Peter Hunt SzpytekThe position of the rear camera and the Fire 7’s buttons have also been shaken up. The 2-megapixel rear camera now resides in the top right-hand corner just below the power button on the top of the tablet. Next to the power button are the two volume buttons. Next to them is the microphone, and then the USB-C charging port. The 3.5mm headphone jack has been moved to the far left side of the Fire 7 (although I only ever used wireless Bluetooth headphones with it.)In addition to the rest of the hardware shakeups, the 2MP front-facing selfie camera has been moved to the center of the left side of the display. On the left side of the tablet, you’ll find a mono speaker, and on the right side, there’s a flap covering a microSD card slot (good for expanding the 16GB or 32GB of storage up to 1TB). Peter Hunt Szpytek/
With the way that everything has been shifted around, it’s clear that the 2022 Fire 7 is meant to have a heavier emphasis on horizontal use as opposed to the traditional vertical setup.
While that’s certainly handy when streaming
video content from the tablet, it becomes a little disorienting when using it upright, which was how I spent the majority of my time with it. If you’re picking this up solely to be an additional, portable streaming device, the redesign is about as good as you could ask for. That said, I imagine that the majority of people will be using it for multiple functions, such as playing games and reading e-books, so the button redesign might be a bit awkward whenever using the Fire 7 vertically. Display and performance
The tablet’s 7-inch LCD display is best described as
fine. It’s not great, not terrible, and about what you would expect for an Android tablet under $100. Its 171ppi screen caps out at a 1024 x 600 resolution, which often gives higher-res images a ceratin grainy texture to them. At worst, it makes nice photos look like they’re slightly out of focus. I’d obviously love a high-quality screen, but for $60, it’s difficult to complain too much.
Similarly, the Fire 7’s performance is hardly anything to write home about. It shines brightest when using simple word processors, streaming apps, and other basic programs. While the MediaTek MT8168V chip is able to keep up when doing simple tasks, asking it to do much more is usually a stretch too far for the chipset.
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As a quick test to see how much the Fire 7 (2022) could handle, I downloaded a few games to see how things faired. The Fire 7 had mixed performance when running a game like
Minecraft, but excelled at simpler games like Wordscapes. This was to be expected as it’s far from a processing powerhouse, but I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth Wordscapes ran — especially in the Fire 7’s devoted Game Mode, which optimizes the device specifically for gaming. Game Mode wasn’t enough to make Minecraft feel like a fantastic experience, but it did enough for simpler titles.
Overall, the performance isn’t ideal, feeling sluggish at times and not looking incredible due to the screen resolution, but for a $60 tablet, it faired better than I would have expected. The real issues I had with it came from the software that the tablet was running on.
The Fire 7 runs on Amazon’s custom Fire OS 8 interface, which is based on Android 11. This was my first exposure to Fire OS, and I can confidently say that it’s what’s holding the Fire 7 back. While Amazon is leading the way in a handful of different industries, such as online shopping, it’s definitely towards the back of the pack when it comes to
app design and support.
Fire OS doesn’t connect to the
Google Play Store despite its Android framework. which means that a lot of staple Android apps aren’t supported properly on the Fire 7. There are a handful of useful Google-based apps available to you — like YouTube, Maps, and even the basic Google search app — but hardly any of them feel properly optimized for the Fire 7.
Across the entire OS experience, there’s a general feeling of clunkiness, like a lot of the rough edges of Fire OS are still yet to be sanded down. It would be one thing if this were Amazon’s first venture into the software world, but seeing how there’s been plenty of time for the company to make something that feels responsive and intuitive, it’s a little baffling.
All that said, the first-party
Amazon apps all run quite well, but there’s certainly a limit to their usefulness. The Fire 7 also features Alexa and all the conveniences that come with it, making doing quick searches a lot easier and overall improving the value of the device. One of the better software additions is the hands-free mode, which allows you to invoke Alexa at any time just by saying “Alexa” as you would to an Echo speaker/display. It’s pretty neat! Cameras
Because of the lower resolution of the screen, the shortcomings of both 2MP cameras are on full display. To be blunt: neither camera adds much value to the Fire 7. They take low-quality pictures and, when viewed on the display, look like they’re straight out of 2012. It’s a fine setup for a kid to play with, but not something I’d ever see myself bringing with me on vacation to truly capture a memory.
