Amazon Fire 7 review: an economical tablet for the essentials

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After three years, Amazon has finally updated its most affordable tablet: the Fire 7. Starting at $59.99 ($74.99 without lock screen ads), the new model costs a bit more than its predecessor, but comes with increased RAM as well as battery life that matches the bigger and longer battery life. considerably more expensive Fire HD 10s. It also gets USB-C, up to 32GB of onboard storage, and a more powerful processor.

But do these extra features make it a good buy? After spending a month testing the ad-free version of the Fire 7, I would say yes. As long as you’re just looking for a cheap entertainment tablet, this is a decent device, especially if you’re already integrated into the Amazon ecosystem. Of course, you’ll have to be comfortable with some pretty big trade-offs, like a very low-resolution pixelated display, but at this price no one expects perfection.

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Like all Fire tablets, the Fire 7 has a plastic body. Its edges are more curved than those of the 2019 model, which makes it easier to grip with one hand. It’s also half an ounce lighter than the 2019 model – 9.9 ounces instead of 10.4 – and measures 7.11 inches, while the 2019 model was 7.55 inches. Slightly narrower bezels and a slightly wider screen make it easier to read and watch shows.

Unfortunately, the new Fire 7 still has a pixelated, grainy seven-inch display and only offers a paltry 1024 x 600 pixel (171 ppi) resolution. That’s the thing I didn’t like the most about the Fire 7. I don’t expect a $59.99 tablet to have a high resolution screen like an iPad or even a Amazon Fire 10 at $149.99. But most people will buy this tablet for entertainment. , such as watching movies, reading and (slowly) browsing social media, and the display is an essential feature that Amazon should have increased in relation to, for example, storage capacity, especially because the Fire 7 comes with a microSD card slot. The screen is also not fingerprint resistant and smudges easily. It’s both bright and dark at the same time, which makes it difficult to use outdoors when it’s sunny.

The screen is decent in some low-light conditions, but not so much when it’s sunny.

That said, I still managed to read e-books and watch shows on the Fire 7. Once engrossed in what I was reading or watching, I quickly forgot about the grainy screen, especially at night. This is because the Fire 7 runs on the new Fire OS 8, a tweaked version of Android 11. blue. You can even customize the menu a bit.

I especially liked using the tablet for reading. The display is slightly sharper than the base Kindle’s e-ink screen, which has a very low resolution of 167ppi. That could be an advantage if you’re using tablets as secondary e-readers, especially since the Fire 7 is $30 cheaper than the Kindle.

While the bad speaker emitted a tiny sound that wasn’t full or clear, I quickly forgot about them too, thanks to the 3.5mm audio jack. It’s something newer tablets often lack and, combined with Bluetooth support, means you can connect it to a wide range of headphones and speakers. This dramatically improves sound quality whether you’re listening to audiobooks through Audible, listening to music, or streaming a show.

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

Good riddance to the microUSB port; hello, USB-C; and glad you’re still here, headphone jack.

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. That puts it on par with the more expensive Amazon Fire HD 10. It took almost a week before I needed to charge the tablet, while its predecessor only lasted us about two days. To illustrate how much better the battery is, watching a 25 minute documentary drained the battery by about 5% (at 70% brightness, I might add). By comparison, my colleague Cameron Faulkner found that watching a 23-minute episode caused the latest model’s battery to drop by 20%.

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

A microSD slot on the side of the Amazon Fire 7.

The Fire 7 comes with a microSD slot and can use cards up to 1TB to expand its internal storage to 32 or 64GB

You can’t expect a $59.99 tablet to be as fast as an iPad, and it certainly isn’t. Still, while the Fire 7 is slow, it’s at least a bit faster than its predecessor. That’s because it packs an almost twice as powerful 2.0GHz quad-core processor as well as 2GB of RAM instead of the 1GB of the 2019 model. That’s the same processor and memory as the Fire HD 8 at $89.99. That still doesn’t make it ideal for gaming, but you’ll be able to open multiple web pages at the same time without, for example, slowing down the tablet dramatically – which would sometimes happen with the 2019 model. I also noticed some improvements in the video playback, which made viewing stranger things for the hundredth time enjoyable. Typing, opening apps and browsing the web are still relatively slow for someone like me used to the speed of iPads, but that just means you’ll have to be patient for a few extra seconds – that’s okay.

However, that was until I added my Gmail account to the built-in mail app. After that, software browsing and app startup slowed down significantly and never returned to their faster performance, especially after downloading around seven apps, including Netflix. At least the video playback stayed good.

Video call quality, however, is another story. Even before connecting my Gmail account to the messaging app, video call quality was poor – calls were delayed and sometimes even frozen, so I often had to turn off my video. Also, it didn’t help that Fire HD 7’s cameras were still bad. Amazon hasn’t updated the 2MP front and rear cameras, so photos, selfies, and video chats via Zoom look grainy, color saturation is low, and I could barely see myself in harsh conditions. interior low light.

The back of the Amazon Fire 7 features the Amazon logo.

The rear of the plastic Amazon Fire 7 in the lavender colorway

If you’re deep into the Amazon ecosystem and, say, are a Prime member or own Alexa smart speakers, the Fire 7 (like other Amazon tablets) offers plenty of value for your money. It can run Alexa – I was able to use it to turn my smart lights on and off using just my voice with no problem. Like many, I also pay $139 a year for an Amazon Prime membership, which gives me free access to TV shows like The 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 admittedly quite limited, but I was still able to find some stuff that I liked.

The Fire 7 is also a decent device if you want to keep your kids busy on a long road trip or plane trip. It’s inexpensive, and when you create a child’s profile, it comes with parental control options. You can filter what your child can see and set time limits through Amazon’s Parent Dashboard, which you can access through the tablet, smartphone, or PC.

Amazon is also selling a Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet for $109.99, which comes with a durable case with a built-in stand, a two-year damage protection plan, and a year of Amazon Kids Plus — sort of a version kid from Amazon Prime with a curated selection of books, games, and videos. Kids Plus costs $4.99 per month for Prime members, so if you’re considering the Fire 7 for a young child who might break it or are interested in the Kids Plus service, the Kids Edition – although I don’t haven’t tested – may be the best option.

While the Fire 7 is great for consuming Amazon content, I was disappointed with Amazon’s App Store offerings. The selection still leaves a lot to be desired – you can download several popular apps and games like Netflix, Hulu, Instagram, Spotify and Amazon’s Luna subscription game service. However, you still cannot download Google apps such as YouTube, Google Drive, or the Play Store. You can download the Google apps, yes, but it’s a relatively complicated process with security implications. Also, while you can download Microsoft Office apps, many popular work and productivity apps like Slack, Airtable, and Asana can’t be found — and using, say, Microsoft Word to type a document is painfully slow. Don’t buy this expecting anything other than an entertainment machine.

A mono speaker on the side of the Fire 7.

The Fire 7 comes with a mono speaker, while its more expensive siblings offer dual speakers.

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 okay. I particularly recommend it as an alternative to the $89.99 Kindle. The Fire 7 offers a high-density 171ppi screen, more storage options and access to the same Kindle ecosystem – and it plays videos. Also, based on my experiences with its predecessor, it should last you a relatively long time. Although my old Fire 7 was extremely slow, it hasn’t actually gotten 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 a cheap tablet, consider buying the $89.99 Fire 8 from Amazon or the $149.99 Fire 10. better and bigger built-in storage options. And if you need a tablet primarily for work or demanding tasks like mobile gaming or creative work like graphic design, you should consider more expensive options – this cheap tablet, like the rest of the Fire range , simply lacks the power of the processor and applications.

Photography by Sheena Vasani

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