Review: Amazon Fire 7 tablet (2022)
We gave the Fire 7 Kids Edition to an actual kid to figure out if the new Amazon tablet is any good.
Amazon has been the king of the low-cost tablet market since the first Fire tablet all those years ago. They recently refreshed the Amazon Fire 7 with a better battery and a faster processor, and we’ve been testing one out.
The thing is, Amazon sent us the Fire 7 Kids edition. This is the normal Fire 7 tablet, with a bump-proof foam protective case, a two-year worry-free guarantee, and a year of Amazon’s Kids+ content subscription.
Who better to test it out than my more-than-willing three-year-old? She’s been putting it through every torture test imaginable, and we’ve got the results.
I scribbled some other notes while watching her play along the way, so here goes.
What’s good about the 2022 Fire 7?
Amazon’s latest iteration of the Fire 7 is just that, a minor refresh of its low-cost Android tablet. This year, the price got increased by $10 to $59.99.
That gets you 16GB of storage and lock screen ads. You can pay more for double the storage, to remove lock screen ads, or to get the Kids version.
That price increase comes with increased performance. Amazon says the new quad-core processor is 30 percent faster.
Our testing found that’s about right, based on the difference in smoothness between the new Fire 7 and the Fire 8 Kids that we have, which came out in 2020.
Amazon doubled the RAM to 2GB and changed the charging port to use USB-C. It still takes a while to charge, as no fast charging capacity, but the common connector is a welcome change.
The screen is unchanged from the prior model, with a 1024×720 resolution. The front and rear cameras have 720p recording from the 2-megapixel lenses.
The Fire 7 is surprisingly sturdy with its plastic build. There isn’t much that stands out about the design, other than its weight distribution is good for holding it one-handed.
All buttons are now on the same edge, with physical power and volume, a USB-C for charging, and a 3.5mm headphone port.
The selfie camera is now centered on one of the long edges, which puts it in the perfect position when it’s stood up on the case’s stand.
The integral speakers are passable for watching content or playing games, but they’re thin when playing music. We feel that’s okay given the device’s price and intended use.
Many parents prefer their kids to use volume-limiting headphones, so Amazon keeping the 3.5mm jack was smart. The Fire 7 also has Bluetooth, if you prefer to go that route.
See how dirty the screen is? That’s the daily muck and assorted stickiness a toddler leaves on a touchscreen.
The impressive thing is that the touchscreen still stayed responsive throughout. We’ve got no qualms recommending this tablet to kids of all ages.
For me, Kids+ is the star of the show here. My iPad has robust parental controls, but I still have to monitor what she’s looking at on Safari or the App Store.
With Kids+, I only needed to set the age range, and the system limited the apps shown.
That’s great, although it took a bit of tweaking and increasing the age range to find some of her favorite puzzle apps.
You can also start backward by blocking everything and whitelisting individual apps and games you approve. That felt a little time-consuming, but I can see how that could be a plus for some parents.
I did block some individual apps and games that I didn’t like the content of, but overall the curated content list is great.
The battery life
The Amazon Fire 7 Kids still managed all-day usage with an ever-curious toddler at the helm. That’s the best thing we can say about the tablet.
The only times that battery life didn’t last all day were those mornings I’d forgotten to plug it in before we went to sleep. Having it recharge from USB-C is also a big plus.
I hate micro-USB, and literally, everything else I own has USB-C now. It could be a little faster at charging, though, as 5W takes four hours to charge the tablet.
The protective case
Seriously, this case is worth the price alone. Its spongy foam has saved this tablet from an early demise so many times I’ve lost count.
Let’s recount some of those. Bouncing down flights of stairs, face-down on concrete, face-down on a wooden floor, dropping in the car, dropping from the countertop, the list is seemingly endless.
Great stuff here, and the integrated stand is similarly well-built.
What’s not so good
Amazon had to make some concessions to get the price point for the Fire 7. The biggest is the camera quality, which isn’t good.
