Simple, straightforward design
It’s painfully slow
You’re stuck in Amazon’s ecosystem
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About the Amazon Fire 7 Tablet
Here's a quick look at the tablet we tested:
- Chipset: Quad-core 2.0 GHz
- Display: 7-inch 1024 x 600 (171 ppi)
- RAM: 2GB
- Storage: 16GB, 32GB, with expandable storage via microSD
- Cameras: 2 MP front and rear-facing cameras with 720p HD video recording
- Wired connectivity: USB-C
What we like
Simple, straightforward design
Finding a good tablet that's slim enough to fit into a small bag isn't an easy feat. The Fire 7 accomplishes that quite well with relatively small dimensions of 7.11 x 4.63 x 0.38 inches (just small enough to fit in a decent-sized fanny pack or compact purse), but it's also a little too wide to hold in one hand without a bit of strain, especially for those with smaller hands.
The back of the Fire 7 is coated in a matte finish that makes it comfortable to hold, and it doesn't seem to pick up too much oil from your fingertips and palms, either. It feels like a larger, thicker Kindle Paperwhite with a smaller lip on the bottom. There are cameras on the front and back of the tablet, but the quality isn't great, and it's difficult to imagine anyone using them with much sincerity. They're fine for a last-minute Zoom call or taking a reference picture, but these photos won't end up on any holiday cards or collages.
When you're holding the device in portrait mode, all the buttons and ports rest on the top of the tablet. (There's a power/display button, a USB-C port, headphone jack, and volume toggles.) Having the volume buttons along the top is nice when you're using the tablet in portrait mode, when you’re likely to be reading rather than watching something, but on the off-chance that you do need to adjust the volume, reaching to the top of the tablet is a bit uncomfortable because it’s a little too wide to hold in one hand. Once it's in landscape mode, though, having the buttons all on the side is pretty convenient since you can press them without transferring the tablet to one hand.
Even the upgrades are affordable
At a starting price of $60 for the 16GB model, you probably won't find a cheaper 7-inch tablet. You can double that storage for an extra $20, or add up to 1TB of additional storage via the microSD card slot.
That's a significant discount when compared to other compact tablets, like the $500 iPad Mini, which does come with a better display, processor, and overall experience. Still, at less than one-fifth of the price, the Fire 7 offers enough of the basic tablet experience to at least consider if you're on a budget.
Things change a bit when you factor in the Fire 7's optional case, which both protects the device and acts as a kickstand when using it in landscape mode. It's just under $30, or about half the price of the device itself. The case has the same fabric finish as the cases for Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis lines, and it works well, although it'd be nice for the kickstand to work at more than one angle.
What we don't like
It's painfully slow
Even with a quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM (double what previous Fire 7 models had), the latest Fire 7 is frustratingly slow. Even simple things like scrolling across your installed apps can have a noticeable delay, and the display can start to stutter easily.
I noticed that when trying to read a book on the Fire 7, swiping between pages or highlighting passages could cause significant lag on-screen. The display can usually catch up with the processor after a few seconds, but for things like selecting some text that should be instantaneous, it gets annoying quickly.
When I tried to watch the season finale of The Boys, I tried to enable subtitles, but the Prime Video app lagged and crashed three times in my attempts to do so, so I rewatched the show on my TV after a disappointing round of testing. This probably isn't the tablet you want with you on a long flight or drive.
Fortunately, the Fire 7 fares better in battery life. In my testing, I was able to get a little over eight hours of use on a single charge. That included browsing the web, downloading and installing apps, watching TV shows, and doing a little bit of reading until the lag became too much and switched to my Paperwhite.
You're stuck in Amazon's ecosystem
Once you've gotten the Fire 7 completely set up, it becomes immediately clear that this tablet wasn't built for doing things with the best experience possible.Instead, it's meant to be the easiest window into Amazon's entire storefront.
There are three swipeable tabs on the home screen: For You, Home, and Library. The For You page will show you your most recent apps, recently watched shows and movies, and tons of recommendations for more things to spend your money on. There are several tabs of recommended Kindle books, all of which you can purchase, as well as videos included in a Prime membership (if you have one), and other movies you can buy and stream. There's even a carousel for "Top Subscription Apps for You," in case you're eager to add another recurring fee to your monthly budget.
The Home page is a little better. There's a carousel up top where you can continue reading books or watching videos, but if you scroll to the right on that carousel, you get more recommendations. This might not be that bad, if the recommendations were better, but there's no philosophy behind what gets recommended. Right now, my carousel shows A Quiet Place Part II next to the Discord app and a solitaire app, both of which can be downloaded from Amazon's app store.
Speaking of that app store, it's nowhere near as robust as Google's Play Store, which has more and better apps to choose from. Instead, Amazon's app store leaves you with whatever apps developers have deliberately ported to Amazon from Google Play, and the selection simply isn't there (Amazon’s store currently has just under 476,000 apps available, while Google Play has well over 2 million available for download.
All of this leaves you with a cheap, but lackluster tablet that's better suited as a tiny window into Amazon's massive storefront than as a tablet meant for replacing or acting as a complimentary device to your laptop. If you're dead-set on living within Amazon's walls, that may not be an issue, but it'd be nice if those walls contained a more enticing ecosystem.
Should you buy it?
Maybe, if you’re on a super tight budget
The newest Fire 7 has a few great things going for it: It's cheap, and it works well enough for the simplest of tasks. That won't get you very far once the performance starts to dwindle, but that may not be an issue for everybody. For instance, if you insist on letting your kiddo have their own tablet, they probably won't notice a little bit of lag, and damaging a $60 tablet is a lot easier to stomach than a $500 iPad that will cost a good deal to repair, too.
If you're enticed by the Fire 7's impressively low price, though, just know that you get what you pay for. Nothing about the tablet is particularly terrible, but nothing about it feels as thoughtful as its ability to get you to buy more stuff on Amazon. If you can stomach a slow chip, mediocre display, and poor app selection, the Fire 7 gets a few basics right, but if you're hoping to get a good tablet at a good price, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Staff Writer, Electronics
Jordan has been writing about and reviewing technology since 2017, with products ranging from tablets and apps to fanny packs and home office gear.
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