Yandex email, and why I feel it’s a better alternative to Yahoo or Hotmail.