Amazon's early Kindles are reaching the end of their lives, but there's an olive branch

The US is shutting down 2G and 3G which is killing off some Kindles

Amazon Kindle
(Image credit: Amazon)

If you’re an OG Kindle owner with a first or second generation ebook reader then bad news, you’re going to lose wireless access to the Kindle store entirely. You will be able to read existing books, and it seems connected to a computer via cable to transfer ebooks over. Information from Amazon on this has been a bit light, although the company has emailed customers to explain. 

According to GoodEReader the Kindle 1st and 2nd generation models and the Kindle DX 2nd Gen will lose all wireless access to the store. However the Kindle Keyboard 3rd gen, Kindle Touch 4th gen, Kindle Voyage 7th gen and Kindle Oasis 8th gen will only be able to access the Kindle store via Wi-Fi. Probably not a major problem for many, but the 3G data option was a substantial paid upgrade on old Kindles and it will be basically worthless soon. 

As you might expect, Amazon's range of Kindles is a nightmare, so if you're upgrading check out our guide to best Kindle to pick one that's right for you. 

This currently applies only to the US where 2G and 3G networks are being closed to support more 5G services. In the UK and Europe there is a very clear end in sight for 2G, but 3G has a little way to go before it’s totally killed off. That may mean we get something of a stay of execution.

That said, Amazon may make other changes that will knock older kindles off its own Book Store. If it adds features which older devices can’t support, then we’ll see their retirement too. The change for US customers will start this December as mobile networks start to switch off services. It’s also worth remembering that even if 2G or 3G carried on, the specific frequencies used in Amazon’s Kindle modems could be refarmed for other use. Cellular on Kindles was never going to be a long-term thing as technology moves on. 

Amazon seems to be offering an olive branch to affected American customers though. Upon getting the email with the retirement news, owners were offered a $70 discount on a Kindle Paperwhite or Oasis and $25 in book tokens - which isn’t at all bad for devices which are getting on a bit anyway. 

Ian Morris

Ian has been involved in technology journalism since 2007, originally writing about AV hardware back when LCDs and plasma TVs were just gaining popularity. Nearly 15 years on, he remains as excited about how tech can make your life better. Ian is the editor of T3.com.