Amazon Fire 7 (2022) review: The go-to cheap tablet

Amazon’s Fire tablets dominate sales, thanks to low asking prices and the frequent comical discounts offered through events like Black Friday. For many people, the Fire tablet is where you turn when you just want a screen.

The Fire 7 is the entry-level device, and we’ve long praised this as the cheap tablet of choice. It enjoys little competition and it’s almost available at disposable prices, something that’s never been true of the Apple iPad.

So should we all still keep buying the Fire 7?

Design and display

  • 7in, 1024 x 600 pixels, 171ppi
  • 180.68 x 117.59 x 9.67mm, 282g
  • Polycarbonate body
  • Black, blue, pink colours

The Fire 7 has always been about simple design. Last updated in 2019, the 2022 version makes bigger changes to this device than we’ve seen for some time. Following the changes to the Fire HD 8 and the Fire HD 10, the Fire 7 has also redesigned its bezels.

This means the bezel around the display is now uniform, rather than having wide sections to the ends which it had since it dropped the Kindle Fire name in 2014.

There’s a no-frills approach to design, reflected across all sizes of Fire tablet, with a polycarbonate back curving around to meet the display. The front camera sits on the long side for horizontal Alexa Calling, while the connections run down the right-hand side, along with the buttons.

Having used the Fire 7 in many forms over many years, we can attest to its sturdiness. It shakes off drops and scrapes, the plastic back being easy to wipe and thanks to the matte finish, staying free of fingerprints.

It is a great size to slip into a bag and take on the move, with plenty of options for covers, while also being manageable for smaller hands making this a popular choice for children. There is, of course, the Fire Kids edition too, which comes with a cover, guarantee and subscription access to Amazon’s content service designed specifically for kids.

Unlike Amazon’s larger tablets, there’s only one speaker on the Fire 7, so it lacks the stereo delivery that the Fire HD 8 is good at. It’s passable audio quality, but you’ll be better served using the 3.5mm headphone socket or Bluetooth.

The display on the Fire 7 hasn’t changed. As per the name, this is a 7-inch display which doesn’t reach HD resolution, but still has a pixel density of 171ppi, which actually isn’t that far off the Fire HD 8.

This isn’t really a display that shines. It’s a conventional IPS LCD display, not hugely bright so it struggles with reflections if you’re near a light source and doesn’t have the sort of punch to colours that you’d get from even an entry-level smartphone these days.

You’ll be able to see your content, but it won’t pop, there’s little excitement to the graphical performance, but then this is a tablet that costs less than a decent night out, so expectations can’t be too high.

Hardware and performance

  • 2.0GHz quad-core, 2GB, 16-32GB + microSD
  • USB-C
  • 10 hours battery life

One of the updates in the 2022 version is stepping up to a 2.0GHz quad-core processor and moving to 2GB RAM. It’s an incremental step up from the older version of this device, but performance isn’t its aim: affordability is.

There’s little snap to interaction with the Fire 7, but it does respond. For many, this will be a device that’s just used to fire up a video, rather than multitasking or doing anything too complicated, so the performance is adequate. It won’t be as fast as your phone, but if you’re just loading a game to play in the back of the car, it’s perfectly fine.

The Amazon Silk browser works well enough, and core opens are fine, but the Fire 7 won’t be heading home with any prizes for speed – and perhaps that doesn’t really matter.

The choice of 16 or 32GB of storage is likewise designed to keep the asking price down, but there’s support for microSD up to 512GB. Be warned: if you want to download content or install a lot of games, then getting a storage card is both cheap and easy.

On inserting a card you’re given the option of how it will be used – either as part of the internal storage which you’ll need for apps, or as portable storage which you’d use if you wanted to add external video to the tablet for example. We’d recommend the former option, so then you can download more and avoid any compatibility issues with files you might try to play on the Fire 7.

The other big change to this version of the Fire 7 tablet is the move to USB-C this will be welcomed by many, as it means that you no longer need a Micro-USB cable. USB-C is slowly becoming the standard for devices and it means you can charge everything with one charger, rather than needing a handful of cables for your devices.

The battery is good for about 10 hours and one of the things we like about Fire tablets is they’re good at hanging onto this charge. You can often charge it up and find that after a week of sitting on standby, it’s still charged and ready to go.

Recharging takes 4 hours which is hardly speedy, but again, expected at this price.

One thing to note, however, is that once you get this tablet into the hands of children, it’s likely to be the battery that suffers (after storage). Playing games with that screen on and repeated charging cycles does fatigue batteries, and having had two children make their way through a number of Fire tablets, it’s often the battery that’s the first indicator that it’s time for a replacement.

That, perhaps, is testament to how well the rest of the device stands up to regular abuse.

Software and experience

  • Fire OS
  • Alexa voice control
  • Amazon Appstore
  • Seamless Amazon integration

Amazon designs its tablets to work with Amazon services first and foremost. On signing into your account, you’ll be presented a home screen setup that includes your content from Kindle, or to pick what you were watching on Fire TV. There’s naturally a hook into shopping on Amazon too – and there’s no doubt that Prime members are well served.

But the Fire tablet isn’t a one-trick pony. Thanks to the Amazon Appstore you can install a range of apps and services, including the big hitters in entertainment like Netflix, TikTok or Disney+.

But the Amazon Appstore, generally, isn’t great. It feels spammy – just type in YouTube and you’ll see a number of options, including some which are just shortcuts that will open YouTube in the browser. There’s a sort of Wild West feeling to proceedings, where you don’t quite know if apps are safe, if they are vetted and what you’ll actually get.

This has been the situation for some time and while there’s access to a range of games, these are often not the latest version as there’s no parity with what you’ll get on your Apple or Android device. It’s really down to the developer to update their Amazon Appstore version.

Stick to names you recognise, however, and you’ll soon have a tablet full of the things you like – Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Minecraft – there’s plenty on offer.

The other thing that doesn’t really seem to evolve very fast is the software environment. Amazon pushes updates regularly enough, but from an aesthetics point of view, things are now looking rather dated and we can’t remember the last time there was any sort of UI overhaul.

The Fire 7 does incorporate Alexa, however, allowing for instant access to smart home controls, as well as hands-free Alexa voice control, so you can just bark requests at your tablet and get a response.

The other side of the Fire 7 is of course the parental controls. We’ve mentioned children fairly regularly through this review and there’s a number of options available to restrict access or protect kids from accessing things you don’t want them to. We have a full breakdown in our guide right here, but we think that Amazon’s approach is one of the most thorough – perhaps a reflection of how many people buy these tablets for their kids.

Original Article