Do used Kindles with cell modems still get service?
September 10, 2012 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Do used Kindles with cell modems still get service?

I'm in California doing the formatting for a novel my dad, in Rhode Island, wrote for Kindle Direct Publishing. I'm using the Kindle iPad app and the Kindle Previewer app to see what comes out of kindlegen, but I want to get some real devices, old & new.

To start, I'd like to get a couple of Kindle 2s. I'd like my dad's to have the 3G working so he doesn't have to set up the wifi & I can email new .mobis to his magic address. (I know he'll still need to sign on to Manage My Kindle to "push" it to the device).

But I'm baffled by the "Unlocked" Kindles on eBay. The descriptions suggest that you can only count on the wifi working. I've read that Kindle 1 and early Kindle 2 were Sprint and the Kindle 2 International is GSM and in the US is AT&T.

The AT&T models are $75-$80
The International/Unlocked models are $40-$50

I thought that these were not designed for users to be buying SIM cards & service, but it just worked in countries where Amazon had agreements with carriers.
posted by morganw to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
It should work. There are other auctions that specifically say it works:

But I've never done it so YMMV.
posted by imagineerit at 7:10 PM on September 10, 2012

I think receiving files over 3G at the address costs some small amount of money. Using will save the file until you are on wifi and deliver it for free.
posted by stopgap at 7:22 PM on September 10, 2012

As Jeff Bezos said at the Kindle Fire announcement last week, Amazon isn't worried about making money on the devices, they want customers to buy content. Kindles don't care if they are new or used, and "gifting" a Kindle to someone else is very much supported.

The "unlocked" kindles might just be jailbroken. There's not much reason why you'd want to "unlock" a kindle, since the 3g access has been free since the very first Wedge kindle.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:22 PM on September 10, 2012

I think receiving files over 3G at the address costs some small amount of money.
I'm fairly sure that is correct. Originally, it was free. Near the end of the lifetime of Kindle 2, it turned into a paid service when delivered over the cell network.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:23 PM on September 10, 2012

Not sure what unlocked means, but Amazon doesn't revoke 3G access for used kindles. Unless they are blacklisted/stolen.

I would stay away anything saying unlocked.
posted by wongcorgi at 7:45 PM on September 10, 2012

You've seen used, 'unlocked' Kindle 2s for $40-50 --- did you know that NEW basic Kindles are currently available for $69? Frankly, for that close of a price difference, I'd recommend the new over the probably-at-least-four-years-old used ones.
posted by easily confused at 7:58 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

To follow up on my comment, apart from emailing files to the Kindle, all other use of the 3G radio should still be free on an older Kindle: the store, book delivery, Wikipedia, whispersync, social features, and web browsing. Browsing is slow and clumsy, but I have been able to use a Kindle to check my Gmail while traveling without other devices in the past. For devices newer than the Kindle Keyboard (nee Kindle 3), I believe Amazon stopped providing unlimited web access. Wikipedia only, maybe? I'm not sure.
posted by stopgap at 8:04 PM on September 10, 2012

Everything works fine on mine - Kindle 2.
posted by Setec Astronomy at 8:16 PM on September 10, 2012

I have a second-hand Kindle 2. It was never "unlocked" as there is nothing to unlock. It still works over 3G, you just have to register your Amazon account with the device so it knows you're you. If it hasn't been reset to factory settings when you get it, you can do it easily from the menu. It will then run you through registering the Kindle and pairing it with your Amazon account.

But I've also owned newer Kindles and honestly, if the only reason you want an older one is to save setting up WiFi (a minute-long task, even for the tech un-savvy) and a couple dollars - Don't. Get a new one. They are so much better than the old ones. Screen contrast is so much better, page turns are virtually instantaneous, where Kindle 2 page turns are ... really ... slow. These are things that will effect you the entire time you use the device, every page you read. Saving $20 and a minute and setting up WiFi is a small amount of trouble up front for a slow, low contrast device that isn't nearly as pleasant.

(Unless all you want to do is preview your father's doc on it, then go ahead and save the money, but as easily confused said above, consider a new one if you want to actually use it.)
posted by Ookseer at 8:23 PM on September 10, 2012

The 3G Kindle Keyboards (and earlier?) had unlimited free 3G browsing with the web browser that shipped with it. (You still have to pay to have stuff delivered to your email address though)

I imagine a few people probably abused this, probably by jailbreaking the Kindle & using it as a 3G modem for their laptops or whatever, so Amazon took it away from the later Kindles. If this is why these older Kindles still have value, then the vendors probably can't be too explicit about it.
posted by pharm at 1:32 AM on September 11, 2012

This is the only Kindle I've ever had. The 3G works just fine for purchasing books, they just sort of appear after a few minutes, but I've never tried it for emailing one.
posted by lordrunningclam at 5:03 AM on September 11, 2012

I have a Kindle 1 and it still downloads books from thin air with no problems.
posted by phatkitten at 8:48 AM on September 11, 2012

> Unless all you want to do is preview your father's doc on it, then go ahead and save the money, but as easily confused said above, consider a new one if you want to actually use it.

I just want to make very sure that everyone will be able to see some of the oddities that are making this more complicated than just export .doc to .html and upload: tables, images, poetry, etc. More of a QA function than for actual reading. I want a paperwhite one for myself, but they aren't available yet. I'll also get one of the $69 ones.

The Personal Document service fee is $0.15 per megabyte for US customers in the US. Not having to set up Wi-Fi and being able to push changes "magically" should go a long way towards encouraging him to just call me up & ask for fixes rather than feeling like he has to file a bug report via email, then do a lot of futzing to see if I did it right. I'll keep the device registered to me so I can initiate the push also until he has his own Amazon account, which he'll need anyway for publishing and getting $$.

Thanks for all the help everyone!
posted by morganw at 11:13 AM on September 11, 2012

If you buy a WiFi one, then you can just send stuff to it's address and not pay the personal document service fee at all. Of course, that requires that your relative is generally reporting problems etc when they have WiFi.
posted by pharm at 12:13 AM on September 12, 2012

posted by pharm at 12:13 AM on September 12, 2012

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