After three years, Amazon has finally updated its cheapest tablet: the Fire 7. At $59.99 ($74.99 without lock screen ads), the new model is a bit more expensive than its predecessor, but comes with increased RAM, a larger tablet, and better battery life. the more expensive Fire HD 10. It also has USB-C, up to 32GB of built-in storage, and a powerful processor.
But do these extra features make it a good buy? After testing the ad-free version of the Fire 7 for a month, I’d say yes. If you’re just looking for a cheap entertainment tablet, this is a decent device, especially if you’re embedded in the Amazon ecosystem. Of course, you’ll have to be comfortable with some pretty big trade-offs—like a seriously low-res, pixelated screen—but no one expects perfection at this price.
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Like all Fire tablets, the Fire 7 has a plastic body. Its edges are more curved than the 2019 models, making it easier to hold with one hand. It’s also half an ounce lighter than the 2019 model — 9.9 ounces instead of 10.4 — and is 7.11 inches tall, compared to the 2019 model’s 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 resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels (171 ppi). This is what I like most about the Fire 7. I wouldn’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 buy this tablet for entertainment. , like watching movies, reading and (slowly) browsing social media, and the display is Amazon’s key feature, for example, the storage capacity should be high – especially since the Fire 7 comes with a microSD card slot. The display is also not resistant to fingerprints and it gets smudged easily. It’s glossy and matte, so it’s hard to use outdoors when it’s sunny.
All that said, I still enjoyed reading e-books and watching shows on the Fire 7. I quickly forgot about the grainy screen, especially at night, after getting absorbed in what I was reading or watching. That’s because the Fire 7 runs on the new Fire OS 8, a modified version of Android 11. With that new OS comes several useful user interface changes, such as a dark mode and a setting that reduces blue light. You can customize the menu a bit.
I especially enjoyed using the tablet for reading. The display is slightly sharper than the e-ink screen on the base Kindle, which offers a very low 167ppi resolution. If you use tablets as secondary e-readers, this may be an advantage, especially since the Fire 7 costs $30 less than the Kindle.
Although the poor speaker output is neither full nor clear, I quickly forgot about them thanks to the 3.5mm audio jack. This is something that is often missing from newer tablets, and along with Bluetooth support, you can connect it to a wide range of headphones and speakers. Whether you’re listening to audio books, listening to music, or streaming a show on Audio, it’s a great sound quality.
I was impressed with 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 is consistent with my experience. This puts it on par with the more expensive Amazon Fire HD 10. It took about a week before I needed to recharge the tablet, while its predecessor only lasted us two days. To show how much better the battery is, watching a 25-minute documentary drained the battery by about 5 percent (at 70 percent brightness, I might add). By comparison, my colleague Cameron Faulkner noticed that the battery on the latest model dropped 20 percent after watching a 23-minute episode.
The storage options are also better this time. While it still comes with either 16GB or 32GB of built-in storage, the new model supports microSD cards up to 1TB. Its previous version was up to 512 GB.
You can’t expect a $59.99 tablet to be as fast as an iPad, and this one certainly isn’t. Still, the Fire 7, while slow, is at least slightly faster than its predecessor. That’s because it’s equipped with a nearly twice as powerful quad-core 2.0GHz processor and 2GB of RAM instead of 2019’s 1GB. It has the same processor and memory as the $89.99 Fire HD 8. It still doesn’t make it great for gaming, but you can open multiple web pages at the same time, for example, the tablet slows down – which is sometimes the case when using the 2019 model. I also noticed a few other improvements in video playback, which warrants a repeat viewing Stranger Things the hundredth time is pleasant. Typing, opening apps, and browsing the web are still relatively slow for someone like me who’s used to the speed of iPads, but that just means you have to put up with a few extra seconds—not a big deal.
However, that was until I added my Gmail account to my built-in email app. After that, software navigation and app launches slowed down considerably and never got back up to speed, especially after I downloaded about seven apps, including Netflix. At least video playback remained good.
Video call quality is another story. Even before I connected my Gmail account to the email app, video call quality was poor—calls would lag and sometimes freeze, and I often had to turn off my video. It also didn’t help that the Fire HD 7’s cameras were still poor. Amazon hasn’t upgraded the 2MP front and rear cameras, so photos, selfies, and video chats via Zoom look grainy, with low color saturation, and I could barely see myself in low-light indoor settings.
If you’re deep into the Amazon ecosystem and, say, a Prime member or own an Alexa smart speaker, the Fire 7 (like other Amazon tablets) offers great 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. I, like many, pay $139 a year for an Amazon Prime membership, which gives me free access to TV shows. The boys, movies, books for Kindle through Prime Reads, and Amazon’s ad-free Prime Music service. The selection of free books and music is admittedly limited, but I’ve still managed to find some I like.
If you want to take your kids on a long car or plane ride, the Fire 7 is also a worthy device. It’s cheap and comes with parental control options when you create a child profile. You can filter what your child can see and set time limits through Amazon’s Parent Dashboard, which you can access from your tablet, smartphone or computer.
Amazon also sells a $109.99 Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet that comes with a built-in stand, a two-year damage protection plan, and one year of Amazon Kids Plus — a kid-friendly version of Amazon Prime. A curated selection of books, games and videos. Kids Plus costs $4.99 a month for Prime members, so if you’re looking at the Fire 7 for a young child who might break it, or if you’re interested in Kids Plus, the Kids Edition — which I haven’t tried yet — might be a good option.
While the Fire 7 is great for consuming Amazon content, I was disappointed with Amazon’s app store offerings. The selection is still plentiful—you can download several popular apps and games, including Netflix, Hulu, Instagram, Spotify, and Amazon’s Luna subscription gaming service. However, you still can’t download Google apps like YouTube, Google Drive, or the Play Store. You can download Google apps, true, but it’s a relatively complicated process with security implications. In addition, 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, say, Microsoft Word to type a document is very slow. Don’t buy this expecting anything other than an entertainment machine.
If you’re looking for a small, affordable tablet for reading, watching videos, or listening to audiobooks, the Fire 7 is worth it — and at this price. I would 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 videos. Plus, based on his experience with his ex, he should last a long time compared to you. Although my old Fire 7 was frustratingly slow, it hasn’t gotten any worse over the years. I hope this version will be technically usable for at least three years.
On the other hand, if you’re, say, a movie buff in the market for an inexpensive tablet, buy Amazon’s $89.99 Fire 8 or $149.99 Fire 10 . They boast larger and taller screens, dual, rather than mono, speakers. better and larger built-in storage options. And if you need the tablet primarily for work or for creative tasks like mobile gaming or graphic design, you’ll want to look at more expensive options — like the rest of the Fire line, this budget tablet lacks the processor power and apps.
Photographed by Sheena Vasani