• EEVblog #109 – Amazon Kindle 3 3G/GSM/WiFi 6″ TEARDOWN

    Dave shows you how to take apart the new Amazon Kindle 3 3rd Generation 3G/GSM/WiFI Ebook reader, and examines and discusses the circuitry, assembly, and build quality.
    And hackers can get excited about the accessible ARM JTAG port.

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      • http://www.crystalfontz.com John

        I primarily know Amphenol due to their RF products, they sell quite a lot of RF connectors and whatnot (and some of them are quite expensive.)

        Anyways, insofar as the e-ink controller is concerned, it’s a cool little chip. On the board under development at work, it’s hooked up to a DDR DRAM IC (possibly the other IC near the e-ink controller on the Kindle board?)

      • Hypernova

        Wager on the unknown port being a UART so the guys at service centres don’t have to pop it open to access the JTAG for debugging.

      • Allan

        I’ll be in my bunk.

        • Hallux

          Say ‘hi’ to Vera for me!

      • http://dics.voicecontrol.ro/ dics

        Damn, the flash chip is BGA. It would have been an interesting project to try to put a bigger one in there

      • Carson

        What is the use of the exposed copper bits around the audio chipsets?

        • http://www.digi-online.net masterburner

          They’ve probably added another shielding box around the audio chipset in their design, but later on found out that the shielding wasn’t neccesary, so they just left that out of production (reduces cost). They probably didn’t bother to update the solder mask (the green “paint” on the boards). Now, I think it’s quite strange not to shield the audio circuitry in an RF application like this…

          Really liked the review. Interesting to see in what ways you can take high volume production into account in your design. Thanks, Dave!

          • Shane


            My Kindle is receiving GSM interference (your typical phone next to radio noise) when the headset is plugged in. Perhaps this shielding was required after all?!

            It only happens on Edge/GPRS (2G) – due to RF modulation, so 3G/Wifi is good.

            It also only occurs when the external headphones are connected, on board speakers are unaffected.

            It gets louder / quieter when the aerial goes near the earphones.

            What do you reckon, shielding issue?

      • ghe
      • http://www.soasystem.com shafri

        still… nothing beat the real book. IMHO 😉

      • http://diary.piku.org.uk James

        I was trying to work out how the GSM connection is paid for, and while googling came across this bit of Amazon’s website


        In there it shows how part of the sale of a Kindle app pays for the user downloading the content. This probably applies to eBooks too.

        I wonder what’d happen if the SIM card was removed and put into an unlocked mobile phone, what network would it associate with…

        • Karl (not that Karl, the other Karl)

          If they are clever, and it looks they are, they have IMEI and SIM locked the card. And if they are paranoid they blacklist subscribers running the card in something else.

          The reason for the SIM card holder is because it is required in many areas to have one to get such a device type approved.

      • Chris

        You know what Dave. I’m willing to bet you that that little RFID chip is not only for inventory, but also for when they ship the device (if bought direct from Amazon). The RFID chip can be read through the box. When the chip is scanned by an Amazon employee, they can associate the device with the Amazon user account that was used to buy the device. The user never has to turn on a computer or put in passwords when the device is first powered on. When the device is first powered on, it goes out and acquires a cell signal. It then goes to Amazon and says, “Hey, is there any user data setup for me? Here is my device UID”. The server responds back with “Yes. I’ll send that info to you now along with any books already associated with the account.” It’s simple, and beats the heck out of registration when you first receive your device.

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          Yep, I agree, I’m sure they are doing some really smart stuff with that. When you have a product with a 3G interface and oodles of battery life, you can do lots of things. Even potentially update them while they sit in their boxes on the shelves!


      • Anthony
      • http://truthspew.wordpress.com Tony P

        That one with six contacts… smart card reader.

      • Knojin

        Hi David,
        Does it not have any Flash beyond 4G ? Also, what is the copper around the audio controller and how is it grounded ? Does it share ground with the rest of the ICs ?

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          No expansion beyond 4GB. The audio copper is ground back at the one single point, it’s called a “star” ground configuration. So yes, for DC it is at the same ground potential as everything else.

      • http://monda.hu L

        I’ve really enjoyed the review but the sound was pretty bad sometimes one side being much louder than the other.

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog


      • Ruby (USA)

        I just discovered your video blog and am trying to figure out the timezone between Sydney and New York, USA.

        I cannot wait to start watching your video blog live!!

      • Tom

        Surely the ‘unknown port’ is to power an external reading light. Amazon sells a cover with a built in reading light, and its clips plug into the openings along the left side.

      • reagle
      • Halo572

        I applaud your enthusiasm and knowledge.

        I wouldn’t dare take my Kindle apart unless I wanted a pile of components, but if you say it is well designed and built it isn’t much different to the impression you get from holding and using it.

        They really have made a special little item that can win over e-reader sceptics (me included) and those who don’t want the expense of an Ipad or tablet (me again).

