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Amazon has been offering tablets with 7 inch, 8 inch, and 10 inch displays since 2015. This year the company added an 11 inch model to the family. The new Amazon Fire Max 11 sells for $230 and up and, when compared with the $150 Amazon Fire HD 10, the new tablet has a slightly bigger screen, a much faster processor, and other improvements including higher resolution cameras and support for faster wireless connections. There’s also a fingerprint sensor on the Max 11, which is a first for an Amazon Fire tablet.

The starting price gets you a model with more memory and storage. And the Fire Max 11 also supports optional accessories including a keyboard case and a pressure-sensitive pen. It does not have a headphone jack though. So is the new tablet worth the extra $80?

Left: Fire Max 11 / Right: Fire HD 10 (2019)

That probably depends on what you’re looking for. The display characteristics are so close that you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between the Fire HD 10’s 1920 x 1200 pixel screen and the Max 11’s 2000 x 1200 pixel display.

But the processor? It’s a lot faster.

On paper, here’s how the Fire HD 10 and Fire Max 11 chips stack up against one another:

Fire Max 11Fire HD 10 (2019 and 2021)
ChipMediaTek MT8188JMediaTek MT8183
CPU2 x ARM Cortex-A78 @ 2.2 GHz
6 x ARM Cortex-A55 @ 2 GHz
4 x ARM Cortex-A73 @ 2 GHz
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 2 GHz
GPUMali-G57 MC2 @ 950 MHzMali-G72 MP3 @ 800 MHz

Neither of these chips is a flagship-class processor, but the MT8183 comes much closer to what you’d expect from a mid-range smartphone or tablet chip released in the past few years. And that’s born out by synthetic benchmarks.

I recently picked up a Fire Max 11 and ran some tests to compare it with my aging Fire HD 10 (2019) tablet. Keep in mind that the 2019 and 2021 versions of the Amazon Fire HD 10 have the same processor, but Amazon did increase the amount of memory included in the 2021 model which may lead to slightly better performance in some benchmarks.

The 2021 model also has a brighter display, slimmer bezels for an overall more compact design, and a few other improvements that wouldn’t really make a difference on benchmarks.

Anyway, here’s how the Fire Max 11 and Fire HD (2019) fared on some benchmarks:

Fire Max 11Fire HD 10 (2019 and 2021)
GeekBench 5 (single-core)687265
GeekBench 5 (multi-core)2,007856
Passmark (system)10,6293,158
Passmark (CPU)5,1881.433
Passmark (3D graphics)19,67015,948
3DMark Slingshot Extreme2,4251,138
3DMark Slingshot3,4871,564

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Fire Max 11 is running the Android 11-based Fire OS 8, while my Fire HD 10 runs Fire OS 7, which is based on Android 9. For that reason, some benchmarks wouldn’t run on the older tablet. But I’ll let you know that the Fire Max scored 935 for single-core performance on GeekBench 6 and 2,348 for multi-core performance. And it go a score of 322 on 3DMark Wild Life Extreme and 1,102 on Wild Life.

Synthetic benchmarks aren’t always indicative of real-world performance, but I can say that the new tablet does feel generally more responsive than the Fire HD 10 when it comes to opening apps, switching apps, and loading content, among other things.

Left: Fire Max 11 / Right: Fire HD 10 (2019)

I did install the Google Play Store on both tablets in order to make it easier to run applications that aren’t available from the Amazon Appstore and anecdotally, it feels like at least one of those apps is a little more crash-prone on the Fire Max 11: the Vivaldi web browser tends to crash if I open too many tabs on the newer tablet.

But it’s unclear if that’s a hardware or software issue. Keep in mind that while you can enable installation of apps from outside of the Amazon Appstore on Amazon Fire tablets, the company doesn’t officially support the Google Play Store or anything downloaded from it… and the latest version of Fire OS 8 appears to be locked down a little more tightly than Fire OS 7.

In terms of physical design, the Fire Max 11 has a metal back, while the Fire HD 10 has a plastic rear cover. The metal feels a bit sturdier, but it’s also a little more slippery. I never feel like the tablet’s going to fall out of my hands, but I’ve noticed that it’s more likely than the Fire HD 10 to slide a bit when I place it on a glass table.

