New $49 Fire Tablet vs Old Fire Tablet – Is it Worth Upgrading?

Fire Tablet 2017

So I’ve been testing the new $49 Fire tablet (7th gen) to see how it compares with the previous $49 Fire tablet (5th gen) that was released back in 2015.

It turns out there aren’t very many differences between them. There are a few upgrades but nothing major. The screen is the main improvement but most other things remain the same, including the software.

Amazon claims that the newer model is thinner, lighter, and it has longer battery life and an improved display.

That’s pretty much everything in a nutshell.

Most of the key specs are identical. Both have the same exact processor, the same amount of storage space and RAM, the same front and rear cameras, and both have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Here’s the list of detailed specs for Amazon’s tablets, and you can see not much has changed from the 2015 Fire tablet.

One of the minor differences with the new model is it supports 256GB microSD cards, whereas the old Fire supports up to 200GB cards (originally 128 before an update). Plus the 2017 Fire adds dual-band Wi-Fi and the Bluetooth version is 4.1 instead of 4.0.

The main difference between the two models is the screen. Both have 1024 x 600 resolution IPS displays, but the screen on the newer model has been upgraded. The screen is brighter, colors are slightly more vivid, text readability has improved, and the viewing angles are wider. Colors are quite different in general on the new model. For example, the white page of an ebook is much whiter on the 2017 Fire, where it has more of a cloudy blue tinge on the older one.

The weird thing about the screens is they are both 7-inches with the same resolution, but the screen dimensions are slightly different. The screen on the new Fire is about an eighth of an inch wider and a sixteenth of an inch shorter than the previous Fire (in portrait mode). It doesn’t sound like much but there’s a pretty big difference when you have them right next to each other. The new one is better proportioned; the screen isn’t as narrow.

The overall design is pretty much the same, but the edge of the frame on the new Fire is more rounded and it’s about 1mm longer and 1mm thinner at 9.6mm versus 10.6mm for the old.

They also managed to drop the weight down about half an ounce to 295 grams from 313 grams, not a huge difference but enough to notice.

The other main difference is the battery life. The new one is rated at up to 8 hours and the old 7 hours, so not a big deal but enough worth noting.

Overall the new 7th gen Fire is a pretty nice tablet considering the $49 price tag—the updated screen is a needed improvement—but I wish they would’ve found a way to upgrade the processor as well. The biggest weakness with the $49 Fire is that it’s fairly sluggish for a tablet in this day and age, so it takes a bit of patience to get along with, but for the price it’s hard to complain much considering everything that it can do.

8 Responses to “New $49 Fire Tablet vs Old Fire Tablet – Is it Worth Upgrading?”

  1. Did you test to see how Alexa works on this? Since they now advertise on the package about this new capability, I was curious if it worked well.

    • Sorry, I’m just not the kind of person that uses virtual assistant type apps so I never touch Alexa. I’m not sure why I even decided to review these tablets because I only like using a fraction of their features. That’s kind of the problem with reviewing tablets is they can do so many different things it’s impossible to cover every angle. I’m mostly just going to stick with the portable media aspects, like music, videos, audiobooks, ebooks and web browsing. I’ll leave things like apps, Alexa, video games, the cameras and such to other reviewers.

  2. Again another great review. I love these reviews — after I read these comparison type reviews. I feel like I know exactly what the differences are.

    For “bang-for-the-buck” the Amazon Fire tablets just can’t be beat.

    Great for gifting and for kids.

  3. Thanks for the information regarding the two versions of Amazon Fire Tables. I have a 5th generation tablet and been happy with it. I just get frustrated with the speed of the tablet. I guess if i want better speed i just dig deeper into the pocket book and buy a more pricier tablet.

    Thanks again for the great information .

  4. On Facebook Marketplace, a woman is selling a fifth generation Amazon Fire 16gb but told me she had just purchased it and had barely used it. I’m assuming by this review and from what I’ve found on Amazon, that this person is not telling the truth, as fifth editions came out in 2015.
    She’s selling it for $30.
    After reading your review, I’m thinking I should spend the extra $20 on a seventh generation that is new, especially since she is claiming her tablet (made in 2015) is practically new, right?
    (Sorry, started a new medicine that has me a bit slower than usual)

    • The 2015 model had a better screen but much worse battery life. It sold for like $150 new back then so $30 is pretty cheap but you’re probably better off just getting a new one so you know what you’re getting. Amazon has some refurbs that are a bit cheaper. They still sell the 5th gen refurbished, and so does Woot sometimes, so it’s possible she recently bought it but the poor battery life on that model would steer me in a different direction.

    • Unfortunately places like best buy are still selling 5th gen fire tablets in store. That’s where I bought mine this year assuming I was getting the newest version because it’s Best buy and no where on the box did it say the release date or 5th gen.

  5. Thanks for this, I was wondering the same exact thing.

    It’s interesting because cell phones keep evolving and upgrading, a two year old cell phone would be irrelevant, but I guess there isn’t much demand for new improved tablets.