Kindle Fire 8.9″ 4G: first impressions

Kindle Fire 8.9″ 4G: first impressions

I got my

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB

last night when they predicted I would. They said by 8:00 at night…it came at about 7:00.

Setting up was as easy as is to be expected, and that is very easy. I turned the power on, entered my password to connect to my wi-fi (I would have been allowed to skip that), confirmed I was me, and that was it.

It showed me a demo screen for how to do things, similar to what I’d seen on the 7″.

My Carousel was populated, and by default, I did see recommendations at the bottom (“Customers Also Bought”, now sometimes abbreviated as CAB).

It had 37% battery charge life when I got it.

I swiped down, and saw this for Service Activation Needed (although it was already showing me AT&T as an icon near my battery icon).

Tapping that Activation Needed, it took me to “Welcome to DataConnect from AT&T!”

Okay, I want to be careful about this next part.

My experience here may be quite atypical…I don’t think there are a lot of these 4G models out there yet, but I’ll be interested to hear what happens with other people.

It quickly became the most frustrating experience I’ve had using a new Kindle.

The screen kept flickering on and off (I had it both in and out of the case). The lighting on the screen actually looked irregular near one short edge…sort of like the Kindle Paperwhite.

The flickering was at a level that was clearly unacceptable.

It wouldn’t wake up without the power button being used twice. The first time, it would only go to a gray screen…no image.

Clearly, it seemed like a power issue, so I decided I would charge it overnight.

This morning, I was still having problems. At that point, I copied the screenshots I had taken for this post (just like with the Kindle Fire 7″, you can hold the power button and the lower volume button ((the one towards the center of the screen)) at the same time and get a screenshot which is stored in Pictures…and it’s a nice animation so you know it has happened) to my desktop, and did a factory reset.

Yes, that meant it automatically deregistered it, and that I’d have to download content and set up my wi-fi again. I wanted to try that early, before I had much on it.

It seems to be fine this morning so far. Calling Kindle Support has never been an unpleasant experience for me, but I didn’t want to have to send it back (even though they make it as easy as possible).

I’ll have to try it for a day or so and see if the problem recurs, and if it does, I’ll contact them.

Let’s ignore that for now, and I’ll give you some more impressions of it. 🙂

The screen is gorgeous: I can tell the difference between this one and the 7″ (this one has more pixels per inch: 1920 x 1200 versus 1280 x 800).

It’s pretty comfortable to hold…it doesn’t feel that much heavier than the 7″, interesting, although I haven’t held it for a long session. It is 6.1 ounces heavier).

The Carousel showed about 20 items when I started, and I believed it is cumulatively adding things as I open them. Oh, another problem at first…even after I downloaded items, it wouldn’t open them, telling me there was a problem with the DRM (Digital Rights Management). Restarting the device took care of that.

Downloading seemed slow before the reset to factory defaults…now it seems fine.

I like the look of the bigger screen! I’ll have to see how it is to carry it around with me compared to the 7″.

The screen seems super responsive to the touch…maybe even too much. 🙂 In landscape mode, the keyboard is big enough for me to actually type, although I don’t quite have the hang of that. I’ll have to try my Bluetooth keyboard with it.

The keyboard is also different from the 7″.  It has an icon of a scissors on the ABC/?123 button (the one that switches you from letters to numbers. Holding that down gives me a bunch of editing tools, including ones for copy and paste. I found it a little confusing at first. You have to use the T with the square around it to select the text, then you can copy.

Drat! The issue with the screen is still there!

It’s easy to identify it now…just setting it lightly down on something causes it to flicker. Plugging in the USB cable causes it to happen. It appears to me to possibly be a loose connection in the power system, a loose battery or something.

I’m going to contact Kindle Support for what I presume will be a replacement.


At least you got to see how to register for the AT&T…

Update: the new one should be here Thursday. It’s not the first Kindle I’ve returned, and the process is simple. I’m always a bit surprised at the lack of information that the Customer Service rep may have about my account, though. I do go through

which means I identify my device before we are on the phone. However, the rep asked me when I had originally ordered this Fire…and I looked it up at

I would have guessed they could see that as easily as I could.

For those of you who don’t know about the returns, you contact them and if return is the right answer (it isn’t always), they e-mail you a link to a return label. You print it out, take it to a UPS store, and that’s it. You do not need to send the defective one back before you get the new one. The one big recommendation I have for you: keep the original packaging material for thirty days at least after you get it…that makes it easy to box it up for return, if necessary.

Update: I went through all of the one star reviews on this model on Amazon…nobody else mentioned this problem, so hopefully, mine was a fluke.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

25 Responses to “Kindle Fire 8.9″ 4G: first impressions”

  1. BlondeGirlWorld Says:

    look really great! I loooove this notepad app!!!!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, BlondeGirlWorld!

      I’ve been using the

      since the first Kindle Fire, way back in 2011. 😉


      has more capabilities, including easy audio and pictures, ColorNote is just quick and simple when I just want to jot something down.