Left: Fire Max 11 / Right: Fire HD 10 (2019)

The Fire Max 11’s front-facing camera is centered when you hold the tablet in landscape mode, while the Fire HD 10’s camera is centered in portrait mode, making it much more natural to use the newer tablet for video calls.

As for the physical size of the tablets, the Fire Max 11 is very close to the same size as the 2019 Fire HD 10. But Amazon shrunk its Fire HD 10 a bit when releasing the 2021 model. So while I can only show you pictures of the two tablets I have (the 2019 Fire HD 10 and 2023 Fire Max 11), here are the physical dimensions of each:

So in addition to showing some comparison pictures with the two tablets I have on hand, here’s a comparison of the physical dimensions and weights of all three tablets:

Fire Max 11Fire HD 10 (2021)Fire HD 10 (2019)
Dimensions259.1 x 163.7 x 7.5mm247 x 166 x 9.2mm262 x 159 x 9.8mm
Weight490 grams468 grams504 grams
Top: Fire Max 11 / Bottom: Fire HD 10 (2019)

Amazon has also rearranged the buttons: while my Fire HD 10 has a power button on top and volume buttons on the sides, all of those buttons are on the top of the Fire Max 11 (when held in portrait orientation). The power button also now has a built-in fingerprint sensor.

I actually prefer the old power button: it had a more tactile, clicky feel to it. The new button doesn’t extend quite as far from the edge of the tablet, and it doesn’t move as much when you press it. And that can make it a little trickier to find with your fingertip when you’re not looking at the tablet.

Top: Fire Max 11 / Bottom: Fire HD 10 (2019)

Adding fingerprint support does help you unlock the device a little more quickly. Instead of pressing the power button you can just place your fingertip against it to login and turn on the screen at the same time.

If you have a model without ads on the lock screen, you should be able to login and get to the home screen just by tapping your finger against the sensor. But if lock screen ads are enabled, then that won’t work. Tapping your finger to the sensor will turn on the display and show an ad that you still need to swipe up to dismiss. But you won’t have to enter a PIN once you’ve done that.

And alongside one of the longer edges, Amazon has added a set of 4 pogo pins and two connectors for the optional keyboard accessory.

Top: Fire HD 10 (2019) / Bottom: Fire Max 11

One thing that’s missing in the new model? A headphone jack. If you want to use headphones with this tablet you’ll either need a USB-C to 3.5mm audio adapter or wireless headphones.

Fortunately one of the other things Amazon upgraded was the wireless connectivity: the new tablet supports WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3, compared with WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 for the Fire HD 10 (2021) and WiFi 5 / Bluetooth 4.2 for the Fire HD (2019).

Overall, I do think the Fire Max 11 is a nice upgrade over my 4-year-old tablet. But honestly the primary reason I’m ready to replace my aging tablet is that the battery has become unreliable: a few months ago my Fire HD 10 began dying minutes after saying that the battery level was at 40 or 50 percent. After spending weeks troubleshooting the issue (this included several factory resets), I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot really trust the battery indicator on my old tablet anymore.

So when Prime Day came around, I found myself trying to decide between spending $215 on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite and $150 on an Amazon Fire Max 11. I decided to pull the trigger on the Amazon tablet because it has a faster processor and a lower price tag. And I do like to make a habit of figuring out how to install the Play Store on Amazon tablets.

And then I realized that I could bring the price down below $100 by trading in my Fire HD 10, which made the Max 11 a no-brainer. So now that I’ve done some side-by-side comparisons, I’m ready to take my old table to an Amazon drop-off location.

Folks who are looking for a tablet that doesn’t need to be hacked in order to access Google apps and services might want to consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite though. It has a similar size and shape to Amazon’s latest tablet, supports similar accessories (a Samsung S-Pen is included in the base price), and supports the Google Play Store out of the box. Samsung’s tablet does have a higher list price of $350, but it’s often on sale for much less. As of July 19, 2023 you can pick one up for $250, which makes it just $20 more than a Fire Max 11.

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  1. I recently got the Samsung S6 Tab Lite. I specifically wanted the S-Pen for art. Another good bonus is that it’s also a true Android device (with the Play Store). We have so many of the Amazon Fires around from other deals that we can use them for our Amazon/streaming video consumption.