Amazon’s current flagship Fire TV model, the 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube, was released in late 2019. While it’s still the best-performing Fire TV model and is holding its own among other premium streaming devices, at nearly 3 years old, it’s due for an update. It’ll probably come as no surprise, but I’ve found solid evidence that Amazon is currently working on a 3rd-generation Fire TV Cube under the code name Gazelle.
Each Fire TV device has a unique designation called a build model that starts with “AFT…” and can be used by app developers to identify precisely which version and generation Fire TV is being used. For example, the 1st-gen Fire TV Cube uses the build model AFTA and the 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube uses the build model AFTR. Over the last few weeks, Amazon has pushed out Fire TV software updates that contain a never before seen build model AFTGAZL with strong evidence that it is the designation for an upcoming 3rd-gen Fire TV Cube.
The new build model on its own is certainly not enough evidence to conclude a new stand-alone Fire TV model is coming since Amazon’s software updates regularly gain new build models for the numerous Fire TV Smart TVs being released on a regular basis worldwide. However, unlike most of the other Fire TV build models, the new AFTGAZL model is grouped with both previous Fire TV Cube models in Amazon’s recent software updates, with all three explicitly identified as Fire TV Cubes, due to their unique capabilities that separate them from other Fire TV models.
The letters after “AFT…” in the build model are usually a reference to the device’s code name. For example, the “A” in the 1st-gen Fire TV Cube’s “AFTA” build model is the first unused letter in its code name Stark, since both “AFTS” and “AFTT” were already used for older Fire TV models. The “R” in the 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube’s “AFTR” build model is for that model’s code name Raven. I made the obvious guess that “GAZL” in the new 3rd-gen Fire TV Cube’s build model stood for Gazelle and was able to find a recently uploaded “Gazelle.jpg” image on Amazon’s server of a Fire TV Cube, which confirms the new device’s code name. The “Gazelle.jpg” image doesn’t reveal anything about the device, as it is identical in every way to an image of the existing Fire TV Cube. There is no way to know if the next Fire TV Cube will actually look identical to the current Fire TV Cube or if Amazon is just using a temporary placeholder image for the new model, which Amazon has done in the past with other unreleased models.
As for specs of the unreleased 3rd-gen Fire TV Cube, very little is known at this time. Unlike my past Fire TV device leaks, none of the information I have about the new model comes from insider sources. It is all derived from digging through recently released Fire TV software updates that contain code that is common between existing Fire TV models and this new one. Other than the new Gazelle model being classified as a Fire TV Cube, the only other specs that the software updates reveal are that it has an internal speaker and internal IR blasters, just like the existing Fire TV Cube.
Moving into speculation territory, I’d say it’s safe to assume that the new Gazelle model will move up from WiFi 5, found in the current Fire TV Cube, to WiFi 6. That’s because the recently released Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the first Fire TV model to feature WiFi 6, so it would be absurd for the next flagship Fire TV to not match that cheaper device’s WiFi capabilities. I also expect Gazelle to have a faster CPU and GPU, but I honestly wouldn’t be too disappointed if the same 6-core CPU in the existing Fire TV Cube is used in the new model if it means it has a lower price or the cost that would have otherwise gone into a better SoC was used elsewhere for other improvements, since the existing SoC still outperforms nearly every mainstream streaming device.
I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t expect the 3rd-gen Fire TV Cube to be much different from the existing model. There is undoubtedly a laundry list of hardware features that enthusiasts would want to see in a new flagship Fire TV model, but I suspect Amazon will stick to its formula of bumping up a few key specs and leaving most of the device unchanged from the previous model. While flagship device buyers tend to be the most vocal customers, the unfortunate truth for enthusiasts is that budget-friendly Fire TV Stick models make up over 90% of all Fire TV devices in the wild, which leaves very little reason for Amazon to put a lot of effort into the next flagship Fire TV.
Traces of a new model leaking into Amazon’s Fire TV software updates are usually an indication that the new device is nearing its release date. Amazon typically announces new Fire TV models in September and releases them in October, so I expect we’ll learn a lot more about the new 3rd-gen Fire TV Cube in the coming months. That said, electronic device manufacturers are still plagued with part shortages and pandemic-related delays, so we might not see the new model released until early next year.