Top critical review
A good, all-round no-frills tablet for undemanding users
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 June 2022
The first thing I noticed on opening the box is that the new Fire 7 is very light and feels good in the hand. It’s smaller than previous models and is about the same size as the Kindle Paperwhite. Setup is easy if you already have a fire tablet or an Echo device on your home network. The device has a flush screen and the usual plastic back like all Fire tablets: the main reason for the unit’s lightness. A charging cable and plug are included, as are help manuals.
Having put the new Fire 7 through its paces, I can safely say that it is a huge improvement over its predecessor, which I own but hardly use due to its glacial performance. Any increase in speed would be a step up but thankfully Amazon have gone the whole nine yards and installed a decent processor, allowing for normal browsing and movie-watching. It’s still not as fast as high-end tablets (even the pricier Fires) but it’ll do the job. Memory-wise, there is 16GB onboard which can be expanded to 1TB via the memory card slot. You’ll want to do this if you’re going to be storing movies and audiobooks.
A major bugbear with Fire tablet owners has always been the inability to install any apps from other places such as Google: you can only buy and install apps from Amazon’s own Appstore, but that’s not something that particularly bothers me as I mostly use Fire tablets as Audible/colour Kindle e-readers anyway, which my HD 10+ is too heavy for. (In this department, it is perfectly adequate, although its maximum volume may still not be loud enough for some.) The Amazon AppStore offers the usual stuff like Instagram, Tik Tok and streaming providers like Netflix, YouTube and Disney+, but it’s important to know that this will be the only place you’ll be able to buy apps from for this device.
The Fire 7 is not HD, which, to be honest, is pretty obvious when you start to watch something on Prime Video that isn’t a modern movie, although it’s good enough for watching something on the go. The new processor is much improved and playback is fine, just don’t expect a 4K experience. Text size can be altered and you’ll certainly need to do this as the default setting makes any writing very small (almost unreadable) on the home screen. This is helpful when browsing the web or shopping via the Amazon store app.
In all honesty, this device is marketed on the Amazon product page as being suitable for kids, and indeed you are prompted to set up a kids account when you switch on the device for the first time (“make it child-friendly”), and thus it is probably best looked on as a child’s device, or as a second tablet in tandem with a better one, because it lacks the oomph to replace Fire 10 or an iPad.
The on/off switch and volume controls are situated on the top left, which is okay if you are holding the device in landscape mode, but in portrait mode they feel awkwardly placed. The home screen will be familiar to Fire users but I’ve never liked it due to its cluttered appearance. I only use Kindle & Audible and so I tend to stick to them, removing any apps I don’t need. Amazon seem to be obsessed with “For You”, their way to show you stuff that you might like to read/watch/listen to; some may find it useful but I’ve always hated the intrusion.
Overall, this new Fire 7 is cheap and cheerful and good for casual use. It’s definitely an improvement on previous models, being faster and lighter, but it’s probably best used as a portable device on holidays (as a Kindle, for example) or as a children’s tablet. In fact, with it being the same price as an entry-level Kindle, you’d be better off buying this Fire 7 instead of the Kindle as you get a colour screen, and a lot more besides. Just don’t expect it to become your go-to tablet.
PROS - light, cheap, can be made kid-friendly, portable, memory can be expanded, improved battery life, great as a colour Kindle, sturdy
CONS - not HD (and looks it), stuck with the Amazon AppStore, same cluttered UI, maximum volume is not that loud
VERDICT - 7/10