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Amazon has updated its Fire 7 tablet for 2022 to make it faster and boost battery life, but it’s unlikely to draw many potential buyers away from Apple’s standard 10.2-inch iPad or the iPad mini, except for the highly cost-conscious.
Amazon’s Fire tablet lineup is best known for being an effective way to get a tablet at a very low cost, at the expense of more premium features. The Kindle Fire 7 has also been Amazon’s signature tablet, the cheapest in the catalog that offers all of the basics that a tablet needs.
It’s undoubtedly an entry-level tablet and the polar opposite of Apple’s iPad range. Unlike the Fire, the iPad and iPad mini are seen as the value end of the iPad spectrum, being cheaper than the iPad Air and the iPad Pro lineup.
There’s always been a significant gap in what each tablet lineup offers to consumers, but with the May 18 launch of the next-generation Fire 7, Amazon aims to close the gap a little bit.
The difference between the Fire 7 and entry-level iPads is considerable but not insurmountable.
|Specifications||iPad mini 6||10.2-inch iPad 9||Amazon Fire 7 (2022)|
|Price (starting)||$499||$329||$59.99 with ads,
|Dimensions (inches)||7.69 x 5.3 x 0.25||9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29||7.11 x 4.63 x 0.38|
|Weight (pounds)||0.65 (Wi-Fi),
0.66 (WiFi + Cellular)
1.09 (Wi-Fi + Cellular)
|Display Type||8.3-inch Liquid Retina,
Wide Color (P3),
500 nits brightness
500 nits brightness
|Resolution||2266 x 1488 at 326ppi||2160×1620 at 264 ppi||1024 x 600 at 171dpi|
|Processing||A15 Bionic with Neural Engine||A13 Bionic with Neural Engine||MediaTek MT8168V/B
|Connectivity||5G (sub-6 GHz),
Bluetooth 5.0 LE
|Battery||Up to 10 hours||Up to 10 hours||Up to 10 hours|
|Rear camera||12MP Wide,
5x digital zoom,
4k 60fps video,
1080p 240fps Slo-mo
5x digital zoom,
1080p 30fps video,
720p 120fps Slo-mo
|Front camera||12MP Ultra Wide,
1080p 60fps video
|12MP Ultra Wide,
1080p 60fps video
|Stylus Support||Apple Pencil (Gen 2)||Apple Pencil (Gen 1)||No|
|Audio||Two speaker audio landscape mode||Stereo speakers,
|Biometric Security||Touch ID||Touch ID||No|
Amazon Fire 7 2022 vs iPad mini vs 10.2-inch iPad: Design and Dimensions
Apple’s 10.2-inch iPad and the sixth-generation iPad mini are made from premium materials, with an aluminum enclosure and a glass-fronted screen.
The iPad mini takes its design cues from the iPad Air and iPad Pro lineup, with a flat edge and rounded corners and a display that fills the front of the device. It also packs an 8.3-inch display into a very compact body, measuring 7.69 inches long, 5.3 inches wide, and 0.25 inches thick.
The iPad sticks to the well-worn design, with larger bezels and the physical home button on the front. Packing the 10.2-inch screen from its name, it is bigger than the mini at 9.8 inches by 6.8 inches and 0.29 inches thick.
Since Amazon’s constructing the 12th-generation Fire 7 down to a far lower build cost, the first thing that goes is using expensive materials for its enclosure. You’re not getting aluminum for the enclosure here, as instead, it’s the continued use of low-cost plastic for the chassis.
Unless you’re heavily into aesthetics, it’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s an everyday reminder that this is far from the premium iPad feel. However, Amazon claims that it is “twice as durable as the latest iPad mini in tumble tests.”
The use of a 7-inch display does mean it takes up less of a footprint than the iPad mini, but at 7.11 inches long by 4.63 inches wide, it’s not by as much as you would think. It’s also the thickest at 0.38 inches, approximately one and a half times as thick as the iPad mini.
There are two saving graces, though. First, the Fire 7 is the lightest tablet at 0.62 pounds, against 0.65 or 0.66 for the iPad mini, depending on if you have cellular access, and 1.07 or 1.09 pounds for the iPad.
The other saving grace is the camera bump, as while there is one in the very-thin iPad mini, there isn’t one on the iPad nor the Fire 7. That’s not much of a benefit considering the relative thickness, but it’s one element that isn’t needed in Amazon’s tablet.
Amazon Fire 7 2022 vs iPad mini vs 10.2-inch iPad: Display
Apple prides itself on offering a nice and bright display that is also high resolution enough to be referred to as “Retina.” Amazon, not so much.
The 10.2-inch iPad has a 10.2-inch Retina screen, which supports True Tone and offers up to 500 nits of brightness. Its 2,160 by 1,620-resolution screen is substantial enough to give it a pixel density of 264ppi.