Take a look at some photo samples that I took using the rear camera.
And now some samples using the front-facing selfie camera in different lighting.
As you can see, the cameras just don’t work very well. Not only do they struggle to capture images in low-light environments, but they seem to also perform poorly when in well-lit spaces (see the photos of the kitchen and couch for examples of each.)
There’s a general smudgey-ness to the pictures that, to be blunt, looks quite bad. I found the selfie camera to be a little better than the rear one, but still not good enough to be used as a primary camera. For the price, you should know that the Fire 7 isn’t bringing a high-quality camera to the table, but it’s worth knowing that the tablet’s cameras are essentially useless for anyone wanting something more than a grainy, low-res image.
Battery and charging
Previous Fire tablets disappointed a little bit in the battery department due to Amazon overselling the battery life of its devices. For reference, the 2019 Fire 7 was expected to run for seven hours off a single full charge, but our tests found that to be untrue, with heavy streaming use clocking the battery in at around four and a half hours. The 2022 Fire 7 blows the 2019 version out of the water in that regard.
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I streamed movies on the 2022 Fire 7 for over ten hours on a single charge with still some battery to spare, exceeding Amazon’s promise of 40% increased battery life by a decent margin. This, to me, is one of the Fire 7’s most impressive qualities. While its display and performance aren’t amazing, the fact that it’s able to hold a charge for so long means that it’s a solid device to bring with you when traveling.
Unfortunately, while the Fire 7’s endurance impressed me, the fact that it takes upwards of four hours to be fully juiced again after a full drain is a lot less enticing. There’s not much else to say about how staggeringly long that is when compared to the much quicker charging times of other devices, but that’s what happens when Amazon limits the Fire 7 to 5W charge speeds.
The best solution would be to charge the Fire 7 at night when you’ve got time without it, but if you’re giving this to a kid, they might just be taught a thing or two about patience when waiting for it to charge.
Price and availability
The Amazon Fire 7 (2022) costs $59.99 and can be purchased directly through Amazon or at other retailers like Best Buy and Target. It’s also worth noting that Amazon also launched a new version of the Fire 7 Kids for $109.99.
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The Kids version is exactly the same as the regular one reviewed here, however, it includes a larger bumper case, a two-year “worry-free” warranty (as opposed to the 90-day one for the regular version,) and a year-long subscription to Amazon Kids (which provides a plethora of kid-friendly content to be viewed on the tablet). If you’re looking to get the Kids version while also saving a little, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just get the base version and a decent case.
If you’re looking for a budget tablet, the 2022 Amazon Fire 7 is a solid choice. There are plenty of areas where it falls short, but for a tablet under $100, it certainly has it where it counts. Thanks to the portable design, excellent battery life, and good performance for simple tasks, you’re getting a fair amount for your $60’s worth.
Is there a better alternative?
At the current price, the only other real competition for the 2022 Fire 7 is the 2021 Walmart Onn. While the Onn is often on sale for $10 cheaper, both tablets have comparable specs. The main difference is that the Fire 7 is running Fire OS while the Onn is using a stock-like build of Android 11. I personally don’t love Fire OS, as mentioned above, but I still found the Fire 7 to be a solid choice despite that.
Obviously, there are better tablets out there, but picking up a new Apple or
Android device will ring you at least several hundred dollars. Currently, the cheapest new iPads are over $300, and other low-range Android tablets will be about half that.
Amazon also makes the Fire HD 10, which has a larger and sharper display, more internal storage, better performance, and even longer battery life. However, it costs at least $150. It’s an objectively better tablet, but it’s also considerably more expensive.
How long will it last?
With a device at such a low price point, you can’t really expect extended longevity. I’d imagine that the 2022 Fire 7 would last about two to three years depending on how much use it sees. It certainly feels sturdy thanks to its weight, but without any sort of water protection, it’s always at risk of devastating spills or splashes.
Amazon has a history of supporting its devices with regular security and software updates, so it’s likely that the Fire 7 will see that support for at least two years or so if the 2019 version is anything to go on.
Should you buy it?
Yes, but only if you know what you’re getting yourself into. The 2022 Fire 7 is a great device if you’re just looking for a screen that you can stream movies to, read e-books on, and play simple games with. If you’re wanting anything other than that or find Fire OS to be irritating, I’d recommend looking for a different tablet. At the price, however, it’s tough to beat.