After three years, Amazon’s lastly up to date its most inexpensive tablet: the Fire 7. Starting at $59.99 ($74.99 with out lockscreen advertisements), the new mannequin prices barely greater than its predecessor however comes with elevated RAM in addition to battery life that matches the bigger and significantly dearer Fire HD 10’s. It additionally will get USB-C, as much as 32GB of built-in storage, and a extra highly effective processor. 

But do these further options make it a good purchase? After spending a month testing the ad-free model of the Fire 7, I’d say sure. As lengthy as you’re solely wanting for a low-cost leisure tablet, that is a first rate gadget, particularly in the event you’re already embedded in the Amazon ecosystem. Sure, you’re going to should be comfy with some fairly large tradeoffs — like a significantly low-resolution, pixelated display screen — however at this worth, no one’s anticipating perfection. 

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Like all Fire tablets, the Fire 7 has a plastic physique. Its edges are extra curved than the 2019 mannequin’s, which makes it simpler to carry with one hand. It’s additionally half an oz lighter than the 2019 mannequin — 9.9 ounces as a substitute of 10.4 — and is 7.11 inches tall, whereas the 2019 mannequin was 7.55 inches. Slightly narrower bezels and a barely wider display screen make it simpler to learn and watch reveals.

Unfortunately, the new Fire 7 nonetheless has a pixelated, grainy seven-inch show and solely provides a paltry 1024 x 600-pixel decision (171 ppi). It’s the factor I disliked the most about the Fire 7. I don’t count on a $59.99 tablet to have a high-resolution show like the one on an iPad and even a $149.99 Amazon Fire 10. But most individuals will purchase this tablet for leisure, like watching motion pictures, studying, and (slowly) looking social media, and the show is a core function Amazon ought to have elevated over, say, storage capability — particularly as a result of the Fire 7 comes with a microSD card slot. The show’s additionally not fingerprint-resistant, and it smudges simply. It’s each shiny and dim, which makes it difficult to make use of open air when it’s sunny.

The display screen’s okay in sure low-light circumstances however not a lot when it’s sunny.

All that stated, I nonetheless managed to get pleasure from studying ebooks and watching reveals on the Fire 7. Once absorbed in what I used to be studying or watching, I shortly forgot about the grainy display screen, particularly at night time. That’s as a result of the Fire 7 runs on the new Fire OS 8, a modified model of Android 11. With that new OS comes a few useful consumer interface modifications, like darkish mode and a setting that minimizes blue mild. You may even customise the menu a bit.

I significantly favored utilizing the tablet to learn. The show is barely sharper than the e-ink display screen on the base Kindle, which provides a very low 167ppi decision. That may very well be a perk in the event you use tablets as secondary e-readers, particularly as the Fire 7 is $30 cheaper than the Kindle.

While the dangerous speaker gave off a tinny sound that’s neither full nor clear, I shortly forgot about them, too, because of the 3.5mm audio jack. This is one thing newer tablets usually lack and, mixed with Bluetooth assist, means you may join it to a big selection of headphones and audio system. That improves sound high quality significantly, whether or not you’re listening to audiobooks through Audible, tuning out to music, or streaming a present.

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

Good riddance to the microUSB port; hi there, USB-C; and glad you’re nonetheless right here, headphone jack.

I used to be pleasantly stunned by the improved battery life. Amazon claims it takes about 4 hours to completely cost the slate with the included five-watt charging brick and USB-C charging cable, which I discovered correct. The firm additionally claims as much as 10 hours of battery life, which matches my expertise. That places it on par with the dearer Amazon Fire HD 10. It was almost a week earlier than I wanted to recharge the tablet, whereas its predecessor solely lasted us about two days. To illustrate simply how significantly better the battery is, watching a 25-minute documentary lowered the battery by about 5 % (at 70 % brightness, I would add). In comparability, my colleague Cameron Faulkner discovered watching a 23-minute episode dropped the battery on the final mannequin by 20 %.

Storage choices are additionally higher this time round. While it nonetheless solely comes with 16GB or 32GB of built-in storage, the new mannequin can assist microSD playing cards as much as 1TB. Its predecessor maxed out at 512GB. 

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

The Fire 7 comes with a microSD slot and might use playing cards as much as 1TB to enhance its 32 or 64GB inside storage

You can’t count on a $59.99 tablet to be as quick as an iPad, and it actually shouldn’t be. Still, whereas the Fire 7 is sluggish, at the least it’s a little quicker than its predecessor. That’s as a result of it comes geared up with a almost twice as highly effective quad-core 2.0 GHz processor in addition to 2GB of RAM as a substitute of the 1GB present in the 2019 mannequin. That’s the similar processor and reminiscence as the $89.99 Fire HD 8’s. That nonetheless doesn’t make it nice for gaming, however it is possible for you to to open a number of internet pages at the similar time with out, say, the tablet slowing down significantly — which is what would occur generally utilizing the 2019 mannequin. I additionally seen some enhancements in video playback, too, which made rewatching Stranger Things for the hundredth time satisfying. Typing, opening up apps, and looking the internet are nonetheless comparatively sluggish for someone like me used to the pace of iPads, nevertheless it simply means you’ll should be affected person for a few further seconds — not a large deal. 

