Amazon has updated its popular Fire 7 tablet for 2022, giving it a USB-C charging port, a faster processor, and twice the memory — a significant improvement over 2019’s Fire 7 tablet. These upgrades, along with improved battery life, make this $60 (with ads) tablet a smart choice for media consumption, especially for those looking for an affordable tablet for young kids.
I took the tablet with me for a long weekend instead of my iPad and it was great for streaming videos and music on Netflix and Spotify, as well as reading my book on the Kindle app. However, don’t expect to do as much work or play graphics-heavy games on this device as you would on an iPad. It doesn’t have the software, speed or processing power.
$59.99 on Amazon
The latest Amazon Fire 7 tablet is a great and affordable option for kids or anyone who wants a basic device for reading and watching shows.
The Fire 7 tablet is perfect for little kids, when you need an extra device at home, or when you’re traveling by car or on vacation. At 7 inches, it’s just the right size for holding and watching videos, reading, and playing simple games. Although the screen resolution isn’t HD (1024 x 600), I don’t think kids watching videos on a smaller screen than the Pro or Max version of the smartphone will notice much. They’ll probably be happy to have their own tablet to watch and won’t share with a sibling.
While the Fire 7 is technically an Android tablet, it runs Amazon’s Fire OS 8 and uses its own Silk browser. So no Google Play Store. You’re limited to the apps available in Amazon’s app store, which isn’t very extensive, so you might be disappointed that you can’t download some of your favorite games or apps. However, most of the popular social and streaming apps are available. Over the weekend, I downloaded YouTube, Hulu, and Spotify from the Amazon Appstore, as well as Kindle, Instagram, and Zoom.
They worked well for the most part, but there were times when there were lags or the screens didn’t load as quickly as I expected. Several times my Kindle app froze or closed while I was reading a book and I had to reopen the app. It’s not a deal breaker on a $60 device, but it’s not something I’d accept on a more expensive iPad or a tablet running full Android software.
One of the most notable updates to the Fire 7 tablet is that Amazon ditched the old Micro USB charging port in favor of a new USB-C type port. As many of our devices make the leap to USB-C, that means one less charging cable to carry around when you’re on the go. Amazon includes a USB-C charging cable and a 5W wall charger in the box, but even with 5W, it takes about four hours to fully charge the device from zero, so plan ahead for long trips.
Battery life has also improved, with Amazon boasting 10 hours of use on a single charge. Individual battery usage depends on which apps you use and how much streaming you do, but close to 10 hours is still a significant improvement over the previous generation, which promised seven hours. I had no trouble listening to music and streaming video on the train, and I had plenty of battery left to read my book on the Kindle app.
Sustainable and intelligent design
Amazon says the Fire 7 tablet is more durable than the iPad Mini, and while I haven’t dropped or damaged either device (yet!), the Fire tablet feels solid to hold and the rounded plastic construction feels solid. You can get third-party work from Amazon for as little as $10.
The updated Fire 7 tablet has new buttons that indicate that the device is primarily designed for content consumption. The power and volume buttons have been moved to the top left side of the device, while the front camera has been moved to the center of the left side of the screen, making it a perfectly centered top camera when used in landscape mode. , with buttons on the top right for easy access. The headphone jack is in the lower right corner.
It’s great for watching videos and video chatting, but I found it a little awkward when reading in portrait orientation because I had to scroll to the top left to access the on/off button.
Many parents give their kids volume-limiting headphones to use with their tablets (“Baby Shark” repeats, anyone?) and they’re usually wired rather than Bluetooth-connected. Although you can use Bluetooth to connect, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired headphones, which is important now that many iPads have dropped this port. The built-in speaker sounds fine for listening to audiobooks or podcasts, but I wouldn’t recommend it for listening to music.
It’s great for kids and Amazon Prime subscribers
What makes Fire tablets so popular with parents is the free built-in parental controls. Parents can set a password to restrict in-app purchases and allow only age-appropriate content to be shown. They can give kids daily time limits, set age filters for videos, games and books, and set up and manage individual profiles for everyone using the tablet.
Parents can subscribe to Kids+, a paid Amazon content service with thousands of games, books and apps to keep kids busy on long car rides or flights.
Amazon is also selling the $109 Fire 7 Kids Edition bundle, which comes with a built-in stand and a child-proof case, a one-year Kids+ subscription, and a two-year no-damage insurance plan. If your child accidentally drops the tablet and it breaks, Amazon will replace it.
Amazon Prime subscribers and Alexa users will love how well the tablet integrates with services including Prime Video, Kindle, Audible, Amazon Music and the Amazon Store. There is silent support for Alexa; you can ask Alexa to play music and videos, open specific apps, check the weather, access and control smart home devices, and more. You can save photos and videos to Amazon’s cloud, but the 2-megapixel camera isn’t something you want to use as your primary camera.
If you’re looking for an iPad or Android replacement that runs your favorite productivity apps and games, this isn’t the tablet for you. Since the device runs on Amazon’s version of Android, you cannot download any of the apps from the Google Play Store. As a result, Google apps like Gmail, Sheets and Maps are unavailable, as well as parent-favorite YouTube Kids. A simple search of the Amazon Appstore turns up a few apps that look like YouTube Kids, but when you search for the developer below, you’ll see that it’s not an official YouTube app. User comments back this up. YouTube recommends that parents access YouTube directly through the Fire tablet’s Silk browser.
The App Store has official Microsoft apps like Outlook, Teams, and Word, but no Photoshop or accounting apps.
You also won’t be able to run graphics-intensive games because the processor simply can’t handle it. Stick to basic games like Roblox and you’ll be fine.
If you’re tech savvy, you can download Google Play, but we don’t recommend it for most people.
The 2-megapixel front-facing camera is fine for video calls (Zoom, Skype, and Facebook Messenger are available), but don’t count on it to take stunning photos if the lighting conditions aren’t ideal. Amazon hasn’t updated the previous generation cameras at all, so it’s adequate if you stick to basic photos and videos for the kids to enjoy.
The Fire 7 with 16GB of storage is available in black, denim, and rose for $59.99, $10 more than the 2019 version, or $79.99 for the 32GB model. You can buy an ad-free version for $74.99, but personally I don’t mind the ads at all (they only appear on the lock screen and they help make the device more valuable). If you need more space, you can add up to 1TB of expandable storage with an optional microSD card.
If you want an affordable tablet for watching videos, music, and reading books, the Fire 7 tablet will get the job done. A 10-hour battery life, beefed-up processor, and the addition of a USB-C charging port make this tablet a good, affordable device for small children who do simple tasks like reading and streaming content. This is especially true if you’re an Amazon Prime member.
If you’re hoping to use more powerful apps and play graphics-intensive games or get real work done on it, you’ll be disappointed. For that, we recommend stepping up to the Fire HD 8 Plus with its faster processor and better screen resolution, which is our current favorite budget option on our best tablets list.