Do People Still Buy Kindles with Cellular Connectivity?

Kindle Oasis Wireless

Kindles are the only dedicated ebook readers with the option to have cellular connectivity to download ebooks when away from WiFi connections.

Amazon calls it “free” cellular connectivity because there aren’t any monthly fees associated with using the cellular wireless features, but the cellular Kindles do cost considerably more up-front, usually about $70 more.

It’s kind of surprising that Amazon continues to sell Kindles with cellular connectivity, but enough people must be buying them to keep them around.

I can understand 10 years ago when Kindles first came out when smartphones and free WiFi hotspots weren’t so widespread, but now free WiFi is available just about everywhere and it’s easy to tether a Kindle to a phone.

So why do people still buy Kindles with cellular connectivity?

It’s hard to see the value in paying $250 for a Kindle Paperwhite when you can get one with all the same features minus cellular connectivity on sale for under $100.

Older cellular Kindles used to be able to access the internet for free over 3G, but they closed that down a long time ago with the release of the original Kindle Touch, so that’s no longer a reason to get a cellular model.

The cellular Kindles aren’t even listed on the main product pages anymore; now Amazon has separate pages just for the 4G LTE models, and they’re hard to notice unless you happen to see the link.

To make matters worse, Amazon increased the price of the cellular version of the new Kindle Oasis 3. All the prices are the same as the 2nd gen model across the board except the cellular model, which inexplicably increased from $349 to $369.

It’s surprising that people are willing to spend that much on a device as simple as a Kindle.

24 Responses to “Do People Still Buy Kindles with Cellular Connectivity?”

  1. I highly doubt it. You can tether anything from your phone nowadays making cellular Kindles totally obsolete. Dropping an extra $70-80 for cellular connectivity is a wonderful way to waste money.

  2. I have a prepaid Smartphone. Everything about it is great except that I am not allowed to tether on it. Doing so will get me banned from the service. $48 a month is pretty good for 25 gigs @ 4g speeds, so I’d like to keep it. That said, I can’t justify $369. I’d like to. I tried to talk myself into it, but I can’t. The truth is, I’m around WiFi enough. Now if I traveled more, maybe it would be justified.

    Crap, maybe it is justified. I plan to be travelling more in the next few years.

    Naw, I’m too cheap, and that strip is ugly.

    • I have a pay-as-you-go smartphone with no data at all. I’m around wifi almost all the time anyway. I’m only charged for cellular, so I get by spending around $10 a month.

    • what a rip off – I am paying 25$/month for unlimited calls, sms, 4G LTE data in Scandinavia +Baltics and 15GB roaming elsewhere in Europe/month. But this is Scandinavia …

  3. I have a cellular version of the Voyage. I just tried to download a book and it said it was too large to download over a cellular connection. Totally worthless, feel bad that I paid extra for that feature.

  4. Yes. All my Kindles have cellular connectivity. I’ve been in places where there is no wifi, but I could get a cell signal.

  5. My K2 only used a cellular connection, my paperwhite used wifi, and my voyage uses cellular.

    If I dont cancel the preorder, my Oasis 3 will use wifi. At this point I dont see the need to spend more on an overpriced product then I need to, and the feature is largely redundant anyway.

  6. I thought I was the perfect candidate for it. I work on a cruise ship in Hawaii and rarely on Wi-Fi. Big catch is that I pretty much use my Kindle for library ebook checkouts. Although checkouts are routed through the Amazon Kindle Store, alas… You can’t download a library book via cellular. If I’d have known that before purchasing, I wouldn’t have done it.

  7. I have a kindle oasis 1st gen with cellular connectivity, I use it when I go camping when I don’t have wifi or my phone can’t get a signal the kindle usually can download a book, I only paid $117 for it though.

  8. Downloading books is not the only reason for needing internet connectivity, keeping the current reading location synced across devices might be important to some too.

  9. I started keeping my entire library(large!)on device years ago. Once that was done, the only reason to have connectivity would be to purchase more e-books, which can be done on my phone. Once I started keeping everything on device, aIr stopped getting connectable Kindles.

  10. WiFi is not as ubiquitous as you might think. I know more people with either no internet or poor internet at home than I know people with good internet.

    In rural areas internet is terrible and free wifi hotspots are very few and far between. People that travel frequently also find the cellular option more convenient than wifi only.

    Many people also don’t have tethering as an option with their phone.

    While I think that the majority of people don’t fall into those categories enough do to warrant the existence of cellular tablets and Kindles.

    Appealing to niche groups with different options is a smarter business strategy than the one size fits all approach anyway.