      The keyboard is new to the 8.9″, though.

  2. Karen Says:

    I love the fact that you recognize any product can have a problem and instead of sending it back and trashing it on their website you give them a chance to make it right. Like you I realize Amazon isn’t really my best friend, but they come close. I love the ease of returning things and that the replacement is on the way before you get it sent. Will be waiting to hear how the next one does. I had a problem with my first 7″ HD in that the power button didn’t work. Love the replacement though. With the “give away” price, plus a credit for buying Windows Pro, I just bought the SD Fire for a friend. She isn’t quite a techie as I am but loves to read and play games so I know she’ll love it. Keep up the great work you do for us Bufo.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      Well, I always figure it’s better to give somebody a chance to fix or explain something than it is to get mad at them. Getting mad isn’t particularly good for you, and it isn’t good for them. Am I frustrated and disappointed? Sure, some…I was looking forward to starting to use it. That’s not particularly about blame, though. Hey, I’m happy I’m not a kid opening it as a holiday gift! That would be different…while I’d like to be getting my readers information sooner, I can wait a couple of days.

  3. Paul B Says:

    My timing and process were almost identical to yours. I got the flickering screen too when registering for 4g but it went away after the setup process finished and it hasn’t come back. Since, it’s been flawless and the screen is great. Still discovering new stuff.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Paul!

      I was hoping mind went away, but it didn’t…even after charging over night and resetting to factory defaults. It was easy to make it happen..just very lightly set it down, or plug something into the power port or sleep it and wake it up.

      I’m glad yours is working well! I’m looking forward to Thursday. 🙂

  4. George Evans Says:

    I am ready to order one myself. What made you pick the 32 GB instead of the 64 GB? I am having a hard time deciding between the two.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, George!

      Since the 64 is what the 32 is plus, you’ve already decided to get what is the 32…you are just deciding if you need more besides that. 😉

      I don’t keep much on my devices, I tend to keep it in the Cloud. 32GB sounds like a lot for my use case. I have wi-fi pretty readily available where I live (both at home and when out), so I shouldn’t need to have more than a day’s worth or so on the device usually. When I travel, I may want more, but even then, 32GB sounds like enough.

      So, for me, it wasn’t worth the extra money for it.

      Your use case might be different…if you are commonly days between wi-fi (say, you only use public wi-fi and don’t have it at home, or you go camping a lot), then you might want the bigger onboard storage. I’ve been saying wi-fi here, but 4G should make it even less necessary to store onboard.

  5. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Sorry about your screen problems. Knock on wood I haven’t seen anything like that on mine (but then mine’s not LTE 🙂 ).

    I have from time to time noticed the DRM problem you mentioned on my original KF. It has always been easy for me to get around — so I haven’t spent the time to figure out exactly under what circumstances it occurs.

    My recollection is that it mostly occurs when trying to open a book from the carousel; usually going to “books” and opening it from there gets around it. Occasionally that didn’t work so I opened a different book then went back to the problem one, and that always cleared it. I’m vaguely convinced that this mostly occurs when I’ve got the title on both my KT and KF, and I’ve been doing something with the title on the KT, but I’m not sure if that’s always the case.

    I just bought 4 MSPRESS books from O’Reilly (the MSPRESS distributor) they come in mobi, pdf and epub formats. I downloaded them to my laptop in both mobi and pdf formats. O’Reilly does not seem to have an email facility for ebooks. I sideloaded the mobi’s onto my KDX, and used Amazon’s send to kindle app to send the PDFs to my KF89 (where presumably the PDF reading experience will be best). My experience with technical books has been that PDFs do the best job of maintaining fidelity with the print edition; the mobi’s sometimes have issues with tables and complex layouts.

  6. Common Sense Says:

    I got my 8.9″ WiFi Only on Nov 16th and it’s been great! I haven’t had any of the issues you described. I do find it a bit heavier than my 7″, even though I don’t have my case yet. The screen is very nice and the extra memory (I got 32GB) is a relief (Amazon really needs to keep all magazine issues in your account indefinitely, even if you cancel a subscription).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Common!

      I’m glad yours has been fine. It’s possible that there is a difference with the 4G model. It seemed to me like a loose power connection. The 4G and wi-fi only presumably have the same shell. However, the 4G would require more hardware inside. It could be like packing two identical suitcases with the same amount of clothes…and then adding a pair of shoes to one. You might knock something loose. That’s purely speculation, though.

      • Common Sense Says:

        After what Paul said, I assumed what you did, but wanted to point out that I didn’t have the same experience with the WiFi version.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Common!

        Yes, it was great to share that…thanks!

  7. Denise Says:

    Bufo, I always look to you for information on all things Kindle. I am getting a Kindle Fire HD for Christmas *if* I could just figure out whether to get the 7″ or 8″. I looked forward to reading your experience with the 8″, but considering the issues you were having I’m not sure about the 8″ now. I am interested in the WiFi version as the 4G is too costly for the person gifting it to me.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Denise!

