Top positive review
An amazing refresh of the base Fire tablet at an affordable price
Reviewed in the United States on June 30, 2019
Original review (June 9, 2019) and three updates placed at the end of the original review (June 10, 2019, June 14, 2019, and June 21, 2019, respectively).
ORIGINAL REVIEW: June 9, 2019 (5/5 stars)
UPDATED REVIEW: June 21, 2019 (4/5 stars)
For background information, I am a professor and a tech geek. I have used Amazon devices for around eight years now. I currently own three Kindle e-readers (Kindle Touch, Kindle Paperwhite 3rd generation, and Kindle 10). I also own four Amazon Fire tablets (2015 Fire 7 -5th generation, 2019 Fire 7 – 9th generation, 2017 Fire HD 8 - 7th generation and 2018 Fire HD 8 –8th generation) and 3 Echo devices (1st generation Echo, 2nd generation Echo Dot, and 3rd generation Echo Dot). Please note that I have traded-in some of the dated versions of the above-listed products to get upgraded versions (more on this under the “Saving Money on Purchases” section).
This device is Amazon’s most recently refreshed (2019 – 9th generation) Fire tablet 7 inch at an outstanding price. The Fire 7 (9th generation) is definitely slightly better than the previous generation. The combination of quality and value are really tough to beat and the tablet does well overall. This is a comprehensive review, but for those looking for the bottom line, scroll down to the bottom to see some feedback on how to save money on purchasing the Fire and my final recommendations.
Below is my summary of the “Fire 7.” I have spent the past few days playing around with the Fire, using it, and reading other online reviews about this version to ensure the comprehensiveness and accuracy of information provided in this review. For reference purposes, this Fire model was last refreshed in 2017. This review has overlaps with my review of the Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet because both of these are essentially the same tablet but to a different audience.
-THE BOX: The Fire 7 tablet, a quick-start guide, basic safety instructions, 5W wall adapter, and a USB cord (around 3 foot or 36 inches). The item arrived sealed and packaged well.
- AVAILABILITY: Black, Twilight Blue, Plum, and Sage are the base colors variants. Additionally, covers can be purchased for $29.99 in the same color scheme as the Fire tablet from Amazon. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend these overpriced covers. There are several other high quality and aesthetically pleasing covers that can be found on Amazon that are affordable, well rated, and function better.
- Key things that have not changed from the prior Fire 7 model:
--- Display size remains the same
--- PPI remains the same at 171
--- RAM remains the same at 1 GB of RAM.
--- Speaker and microphone remains the same (mono speaker with built-in microphone)
--- Size specifications remain the same
--- Warranty remains the same (90-day limited warranty)
- Summary of key aspects (listed in order of importance) that have changed in this version (Fire 7: 2019: 9th generation) from prior generation Fire 7 tablet (2017: 7th generation). For the below comparison, the new version will be listed as Fire 2019 and the previous model as Fire 2017.
--- Fire 2019: Increased storage options (16 GB or 32 GB) as compared to prior version Fire 2017 (8 GB or 16 GB).
--- Battery life has declined to 7 hours (1-hour reduction) from prior version.
--- Charge time has decreased from 6 hours (Fire 2017) to 4 hours (Fire 2019). This is a major plus because it would take forever to charge these tablets). Again, please note that this claim (regarding charging time) holds true only if an Amazon wall outlet is used. The tablet usually notifies you when you are using a non-compatible wall outlet and cable. I have tested charging speeds on third-party wall ports and noticed a substantial increase in charging time as compared to using an Amazon wall outlet. So, ideally, consumers should use only the Amazon wall outlet for fast charging.
--- The new processor based on specs provided by Amazon to developers Fire 7 2019 [Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A53 (1.3 GHz)] vs. Fire 7 2017 [Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A7 (1.3 GHz)] is a bit faster. Again, this is my initial assessment. This would require additional testing and I will put in these numbers at a later time when they become available.
--- Camera quality has improved 2 MP front and rear-facing cameras with 720p HD video recording as compared to the prior version.
--- Slight decrease in weight (0.3 oz/9 grams)
--- Light sensor added (mentioned in developer information page).
--- Three new colors added (Twilight Blue, Plum, and Sage) in addition to Black.
- Technical specs and other details:
--- Size: 7.6” x 4.5” x 0.4” (192 x 115 x 9.6 mm).
--- 171 pixel per inch (PPI) with IPS display technology and advanced polarizing filter. This basically means that there is a bright display with vivid colors and whiter whites for a great viewing experience from all angles.
--- 7-inch screen, 1024 x 600 resolution with SD video playback
--- Internal Storage: 16 or 32 GB
--- External Storage: expandable storage using MicroSD card for up to 512 GB + unlimited cloud storage for Amazon digital content purchases.
