The Kindle makes a great device for children: it’s incredibly portable, it lasts for ages between charges and it’s easy to share books between devices.
As we’ve upgraded our own Kindles we’ve passed our existing ones down to the kids and taken advantage of Amazon’s useful parental controls, but Amazon thinks we’d be better getting a brand new Kids Edition instead.
The hardware isn’t anything to get excited about but that’s not really what Amazon’s pushing here. It’s all about the bundled experience.
Amazon Kindle Kids Edition price and release date
The Kindle Kids Edition is £99 / $109.99 (about AU$185) and it’s on sale now in the US and UK. An Australian launch date hasn’t been confirmed yet, and we don't have an exact price for those there.
As with all Amazon devices you can expect discounting around big sales events such as Black Friday, Prime Day or days ending in “y”. If you’re thinking “hang on! Isn’t that £30 / $20 more expensive than the ad-supported Kindle?” you’d be right.
That extra money gets you a good quality case, two years of no-quibble gadget insurance that includes accidental damage, and in the UK a year of ad-free, multi-device access to Fire for Kids Unlimited with its collection of over 1,000 children’s books. That’s usually £3.99 / $4.99 per month for a single child; here it’s included for up to four children.
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Design and display
The first thing you’ll notice about the Kindle Kids Edition is its case, which in the UK is either blue or pink. US customers can choose from another two designs, outer space or colorful birds.
That pink-for-the-girls approach didn’t go down very well with our resident twelve-year-old, who wanted to know why the standard cases couldn’t include neutral colors.
The device itself is a tenth-generation 2019 Kindle in black plastic. It charges via micro-USB and the only physical control is the wake button: everything else is done via the touchscreen.
The device isn’t waterproof, so you might be glad of the included two-year accidental damage cover. Storage space is a very respectable 8GB, which for ebooks if more than enough room.
The Kindle for Kids has a six-inch e-ink display delivering 167ppi with 16 shades of grey. It has a built-in, adjustable backlight that’ll inevitably be used for reading in bed. The display is clear and it’s easy to adjust the font settings, but it’s very slow to refresh and the lag when using the on-screen keyboard is “annoying”, according to our tweenage reviewer.
Like the standard Kindle, the Kids Edition promises up to four weeks between charges based on around half an hour of reading per day; double the daily reading time and you’ll get about two weeks.
We’ve found that in real-life use the battery claims are accurate, although if you spend a lot of time browsing the store (or disable the Kids Edition software and use the web browser) the battery life will be significantly less.
From flat, the battery charges to full in about 4 hours with a standard 5W charger. Annoyingly, that's not supplied and instead the package just includes the USB cable.
There’s no point in having access to a thousand titles if they don’t include the ones your child wants to read. A kid who wants to devour the Artemis Fowl series, which isn’t here for UK users, won’t appreciate the Circus Train and The Clowns ebook, which is.
The UK edition’s selection is considerably smaller than the US one, so for example while Harry Potter is present and correct many big names aren’t. Our tester found that Percy Jackson, Lemony Snicket and Artemis Fowl were all absent, as were popular series such as How To Train Your Dragon.
Other series are incomplete, so there’s just one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, four of the nine Demon Dinner Ladies titles and only one of the core Captain Underpants books. The missing titles are available as paid-for titles in the main Kindle store, which of course adds extra expense.
The software is a lightly tweaked version of the usual Kindle user interface. It disables the web browser and adds achievement badges, Word Wise (which automatically shows the meaning of more difficult words so you don’t have to look them up in the dictionary) and a search function that’s more forgiving of spelling mistakes.
The standard Kindle software is still there, and you can access it by entering your parental control PIN – so you can use it for your own reading when the kids are out or in bed.
The parental control features can be accessed on the device or via the parents portal on Amazon, where you can change the age filter, set daily reading goals or add content you’ve purchased on your other Kindle devices or apps.
The only serious competitor here is Amazon’s own entry-level Kindle, which is £30 / $20 cheaper with ads or £20 / $10 without.
To add an official fabric case to the standard Kindle is £24.99 / $29.99, and if you don’t already have a Fire for Kids Unlimited subscription that’s another £1.99 / $2.99 to £3.99 / $4.99 per month for one child or £4.99 / $6.99 to £7.99 / $9.99 per month for a family plan. The cheaper prices are what you'll spend if you're already a Prime member.
On that basis, the Kids Edition is a better deal; factor in two years of no-quibble replacement that includes accidental damage and it’s an even better one. Just remember that your subscription is only free for the first year.
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