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Amazon Fire 7 (2017) review: A bargain tablet that has now been superseded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

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 Fire tablet review: Camera

The 2-megapixel rear camera hardly paints photos in the best light, but then the sensor is far from industry-leading anyway. Images taken outdoors are seriously lacking in detail and colours appear to be very washed out. Overall, shots are incredibly grainy and photos are filled with visual noise and artefacts. 

There is an HDR mode, but it takes around a second to capture an image, making camera shake something of an issue, and the results aren't any more lifelike than photos taken with HDR disabled.

Unsurprisingly there's no flash, so you're reliant on natural light when shooting indoors. As soon as you dim the lights, noise levels fly through the roof and details plummet. It struggled to find any texture in our standard still-life when the lamps were switched off, leaving huge parts of the image in shadow. With the lights on, results were a little better, but any modern smartphone will have a superior camera sensor.

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Amazon Fire tablet review: Connectivity

The Fire tablet comes with dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi. Its inclusion of the 5GHz band is a fantastic addition, and for a £50 tablet is simply unbelievable. Most budget devices don't have dual-band support, and as a result you'll experience dramatically faster speeds when downloading content, streaming your favourite TV shows and even watching YouTube videos.

At the top of the device, you'll find a power/lock button, which sits next to a micro-USB port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and volume rocker. The microSD card slot is on the right, and the dual downward-firing speaker grilles are on the left. The Fire tablet also allows you to connect to other devices via Bluetooth.

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Amazon Fire tablet review: FireOS with Amazon Alexa

Amazon’s custom version of Android has always divided users; anyone heavily invested in the Amazon ecosystem can appreciate having quick access to their ebooks, music, video and cloud storage, but the lack of Google Play and apps that other Android users take for granted are deal-breakers for many others (although you can install Google's suite of apps, if you can find the APK files). Amazon is still sitting at Android Lollipop (running FireOS 5.4.0.0), although this still offers a sensible middle ground between the familiar Android UI and its own layout, which makes the whole tablet much more user-friendly.

The old carousel-style homescreen has gone, replaced with a much more familiar app grid layout that makes finding third-party apps much easier. Each Amazon service still has its own dedicated homescreen, just a swipe or two to the left or right. If you have a Prime subscription, it’s a great way to access instant video content or Prime music, and Kindle owners will have instant access to their books through the Cloud library.

That being said, there are still some glaring omissions in terms of app support, most notably Gmail, YouTube and Google Drive, and Amazon’s Appstore still has a long way to go to match the selection available from Google Play.

The 2017 tablet also brings Amazon Alexa. You can access the voice assistant by holding down the home button (if you prefer, this can be toggled off by navigating to Settings | Device Options) or by navigating to the dedicated Alexa app. Here, you'll see all your recent searches and Google-style cards with rich information, such as weather information in your area.

At £50, the Fire 7 is one of the cheapest Alexa devices you can currently own. By utilising its screen, the Fire offers much more than the £45 Amazon Echo Dot 2. So, if you'll be using Alexa a lot, the Fire 7 might seem like a sensible choice.

Amazon Fire tablet review: Verdict

Despite its shortcomings, the Fire tablet isn't currently faced with competition. Given its super-low price, its closest match would be the Tesco Hudl 2, which is now discontinued.

If you’re looking for a cheap tablet to give to your children, it is definitely worth considering the £100 Kids Edition, as the two-year warranty and tough Kid-Proof case make it arguably better value for cautious parents.

For anyone looking for a first tablet, or even a cheap second device for travel, university or the kitchen, its £50 price point makes it a no-brainer. At this price, it's even worth considering as a dedicated Alexa device with a screen.

Hardware
ProcessorQuad-core 1.3GHz ARM MT8127
RAM1GB
Screen size7in
Screen resolution1,024x600
Screen typeIPS
Front cameraVGA
Rear camera2-megapixel
FlashNo
GPSNo
CompassNo
Storage (free)8/16GB
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD (256GB)
Wi-Fi802.11b/g/n
BluetoothYes
NFCNo
Wireless dataNo
Dimensions115x192x9.6mm
Weight295g
Features
Operating systemFireOS 5.4.0.0
Battery size2,950mAh

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