Amazon’s smallest and cheapest tablet gets a much-needed upgrade in design, speed, battery life and software – but with a price increase.
The 12th-generation Fire 7 starts at £59.99 ($59.99) – £10 more than the last version – but still offers the most bang for one’s buck in the budget tablet market.
Amazon’s tablets all have a tried-and-tested formula: simple durable design, reasonable quality screen, fast-enough chips and its own version of Android with a long support life offered at markedly less than mainstream rivals.
The new Fire 7 inherits the smoother, more modern and slimmed-down design of the recent Fire HD 8 and HD 10 tablets. The 7in screen is better in the flesh than it might seem on paper but it is not HD and pales in comparison to higher-priced competition. It is fine for casual watching of TV shows and movies but it doesn’t have automatic brightness adjustment, so you’ll need to manually turn it down at night or up in bright light.
The mono speaker sounds surprisingly good for personal watching but is a bit too quiet to overcome the noise of cooking in a kitchen or similar. There’s a headphone jack in the top for wired listening but the tablet supports Bluetooth 5 and should work with any wireless headphones you have.
The tablet has a new processor and more RAM, which makes it up to 30% faster than its predecessor. It is still not what I could call fast but the interface is responsive enough and videos load promptly. Occasionally apps can be a bit sluggish, but games ran fine.
The base model has 16GB of storage – 9.5GB of which is available for apps and media – but it also has a microSD card slot for adding more space cheaply.
Battery life is very good, lasting at least 10 hours of video watching, which is certainly enough for a compact tablet and three hours more than its predecessor. It charges very slowly, though, taking four hours to fully charge using the included 5W power adapter and only about 30 minutes faster using more powerful chargers.
The Fire 7 is Amazon’s first tablet to run a new and updated version of its Fire OS software, now based on the more modern Android 11, which brings with it improved security and privacy options. It lacks Google’s Play services and store, relying on Amazon’s App Store and services. Amazon typically supports its tablets for longer than low-cost Android rivals, with at least several years of software and security updates.
The interface is similar to previous Fire OS versions, with a simple home screen for apps and media, a personalised “for you” section and a “library” section with all your owned Kindle books, games, movies and other media. Plus it has Alexa built in for controlling devices and answering questions.
Amazon’s App Store has most of the media consumption apps you are likely to want in the UK but BT Sport, Paramount+, Google’s YouTube, Chrome and Maps, and Apple’s Music and TV are not available. Zoom, Skype and Alexa are available for video calling, while the store features a fairly large range of games, even if many of them are rubbish. Note Fortnite does not support the Fire 7.
You need an Amazon account to use the tablet, plus a Prime subscription giving access to Prime Video to really make the most of it. Note device encryption is not enabled out of the box, so I recommend turning it on when setting it up to protect your data in case of theft.
Amazon does not provide an expected lifespan for the battery but it should last in excess of 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of its original capacity. The Fire 7 is generally repairable and contains 35% post-consumer recycled plastic. The company offers trade-in and recycling schemes and publishes information on its various sustainability efforts.
The Amazon Fire 7 is still a basic tablet for simple browsing, reading and media consumption duties.
The revamped, more modern design, faster chip, longer battery life and newer version of Android are all welcome upgrades. But it won’t thrill you, it lacks Google and is missing some apps, and it can’t beat an iPad.
But that is not the point. It gets the job done for as little money as possible, with much longer software support than budget competitors at this price. Despite a £10 price rise, the Fire 7 is still incredible value at only £60. It will appeal to anyone who wants to spend as little as possible to get online and watch video.