Amazon’s just refreshed its basic Fire 7 (and basic Fire 7 Kids Edition) tablet to the 8th generation, bringing some much-needed improvements to the still-$50 device ($100 for the Kids Edition). It changed up the quad-core processor, so it will be faster even though the clock speed is still 1.3GHz. Storage options are now doubled—instead of 8 GB base with a more expensive 16 GB model, it is now 16 GB base with a 32 GB upgrade like the HD 8. (I wonder if the HD 8 and HD 10 will get similar bumps next time they’re refreshed?) Also doubled is the size of micro-SD card the Fire can use, moving up from 256 GB to 512 GB. And the Fire now has a 720p front camera, replacing the 480p that was on the old version, bringing it equal to the camera on the rear.
There don’t seem to be any other improvements; 1024 x 600 resolution, Wi-Fi, and 2 MP rear camera remain the same, and it’s apparently even lost an hour of battery life, dropping from 8 hours to 7. As with prior models, it is available in a variety of colors. The tablet remains Amazon’s very basic option, capable of doing simple tablet and media tasks and pushing Amazon’s content at you—and also represents the very cheapest device in Amazon’s ecosystem that will read Kindle ebooks. And, of course, it includes the usual lockscreen ads which you can disable for another $15, or possibly for free by asking Amazon customer service nicely.
The storage bump is a welcome change. It means that for the first time, this could really be a fully useful tablet (especially if you can still add the Google Play Store and replace Amazon’s mediocre launcher). Although the basic 8 GB Fire 7 was a great bargain at the time, and much more useful than the equivalent Nook Tablet 7 (which has also been updated to 16 GB in a newer model), it still had barely any room to install extra apps at all, even with a micro-SD card in the expansion slot. But I never felt cramped on the 16 GB Fire HD 8 even before upgrading to my 32 GB Fire HD 10, and I don’t imagine I would on a 16 GB Fire 7 either.
My old 5th-generation basic Fire only sees use these days to play from Google Play Music via Bluetooth through my Echo speaker (because if I play directly from my phone, any time I get an alert it interrupts the music)—but next time the new Fire is on sale for $35 or so, I might just go ahead and upgrade and pass the old one on to a niece or nephew. That’s a pretty low price to pay to get to play with a nifty new tech toy.
The new Fire is available for pre-order now, and will begin shipping on June 6. Amazon is currently offering a $10 app store credit on Fire 7 pre-orders, or free Toy Story headphones on Fire 7 Kids Edition pre-orders.
(As a reminder, I’ll get a small affiliate fee on any order placed through the Amazon links in this post.)