--- Weight: 10.1 oz/286 grams
--- Amazon’s digital assistant: Hands-free Alexa enabled. This option basically converts the device into a stand-alone device that can do multiple functions. For instance, if you are cooking and want help, you can ask Alexa to pull up the instructions for “Mashed Potatoes” and it will do so.
--- Warranty and Service: 90-day limited warranty and service included. U.S. customers can purchase an extended warranty for 1, 2 or 3 years (though I might not personally recommend this for such an affordable product like the Fire 7)
--- Camera: 2MP VGA front-facing camera and rear-facing HD camera
--- Sensors: Accelerometer and light sensor
--- Battery life: Up to 7 hours of battery life
--- Fully charges in 4 hours (if Amazon wall outlet is used)
--- Single-antenna dual-band Wi-Fi. Uses 802.11a/b/g/n with WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security using password authentication. No support offered to connect to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
--- Bluetooth 4.1 LE
--- Ports: USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) to connect to the computer or for charging the device with the included power adapter; MicroSDXC slot for external storage, and 3.5 mm stereo jack and integrated speaker.
- Some limitations (to be expected because of this tablet being sold at a bargain price and also being the base model of the Fire series):
--- No HD video viewing available
--- Camera specs are sub-par as compared to other costlier tablets (again this might sound oxymoronic...but just pointing it out)
--- Max volume is below average (because of the mono-speaker)
--- Sound quality is average
--- Amazon’s ecosystem is not as massive compared to the Google Play Store and Apple Play Store.
--- Amazon’s Silk browser is not as intuitive and user-friendly as more prominent competitors (Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, etc.).
--- Some reviewers have claimed that the external storage (MicroSDXC card) is not as responsive as the internal storage (this is not something I have experienced).
--- Because of concerns dealing with volume and sound quality using this model for listening to music, or watching TV shows, movies, etc. might require headphones or a speaker.
-Fire 7: 2019 Tablet Kids edition: Please note that Amazon has updated their Fire 7 Kids Edition too. Since, this is for a different audience, I will not deal with it in this review.
- Comparison between Fire 7 (this version – 2019 release) and Fire HD 8 (2018 release – mid-tier model):
--- Charge time: Fire HD 8 (6 hours) vs. Fire 7 (4 hours)
--- Display Size: Fire HD 8 (8 inches) vs. Fire 7 (7 inches)
--- Video playback: Fire HD 8 (HD video playback) vs. Fire 7 (SD video playback)
--- Resolution: Fire HD 8 (1280 * 800; 189 PPI) vs. Fire 7 (1024 *600; 171 PPI)
--- RAM: Fire HD 8 (1.5 GB RAM) vs. Fire 7 (1 GB RAM)
--- Battery life: Fire HD 8 (10 hours) vs. Fire 7 (7 hours),
--- Speaker: Fire HD 8 (Dolby Atmos, dual stereo speakers) vs. Fire 7 (Mono speaker)
--- Weight: Fire HD 8 (12.8 oz, 363 g) vs. Fire 7 (10.1 oz, 286 g)
--- Expandable Storage (internal storage remains same): Fire HD 8 (expandable by to 400 GB) vs. Fire 7 (expandable by up to 512 GB).
--- Colors: Fire HD 8 (Black, Marine Blue, Punch Red, Canary Yellow) vs.. Fire 7 (Black, Twilight Blue, Plum, Sage)
--- Cost: Fire HD 8 (16 GB - $79.99; 32 GB - $109.99) vs. Fire HD 7 (16 GB - $49.99; 32 GB - $69.99)
--- Multi-touch: Fire HD 8 (10-point) vs. Fire 7 (5-point)
--- Processors, software version, and cameras remain the same on both units.
