Amazon Fire 7 review: A budget tablet for the basics

After three years, Amazon finally updated its most affordable tablet: the fire 7, Starting at $59.99 ($74.99 without lockscreen ads), the new model costs a bit more than its predecessor, but it also comes with increased RAM as well as battery life that is comparable to the larger and significantly more expensive Fire. corresponds to HD 10. It also gets USB-C, up to 32GB of built-in storage, and a more powerful processor.

But do those extra features make it a good buy? After spending a month testing the ad-free version of the Fire 7, I’d say yes. Unless you’re just looking for a cheap entertainment tablet, this is a great device, especially if you’re already embedded in the Amazon ecosystem. Sure, you’ll have to be comfortable with some pretty big tradeoffs—like a seriously low-resolution, pixelated screen—but at this price, don’t expect perfection.

Like all Fire tablets, the Fire 7 has a plastic body. Its sides are more curved than those of the 2019 model, making it easier to hold with one hand. It’s half an ounce lighter than the 2019 model — 9.9 ounces instead of 10.4 — and is 7.11 inches taller, while the 2019 model was 7.55 inches. The slightly narrower bezels and slightly wider screen make the show easier to read and watch.

Unfortunately, the new Fire 7 still has a pixelated, grainy seven-inch display and only offers a 1024 x 600-pixel resolution (171 ppi). This is the thing that I disliked the most about the Fire 7. I don’t expect a $59.99 tablet to have a high-resolution display like the iPad or even the $149.99 Amazon Fire 10. But most people will buy this tablet for entertainment. As with watching movies, reading, and (slowly) browsing social media, and the display is a core feature, Amazon should have increased more than the storage capacity — especially because the Fire 7 comes with a microSD card slot. The display is also not fingerprint-resistant, and it blurs easily. It’s both bright and dim, making it challenging to use outside in the sun.

One hand holding the Amazon Fire 7 screen when it's on.

All that said, I still managed to enjoy reading eBooks and watching shows on the Fire 7. Once what I was reading or watching, I quickly forgot about the grainy screen, especially at night. That’s because the Fire 7 runs on the new Fire OS 8, which is a modified version of Android 11. With that new OS comes some useful user interface changes, like dark mode and a setting that reduces blue light. You can also customize the menu a bit.

I especially liked using the tablet for reading. The display is slightly sharper than the e-ink screen on the base Kindle, which offers a much lower 167ppi resolution. If you use the tablet as a secondary e-reader, that can be a perk, especially as the Fire 7 is $30 cheaper than the Kindle.

While the bad speaker delivered a crackling sound that’s neither full nor clear, I quickly forgot about them, thanks to the 3.5mm audio jack. This is something that newer tablets often lack and, along with Bluetooth support, means you can pair it with a wide range of headphones and speakers. This greatly improves sound quality, whether you’re listening to audiobooks, tuning in to music, or streaming a show through Audible.

A USB-C port and a headphone jack on the side of the Amazon Fire 7 tablet.

I was pleasantly surprised by the improved battery life. Amazon claims it takes about four hours to fully charge the Slate with the included five-watt charging brick and USB-C charging cable, which I found to be accurate. The company also claims up to 10 hours of battery life, which matches my experience. This puts it on a par with the more expensive Amazon Fire HD 10. It was about a week before I needed to recharge the tablet, whereas its predecessor only lasted two days. To sum up how much better the battery is, watching a 25-minute documentary saw the battery drop by about 5 percent (at 70 percent brightness, I might add). In comparison, my colleague Cameron Faulkner saw the previous model’s battery drop by 20 percent when watching a 23-minute episode.

Storage options are also better this time. While it still only comes with 16GB or 32GB of built-in storage, the new model can support microSD cards of up to 1TB. Its predecessor maxed out at 512GB.

There is a microSD slot on the side of Amazon Fire 7.