The iPad mini boasts an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display, with Wide Color (P3) support, True Tone, and 500 nits of brightness. The resolution of 2,266 by 1,488 packed into a smaller space gives it a fantastic pixel density of 328ppi.
Amazon describes the display of the Fire 7 as being a “7-inch touchscreen” that is capable of “SD video playback.”. At 1,024 by 600, the resolution is extremely low and manages a meager 171ppi.
The resolution is pitiful, but we’re talking about a very cheap tablet.
Amazon Fire 7 2022 vs iPad mini vs 10.2-inch iPad: Performance
Apple’s tablets all use Apple’s self-designed chips, which initially surface in Apple’s iPhone lineup.
In the iPad, Apple uses the A13 Bionic, a 2.65GHz six-core chip with two performance cores, four energy-efficient cores, a four-core GPU, and the Neural Engine. This chip first appeared in 2019 but is still deemed powerful enough to be used in Apple’s entry-level tablet.
The iPad mini switches to the A15, Apple’s current-fastest chip as used in the iPhone 13 range. It contains a similar six-core layout of two performance, four efficiency cores, a max clock speed of 2.93GHz, a five-core GPU, and a new 16-core Neural Engine.
Amazon doesn’t design the chips it uses in its Fire lineup, and for 2022 the chip in question is a MediaTek MT8168V/B, a quad-core SoC with Cortex-A53 CPU clocked at 2GHz and a Mali-G52 GPU.
Just on core counts and clock speeds alone, it’s fair to expect that the Fire 7 won’t set records while running Amazon’s Fire OS 8, but it’s not meant to.
The iPad mini has 4GB of RAM, the iPad has 3GB, and the Fire 7 has 2GB, up from the previous release’s 1GB.
Generally, at this point, we would refer to Geekbench benchmarks to see how much of a difference there is, but Amazon has yet to ship the new Fire 7 to the public. What’s more, finding results for that particular MediaTek chip doesn’t come up with much usable data.
Amazon claims the new model is 30% faster than the previous model, which would be the Fire 7 released in 2017. Given that searches for Geekbench results for that tablet put its single-core score at around 640 points and multi-core at about 1,800, it’s not looking good for the Fire 7 even if you account for it using an older version of the benchmark software.
If the results are comparable to the latest Geekbench release and indeed 30% better in the new Fire 7, we’re theoretically looking at around 830 for the single-core and 2,340 for the multi-core score.
For the iPad mini, it manages 1,536 under single-core and 4,454 for multi-core. The iPad is slower, at 1,326 and 3,314, respectively, but still faster than the improved Amazon tablet.
Of course, the actual results of the Fire 7 could significantly differ from what’s worked out here, but it’s doubtful that Amazon will have put together something that can outpace the top A-series chips.
Amazon Fire 7 2022 vs iPad mini vs 10.2-inch iPad: Connectivity
Wi-Fi is available across the board but in different flavors. The fastest is the iPad mini, which has Wi-Fi 6 support, followed by Wi-Fi 802.11ac support (Wi-Fi 5) in the iPad.
The Fire 7 supports Wi-Fi 802.11n, which is Wi-Fi 4. If you have a router that supports up to Wi-Fi 6, you’ll see a maximum throughput of over 9Gbps on the iPad mini, almost 7Gbps on the iPad, and a mere 700Mbps on the Fire 7.
The Fire 7 fares better for Bluetooth, as it offers Bluetooth 5.0 LE support. While on a par with the iPad mini, it’s better than Bluetooth 4.2 as provided on the iPad.
Bear in mind that this only matters if you have hardware capable of using the relevant standards for each connection to enjoy the benefits.
As for cellular, you have 5G connectivity as an option for the iPad mini, LTE for the iPad, but none for the Fire 7.
On to physical connections, Amazon has embraced the future with the Fire 7 in using USB-C. This is good for recharging but less so for physical data connections, as it still runs at USB 2.0 speeds.
The iPad mini has USB-C for charging and data, acting as USB 3.1 Gen 1. The iPad uses Lightning, but it also has a Smart Connector that works with accessories like the Smart Keyboard.
Amazon Fire 7 2022 vs iPad mini vs 10.2-inch iPad: Cameras
While Apple is known for putting effort into its cameras, Amazon’s tablets certainly don’t have that same reputation.
The iPad mini is equipped with a 12-megapixel wide camera on the rear, with an f/1.8 aperture, a 5x digital zoom, and a flash. Supporting Smart HDR 3, it has benefits including auto image stabilization and all of the benefits you would expect from computational photography.
The iPad has an 8-megapixel wide camera with an f/2.4 aperture and a 5x digital zoom. Likewise, there’s HDR for Photos, auto image stabilization, and Apple’s software-based assistance.
