The T-Grid: Kindle for iPhone vs. Kindle 2

By  |  Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 11:42 pm

Until early last week, there was one Kindle e-reader–the original one. Now there are two: Amazon’s Kindle 2 and the app for the iPhone and iPod Touch which the company released last night. They have one huge thing in common: 240,000 electronic books, mostly going for ten bucks apiece. And beyond that, the two Kindles have remarkably different sets of upsides and downsides. After the jump, we’ll compare and contrast.

This T-Grid is a work in progress, subject to expansion and revision:

The Kindles
Kindle for iPhone
Kindle for iPhone
Kindle 2
Kindle 2
Free; iPhone or iPod Touch is $199-$399
Books available
Blogs, magazines, and newspapers available
Buy books on device?
Kind of, in Safari, but even Amazon doesn’t recommend it
Yes–it’s spectacularly easy
Storage space for books
Up to 32GB (iPhone Touch), I guess
Major reading-related features
Five text sizes, bookmarks
Six text sizes, bookmarks, search, notes, highlighting
Reads books out loud in robotic voice?
If the publisher permits it
Other features
None, really, but I’m told the iPhone can do a number of other things
Crude browser, crude MP3 player
Syncs bookmarks, etc. with other Kindle devices?
Screen size and technology
iPhone screen is 3.5″; LCD
6″; E-Ink
Screen colors
iPhone provides up to 16 million, mostly unused by Kindle books
16 shades of gray, and nothing else–including white
Lines of text
14 to 27
12 to 24
Backlighting and touchscreen?
The iPhone has both
Battery life
I’m guessing possibly 5 hours or so of reading before the iPhone conks out
Up to four weeks with wireless turned off
iPhone is 4.5″ by 2.4″ by .48″
8″ by 5.3″ by .4″
iPhone is 4.7 oz.
10.2 oz.
Any additions, corrections, or questions?

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12 Comments For This Post

  1. bud Says:

    So lets say I buy a kindle book using my laptop, rather than the phones mobile safari.
    I would have to log in with the iphone kindle app, via 3g or wifi connection, to see book on device?

    I’m thinking the original edge 8 gig iPhone is not the best iPhone to be using with the Kindle app.

  2. Max Cross Says:

    Kindle for iPhone Kindle

    Available in the UK? No No no no ahhhhhhh

    Still nice for you guys.

  3. pond Says:

    This is great, and I hope Amazon branches out with several other kindle-reading apps on other platforms.

    Principal win here for kindle owners: now you can be reading your book on your Kindle at home, go off to work or wherever with iPhone in pocket, and pick up reading at lunch hour, break time, and any free moment, without having to lug the bigger Kindle around. Get back home, Whispersync will now put your Kindle at the place where you left off on the iPhone.

    Principal win here for those of us who like to read but don’t want to shell out all that dough for the Kindle: if we have an iPhone or Touch, we can now read those quarter-million kindle editions.

    Principal win here for Amazon: further dominance of the whole ebook world, as well as fending off Apple lest Apple go after ebooks in the App Store.

    Publishers, on the other hand, ought to be afraid. Amazon is positioning itself as the ebook kind like Apple is king of the music world.

  4. DownloadableGame Says:

    Long live iphone apps

  5. Don Says:

    Pond, this is hardly a win for Amazon. The Kindle, in spite of the hype, has been a monumental flop. It’s sales are on the level of the Microsoft Zune MP3 player, which has been a complete failure.

    What this indicates is that Amazon is aware of its failure and is attempting to save the entire project by making it available on the very popular iPhone. Just as iPhone sales have helped spur Macintosh computer sales, Amazon is hoping that sales of eBooks in their proprietary Kindle format on the iPhone will help spur sales of the Kindle.

    Unfortunately for Amazon, the average cost of entire applications on the iPhone is just a few dollars, while the average cost of a Kindle-format eBook is $10. While this ploy will temporarily increase the sales of such eBooks, it’s not going to last and won’t save the Kindle flop.

