We review the latest Amazon Kindle, Paperwhite, Voyage and Oasis.
The Kindle is ten years old, and it’s come a long way since the very first model. The decade has seen continual development and diversification of the Kindle range, to the point at which there are now several options when considering an Amazon e-reader.
In fact, you have four models available to choose from today, all with different capabilities. All Kindles do have a few things in common, though. They all have glare-free screens, use the custom-made Bookerly font, and store thousands of ebooks. They also all draw from the same huge range of content.
Kindles certainly aren’t the only option. Kobo also offers a good range of e-readers and an extensive ebook library, and you can turn just about any Android and iOS device into one using the Kindle app or another reader app.
However, here we’ve concentrated on Kindles for those who want a dedicated e-reader and prefer to stay with Amazon’s ebook ecosystem. We’ve compared the standard Kindle, the Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Voyage and Kindle Oasis.
The four Kindle models at a glance
|Kindle||Kindle Paperwhite||Kindle Voyage||Kindle Oasis|
|Price||$109||$159 or $249 (3G)||$299||$389 (8GB), $429 (32GB), $529 (3G, 32GB)|
|Resolution||167 ppi||300 ppi||300 ppi||300 ppi|
|Built-in light||No||Yes||Yes + adaptive front light||Yes – 12 LEDs + adaptive light sensor|
|Storage||4GB||4GB||4GB||8GB or 32GB|
|Page Turns||Touchscreen||Touchscreen||Touchscreen + PagePress||Touchscreen + page-turn buttons|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G|
|Weight||161g||205g or 217g (3G)||180g||194g|
|Dimensions||160 x 115 x 9.1 mm||169 x 117 x 9.1 mm||162 x 115 x 7.6 mm||159 x 141 x 3.4-8.3 mm|
Next: the four Kindle e-readers reviewed
If you’re searching for the cheapest e-reader, you’ll probably stop reading here since the standard Kindle costs a very reasonable $109. That price, however, doesn’t come with a big sacrifice of quality.
This model’s 6in touchscreen is a decent upgrade from previous models since no buttons clutter the bottom of the e-reader. It’s also one of the lighter options out of the four models being reviewed today at 161g. The Kindle Oasis weighs 133g but that’s without the cover – it’s 240g with it on – and the regular Kindle is not much bulkier than the more expensive Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Voyage.
In fact, there’s very little this Kindle lacks when compared with Amazon’s other e-readers. Amazon says the budget Kindle’s battery can last up to six weeks on a single charge – the same as other models (if the user only has 30-minute reading sessions with the WiFi turned off every day). It’s quick to load books and the touchscreen is responsive.
There are two key areas in which the budget Kindle loses out to its more expensive stablemates. The first is screen resolution. Although this Kindle uses the same screen technology as its siblings (E-Ink), it isn’t as sharp and text can look more pixellated as a result. The second is that it doesn’t have a built-in reading light, which means fans of reading in the dark should look elsewhere.
Other than those small shortfalls, though, there’s little to dislike.
The Kindle Paperwhite’s standard price of $179 is significantly more than the regular Kindle, but at the time of publishing Amazon was discounting it at $159. That’s for the Wi-Fi only model – the 3G and Wi-Fi model is priced at $249.
The 3G option, which is also available for the Kindle Oasis, gives you free access to Kindle ebooks anywhere in the world without the need to find a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The basics of this model are similar to the budget Kindle. Both have 4GB of storage and a 6in touchscreen, the dimensions only differ a small amount and both are available in black and white.
There are some notable differences between this model and the budget Kindle that could convince you to pay extra, though.
The immediately obvious upgrade is the increase in the screen’s pixel density from 167ppi for the budget Kindle to 300ppi for the Paperwhite. The Kindle Paperwhite also has a built-in light, which is sure to be welcomed by readers who are tired of getting up to turn the lights off after late-night binges.
The light’s main downside is that it shortens battery life. However, it’s still impressive and the battery can last up to six weeks (although again that’s based on Amazon’s rather meagre usage specs).
Next up the price scale is the Kindle Voyage, which at $299 is significantly more expensive than the Kindle Paperwhite. Based on the similarities with the Paperwhite, you may not think that price hike is worth it.
First off, the Kindle Voyage has the same pixel density and screen size as the Kindle Paperwhite. Its 4GB storage and quoted battery life are also the same.
The Kindle Voyage also enjoys the addition of a front light, but here is where it outsteps the Paperwhite: it has an ambient light sensor that adjusts the light automatically to its surroundings so you can have the perfect reading setting and the light is both brighter and white than the Paperwhite’s equivalent.
The design of the Voyage is different as well. It’s a bit thinner and a bit lighter, weighing 180g compared to the Paperwhite’s 205g (or 217g for the 3G model). The Voyage’s screen is flush with the bezels and has a capacitive touch surface. It also has capacitive ‘PagePress’ buttons set into the bezels on either side of the screen that turn the page and give a little dig of haptic feedback when squeezed.
You lose the option of buying a 3G model like you can with the Paperwhite, but otherwise, the Voyage is the superior offering. We’re not sure it’s worth $140 extra, though.
The range-topping Kindle Oasis has been updated for 2017 and it has a number of upgrades over the outgoing model.
Chief among these is its larger 7in E-Ink display, which allows you to squeeze more words onscreen and keep the page turns to a minimum but that's not the only improvement. The new Oasis also has a sleeker, all-aluminium chassis and waterproofing. It’s rated at IPX8 (up to 2 metres, up to 60 minutes in fresh water), so all you bookworms who love to read in the bath or near the pool, can now do so without worrying too much.
The new Oasis also debuts a brand new feature: Audible audiobook synchronisation. If you own both the Kindle ebook and audiobook editions of the same title, this allows you to flick between the two seamlessly, with Bluetooth connectivity on the Oasis taking care of audio playback via wireless headphones or speakers.
This is, without a doubt, the nicest e-reader Amazon has ever made and it also addresses one of the biggest problems with the original Oasis – its lack of ambient light sensor. Now, if you go from a dark to a light room, the new Oasis will adapt automatically, so you don't have to adjust the brightness manually.
The new Oasis also has better battery life than the original and it retains many of the originals best features, too, including the handgrip on the back, the orientation sensor that lets you hold the reader left- or right-handed and customisable physical page turn buttons.
The main downside is the pricing: $389 for the 8GB Wi-Fi-only model, $429 for the 32GB version and $529 for the 3G and Wi-Fi model with 32GB.
That’s a pretty big price premium over the other models, but if you love your reading and you want the very best e-reader, there’s nothing that comes close.