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Kindle 3G vs Kindle Wi-Fi: which one should I buy?

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In this post, we will try to help you decide whether to get a Wi-Fi only or a 3G Kindle. If you are also undecided between a Kindle E-Reader or a Fire Tablet, we have another article that might help: Kindle E-Readers Vs Fire Tablets

Before proceeding, please don't forget about USB: you can always load books into your Kindle via the USB using the USB cable.

What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi network is a wireless network that provides Internet access to devices connected to it. You can create one yourself at home or you can connect to one created by someone else for you. Usually airports, restaurants, hotels and businesses create Wi-Fi networks so their customers have access to the Internet while on their premises.

The range of Wi-Fi networks are usually limited to a room, house or street block depending on the power of the device (router) used to create it.

What is 3G?

A 3G Network is the 3rd generation of wireless mobile network. Devices also connect to it in order to get Internet access. You cannot create a 3G network (due to cost and infrastructure) and one is usually provided for you by Telecommunications companies such as Telstra and Optus.

The range of 3G Networks is much higher than Wi-Fi, usually covering entire States or Countries.

What is a "Wi-Fi" Kindle?

All Kindles have Wi-Fi capability, meaning they all can connect to Wi-Fi Networks.

The Kindle Global 3G network

Amazon has partnered up with telecommunications companies to create a Global Kindle 3G Network that all 3G Kindles can connect to. Here are a few characteristics of this network:

  • It works in Australia and in many other countries. It is truly a Global Network.
  • Only 3G Kindles can connect to it
  • Speed is limited so it is used mainly to download books and keep them synchronized between devices
  • It is 100% Free - no fees, no contracts, no expiration date

Pretty much all Australian cities are covered by the Kindle 3G Global Network.

You can check for coverage here.

What is a 3G Kindle?

A 3G Kindle is a Kindle that can connect to the Kindle Global 3G Network. It helps thinking of 3G Kindles as devices with their own Internet connection. This is a feature of the device; it is not something that you can sign-up for. If you buy a "Wi-Fi only" Kindle, you will not be able to "sign-up" for the 3G network, you will only be able to connect if you have a 3G Kindle.

The 3G Kindles from the current generation are:

There are no 3G Tablets. All Fire Tablets are Wi-Fi only.

The difference is only in the 3G

The only difference between a 3G and non 3G (Wi-Fi) Kindle is access to the 3G Network - dimensions, performance and battery life are exactly the same - although there is an imperceptible weight difference (3-10g).

It is important to remember in this comparison that you will always be able to read the books you already have in your Kindle, even without a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. You don't need an Internet connection (Wi-Fi or 3G) to read what you already have in your device.

Having a 3G Kindle is very convenient because your device is always connected to the internet, so you can not only buy books at any time but also keeps it synchronized with all the other 3G Kindles and the Kindle App on your phone, tablet or desktop.

Remember the 3G is free, global, does not require any contract and no setup is necessary. It is designed to give your Kindle basic Internet connection with the purpose of allowing you to buy and download new books and keeping your books synchronized in the cloud. Everything that you can do on a 3G Kindle you can also do in a Wi-Fi only device, all you have to do is connect to a Wi-Fi network.


If you can afford it go for the 3G - you will like the convenience. Also, if you have more than one 3G Kindle, they will always be synchronized - you will be able to open the same book on the other Kindle and it will remember your position, highlights and comments.

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