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Does The Kindle Fire Work In South Africa?

Since the release of the Kindle Fire, e-reader.co.za has received quite a few queries regarding its functionality and support in South Africa. Thanks to this extremely informative guest-blog post by Mike Kirby, we can now answer some of the main questions around what you can and cannot do on your Kindle Fire in South Africa.

Which Kindle Is For You – Kindle or Kindle Fire

Choosing which Kindle to buy was an easy decision until Amazon launched the Kindle Fire. Now, the Kindle Fire expands the best e-reader in the world with a multitude of additional features such as internet, email, games, the ability to watch movies, play music and more. Whilst all these added services it should be easy to decide which Kindle – normal or Fire – you should purchase. But I suggest you ask yourself the following questions before deciding on whether or not you buy an ordinary Kindle or a Kindle Fire:

  • Do I just want to read books and magazines?
  • Do I want to read books and magazines outside in the sun and inside as well?
  • Do I want to download content (i.e. books & magazines) on the go or will I be using the device mostly from home?

If the above is all you need, then you should go for the best standard Kindle you can afford and which is available in South Africa, NOT the Kindle Fire! The reason for this is that the Kindle Fire is hopeless to read outside because of its LCD screen. You also need to consider that the Kindle Fire is Wi-Fi only which means you can only download content when you are in a Wi-Fi area. Most standard Kindles come with free 3G connectivity so you can download content wherever there is a 3G connection (pretty much anywhere). One other thing to take into account is that a standard Kindle has a battery usage time of weeks, whilst the Kindle Fire needs a recharge every 6 to 8 hours depending on your usage.

However if you also want the ability to surf the internet, play games, do some tasks, listen to music, watch video clips, listen to radio in addition to reading books and magazines, then the Kindle Fire is for you!

Where To Buy Your Kindle Fire and Why

Once you’ve decided to purchase the Kindle Fire, it is important you buy the device from a reputable store or site. Since the Kindle Fire is not officially launched in South Africa, the regular Amazon guarantee will not apply – make sure you confirm beforehand what happens in the case of a faulty device. It also pays to shop around, as the prices for Kindle Fires vary greatly between sellers.

Also consider protecting your Kindle Fire with a custom cover or case. I’ve found a touch pen or stylus an absolute must as it makes the device much easier to operate and keeps the screen free of smudges & fingerprints.

What you need to get started with your Kindle Fire

First of all it needs to be understood that Kindle Fire is Wi-Fi only meaning you can only use the device in an area with a Wi-Fi connection – so if you do not have Wi-Fi installed at home, you will not be able to download any content to your device. You can transfer content manually from your PC/laptop to your Kindle via a USB adapter.

Registering Your Kindle Fire

This works exactly as it would with a standard Kindle. As long as you have an Amazon account, once you turn your device on, you are linked to Amazon and can start buying your books / magazines etc.

Operating Your Kindle Fire

Operation of the Kindle Fire is completely by touch – the only button on the device is the ON /OFF button. Navigating the user interface is simple and intuitive, and there is a complete instruction manual on the device under DOCS on the main screen.

What You Can and Cannot Do on the Kindle Fire in South Africa

Since the Kindle Fire isn’t officially available in SA, some of the services are limited. See the list below to see which features are available on the Kindle Fire in South Africa:

You can:

  • buy books, magazines & other digital content via your Amazon account as you would on any Kindle
  • surf the internet using the Kindle Fire’s custom browser
  • e-mail
  • transfer any content from your PC or laptop (such as music, movies, pdf’s etc.) – note that the file size is limited to 2GB which means you have no problems with music, but longer movies could exceed this file size limit

You cannot:

  • buy or get apps from the Amazon app store
  • buy or download music from Amazon
  • get Amazon Prime (mostly due to legal issues regarding international laws on “cloud storage”)
  • buy or download Movies from Amazon

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Kindle Fire in South Africa

From the above, it might seem that the Kindle Fire’s features are so severely restricted in South Africa that the device almost becomes useless. However, with the tips below, I will show you how you can get almost all the functionality for your Kindle Fire – even in South Africa.

The main thing that makes the big difference is the availability of apps – if you can get apps then you can light up your Fire! Here is what you can do:

1. Switch on your Kindle Fire and navigate to the control wheel in the top RH corner, go to “more”, scroll down to “device”, tap it, and locate “allow installation of applications ( from outside sources)”. Change this setting from NO to YES. You will see a notice that warns you of the risk of malware which you could get by uploading unchecked apps (more on this later). For now, ignore it and go back to the main screen.

2. Launch your internet browser by navigating to WEB and search for www.getjar.com. Because you changed the settings on your Kindle Fire to allow installation of apps from outside sources, you can now download any app you want from the getjar site. You will find all the top apps on here (such as Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Where’s my Water, Words with Friends , BBC NEWS, CNN, SKY NEWS, etc.) as well as thousands more. The first app that you should get immediately is the “Lookout” app, which checks every app that you try to download for malware and other viruses and will not allow you to download them if they are suspect.

Also note that these apps are all FREE! Whilst I’ve literally downloaded 100’s of apps using getjar, some of my favourites are “splashtop” which gives you the ability to set up your own streaming service for music and movies from your home PC or laptop without any connector cables, “tune in radio” which allows you to effectively get any kind of music from any radio station in the world and record it. There’s weather apps, apps for writing notes, apps for putting down your tasks, apps for calendars and many more – having access to such a variety really ‘lights up your Fire” and allows you to expand the services you and get from device significantly.

Whilst there is some risk involved in loading apps from third party developers, you can mitigate these to a large extent by using the “lookout” app and by ensuring that you only download apps from the more reputable app markets out there. Whilst the app icons look a little bit fuzzy on the carousel of the Kindle Fire, the apps themselves work perfectly. I am now using my Kindle Fire to watch movies and TV shows (albeit not from Amazon Prime), listen to any music I like, stream radio channels from all over the world, surf the internet, handle e-mails and play games. And on top of that, I can still read an eBook or magazine and have access to the millions of titles available on Amazon.

In addition to getjar.com, two other good app sites are slideme.org and 1mobile which have a large collection of free and paid apps.

I hope that this article helps you understand exactly what you can get from your Kindle Fire in South Africa. Should you decide to purchase a Kindle Fire, I hope you will get as much enjoyment from this fantastic little gem as I do.

Buy Kindle Fire in South Africa

So, when can you actually buy the Kindle Fire in South Africa? Whilst the Kindle Fire is officially only available in the US – you can get one in South Africa!

Click to buy a Kindle Fire in South Africa!

Want A New Kindle Now?

Along with the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire, Amazon also released a brand new Kindle – and it ships to South Africa!

More info


  1. I tried getjar.com, if I click Download on any app, it gives me this message…
    To download to your phone:
    1) go to m.getjar.com on your phone
    2) Select quick Download at the bottom of the page
    3) Enter numbers
    Please help?

    • Hi Cecile,

      I get the same message as you from getjar.com.

      Have you figured out how to get around that?

      I would appreciate your help.

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