- Comparison between Fire 7 (this version – 2019 release) and Fire HD 10 (2017 release – mid-tier model):
--- Charge time: Fire HD 10 (5 hours) vs. Fire 7 (4 hours)
--- Display Size: Fire HD 10 (10.1 inches) vs. Fire 7 (7 inches)
--- Video playback: Fire HD 10 (HD video playback; 1080p HD resolution) vs. Fire 7 (SD video playback)
--- Resolution: Fire HD 10 (1920 * 1200; 224 PPI) vs. Fire 7 (1024 *600; 171 PPI)
--- Processor: Fire HD 10 [2xARM Cortex-A72 (1.8 GHz), 2xARM Cortex-A53 (1.4 GHz)] vs. Fire 7 inch (ARM Cortex-A53 Quad-Core 1.3 GHz) (basically Fire HD 10 would be substantially faster than either the Fire 7 or Fire HD 8)
--- RAM: Fire HD 10 (2 GB RAM) vs. Fire 7 (1 GB RAM)
--- Battery life: Fire HD 10 (10 hours) vs. Fire 7 (7 hours),
--- Speaker: Fire HD 10 (Dolby Atmos, dual stereo speakers) vs. Fire 7 (Mono speaker)
--- Camera: Fire HD 10 (0.3 MP front-facing and 2 MP rear-facing camera) vs. Fire 7 (2 MP front-facing and rear-facing camera)
--- Weight: Fire HD 10 (17.7 oz, 500 g) vs. Fire 7 (10.1 oz, 286 g)
--- Internal Storage: Fire HD 10 [32 GB (25.4 GB available to user) or 64 GB (54.1 GB available to user)] vs. Fire 7 [(internal storage remains same - 16 GB (9.4 GB available to user) or 32 GB (23.6 GB available to user)]
--- Expandable Storage: Fire HD 10 (expandable by to 256 GB) vs. Fire 7 (expandable by up to 512 GB).
--- Colors: Fire HD 10 (Black, Marine Blue, Punch Red) vs.. Fire 7 (Black, Twilight Blue, Plum, Sage)
--- Cost: Fire HD 10 (32 GB - $149.99; 32 GB - $189.99) vs. Fire 7 (16 GB - $49.99; 32 GB - $69.99)
--- Multi-touch: Fire HD 10 (10-point) vs. Fire 7 (5-point)
** If you are considering buying the Fire HD 10, I would wait on it as there is a high probability that this model will be refreshed this year as the last update was in 2017 (Amazon seems to follow a 2-year refresh cycle though this is not always the case).
- Some useful features on Fire Tablets (not a comprehensive list)
--- Accessibility: “VoiceView and Screen Magnifier enable access to the vast majority of Fire tablet features. VoiceView features text-to-speech voice. Fire OS 5 also includes system wide closed caption settings, adjustable font sizes up to 50% larger, and a variety of book reading text adjustments such as adjustable colors and text spacing. Also includes adjustable font sizes/color, and built-in Oxford dictionary.”
--- Surfing the web using Amazon’s web browser - Silk
--- Watching movies, TV shows and listening to music.
--- Ability to read Kindle books.
--- Ability to read the news using Washington Times
--- Other apps (games, educational tools, etc. available in Amazon’s app store) plus several prominent apps included like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
--- Ability to get set-up email apps, calendar, etc.
--- Ability to play games that can be downloaded from the app store.
Wi-Fi: I was able to connect to the Wi-Fi network without any technical difficulties. The process was pretty straightforward.
- Saving money on purchasing the Fire:
--- For users who want more storage, I would strongly recommend getting the Fire 7 (16 GB) and then purchasing a microSD card as opposed to getting the costlier Fire 7 (32 GB tablet). For context, users can get a 64 GB microSD card for around $12 (users might be able to get a cheaper microSD card on Amazon prime day) on Amazon which is cheaper than paying an additional $20 for Fire 7 32 GB. Additionally, the user gets more storage by getting a microSD card.
--- The initial purchase with a promo discount entitles the user to a ($10 app store credit value), so you are essentially paying $ 39.99 for the 16 GB Fire 7 tablet.
--- The cost for the 16 GB Fire 7 will be $49.99 (with special offers) or 32 GB Fire 7 for $69.99 (with special offers). Customers can disable special offers later by paying $20 if they purchase the Fire with special offers. Personally, I would recommend going the route of getting the special offers and then disabling it. The special offers only appear when the Kindle is locked/asleep and are non-intrusive. I have 6 devices, all of which have special offers and have never had an issue. However, if the user does not like the special offers, you can purchase the Fire with special offers and then remove the special offers..
--- You can easily trade-in your prior Fire for Amazon credit (for $5-$15 depending on version and condition), which also entitles them to receive an additional 25% discount towards their new Fire.
--- As previously mentioned, I would recommend avoiding purchasing extended warranty on this item.
--- My recommendation would be to purchase this item during a sale event (for instance, Amazon Prime day is coming up in July). The customer can get this tablet for around $20 off during Prime day (based on prior sales analysis), and then stack the trade-in price and the 25% discount to get this item for a minimal cost (maybe you can snag it for $20 in total or lesser if everything is applied correctly). However, one thing to keep in mind is that Amazon might decide to remove the trade-in gift card and 25% discount at any point.
