After three years, Amazon has finally updated its most affordable tablet: the Fire 7. Starting at $ 59.99 ($ 74.99 without lockscreen ads), the new model costs slightly more than its predecessor but comes with with more RAM and battery life that matches the larger and much more expensive Fire HD 10. It also gets USB-C, up to 32GB of built-in 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 Fire 7, I’d say yes. As long as you’re just looking for a budget entertainment tablet, this is a decent device, especially if you’re already integrated into the Amazon ecosystem. Sure, you’ll need to be comfortable with some pretty big compromises, like a low-resolution pixelated screen, but at this price point no one expects perfection.
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 hold with one hand. It is also half a gram lighter than the 2019 model – 9.9 ounces instead of 10.4 – and is 7.11 inches tall, while the 2019 model was 7.55 inches. Slightly narrower bezels and a slightly wider screen make it easier to read and watch programs.
Unfortunately, the new Fire 7 still has a grainy, pixelated seven-inch display and only offers a paltry resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels (171 ppi). It’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 display like an iPad or even a $ 149.99 Amazon Fire 10. But most people will buy this tablet for entertainment, such as watching movies, reading and (slowly) browsing social media, and the display is a key feature that Amazon should have increased, for example, on storage capacity, especially. because the Fire 7 comes with a microSD card slot. In addition, the display is not resistant to fingerprints and is easily stained. It is both shiny and muted, which makes it difficult to use outdoors when it’s sunny.
I especially enjoyed using the tablet to read. The display is slightly sharper than the basic Kindle’s e-ink screen, which offers a very low resolution of 167ppi. It might be an advantage if you use tablets as secondary e-readers, especially since the Fire 7 is $ 30 cheaper than the Kindle.
While the bad speaker made a tinny sound that is neither full nor clear, I quickly forgot about them too, thanks to the 3.5mm audio jack. This is something that newer tablets often lack, and combined with Bluetooth support, it means you can connect it to a wide range of headphones and speakers. This greatly improves the sound quality, whether you’re listening to audiobooks through Audible, listening to music, or streaming a show.
Storage options are also better this time around. While it only comes with 16GB or 32GB of built-in storage, the new model can support microSD cards up to 1TB. Its predecessor reached the maximum of 512 GB.
However, that was until I added my Gmail account to the built-in email app. After that, software browsing and app launch slowed significantly and never returned to faster performance, especially after downloading around seven apps, including Netflix. At least the video playback remained good.
The quality of the video calls, however, is another story. Even before I connected my Gmail account to the email app, the quality of the video calls was poor – the calls were delayed and sometimes blocked, so I often had to turn off my video. It also didn’t help that the Fire HD 7’s cameras are still bad. Amazon hasn’t upgraded the 2MP front and rear cameras, so photos, selfies, and video chat via Zoom look grainy, color saturation is low, and I could barely see myself indoors with low light.
The Fire 7 is also a decent device if you want to keep your kids busy on a long drive or plane ride. It’s inexpensive, and when you create a child’s profile, it includes parental control options. You can filter what your child can see and set time limits via Amazon’s Parent Dashboard, which you can access via tablet, smartphone or PC.
Amazon also sells a $ 109.99 Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet, which comes with a durable case with built-in stand, a two-year damage protection plan, and a year of Amazon Kids Plus, a kind of kid’s version of 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 kid who might break it or are interested in the Kids Plus service, the Kids Edition, although I haven’t tested it, might be the one. 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 such as 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 transfer 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 for example, using Microsoft Word to type a document is frustratingly slow. Don’t buy it expecting nothing more than an entertainment machine.
On the other hand, if you are, for example, a movie buff in the market for a budget tablet, consider buying the $ 89.99 Amazon Fire 8 or the $ 149.99 Fire 10. They boast larger screens and with higher resolution, dual, non-mono speakers, sounding better and bigger built-in storage options. And if you need a tablet primarily for work or demanding tasks like mobile gaming or creative jobs like graphic design, you should consider more expensive options – this budget tablet, like the rest of the Fire range, simply doesn’t have the power of processor and apps.
Photo by Sheena Vasani