Amazon’s first-generation Kindle Fire was absolutely not an iPad killer, and that’s exactly why it was so successful. The online retail giant sought not to compete with Apple’s juggernaut but rather to open a new door, one that would focus on a more compact design and far more affordable pricing. At $499, the iPad was a tremendous value. At $199, the Kindle Fire was a steal. But the Kindle Fire was just the beginning and affordability alone would only take Amazon so far. The company’s current Kindle Fire HD models were the result of that realization, though they were merely the tip of the iceberg. With its next-generation Kindle Fire HD tablets that are set to debut this fall, Amazon is taking things to a completely different level — and its rivals should be worried.
Google recently unveiled a brand new Nexus 7 tablet and the tech media fawned over it for days. The new Android 4.3 software looked nice, the specs looked powerful, the high-resolution display looked beautiful and the hardware looked adequate. But these factors alone weren’t enough to get people so excited. The truly impressive aspect of Google’s announcement was that sleek new software, cutting-edge specs and high-resolution display were all available on a tablet that started at just $230.
If you think the new Nexus 7 is impressive, just wait until you see what Amazon is preparing to debut this fall.
In a recent report, BGR exclusively revealed preliminary details on three new tablets Amazon plans to launch in the coming months. The first will be a replacement for the entry-level Kindle Fire tablet, while the other two will be replacements for both current flagship Kindle Fire HD models. Now, multiple trusted sources have provided BGR with a more complete picture of the company’s next-generation Kindle Fire HD tablets that includes the devices’ complete specs.
Beginning with the upcoming new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD tablet, we already reported that the slate will feature a high-resolution 1,920 x 1,200-pixel display and a new design, and now we can fill in the blanks. We’re told the tablet will be powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974) system on a chip, which includes four Krait 400 CPUs and Adreno 330 graphics. Prototypes are said to be clocked at about 2GHz.
With Texas Instruments no longer producing mobile processors, Qualcomm was the obvious choice but we’re not sure anyone expected Amazon to go with the high-end Snapdragon 800 chipset for its next-generation tablet lineup.
The new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD set to launch later this year also includes an upgrade to 2GB of RAM, a front-facing camera, Wi-Fi and available cellular connectivity. It will ship with either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage according to our sources, and internal test units are currently running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Amazon’s heavy customizations. Considering how close we are to Amazon’s target launch timeframe, this will likely be the device’s operating system version at launch.
The larger 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD model Amazon is planning to release this fall features specs similar to the 7-inch model behind its 2,560 x 1,600-pixel high-definition display. Sources state that the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset will power the tablet and it will also feature the same front-facing camera, optional cellular data support, internal storage sizes and 2GB of RAM. The 8.9-inch model will also feature an 8-megapixel rear camera though, while the 7-inch model will not include a rear camera.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
We’re told that the look and feel of Amazon’s next-generation Kindle Fire HD tablets are vastly improved compared to the current models, and we detailed several design changes in our earlier exclusive report. The new tablets are said to be more comfortable and lighter than the models they will replace; the current 7-inch Kindle Fire HD model weighs 13.9 ounces and the 8.9-inch model weighs 20 ounces.
One source also noted that the bezel around the screen on the 7-inch model measures about half an inch all around and the 8.9-inch model’s bezel is about three-quarters of an inch wide.
Beyond the look and feel of the tablets, their performance is also vastly improved. This is obvious on paper from the specs listed above but more importantly, it is very evident in practice. Even in their current pre-launch states, benchmark test results reveal performance that is roughly three times better than the scores achieved by Amazon’s current Kindle Fire HD lineup.
If the current tablets are kindling, Amazon’s next-generation Kindle Fire HD tablet lineup is a full-blown inferno.
Multiple sources tell BGR that Amazon is shooting for a fall launch, possibly as early as late September, and all three devices are said to currently be on track. Pricing is apparently still not finalized but as we mentioned in our earlier report, Amazon is said to be trying hard to maintain its current tablet price points. There will be some variation though, since the new Kindle Fire HD tablets will each be available with three different storage options instead of two, as noted above, and the entry-level Kindle Fire tablet will also come in three sizes: 8GB, 16GB and 32GB.
Google’s cards are now on the table, Samsung’s newest tablets are beyond boring, Barnes & Noble is out of the game and Apple’s iPad mini might only get a minor update this year, which means its specs will not be competitive at all and it will cost a minimum of $100 more than rival devices.
If ever there was a time for Amazon to wow us with impressive new Kindle Fire HD tablets, that time is now.