You can’t expect a $59.99 tablet to be as fast as the iPad, and it certainly isn’t. Still, while the Fire 7 is slow, at least it’s a little faster than its predecessor. This is because it is equipped with a nearly twice as powerful quad-core 2.0 GHz processor as well as 2GB of RAM, instead of the 1GB found in the 2019 model. It’s the same processor and memory as the $89.99 Fire HD 8. That still doesn’t make it great for gaming, but you’ll be able to open multiple web pages at the same time without, say, the tablet being quite slow – which is sometimes the case using the 2019 model. I also noticed some improvements in video playback, making it possible to watch again strange things Happy hundredth time. Typing, opening apps, and browsing the web are still relatively slow for someone like me who’s used to the speed of the iPad, but it means you’ll have to be patient for a few extra seconds—no big deal. .

However, it was not until I added my Gmail account to the built-in email app. After that, software navigation and app startup slowed down considerably and never returned to their fast performance, especially after I downloaded about seven apps, including Netflix. At least the video playback was good.

Video call quality, however, is another story. Before I connected my Gmail account to the email app, video call quality was poor – calls would lag and sometimes freeze, so I often had to turn off my video. Also, it didn’t help that the Fire HD 7’s cameras were still bad. Amazon didn’t update the 2MP front- and rear-facing cameras, so photos, selfies, and video chats look grainy through the Zoom, color saturation is low, and I could barely see myself in indoor low-light settings .

The Amazon logo is on the back of the Amazon Fire 7.

If you’re deeply embedded in the Amazon ecosystem and have, say, a Prime member or have an Alexa smart speaker, the Fire 7 (like other Amazon tablets) offers a lot of value for your money. It can run Alexa – I was able to use it to turn my smart lights on and off using my voice without any problems. I, like many people, also pay $139 per year for an Amazon Prime membership, which gives me free access to TV shows like boys, movies, books for My Kindle through Prime Reads, and Amazon’s ad-free Prime Music service. The selection of free books and music selection is certainly limited, but I was still able to find some things I liked.

The Fire 7 is also a great device to have if you want to keep your kids busy on long car rides or plane trips. It’s cheap and, when you create a child’s profile, comes with parental control options. You can filter what your child sees and set time limits through Amazon’s Parent Dashboard, which you can access via tablet, your smartphone, or PC.

amazon too Sells $109.99 Fire 7 Kids Edition tabletWhich comes with a durable case with a built-in stand, a two-year damage protection plan, and a one-year warranty. Amazon Kids Plus – A kid’s version of Amazon Prime with a curated selection of books, games and videos. Kids Plus is $4.99 per month for Prime members, so if you’re considering the Fire 7 for a young child that might break it or you’re interested in the Kids Plus service, Kids Edition – although I didn’t test it Yes – there might be a better option.

While the Fire 7 is great for consuming Amazon content, I was disappointed in Amazon’s App Store offerings. The selection still leaves a lot to be desired — you can download many popular apps and games like Netflix, Hulu, Instagram, Spotify, and Amazon’s Luna subscription gaming service. However, you still can’t download Google apps like YouTube, Google Drive or Play Store. You can sideload Google apps, that’s true, but it’s a relatively complicated process with security implications. Plus, while you can download Microsoft Office applications, many popular work and productivity apps like Slack, Airtable, and Asana are nowhere to be found — and actually using Microsoft Word to type documents is frustratingly slow. Don’t buy anything other than an amusement machine in this hope.

A mono speaker on the side of the Fire 7.

If you’re looking for a small, inexpensive tablet for reading, watching videos or listening to audiobooks, the Fire 7 is decent — and at this price, decent is acceptable. I’d especially recommend it as an alternative to the $89.99 Kindle. The Fire 7 offers a higher-density 171ppi display, more storage options, and access to the same Kindle ecosystem — and it plays video. Also, based on my experiences with its predecessor, it should last you relatively long. While my old Fire 7 is frustratingly slow, it really hasn’t gotten any worse over the years. I expect this version to be technically usable for at least three years as well.

On the other hand, if you’re, say, a movie buff in the market for an affordable tablet, consider buying Amazon’s $89.99 Fire 8 or $149.99 Fire 10. They boast larger and higher resolution screens, dual, not mono, speakers that sound better, and larger built-in storage options. And if you need a tablet primarily for work or tasks like mobile gaming or creative work like graphic design, you should consider the more expensive options — this cheaper tablet, like the rest of the Fire lineup, is just a processor. Lack of power and apps.

Photography by Sheena Vasani

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