Should I get a Kindle Kids or just a Kindle over Black Friday?

Amazon Kindle Kids with Kids cover
(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Amazon loves to sell tablets for kids. Almost every one of the best Amazon Fire tablets and best Kindle ereaders that Amazon sells is also available in a so-called “Kids” version. Many of the Amazon Fire tablets are even sold in a “Kids Pro” flavor. While that may seem an obvious violation of child labor laws, we’re here to explain what “Kids” means to Amazon, and whether you should pay more for the Kids option if you find a great Black Friday deal

Quite simply, in tablet terms, "Kids" means a carrying case. If you buy a “Kids” tablet from either Amazon or Samsung, you’re getting the same tablet you’d find if you bought the non-Kids version, plus a rugged cover. 

You get more than just a cover, but not much more

There are no other hardware differences between the Kids version and the Adult version of a tablet. They have the same display, the same design underneath the cover, and the same hardware performance. Besides the cover, the Kids version is not more rugged or durable than the normal version. 

Kids tablets run a special, restricted version of the user interface, giving plenty of control to parents and limiting content to a curated batch. Setting up the Kids mode is part of the initial startup process, and you can set a passcode to make sure your kids cannot exit Kids mode. 

In the case of Samsung tablets like the Galaxy Tab A7 Lite Kids, the cover really is all the added value you get. With Amazon, the $50 premium for a Kids version can be worthwhile if you already intended to buy the extra services Kids gets you. Or, if your kids are clumsy. 

Besides the rugged cover, all of the Amazon Kids devices get you a full year of Amazon Kids+ subscription service. That usually costs $48 for a year, or $4.99 per month. It isn’t part of the normal Amazon Prime account, so if you want Amazon Kids+ on your own Fire or Kindle tablet, you pay for it a la carte. 

Is Amazon Kids+ worth the premium for a Kids Kindle?

The Amazon Kids+ service gives you unlimited access to a selection of books on Kindle ereader devices and more content on Fire tablets. The Fire tablets also get videos, games, and new Alexa tasks made just for kids. Amazon has partnered with well-known brands for the service, and parents will enjoy having a wealth of free, curated content available. 

We spent some time with Amazon Kids+, and it does provide plenty of new content, but it isn’t an exhaustive library of children’s books. You won’t find every children’s book you can think of or even most books you want. There are hundreds of books, but you may not find that specific series your child likes, or you may only find the first few books. 

The Amazon Kids+ service is very heavy on graphic novels and comic books, which don’t work well at all on the Kindle display. The monochrome screen is sharp enough, but it's too small to display the word bubbles in comics, and navigating between panels is a serious pain on the Kindle’s slow screen. 

If you’re familiar with Amazon Kids+, or you are desperate for any new ideas for content for your kid, the Kids+ offer is worth checking out, and possibly worth the premium for a Kids tablet. If your kid already has a library and reading interests, you may not satisfy them with Kids+, and it’s worth previewing the service for a month before you commit to a full year. 

The Worry Free warranty is the secret weapon

The real reason to buy an Amazon Kindle Kids or Amazon Fire Kids tablet may be the so-called “worry free” warranty that Amazon offers. According to Amazon, if you break a Kids tablet within two years you can get it replaced for free. That apparently includes accidental damage. 

Diving into the legal language of the warranty, this still sounds too good to be true, but we are waiting for Amazon to clarify. While the e-ink Kindle ereader tablets feel a bit more durable than the LCD-screen Fire tablets, both devices come with the same “worry free” claim. If you have ever lost a tablet to a kid’s accident, the two-year warranty alone may be worth the premium for a Kids device. 

Wait, there’s a Kids Pro, too?!

Amazon sells a Kids Pro tablet. It’s very confusing. You can buy a Fire HD 8 tablet, a Fire HD 8 Plus, a Fire HD 8 Kids, or a Fire HD 8 Kids Pro. The Plus is the only tablet that has different, improved hardware, with an extra 1GB of RAM. The Pro tablet is the exact same as the Kids and the base model Fire HD 8, with only 2GB of RAM.

The difference is in the software. If your kids are older and you feel comfortable giving them more leeway with Web browsing, the Kids Pro tablet comes with fewer restrictions, especially on the browser. In other words, if your kid is the real tech pro in the family, the Kids Pro tablet is the one to get. 

Bottom Line: Here’s when you should buy the kids tablet

For the most part, you shouldn’t pay $50 more for the Kids version of an Amazon Fire tablet or Kindle ereader. The included case is worth maybe $25. Amazon Kids+ is a nice starter subscription service, but once your kids become interested in exploring more books and content, you won’t find most of what you want within the Kids+ library. 

If you think your kids are going to break this tablet, even with the rugged case, even though it’s made out of cheap plastic, the two-year, “worry free” warranty may be enough to push the decision in favor of buying a Kids device. With good protection, breakage seems highly unlikely, but this is the scenario where a Kids tablet pays off. 

If Amazon did more to make the Kids tablet stand out, whether that’s a kid-friendly design to the tablet itself or simply more accessories included like kid-friendly headphones or a dock that would fit in a kid’s room, we’d have no problem recommending it. 

At the current premium, you don’t get enough value to get a Kindle Kids over a normal Kindle, but if there is an amazing Black Friday Kindle deal that brings the prices closer in line, it’s worth checking out. 

Philip Berne
US Mobiles Editor

Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, starting more than 20 years ago at Phil has written for Engadget, The Verge, PC Mag, Digital Trends, Slashgear, TechRadar, AndroidCentral, and was Editor-in-Chief of the sadly-defunct infoSync. Phil holds an entirely useful M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University. He sang in numerous college a cappella groups.

Phil did a stint at Samsung Mobile, leading reviews for the PR team and writing crisis communications until he left in 2017. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. Phil is certified in Google AI Essentials. He has a High School English teaching license (and years of teaching experience) and is a Red Cross certified Lifeguard. His passion is the democratizing power of mobile technology. Before AI came along he was totally sure the next big thing would be something we wear on our faces.