I don’t want to spoil the punch line of this article, but Amazon’s Kindle e-reader lineup ranges from cheap to expensive. And with the introduction of the latest entry-level Kindlethe cheap end of the spectrum looks hugely enticing.
If you’re in the market for a new Kindle, check out your current options here, including the differences between each model and, perhaps more importantly, what they all have in common.
The line up
There are four Kindle models available, two of which have multiple versions. They are as follows:
Now there are a handful of features that are the same for all Kindle models.
For starters, you rarely have to worry about battery life. You only need to charge your e-reader every few weeks or so.
Second, all of these Kindles come with a minimum of 8 GB of storage, enough space for thousands of eBooks. Some variants go up to 32 GB, which is overkill for most people.
Third, the screen resolutions are the same across the board. They all have nice screens, so the difference comes down to how they’re lit (more on that later).
Let’s take a look at these Kindles by model:
that of Amazon Entry Level Kindle has fewer compromises than ever, so it’s an excellent choice for $100.
You get a six-inch screen, 16GB of storage, and four LEDs to illuminate the screen.
Unlike the other Kindle models, the base Kindle’s screen isn’t flush with the rest of the body: it’s slightly recessed. That never bothered me in the least, but Amazon touts the flush screens as an advantage over its more expensive Kindles.
The main disadvantage of this model is that it is not waterproof, while all other models are. If you don’t take it to the bath, to the beach or around the pool, who cares?
The arrangement with four LED lights is another knock. That lights up the screen for reading in bed at night, but the results aren’t as even as on the more expensive models, which have 17 or more LEDs and allow you to adjust the lighting more precisely.
Kindle Paperwhite: $140 (8GB) or $150 (16GB)
The differences between the regular Kindle and the paper white used to be more noticeable, but today an extra $40 gets you a slightly larger screen (6.8 inches), better and more adjustable lighting (17 LEDs), a recessed screen, and water resistance.
You only get 8GB of storage, though, compared to the base Kindle’s 16GB. Hardly anyone should find this a problem, and a 16GB Paperwhite model is available for an additional $10.
Many people will be happy to get the regular Kindle and save some money. But if you’re ready to splurge a little, the better lighting and waterproofing still make a good case for the Paperwhite.
Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition: $190 (32GB)
This is an interesting one. It’s the Paperwhite, but at a premium of $50 for features most people won’t use.
You get a whopping 32GB (arguably too much) storage space, auto-adjusting lighting (the regular Paperwhite has to be manually adjusted), and wireless charging.
The wireless charging is neat, but for something you hardly ever need to charge, it’s more of a novelty. And if you can actually fill 32GB of space with books, you’ve already stopped reading by now and called me an idiot for suggesting that 8GB is more than enough for most people.
That leaves the auto-adjusting light. Great, but it’s not super painful to manually adjust the lighting, and if you leave your Kindle on the bedside table and usually read in the same place, you only have to set it up once.
Of the four models, this is the last one I would buy.
Kindle Oasis: $250 (8GB) or $350 (32GB + Cellular)
My wife and I have his and her Kindles. Mine, a simple Paperwhite and hers, the very slim one Kindle Oasis.
They fit our personalities: me, a sweet-natured, simple Midwesterner and she, an impeccably dressed, sophisticated East Coaster.
To look. The oasis is really nice. For $250 it should be.
It is made of aluminum while the others are plastic. However, the aluminum becomes slippery!
It has 25 LEDs, which illuminate the device beautifully. Better than the 17 LEDs on the Paperwhites? marginal.
It has a nice little bevel on the back to adapt to your hand. Required? Who knows? Again, it’s smooth.
The screen orientation rotates automatically! It has page-turning buttons! The screen should rotate more or less automatically if the thing has buttons, because if you switch hands, everything would be turned upside down. However, people love the buttons, including my wife.
The screen itself is also seven inches, slightly larger than the 6.8-inch Paperwhites, which are slightly larger than the base 6-inch Kindle.
The photo accompanying this post shows my 6-inch Paperwhite (it’s an older model; they were six inches) against her 7-inch Oasis. Not a big difference if you ask me.
Money to burn? In front of another $100, you get built-in, free cellular connectivity and 32GB of arguably unnecessary storage. The mobile connectivity is a handy trick if you want to download a book and there’s no wifi network available, but… it’s 2022.
Oh, and the Oasis, as premium as it is, gets a little long in the tooth. It was released in 2019 and still uses, say, a micro USB charging cable. All other Kindle models use the now ubiquitous USB-C standard.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the penultimate Kindle I’d buy.
So, which one should? you to buy?
Enough chatter, right? You’ll have very few, if any, complaints about the $140 Paperwhite model. If it’s not breaking your budget, do it. If so, the new basic-level Kindle is really good value.
However, these things are on sale all the time too, so if you’ve got $100 to spend on the base model and you’re not in a rush, wait for the Paperwhite to drop. It has fallen to $105 twice in the past year and will likely go on sale around the holidays as well.
Yes, he has half the storage space. But you’ll probably never come close to filling it. The lighting is much nicer and the waterproofing can come in handy in case of spills and splashes.
All the prices I’ve listed here also include ads on their lock screens that can be removed for an extra $20. The ads generally boil down to a book that you might like to display when your Kindle is in sleep mode. Wake him up, swipe the screen and the ad is gone. If it gets really annoying, you can pony up to remove the ads directly from your new Kindle itself.