-Quality comment: Some customers have critiqued the prior version (Fire 7: 2017) for lack of long-term quality. Again, please remember that this product is sold for $49.99 and goes on sale for around $ 29.99. How much more can one expect for a product this affordable? I have used my prior Fire 7 (2015) for 4 years without any issues (Honestly, I am surprised it lasted this long). Additionally, it definitely is more durable than my iPad. Additionally, with the immense technological breakthroughs occurring at lightening speed, any tablet will be obsolete in a few years. So, it might be logically better to get an affordable average end tablet than investing in a high end one (unless you need a high-end one for your specific use).
To sum up my review, this is the basic Amazon Fire 7 tablet. No bells and whistles, but it does the job. Limitations include sound quality, volume quality, and potential issues with MicroSDXC Card access, and basic app store. Updates worth noting in this version include the new color options, a slight decrease in weight, increase in storage (internal and external), slightly faster processor, slightly improved cameras, and slight decrease in battery life (though this might be a more accurate representation of the life of the battery). The bottom line is that if you are looking to get a super affordable tablet that is well-rated, small, lightweight, and can complete most of the basic and some intermediate tasks along with basic entertainment, then this Fire tablet is the way to go. So, I am giving it 5/5 stars in spite of its limitations because it is really hard (if not impossible) to find a better deal at this price point.
- UPDATE # 1 (June 10, 2019): Fire HD 8
I would personally recommend the Fire HD 8 (mid-tier model) as opposed to this Fire 7 (the model reviewed) for a few more dollars. This can be purchased after following the cost-saving suggestions previously listed. My reasons are several and include: the 8 inch screen (as compared to 7 inches), higher resolution (189 PPI vs. 171 PPI), increased RAM (1.5 GB vs. 1 GB), battery life (10 hours vs. 7 hours), and the feature I appreciate the most - Dolby Atmos, dual stereo speakers (which can make a world of difference while watching or listening to something). I own both the 7 and the 8 inch, and there is a spectacular difference in sound quality and volume between the two. Besides, most phones now have an average screen size of around 5.5 inches (many companies are moving towards a 6 inches average). So, having a 7-inch tablet might not per se make a major difference for customers because it is similar in size to their phone (unless they want to use this device as a back-up device to prevent wear and tear on their phone). Additionally, since charging takes a substantial amount of time, I would rather have a tablet with longer battery life (Fire HD 8) than shorter (Fire 7). However, please note that the last argument cuts both ways as the new Fire 7 (4 hours) charges quicker as compared to the Fire HD 8 (6 hours).
- UPDATE # 2 (June 15, 2019): Amazon FreeTime Unlimited
- Amazon FreeTime Unlimited ($2.99/month after free subscription period)
--- Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is a subscription that offers over “20,000 books, movies, TV shows, apps and games for kids 3-12. Age Filters ensure kids see age-appropriate content. Parents can add content to kids' profiles to give them more access to apps and games.” “In FreeTime, kids do not have access to social media or Alexa. In-app purchases require parent approval. Parents can exit FreeTime using a passcode.” Another unique feature is Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited in Spanish!
--- Parents also have the option “to set educational goals and curfews (using FreeTime Unlimited), and manage content for up to 4 child profiles (option given during initial set-up of the tablet) with easy-to-use parental controls.”
--- Generally speaking - FreeTime Unlimited offers unbeatable value – I mean where else on earth can you get kid-friendly and generally holistic content for $2.99/month (after trial subscription ends).
*FreeTime unlimited has several nifty features that I cannot cover because of space limitations. Parents have a lot of flexibility in choosing and curating content for children, permitting downloads, and even setting the tablet to turn-off after a preset amount of use or at a set time and turn on at a set time.
UPDATE # 3 (June 21, 2019): Battery Life and Software
Some customers have complained about the low and unpredictable battery life for this new device. I have experienced occasional battery fluctuations (my prior Fire seemed to have better battery life). So, I am docking a star. Some other reviewers have also experienced overheating of this device. Other than the occasional overheating that occur in all devices (when complex programs/apps are used for an extended period of time), I haven’t experienced anything major until now. Additionally, some customers have also complained about the new Fire OS causing problems. I have experienced occasional staggering of the OS and app closures but nothing major as described by other reviewers. I will continue my testing to see if other issues surface but just wanted to give a heads-up to customers so they are prepared in case they experience any issues in the future and want to contact Amazon about it.
Please also note several resources were used in the compilation of this review but most of this review was based on my personal testing of the product.
Whenever I make any purchase, I try to do a thorough and accurate job with the review. My reviews are my honest and comprehensive assessment of the product. I always post future updates and corrections based on new information if deemed necessary. Additionally, I always include photos of products to verify both that I purchased this product and to back up appropriate claims in the review. If you have any feedback or questions or corrections, leave a note in the comments section. Thank you!