Kindle, iPad Price Comparison

The prices of the WiFi and 3G models of the iPad and the data plan prices are very relevant – How do they compare to the Kindle and its free 3G WhisperNet?

  1. Kindle, iPad comparisons are hard to do because the prices put the devices in two different brackets.
  2. The eInk screen and the battery life make the Kindle a better eReader. Meanwhile, the iPad is better at everything else (including things the Kindle just can’t do).

Let’s dig into Kindle, iPad prices and total cost of ownership and see what value for money they provide.

Price Comparison for Kindle, iPad

The Device Cost

Here are the prices –

  1. Kindle – $259.
  2. iPad WiFi – $499 for the 16 GB model, $599 for the 32 GB model, and $699 for the 64 GB model.
  3. iPad 3G (includes WiFi) – $629 for the 16 GB model, $729 for the 32 GB model, and $829 for the 64 GB model.
  4. Kindle DX – $489.

This is what it comes down to –

  • Kindle 2 is $240 cheaper than the WiFi version of the iPad.
  • Kindle 2 is $370 cheaper than the 3G version of the iPad.

That clearly makes the Kindle 2 the best choice for anyone who is cost conscious.

The 3G Data Plan Cost – $180 a year for limited, $360 a year for unlimited

With the iPad you get to choose between –

  1. No plan and using just WiFi.
  2. $14.99 a month for up to 250 MB of data.
  3. $29.99 for unlimited data.

Both plans give you free use of AT&T WiFi hotspots.

One great feature is that you can activate the plan at any time from the iPad itself and you can cancel any time – there is no contract.

You get two categories of uses for the iPad –

  1. Someone who gets the unlimited plan and surfs the Internet a lot and watches movies and more. That’s a completely different use-case from reading and will cost $30 a month i.e. $360 a year.  
  2. Someone who mostly reads and uses the Internet for reference. Here you pay $15 a month – that’s $180 a year.

With the Kindle you get free wikipedia and free internet – However, the browser is too basic to compare to a device optimized for surfing.

Free is good though – you can do things like use twitter, check up on weather and news, and even check email.

Kindle, iPad Comparion – The Cost of eBooks

If reading is the main thing you’ll be using each for it’s worth looking at the cost of ebooks –

  1. Kindle has $9.99 books and lots of cheap books from independent authors. 
  2. Kindle for iPad is probably going to be released and offer the same prices for the iPad.
  3. The default iBooks Book Store for iPad is supposed to be promoting $12.99 and $14.99 prices.

As long as you stick with Kindle for iPad you should be fine.  

What is the Total Cost of Ownership?

Let’s assume you own the device for 3 years.

With the iPad, your options are –

  1. $499 WiFi model and surviving on free WiFi – Just $499. That’s $166 a year approximately. 
  2. $629 3G model and using the $15 a month limited data plan – Total of $1,169. That’s $390 a year approximately.
  3. $629 3G model and unlimited $30 a month plan – Total of $1,709. That’s $570 a year approximately.

We get a decent amount of functionality with the 2nd and 3rd options –

  1. 250MB a month allows for a decent amount of surfing and even some amount of videos and photos.
  2. With the third option you get a ton of use – movies, unlimited surfing and more. That being said, $570 a year is very, very high.

With the Kindle, you have no data plans (neither on the Kindle, nor on the Kindle DX) –

  1. $259 Kindle with free whispernet and free surfing (on a basic browser). That’s $86 a year approximately.
  2. $489 Kindle DX with free whispernet and free surfing (slightly better due to larger screen). That’s $163 a year approximately.

Kindle and 16 GB WiFi iPad offer the best value for money

When you look at it in terms of value for money the best options are –

  1. Kindle offering free wikipedia and free basic browsing for just $86 a year. The Kindle 2 offers absolutely amazing value for money.
  2. The $499 WiFi iPad offers the next best value for money. For just $166 a year you get a device that offers a lot.
  3. Next is the Kindle DX – a larger screen than the Kindle 2 and free basic browsing for $163 a year.
  4. Then you have the 3G versions of the iPad with the limited data plan – the data might be limited but it’s $180 a year which is not bad.
  5. Last you have the unlimited data plan with the 3G iPad – It’s ridiculously expensive at $570 a year and it’s also unlimited browsing and video.

Please note that this assumes you use Kindle for iPad to buy your books. If you choose iBooks you might end up paying $3 to $5 more per ebook.

Recommended – $86 a year Kindle 2 and $166 a year WiFi iPad

This little analysis clearly shows what your best options are –

  1. For a reading device the Kindle, with its amazingly low $86 a year total cost of ownership, is the clear winner.
  2. For a multi-purpose device (or a textbook or newspaper reader) the 16GB WiFi iPad is the winner.

Assuming 3 years device life isn’t unreasonable – plus both devices hold their value very well so you could sell either after 1.5 to 2 years without losing much. 

The Kindle, iPad price comparison again highlights the fact that we are dealing with two very different devices. It also shows that both the Kindle 2 and the WiFi iPad offer surprisingly good value for money.

22 thoughts on “Kindle, iPad Price Comparison”

  1. Hi. Thank you for your blog. I have the free kindle app on my iPhone and the free kindle on my laptop and enjoy them very much.

  2. This is a completely irrelevant review. No one would buy the iPad to use exclusively as an eReader. You’d buy it because it offers the world PLUS an eReader. So saying the Kindle 2 is a better buy for anyone who is cost conscious is like saying it’s better to buy a Samsung stereo system than a Volvo that comes with a Bose sound system.

