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Amazon Fire 7 (2017) review: A bargain tablet that has now been superseded

Christopher Minasians
17 Jun 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
50
inc VAT

Page 1 of 2Amazon Fire 7 (2017) review: A bargain tablet that has now been superseded

The 2017 Amazon Fire tablet has been replaced

Pros 
Super cheap
A great choice for kids
Easy to carry around
Cons 
Sluggish performance
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Amazon updates its tablets every two years or so but the upgrades are usually minor. In 2017 those upgrades came in the form of a mild spec boost and the addition of Amazon's AI assistant, Alexa, to the tablet's features. It's since been replaced with the 2019 Amazon Fire 7, though, which again, sees a minor change of specification, including a faster CPU, more storage and hands-free Alexa.

In its time, though, the 2017 Amazon Fire 7 was the best-value tablet around. To find out why read the rest of our original review below.

READ NEXT: Best tablets

Amazon Fire tablet review: What you need to know

At £50 (and frequently discounted throughout the year), Amazon's cheap and cheerful 7in tablet sits in a league of its own. 

With better connectivity, reasonable battery life and integration with Amazon Alexa, the Fire is an excellent tablet for those on a tight budget. With a Kids Edition also available to parents, the Fire will appeal to everyone.

READ NEXT: Amazon Fire HD 8 review

Amazon Fire tablet review: Price and storage options

The Fire 7 tablet is available in two storage options – 8GB and 16GB – which can be found for £50 and £60 respectively.

Both models come with and without "Special Offers". These are adverts that are displayed on the lockscreen. To get rid of them, you'll need to pay an additional £10, resulting in a £60 (8GB) and £70 (16GB) price tag.

The tablets come in four different colours: Black, Canary Yellow, Marine Blue and Punch Red.

Amazon Fire tablet review: Kids Edition

Amazon's Fire tablet comes in two different editions. You can buy the tablet on its own for £50 (£60 for the 16GB version) or the Kids Edition for £100. The tablet hardware itself is no different, but for the extra cash you do get a one-year subscription to Fire for Kids Unlimited, a “Kid-Proof” case and a two-year “worry-free” warranty. Note, too, that the Kids Edition tablet comes with only 16GB of storage.

Fire for Kids Unlimited grants you a one-year subscription to content aimed at kids aged 3-12. It gives kids unlimited access to thousands of age-appropriate books, videos, educational apps and games with no ads or in-app purchases.

It’s ideal for parents who want to give their children something to watch, without having to worry about "grown-up stuff". It also ties into the parental controls on offer by Amazon, giving you peace of mind for your children to safely browse the internet. The tablet also lets parents set daily time limits and bedtimes, so there are no late-night Sesame Street binges.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the cost isn’t much different from buying the tablet on its own and adding the service later, though – especially if you’re a subscriber to Amazon Prime. Normally, Prime members pay £1.99/mth for one child’s subscription and £4.99/mth for up to four children.

The Kid-Proof case, however, is truly a marvel. Due to its design and material construction, the Fire 7 Kids Edition can be chucked around. Upon receiving it for review, I performed several drop tests, and it survived by bouncing off the floor. If you're getting this for your kids, you won't have to worry about it breaking, and even if your kids do end up cracking the screen, Amazon offers a two-year worry-free guarantee. This means that you'll be covered for two years, no questions asked.

Amazon Fire tablet review: Performance

The Fire ships with either 8GB or 16GB of storage, although there is a microSD slot to upgrade storage space. This is handy, particularly as a 32GB microSD card can be bought for less than £13. Ultimately, twice the storage for £10 more is worth it, and 16GB is enough storage for light use and web browsing, whereas 8GB really isn't.

Start using the Fire, however, and it’s clear to see how Amazon has been able to make it so cheap. There might be a MediaTek MT8127 quad-core processor running at 1.3GHz, but it’s beyond sluggish. In Peacekeeper, a test of browser performance, the Fire could only manage a pitiful 283 – easily the worst score of any tablet Expert Reviews saw even in 2015, and a quarter of what Tesco’s £100 Hudl 2 is capable of.

Even the three-year-old Nexus 7 managed over 100 points more overall. This translates to choppy scrolling, particularly on media-heavy web pages, with lots of re-draws if you have multiple tabs open at once. It doesn’t help that you’re forced to use Silk, Amazon’s own web browser, as Google apps such as Chrome aren’t available. It has most of the features you would expect, but performance doesn’t come close.

Everyday performance suffers on account of the underpowered chipset too. Geekbench single- and multi-core results of 356 and 1,143 respectively are among the lowest scores we've seen for a long time, again falling behind Tesco's Hudl 2. Loading even simple apps can take several seconds, as will opening the Recent menu or returning to the homescreen.

At first, it’s easy to think you simply didn’t tap the right place onscreen, but after a while it’s clear the device simply can’t keep up with your inputs. Once you’re in an app, things are mostly smooth, but animations and transitions are still disappointingly choppy.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a similar story when it comes to gaming performance. The Fire couldn't run most of the GFXBench tests, but did run the T-Rex benchmark. With a low score of 13fps in the onscreen and 8.9fps in its offscreen benchmark, it's safe to say that games such as Blizzard’s Hearthstone will stutter dramatically during gameplay. Simply drawing a card from your hand can cause slowdown at times, so this certainly won’t be the device to play 3D titles such as Grand Theft Auto III. Less-demanding 2D games will be smoother, but you’ll still have to wait a while for them to load. At least battery life isn’t abysmal.
Despite Amazon's claims of an improved battery life in the 2017 tablet, in our battery tests I found it to last 13 minutes less than the previous model. With its screen brightness set to 170cd/m2 and flight mode engaged, it managed 8hrs 30mins which, with conservative use, you should just be able to squeeze a full day's worth of use away from home without having to reach for a mains socket.

Amazon Fire tablet review: Design

In addition to more memory, Amazon has also introduced three vibrant colours. They're nice and bright, and certainly look much more fun than the traditional black version. This may be important if you're planning on buying a tablet for a child. While it's good to see these changes, they don't materially change my opinion of the tablet or affect its performance, as you can see from the rest of my review.

It doesn’t even look bargain-basement when you take it out of the box. Yes, the screen bezels are a little on the chunky side, and it’s surprisingly heavy given the size, but otherwise it’s actually not bad at all. The matte-plastic finish on the back is actually preferable to the glossy fingerprint magnet on the back of the Fire HD 10.

Amazon Fire tablet review: Display

The Fire was never going to have an amazing screen, given its bargain-basement price, so in many ways a meagre 59.3% sRGB colour gamut coverage isn't surprising. It’s easily one of the lowest scores seen from a tablet, and 20% behind the Hudl 2. It’s a similar story in our other objective tests, with a fairly average maximum brightness of 330.2cd/m2 and a rather high 0.34cd/m2 black level that leaves darker images looking rather grey and milky.

A contrast ratio of 959:1 isn’t terrible, however; it means images and video have a surprising amount of depth, even if the colours aren’t very accurate. Subjectively, the screen looks grainy, and while viewing angles are respectable, the very low 1,024 x 600 resolution makes text look blocky and difficult to read in smaller fonts. Its readability has been improved since its 2016 release, with the new 2017 Fire 7 handling smaller text a lot better than before.

Page 1 of 2Amazon Fire 7 (2017) review: A bargain tablet that has now been superseded

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