  11. I could see purchasing the option as a gift for someone that is not tech savvy, like say an elderly relative that has limited or no internet access.

    But it’s also a luxury feature. I’d like to have it those moments where I need internet access and do not feel like tethering my device. If I see a Voyage on Woot with cellular connectivity, I just might pick it up.

  12. I also can’t tether to my smartphone. And I live in a very small town (3000) where Wifi isn’t so readily available. I have Wifi at home, of course.

    But I think all this misses the point. I don’t buy 3G Kindles to make it easier to download books, but to make it easier to access Wikipedia for more information as I read. With 3G I can always do that wherever I am. If I had to go find Wifi somewhere, even if it was readily available, it would be a pain.

    Offhand I’d say I access Wikipedia 2 times per reading session on average. I’m always running into things as I read that I want to know more about. With 3G I can always do it. Without it I’d probably just keep reading and learn less.


  13. I have had Kindle touch, Paperwhite, and using original Oasis. All where 3G. I do like it. And it comes in a clutch to read Wikipedia and shopping (mostly reordering). I feel that Amazon MUST allow at LEAST .25 gig of general internet use and allow audiobooks to be downloaded over cellular. (Yes I pre-ordered Kindle Oasis 3gen 4G LTE)

  14. I work in schools that don’t allow employees to connect their mobile devices to wifi. Having a cellular Kindle is nice because I can purchase and download books while at work without tethering to my very limited mobile phone data plan. (I also have an inordinate amount of time at work to read for pleasure.)

  15. This is funny! When I was younger I had an early gen Kindle (like 2nd or 3rd) and it had cell connectivity. It was stolen a few years ago. I recently bought a new Kindle Oasis and was surprised to see cell connectivity and I bought that one in particular out of sheer nostalgia! Call it bias or emotions but Amazon has that level of effect on me.

  16. I just got a used Kindle Paperwhite 3G off of ebay for $40.00, shipping included. It has a slight blemish but other than that the battery life is as good as my Kindle that I bought new. Just have to remember to turn off the 3G when not using it.

    In the future I’ll probably go looking for a used one before I shop for one new.

  17. Yes we do. Living in a rural area means Wi-Fi is not readily available. But cell towers are abundant. A smartphone is not easy for seniors. The kindle paperwhite enables those with failing eyesight to enlarge the print. Make it bold and white background enables us to enjoy reading like we did when young. The extra cost wasn’t a consideration because I am worth it, as my children tell me.
    I know in the near future I will have to rely on audio books and Alexa.

  18. I’ve had almost every Kindle, most with cellular connectivity. I finally cheaped out and bought one (Oasis 1) without it and ended up wishing it had it. I was surprised how often I was someplace without Wi-Fi when I wanted to download a book. I included cellular again when i bought my Oasis 2.

  19. I wouldn’t buy a Kindle without cellular connectivity! I travel 200-300 nights/year for work and never know what city or country I’ll be in or how long I’ll be there.

    My first Kindle was a Kindle Keyboard w/3G, which I bought in 2010 or 2011. It’s been a daily companion for me around the world. This Christmas I received a Kindle Paperwhite w/4G.

    Wi-Fi has become more available and I’ve seen Wi-Fi in unusual places, such as 200 feet below ground, airplanes, even remote rainforest outposts.

    BUT access to it isn’t universal. Some places want you to pay for it (I’m looking at you MIA airport), while most others have some sort of captive portal which is slow and a pain to navigate with the Kindle browser, not to mention many of them want your e-mail and other personal information before they’ll let you use Wi-Fi.

    With the Kindle’s 4G, I can just turn on the 4G modem, download a book or two, and get on the next airplane without any fuss.

  20. I just got the New kindle oasis 10th generation (my first e-reader ever), and I absolutely love it! However, I made the mistake to get the one with no cellular connectivity. Now, I wish I had it, and they can’t exchange my device.

    Yes, many times I can use wifi, but especially recently I was often in places or walking with no wifi and I couldn’t use the wikipedia or dictionary when I needed information for the specific names or words that I was highlighting on my books. I don’t mind waiting to download books when I’m on wifi, but not been able to use what are to me the most important features on a kindle when I’m reading, that of the wiki info or dictionary, is more than annoying — It makes the kindle useless to me when I’m on the road. I started tethering it on my phone’s hotspot but I’m not sure how much data the kindle uses and I’m afraid I’ll use my 15 gb of hotspot a month pretty quickly and my phone will slow down too. I wish I had gotten the one with cellular connection so I could use the wiki info and dictionary every time I read.