The current generation Amazon Fire 7, sold in 2020, is a considerable downgrade from the Fire HDX 7 which went on sale in 2013 and is now discontinued.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset with a quad-core CPU clocked at 2.2 GHz. While the current 2019 Fire 7 also has a quad-core processor, it uses a Mediatek chipset with its CPU clocked at only 1.3 GHz. Its disappointing to for the Fire 7’s speed to be downgraded and not improved since.
The Fire HDX 7 features both GPS and 4G LTE cellular connectivity, while the current generation Fire 7 has neither.
The Fire HDX 7 supports a full 1080p HD display with a resolution of 1920×1200. The 2019 Fire 7 only has a display resolution of 1024×600 and with less than 720p it can’t even support HD video. Not to mention the 2019 Fire’s display causes both text and images to appear blurry due to its low pixels per inch rating.
The Fire HDX 7 features 2 GB of RAM while the current generation Fire 7 only has 1 GB of RAM. This makes it more difficult to multitask by running multiple apps in the background as well as playing complex games. With less RAM, the system is more likely to experience crashes overall. It is unacceptable to sell a modern device with this little of system memory.
While the 2019 version of the Fire 7 may small improvements, it still does not actually improve the overall speed and reliability of the tablet compared to the original HDX 7.
The HDX series was designed for a different market at a starting price of $229 compared to the current Fire 7’s $49 price, but not to improve the performance over six years is reason enough not to buy a current Fire 7 model. The other issue being there is no current generation replacement for the Fire HDX 7.
It’s also worth noting that in 2014 Amazon released a 7-inch dual core tablet to make the Fire 7 refresh in 2015 to a quad core appear as an upgrade from the previous year’s model.
As mentioned in my last post, the only options for small tablets currently are the 2019 Fire 7 at $49, the iPad mini at $399, or a selection of other generic 7-inch tablets from Amazon which all have specs identical to the Fire 7. Again, the iPad mini has no comparable competitor.
Amazon sells the Fire 7 at a loss, because they know the tablet is locked to their lackluster system software with its app store. For most users the loss of the tablet sale is made up by app sales, video sales, and Amazon Prime subscriptions. This does not even include the revenue from the “special offers” advertisements that are displayed constantly on the lock screen of the lowest priced model. Amazon does give the option to remove these advertisements for an additional fee.
Finally, the most deceptive point of the Fire 7 may be its limited warranty. Unlike the larger tablet models which include a full year warranty in the US, the Fire 7 only includes a 3 month warranty. This may be an indication of inferior quality, especially judging from several reviews where the device fails within the first year of ownership.
This questions whether there even is a point to selling such a low quality, outdated tablet at such a low price point. Unfortunately Amazon would not be able to offer a better 7-inch model due to it potentially impacting sales of the Fire HD 8 and HD 10 tablets.
Additionally the Fire 7 runs Amazon’s proprietary Fire OS, which by default uses the Amazon App Store. Unfortunately Amazon’s digital store does not allow any Google apps except for YouTube. Furthermore, it does not offer the Microsoft Office suite of apps. The Fire series are designed specifically for media consumption and not productivity. It is possible to sideload Google services as well as Microsoft Office and even games not available from Amazon’s store. However, installing the Play Store is not supported by Amazon.
The lower priced options for Fire tablets include advertisements which Amazon refers to as “Special Offers”. Advertisements are always displayed on the lock screen. The user has the option to disable these advertisements by paying a one-time fee on their Amazon account. Alternatively there is the option of buying the tablet with the fee included, the tablet will ship from the factory with no advertisements.
Essentially, the Fire 7 tablet works for watching streaming services in standard definition and not much else. The Amazon App Store lacks most productivity apps, education apps, and many games found on Google’s Play Store. If you intend to use a tablet for anything other than watching videos on a low quality screen, it may be a better idea to look elsewhere.
The Fire 7 also lacks of a lot of features found on the HD 8, HD 10, and the newest HD 8 Plus.
It lacks a USB-C port in place of the older micro USB connector for charging and data transfer.
The Fire 7 has only a single speaker on the back on the tablet, which is relatively easy to cover while holding the tablet, whereas the Fire HD 10 has stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos.
The newest Fire 7 model from 2019 runs Android 7 whereas Android 10 was the current version of Android as of that year. Older Fire 7 models from 2015 and 2017 run Android 5. With the latest Fire 7 running an operating system which is at least three years behind, it lacks some modern features and well as the ability to run some newer apps. Furthermore, as Amazon’s software updates differ from mainstream Android releases, critical security updates may not be applied to this tablet.
In conclusion, I hope these points will persuade others to avoid Amazon’s tablets in favor of better options. There are other 7-inch tablets with similar hardware specifications without the limitations of Amazon’s software and app store. Just about all of these other tablets can be found on Amazon.com for less than $100. 7-inch tablets may not have the same power of more expensive, larger tablets, but at least there are some that use Google’s standard version of Android with the full Play Store experience.
See my Recommended Tablets for an in depth list of good tablets worth buying in 2020.