However, that was till I added my Gmail account to the built-in electronic mail app. After that, software program navigation and app startup slowed down considerably and by no means returned to their quicker efficiency, particularly after I’d downloaded about seven apps — together with Netflix. At least video playback remained good.

Video name high quality, although, is one other story. Even earlier than I related my Gmail account to the electronic mail app, video name high quality was poor — calls lagged and generally even froze, so I usually needed to flip off my video. Plus, it didn’t assist that Fire HD 7’s cameras are nonetheless dangerous. Amazon didn’t replace the 2MP front-and rear-facing cameras, so photographs, selfies, and video chats through Zoom look grainy, coloration saturation is low, and I may barely see myself in indoor low-light settings.

The back of the Amazon Fire 7 sports Amazon’s logo.

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

If you’re deeply embedded in the Amazon ecosystem and, say, are a Prime member or personal Alexa sensible audio system, the Fire 7 (like different Amazon tablets) provide a lot of worth for your cash. It can run Alexa — I used to be in a position to make use of it to show my sensible lights on and off utilizing simply my voice with out a drawback. I, like many, additionally pay $139 per yr for an Amazon Prime membership, which grants me free entry to TV reveals like The Boys, motion pictures, books for my Kindle by way of Prime Reads, and Amazon’s ad-free Prime Music service. The number of free books and music choice is admittedly somewhat restricted, however I used to be nonetheless capable of finding some stuff I favored. 

The Fire 7 can be a first rate gadget if you wish to preserve your children occupied on a lengthy automobile experience or an airplane journey. It’s cheap and, while you create a child’s profile, comes with parental management choices. You can filter what your baby can see and set closing dates through Amazon’s Parent Dashboard, which you’ll be able to entry through the tablet, your smartphone, or PC. 

Amazon additionally sells a $109.99 Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet, which comes with a sturdy case that includes a built-in stand, a two-year injury safety plan, and a yr of Amazon Kids Plus — a type of a child model of Amazon Prime with a curated number of books, video games, and movies. Kids Plus is $4.99 a month for Prime members, so in the event you’re contemplating the Fire 7 for a younger baby who may break it or you’re fascinated by the Kids Plus service, the Kids Edition — though I haven’t examined it — could also be the higher possibility.

While the Fire 7 is nice for consuming Amazon content material, I used to be disenchanted in Amazon’s app retailer choices. The choice nonetheless leaves a lot to be desired — you may obtain a number of widespread apps and video games like Netflix, Hulu, Instagram, Spotify, and Amazon’s Luna subscription gaming service. However, you continue to can’t obtain Google apps like YouTube, Google Drive, or the Play Store. You can sideload Google apps, true, however that’s a comparatively sophisticated course of with safety implications. Plus, when you can obtain Microsoft Office purposes, many widespread work and productiveness apps like Slack, Airtable, and Asana are nowhere to be discovered — and really utilizing, say, Microsoft Word to sort out a doc is frustratingly sluggish. Don’t purchase this anticipating something however an leisure machine. 

A mono speaker on the side of the Fire 7.

The Fire 7 comes with a mono speaker, whereas its dearer siblings provide twin audio system.

If you’re wanting for a small, low-cost tablet for studying, watching movies, or listening to audiobooks, the Fire 7 is first rate — and at this worth, first rate is appropriate. I’d significantly advocate it as an alternative choice to the $89.99 Kindle. The Fire 7 provides a higher-density 171ppi show, extra storage choices, and entry to the similar Kindle ecosystem — and it performs movies. Plus, based mostly on my experiences with its predecessor, it ought to final you a comparatively very long time. While my outdated Fire 7 is frustratingly sluggish, it hasn’t truly gotten worse over the years. I count on this model shall be technically usable for at the least three years, too. 

On the different hand, in the event you’re, say, a film buff on the market for an affordable tablet, think about shopping for Amazon’s $89.99 Fire 8 or $149.99 Fire 10. They boast greater and better decision screens, twin, not mono, audio system that sound higher, and bigger built-in storage choices. And in the event you want a tablet primarily for work or demanding duties like cellular gaming or artistic work like graphic design, it’s best to think about dearer choices — this low-cost tablet, like the remainder of the Fire lineup, merely lacks the processor energy and apps.

Photography by Sheena Vasani

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