      • Stuart

        Thanks for opening up the Kindle so I don’t have to :)

      • Stephan

        Just a hint from a german guy, who enjoyed your video :
        The connectors on the side (with the 4 small screws on the one, and the kind of spring on the other side) is the Kindle-Connector for cases with external lights as you can see here: http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Lighted-Leather-Display-Generation/dp/B003DZ165W/ref=_1_2
        This is quite nice, when sitting in a bus early in the morning and impress everybody around you with a “highlighted” kindle …lol.

        Greetings from germany

      • Randy

        Super review- you are very passionate and your employer should be proud to have you! I enjoy you aussies AND come on…@15:40 THAT’S GOT to be the Kindle pun of the decade (‘textbook’ example…LOL)! Great work.

      • Matt

        Do you have a parts list? I stupidly took mine apart and punctured a ribbon cable. Can’t quite get the part number without taking it apart further. Would like to know the availability of it before trying.

      • http://youngprofessor.wordpress.com/ Little Professor

        Does Kindle 3 use SRAM or DRAM?

      • Edwin Noorlander


        Can you tell me if de Kindel 3 Wifi have a SIM card holder like de Kindle 3 Wifi/3G?

      • rdhoore108

        No, the wifi version does not have a sim card holder, nor does it have a mini-pci slot for a modem. There is just a black piece of plastic instead.

      • http://foxcub.net Maj

        Those connectors you couldn’t identify in the video are for the reading light.

      • http://www.myduino.com Myduino

        I love your postregarding the Arduino. You definitely have put a considerable amount of work into writing it. :)

        As of now, I have a website that sells Arduino motherboards and all of the related accessories. They are all imported from overseas.

        Finally, customers in Malaysia can own an Arduino. If you know a Malaysian friend, do inform them of this website.

        Thank you very much. I will remember your help. Stay in touch.

      • Logan


        Doesn’t that voice around 36 seconds in this NPR segment sound familiar? Maybe this warrants a miniblog on copyright law! :)

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          If it wasn’t so funny, I’d sue :->

      • Patrick

        One question David, how did the navigation button is done inside, the button is really VERY small and it sill works very well….
        Many thanks & great job

      • Kevin

        Will simply opening the back of the kindle 3 void the limited 1 year manufacture’s warranty? Because in the video i do not see anything that would indicate that the kindle 3 has been opened. Please Do you have more insight on this?

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          I can’t see how they could possibly tell it’s been opened, unless you mark the case.

      • Jebuy

        Dude Dave you just saved me the cost of a new Kindle. Dropped it in the jacuzzi (yeah, I know better, duh), put it in a baggie with a 100 or so SorbiCaps, let it sit for 2 days. Opened it up following your video, disconnected battery and reconnected, duster-sprayed unit, reassembled, and re-charged it. Up and running perfectly…I bow at your god-status!

      • Glenn

        Wow! Excellent video. I just found your blog, and believe me I’ll be back.

        One question – did you examine the keypad at all? I’ve got the crazy idea to get in there and substitute my own buttons for the teeny ones on the front of the case, but your video didn’t access anything on the front panel.

        Did you look at the buttons and their connection to the PCB / Microcontroller at all? That connector didn’t have enough wires to house each button, so I assume there’s some sort of I/O controller that’s reporting keystrokes back to the main processor…?

        Thanks again!

        • CANDY

          Is there a way of making the volume louder on the Kindle 3, instead of using headphones? I want to listen to it will driving.

          • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

            Play it through and FM transmistter

      • http://andrewdurham.com Andrew Durham

        Hi, Dave,

        Thanks for the tour.

        Do you think the keyboard connector could be hacked to connect an external keyboard?

        Thank you!

        (not a hacker… yet.)

      • mitu

        Wow. Thanks a lot for the tour. Your detailed analysis is great. I just wonder if we can use our own sim in place of that one in Intl version? Will it work like a phone? Thanks

      • Malcolm

        Great teardown thanks David!

        One question I had as I’m reluctant to pop the lid on my own kindle, do you have any more insights on the connectors on the sides? I know they’re for the reading light, but are they connected directly to the battery, or do they go through any protection devices/regulators etc first?

        Just wondering if you could charge the unit through those connectors, I’m thinking of doing a homebrew kindle cover by hacking one of the kindle covers with the light built in


      • Steve

        Great discussion but PLEASE hold the thing still so we can see it!

      • http://gsmafluisteren.blogspot.com Gsm afluisteren

        I jut bought my first Kindle and this is a very interesting approach to it!

      • tom

        just opened my Kindle3 (REV. C) and it does not have a reset button soldered on anymore.

        Short wiring these 2 solder points does not seem to reset my completely bricked Kindle3…

      • steveb

        Could you take the sim card out and put it into another unlocked device and get free global internet?

        • ;asdlf;ous

          could you possibly take out the 3g motume and antanna and connect them to a computer?

      • GlennD

        Thanks Dave, Great show! Wonderful review of the design. Love your enthusiasm.

      • Ann

        My kindle 3 3G dead.I think the boot in emmc has gone something wrong.Consider for now so many smart phones was repaired by jtag,would you make kindle jtag repair.
        And tell me?

      • Name

        How can I watch this? Clicking the download link leads to a “Not Found” page. Thanks in advance.