  6. Reginald W Says:

    A few updates for your T-Grid:

    Storage Space for books: iPhone up to 16GB, iPod Touch up to 32GB.

    Other features: None in Kindle software but iPhone/iPod Touch has aver 15,000 other applications that are available on these devices.

    Battery Life: Apple: Backlighting usage will diminish battery life. Estimated at up to 5 hours.

    Service area: Apple: USA only – Amazon: ? do they sell outside of USA?

    Hope that helps.

  7. Ariel Says:

    This isn’t really an either/or situation.

    Personally, I have both devices. I can read on the Kindle, then move to the iPhone and it keeps my place. Also vice versa.

    For long periods of time, the Kindle is far superior. No glare or eyestrain from the small LCD screen of the iPhone.

    The iPhone/Touch app is more of an extension of the existing service. It means you’ll have access to your books even if you don’t have your Kindle with you.

    One other thing: The iPhone will only let you read books you’ve actually purchased. You do not have access to books on your Kindle you’ve loaded other ways (drag and drop, emailed). So in that sense the Kindle is still the winner: You can read many other books besides those purchased through Amazon.

  8. Ariel Says:


    If the Kindle was a flop, how did they manage to release a new version already?

    Comparing it to the Zune is faulty logic: The Zune has a clear and superior competitor. The Kindle does not.

    It would be more fair to compare the sales of Kindle (and Kindle 2) to those of the original iPod when it first released. The parallels are the same:

    iPod came out at a time when MP3 players were still very niche (like eBook readers are now), and many people questioned the “need” for such a product. There were no clear leaders in the industry, in either hardware or content (the music).

    Compare that to the current (pre-Kindle) state of eBooks: No clear hardware leader, no leader in eBook purchasing. A multitude of formats, most of which are proprietary and not transferable to other reading devices.

    Enter Amazon with Kindle: Take what has gone before, and improve on it. Leverage your relationship with the publishing industry to provide a huge catalog of content, with easy purchasing for your device. Allow your hardware to be compatible with all those “proprietary” formats (which it is). Provide access to free content through public domain works, easily “purchased” through your service. And allow people to load your device with the content they already own, removing the “need” to re-purchase all your books.

    They’re doing now with books what Apple did with music 10 years ago.

    iPod became a platform, taking the previously niche market mainstream and is now ubiquitous. It’s not unreasonable for Kindle to do the same.

    The Kindle(1 and 2) have sold more units than the original iPod did.

    Compare to Zune? Compare the sales of a Best in Class niche product with the latecomer, also-ran of an established and accepted mainstream product? Apples and oranges, my friend.

  9. GovernorSilver Says:

    Kindle2 comes with free 3G wireless service. iPhone does not.

  10. Tom B Says:

    “If the Kindle was a flop, how did they manage to release a new version already?”

    Flawed logic. Bezos must be a person who irrationally expects the “N + 1” version to be a big improvement. Not unlike Steve Ballmer, except Bezos is less delusional.

  11. KenC Says:

    How about screen width? The Kindle has a screen width of only 600 pixels. Of that, only 520 pixels are used for text. At 167ppi, that’s only 3.1″ of screen width. How about the iPhone or iPod touch? If you read landscape as most people do, the iPhone has 480 pixels which all can be used for text. At 163ppi, that’s only 3.0″ of screen width, and only 8% less than the Kindle.

    In other words, the people complaining about squinting at a small screen are nuts. The Kindle’s screen is only fractionally wider at at virtually the same point size as the iPhone and touch in landscape mode, which is the way most people would use it.

  12. EmilyO Says:

    I’ve read elsewhere that you cannot read landscape on the iPhone with the Kindle app (in regard to KenC’s comment). I think those who haven’t experienced the special e-ink on the Kindle are missing one of the main advantages of the Kindle (over other backlit devices). I do get major eyestrain looking at my Cinema Display.