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Amazon Fire 7 (2019) review: A good cheap tablet gets minor improvements

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The Good The Amazon Fire 7 is inexpensive, has a standard headphone jack and houses a microSD card slot expandable up to 512GB. This 2019 edition has an upgraded processor and adds support for hands-free Alexa. Amazon Prime members can access the bevy of free TV shows, movies and games included with their $119 (£79) annual subscription.

The Bad The screen is sub-HD quality. App store doesn't have quite as much variety as Google Play Store. To truly take advantage of what the tablet has to offer, you need an Amazon Prime membership.

The Bottom Line Amazon's slightly upgraded entry-level Fire 7 tablet remains a good value, but you're still better off spending a bit more for the HD 8 instead.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

I always find it a little cynical when Amazon calls a slightly updated version of one of its products "all-new" when it really isn't. The latest version of Amazon's entry-level tablet, the Fire 7 ($50, £50), is very similar to the 2017 version -- it looks identical except for some new color options -- but it's got some small upgrades on the inside, namely a "faster" processor, according to Amazon, and a bump in the base storage from 8GB to 16GB, with a microSD expansion slot that lets you add up to 512GB of additional storage. A model with 32GB of internal storage ($70, £60) is also available. 

We thought the previous version was a good value, particularly when it was discounted by $10 or even $15 during flash sales, and at those prices this updated model remains an attractive option for Amazon Prime members looking for a dirt-cheap serviceable tablet to experience Amazon's "free" content included with that Prime membership. The Fire 7 ( $40 at eBay) and its step-up sibling, the Fire HD 8, are also tablet favorites among parents in search of a budget iPad ( $249 at Walmart) alternative for younger kids. 

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The Fire 7 home screen.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's certainly fine for parents to buy this model and add a case to it, but Amazon is also offering the new Fire 7 in a new Fire 7 Kids Edition, which costs $100 or £100 and comes with 16GB of storage, one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, a "kid-proof" case with a new adjustable stand (it's a nice improvement) and a two-year free replacement policy. I personally don't think it's as good a value as the standard model, but some people will find it appealing.

Before you buy any Fire tablet, or any Amazon device at all, really, keep in mind that they frequently go on sale, so you should never pay the list price. The two best times to buy are usually during Prime Day (mid-July) and Black Friday (late November) sales, but periodic discounts happen at other times throughout the year, too.

The big feature addition Amazon is highlighting is support for hands-free Alexa. That means that instead of hitting a virtual button on the screen to activate Alexa, you simply say the name "Alexa" as you would with an Echo device -- so long as you're on Wi-Fi. The feature can be toggled off in the settings menu. It was already added to the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10.

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