      I should have my replacement on Thursday evening, and then I’ll write about that one.

      I checked the reviews, and I think mine might have just been that rare lemon. 🙂

      The 8.9″ is quite a bit more money. To get it (especially in wi-fi only, which is not a differentiator), these should be worth the money to you:

      * The larger screen size (particularly good for comic books and illustrated magazines like National Geographic, I think)

      * X-Ray for textbooks

      * A screen with more pixels (so things will look sharper)

      * More storage space

      Those are the main advantages, I’d say…at least until I can experiment with it more.

  8. liz2germany Says:

    I just received my 4G, and it’s working very well so far. My only (slight) hiccup was that I expected to be able to put the $49.95 on the default credit card on my Amazon account; since it required a credit card number, I had to go and get out my card. Oh well.

    The display on mine also shows a slight glow towards one end when the unit is on but not displaying a lot of graphics. Otherwise, the screen is beautiful, and I can really tell the difference in reflectivity between my original KF and this one – my face isn’t annoyingly reflected in the background when the screen is dark (last year’s KF could be used as a mirror in a pinch!).

    Sorry your new Fire didn’t work on the first try, and I’m hoping your speculation concerning the “fragility” of the 4G device due to the additional equipment doesn’t mean mine will be flickering someday!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, liz2germany!

      My intuition is that if it doesn’t have the problem in the beginning and it isn’t jarred too much, it probably won’t develop it. I’m just guessing on that, though.

      I have used my Kindle Fire 1st Generation as a mirror, so I know what you mean. 🙂

  9. D. Knight Says:

    Bufo, this is great info. I’m looking forward to another installment because I’m considering getting an 8.9 in the future. So please keep us up-to-date.

    I have two additional questions that are only slightly related to this post (if you don’t mind).

    1) For the Paperwhite – have you heard of the light just going out? Since I’ve had mine, the light has gone out twice while I was reading, and I’ve had to restart to get it back on. Have you experienced/heard of this? Do you think this warrents returning it? I use the PW a lot, so it doesn’t seem like it is happening very often.

    2) What do you know about the tiny font problem on some of the books on the PW? I vaguely remember reading about it in the Kindle discussions, but I don’t remember details. I downloaded a sample that looked just fine on my DX, but the same sample on the PW had a ridiculously tiny font. It’s only normal sized when you choose one of the largest two sizes. The same wasn’t true for the chapter headings, so in order to read it on the PW you’d have chapter headings that take up half the screen in order to get a reasonable size text.

    Do you know if there is a work around for this?

    Thanks for all your info!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.!

      Eagerly awaiting my replacement 8.9″…should be here within the next couple of hours.

      I haven’t heard of people complaining about the Paperwhite light going out…just the opposite, people want to turn it off and they can’t.

      I probably would contact Kindle Support

      on that one. It’s likely to be mechanical, and I think it’s better to act sooner rather than later in those circumstances. The longer you have a Kindle, the harder it is to lose it (since you may have personalized in some way, and done so increasingly over time).

      On the tiny font issue, could you give me the name of the book? I’m checking back with Amazon on this…last I heard, they were researching it…

      • D. Knight Says:

        I thought you’d probably say that (about returning the Paperwhite). Good advice I’m sure, but I still will probably wait until after the holidays–unless it really starts annoying me. It’s fine other than that, and like I said, it doesn’t happen too often.

        Here is the book:
        You can tell from the sample. I’m not willing to pay $10 on the chance that it won’t be right.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, D.!

        I passed the title along to Amazon…thanks!

        Edited to add: oh, and you could spend that $10 and then get a refund if it isn’t right.

        Within seven days of purchase, you can go to

        click or tap


        and you’ll see the choice. I’m guessing you knew that already, but I like to make sure other people know.

    • Edward Boyhan Says:

      On the tiny font issue: I used to notice this from time to time on my KT. It was always on indie titles from the Amazon store. If the same title was read on my KDX or KF1, the problem didn’t appear. I have not heard of it occurring on the paperwhite (I don’t happen to have one).

      A while back there were a couple of threads on the community forum with this issue on the KT. The consensus seemed to be that it was not an issue necessarily with the KT firmware, but with the process the author used to get it through KDP into the kindle store.

      In any event I haven’t noticed it lately on my KT, and my firmware is at 5.1.2 where it’s always been, so maybe (knock on wood) the problem has been addressed on the KDP side of things.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        I’d originally heard about it for the Kindle Touch as well…I’ve passed the information along to Amazon.

  10. Replacement Kindle Fire 8.9″ 4G: first impressions « I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] is a replacement because, as explained in this earlier post, the first one I received had power issues (the screen would flicker, turn off, and it […]

  11. One week with the Kindle Fire 8.9″ 4G « I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] had to send my first one back due to serious power issues. The screen would flicker and turn off, and it wouldn’t start up […]

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