    And how about looking at the tabs of the top of this web page, and all the ad links on either side of the page… Anyone get the idea that they’re in Kindle Land?? I feel sorry for the person who wrote this “Kindle, iPad Price Comparison” piece if he/she actually thought they were providing desirable information.

    1. Harry – this is a kindle blog and an eReader blog.

      The Kindle 2 is a better buy for anyone who loves to read books and wants a device primarily to read books.
      The post is a response to posts that talk of the iPad as a Kindle Killer – so it’s aimed sqaurely at people who are being told that the iPad is better for reading than the Kindle.

    2. I found this advice to be very sage. I am researching to find the right device for me to read ebooks only. I will not be purchasing the iPad in favor of a Kindle based partially on this review, as well as many others of the like. Thank you switch11 🙂

  3. I’m not sure 16 GB is enough storage space for a multimedia device like the iPad. (Whereas 1.5 GB is way more than enough storage space for just books, on the Kindle.)

    In particular, video is likely to eat that up very quickly. I myself would be reluctant to get anything other than the 64 GB model (which is still a massively smaller storage capacity than my netbook, but I suppose it’s probably solid state).

  4. Don’t forget that the iPad will be an ePub device, and if its bookstore is ePub-based, that probably means it supports ePub DRM. If that’s true, it should be able to check-out DRM’ed public-library eBooks, like the Sony Reader (and technically the Nook) can do right now.

    The Kindle cannot do this. In a pay-only world, I agree the Kindle underprices the iPad substantially, but if you’re trying to read free content (periodicals, library books, maybe even your emails), the iPad wins. Kindle charges $2 a month just to read Slashdot on it. That’s pretty ridiculous. I’m assuming that both are able to access all the free public-domain books for free, right? They’re free on Sony’s stuff, and I’m sure you could get them as un-protected mobi books, but does Amazon make it easy?

  5. This all such nonsense. The base model Kindle with only a 6″ screen is a cheap toy and is so far out of the league of the iPad that a price comparison is ridiculous. As to the larger DX model of the Kindle, it has about the same size screen as the iPad but is only useful as an ebook reader, and is ONLY $10 LESS than a full color, internet access, fully functional computing device that controls and manages and displays your digital content – books, music, video, photos, documents, etc.

    And where are people getting this nonsense about the e-Ink in the kindle being better for reading – total BS! The iPad automatically adjusts light levels for the ambient light environment (dims the screen in low light), and you can also manually control brightness if you desire, making it great in bright light or low light situations.

    As to 3G, MOST people don’t need it! You can sync and download through wifi on the iPad (included in every model) which is around all over the place for free! Or you can tether your iPad to your 3G phone if you really really really need to download that book right this very instant and can’t find a wifi location.

    As to accessing the Kindle books, there is a Kindle app for the iPad so you can download from Amazon on it as well.

    Lastly, even with only 16B of memory in the lowest model of the iPad, that is FOUR TIMES the storage of the largest Kindle, and EIGHT TIMES that of the smallest. That’s 14,000 or 12,000 books in comparison on the iPad. Or a ton of books, photos, tunes and movies! Its very easy to sync all this wonderful data, and change it out by simply plugging it into your computer. What could be easier?

    Folks – this is a no brainer as there is no comparison between these two! Spend the extra $10 and get a beautiful, easy to use eReader that is also an amazing computing device. You won’t regret it.

  6. When will the Kindle app for ipad be available? We just spoke to Apple support and they said you can only download books from the ibook store-no Amazon allowed.
    Help please…What gives here?
    Thank you.

    1. Have no idea when Kindle for iPad will be available. Most iphone apps are supposed to work in original size and double size modes so Kindle for iPhone ought to work.
      The best people to talk to are Kindle Customer Support and Amazon.

      Will Apple keep out Kindle and Nook apps? It’s rather unlikely – They’ll get sued.

  7. I travel a lot in europe. I know that kindle has access to ebooks worldwide. Would ipad work the same way or does having International internet mean very expensive wifi charges?

    Thanks …Anne

    1. Anne, WiFi costs vary a lot. Most countries have some cafes and/or coffee shops offering free WiFi that you could use to download books. Hotels and Airports tend to charge $10 to $15 a day and there are monthly plans for $30 to $45 a month. Some airports do have free WiFi – However, the service comes and goes (Heathrow and Schipol – only the paid ones worked for me).

      If you get the 3G model AT&T might have an international plan.
      There ought to be a way to download and transfer via PC – However, not sure how iBooks would work. Perhaps Apple customer service could help.

  8. Thank you so much! My 16th birthday is coming up and i was trying to decide which one to get. I found this comparison very helpful and brought me to make my decision.

  9. Best Kindle breakdown so far…Very clear and helpful for those who want a good e-reader with a few bells, but are cost conscious…Thanks!

  10. great info – dedicated readers will naturally gravitate to kindle. If I had an iPad I’d waste so much time surfing the web, etc.
    Reading on kindle really is almost a book experience.
    Now if you could dog-ear the kindle pages . . .

  11. Thanks for this. I am not a techie/ gamer or uber geek so this has helped me understand the basics that I am looking for. Made my decision and will go purchase tomorrow.

  12. This was just what I was looking for. The comments that other inquirers made were also helpful. I feel ready to make my decision now.

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