The iPad mini can handle better video at the back, with it capable of 4K 60fps footage and a 240fps 1080p slo-mo function. The iPad can do 1080p 30fps video and 720p 120fps slo-mo.
Around the front, both benefit from a 12-megapixel ultra wide camera with an f/2.4 aperture, each capable of 1080p 60fps video.
So far, Amazon has described its Fire 7 front and rear cameras as being 2-megapixel shooters capable of 720p video recording. This won’t compete with the iPad or iPad mini but is probably enough for video calls.
It’s also worth pointing out that you can record 720p video with the Fire 7, but the low screen resolution means you won’t be able to view that clip on the tablet’s display itself at full resolution.
Amazon Fire 7 2022 vs iPad mini vs 10.2-inch iPad: Battery Life
Typically, there’s a difference in agreement in how much battery life a manufacturer says a device offers. For once, there’s a bit of an agreement.
All three tablets are said by Amazon and Apple to offer a battery life of up to 10 hours.
What that battery life is used for does differ by vendor. According to Apple, that’s 10 hours of web surfing on Wi-Fi or watching video, though both iPad models dip to 9 hours for the same tasks.
Amazon says its battery life of up to 10 hours is based on “reading, browsing the web, watching video, and listening to music.” This is also claimed to be an improvement in battery life of 40% from the previous model.
Amazon Fire 7 2022 vs iPad mini vs 10.2-inch iPad: Other Features
Both the iPad models boast stereo speakers, with the iPad mini including “landscape mode” audio. The Fire 7 has an “integrated speaker,” indicating it isn’t stereo.
The Fire 7 has a headphone jack, like the iPad, but the iPad mini does not.
The two iPads include dual microphones, whereas the Fire 7 has one microphone.
Touch ID is included with the iPads as a biometric security option. There is no biometric element in the Fire 7.
The iPad and iPad mini include stylus support for the first-gen Apple Pencil and second-gen Apple Pencil. Unless you buy an aftermarket capacitive stylus, there’s no dedicated stylus support in the Fire 7.
Amazon Fire 7 2022 vs iPad mini vs 10.2-inch iPad: Storage and Pricing
The Fire 7 is available in 16GB and 32GB capacities, though each can be expanded by microSD.
Each is sold with lock screen ads shown on the cheapest variants, pricing the 16GB capacity at $59.99 and 32GB at $79.99. If you want to remove the ads, the 16GB model costs $74.99, and the 32GB is $94.99.
As usual for Amazon, there’s a Fire 7 Kids tablet option, which bundles the same tablet specification in a chunky “kid-proof case.” The option costs $109.99 for the 16GB model and $129.99 for the 32GB, but the extra expense includes some bonus items.
For a start, a two-year worry-free guarantee promises a free replacement if the tablet breaks. There’s also one year of Amazon Kids+ content that’s usually $2.99 per month, a parent dashboard to filter content, and no ads.
Turning to color options, the iPad mini 6 is available in Space Gray, Pink, Purple, and Starlight. The iPad is offered in Silver and Space Gray.
The Fire 7 is available in Black, Denim, and Rose. The Kids edition is available in Blue, Purple, and Red.
Very basic, but very cheap
It’s fair to say that there’s little competition for the iPad or iPad mini here if you’re looking at the Fire 7 as your next tablet. Given the low-resolution display, the low-res cameras, the performance, the lack of cellular, and the build, it’s challenging to tell anyone to buy the Fire 7 over an iPad mini on specifications alone.
If you have the money on hand for an iPad or iPad mini, Amazon’s got no real chance of convincing you to go its way if you want a good-quality tablet that you’ll use for years. No one wants to be hamstrung by specifications years down the line, and you will get that feeling with the Fire 7.
So, if people wanting to buy an iPad are out of the question, who would want to buy a Fire 7 instead?
Those who have to stretch their funds as far as possible could find it an attractive option for a start. Even with lock screen ads showing from time to time, paying $60 for a basic tablet is a pretty good deal.
You could acquire 8 16GB Fire 7 tablets for the same cost as one 64GB Wi-Fi iPad mini, or five Fire 7 tablets for the price of one 64GB Wi-Fi 10.2-inch iPad. This could be a reasonably helpful way to get everyone in a household a tablet without breaking the bank.
Parents with younger children may also seek solace in the Kids edition’s chunky case, kids services, and that two-year worry-free guarantee, especially if they’re not keen on letting little Agatha play around with an iPad mini.
Amazon cannot use the Fire 7 to compete against the iPad directly, and it isn’t. Instead, it’s fighting on a playing field of customers looking for value and that are happy to go for something better described as functional than bleeding edge.
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