It is primarily a content consumption device, so maybe that’s okay. The other big missing piece is Google services, of which none exist.
Amazon might have built Fire OS on Android, but you will immediately notice the lack of Google apps. No Gmail, no Maps, no office software, and no YouTube or YouTube Kids.
That’s annoying, but this is a content consumption device. Get a Chromebook or an iPad if you need something to do real work.
The Fire 7 is much faster than the 2019 version, but you’re still hardware limited in games. Anything graphically intensive will choke up if it lets you run it. That’s less of a consideration if you bought the Kids version, as the Kids+ subscription is full of apps and games that work for the most part.
We did find some apps crashing after we opened them, with a non-specific message about an internal service being unavailable. This happened more when away from Wi-Fi.
Look, it’s 2022, and video calls are ever more a part of our daily lives. Even low-cost devices should have capable selfie capabilities. The back-facing camera is disappointing, but we can understand if costs must be cut somewhere.
Amazon, next time you upgrade the Fire 7, upgrade both cameras. You stuck it with the same lackluster lenses that you put in the previous Fire 7, which came out in 2019. Camera tech has moved on since then, and so should you.
Which version of the Fire 7 should you buy?
We reviewed the 32GB Fire 7 Kids, which is $130, but regularly has discounts down to $90. The 16GB version is $20 cheaper, but we don’t recommend getting that one.
Even using an external microSD card for storing apps, some content can only be put on the internal storage, and 16GB fills up quickly.
The best part about the Kids edition is the two-year, no-questions-asked guarantee. If the tablet breaks, for any reason, it’ll get replaced for free.
Then there’s the base Amazon Fire 7, which is $60 for 16GB. That’s also often cheaper, but we still suggest you pick up the 32GB version which is $80. You can pay another $15 to remove the ads on the lock screen, but that makes the tablet less of a good deal.
For media storage and more apps, you can plug in up to a 1TB microSD card.
Before we dive into this, we feel we should say something for context. The Fire 7 Kids Edition is 90 bucks, with the normal Fire 7 for less than $45. That makes it difficult to offer alternatives because there aren’t any at that price.
No-name Android tablets are e-waste, you shouldn’t even think about buying those. You’ll have a bad experience, from the lackluster CPUs to the unresponsive touch screens and lack of manufacturer support.
That means you’ve only really got a couple of other options, and they’re all more expensive.
- Apple iPad 10.2 ($329): The cheapest tablet Apple makes is one of their best. You get 64GB of storage, everything in the App Store should be fluid because of the A13 chip, and the screen is beautiful. It is seven times more expensive than the Fire 7, though.
- Fire HD 8 Plus ($110): If you want to get any work done, the Fire HD 8 Plus is the minimum specifications you need. You get more RAM, battery life, storage, wireless charging, and a supposedly-faster processor.
That’s about it. Really. Don’t be swayed by any no-name Android tablets. Android is bad enough on larger screens that you don’t want to be making it worse with substandard hardware.
Kid-approved, but maybe not so for the adults
Look no further if you want an inexpensive, unobtrusive tablet to stream media, read books, or play the occasional puzzle game. You can’t buy a better tablet than the $60 Fire 7 at this price point.
Seriously. What other low-cost tablet gives you ten hours of battery life, a faster processor, and a USB-C port, so you don’t have to keep hold of micro USB cables?
You have to spend $15 to remove the lock screen ads. Do you care if ads are on the lock screen? You won’t see them when you’re using them, and you can turn the screen off the rest of the time.
You also won’t be able to do much real work on it. Does that matter at this price? That’s up to you to decide, but it’s a perfectly-good low-cost tablet for our money.
Lock screen ads aren’t a worry on the Kids version, which has them removed. You also get a year of Kids+ for free for all the content and parental controls you could want.
It’s survived weeks of abuse from a precocious toddler, and neither has signs of stopping anytime soon.
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