When someone says that they want an e-reader, they likely mean that they want an Amazon Kindle. While most people know what they love to read, knowing which Kindle to buy and read it on can be a little daunting. With this guide and our in-depth reviews, we’ll help you find just the right Kindle for you.
Updated 11/27/17 to include the new Kindle Oasis 2017, which replaces the earlier Oasis model as the best luxury Kindle.
In the decade since Amazon’s E-Ink slabs were first introduced to the world, the Kindles’ popularity has elevated its brand recognition to the same heights as Q-Tips and Kleenex—with good reason. Available in five models with varying feature sets, Amazon ensures there’s a Kindle to meet every bookworm’s needs and budget.
While Amazon’s competitors might offer more technologically advanced or less expensive hardware, not a one of them can hold a candle to the sheer volume of books, comics, and periodicals available to download and consume on a Kindle.
Purchasing one of Amazon’s less-expensive Kindles could mean missing out on important features that could make the time you spend reading more pleasurable. But that doesn’t mean the most-expensive Kindle is the right choice: Don’t pay for features you won’t use. With all models, you can pay an additional $20 to nix Amazon’s “special offers,” a euphemism for advertisements that appear on the Kindle’s lock screen. We show the lower special-offers-included prices in our reviews, because you need to choose the more-expensive option after you put the product in online your shopping cart.
To help you find the right Kindle to suit your reading needs and budget, we’ve put together this brief guide, with links to our full reviews of the hardware we recommend.
The best Kindle for most readers
That would be the Kindle Paperwhite. It features a big, bright E-Ink display that makes electronic text look like as crisp as if it were on a printed page; excellent battery life; and an easy-to navigate user interface. Priced at $120 for the Wi-Fi version and $190 for one that comes with both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, the Kindle Paperwhite is Amazon’s mid-range e-reader. It costs less than the Kindle Voyage and more than Amazon’s All-New Kindle. But it comes packing many of the same features as our pick for the best luxury Kindle, the Kindle Oasis.
Sized at just 6.3 x 4.5 x 0.36 inches, and weighing just over 7 ounces, the Kindle Paperwhite is small and light enough to fit into a purse of backpack without making you wish you’d left it at home. It’s rubberized back plate and the wide bezel around its display make it easy to hold, one-handed. That’s good news, as you’ll need you other hand to tap away at the device’s on-screen interface. The pages of a book can be turned with the touch of a finger. Options for the size of font, line spacing, and other reading preferences can be altered just as easily. And when the time comes to find something new to read, downloading a new publication from the Kindle store is just a caress of the Paperwhite’s display away.
Speaking of its screen: It’s gorgeous. It has the same six-inch, 300 ppi E-Ink display as the Kindle Oasis. The text you’ll read on the Paperwhite is as crisp as you’ll find in any paper book. Grayscale images look great, too. The Paperwhite’s display is side-lit by four LEDs, to make reading in the dark easy on your eyes. The lighting’s not as even as what you’ll get from more expensive Kindles, like the Voyage or Oasis, but it’s consistent enough that you’re unlikely have a problem with it. And with 4GB of storage, you’ll be hard-pressed to run out of space to store all your Kindle Store purchases, side-loaded PDFs, Microsoft Word files, and other documents.
A waterproof Kindle
If you enjoy reading by the pool, in the bathtub, or lead a lifestyle that places your expensive electronic devices in liquid peril on a regular basis, you’ll be happy to know that the best waterproof Kindle is also our pick for the best Kindle for most people: The Kindle Paperwhite—after an aftermarket waterproofing process.
For $230, Waterfi, a company that specialized in waterproofing popular electronic devices and accessories, can provide you with a Kindle Paperwhite that can survive a dunk in the drink down to depths as deep as 210 feet. A Waterfi-treated Kindle Paperwhite functions identically to its drownable doppelgänger, save the fact that you can read it in a hot tub without turning it into a paperweight. For $99, Waterfi will even waterproof a Paperwhite you already own, making affording the protection that the company’s technology offers seem a little bit less expensive.
The only downside to using a waterproof Kindle Paperwhite is that the device’s display was never meant to get wet. Until you dry it off, it’ll register liquid on its screen as touch input. Be prepared to lose the page you were reading.
The luxury Kindle
The most luxurious Kindle is, not surprisingly, Amazon’s most-expensive Kindle, with a starting price of $270 ($250 if you can live with lockscreen ads). The 2017 version of the Kindle Oasis improves on last year’s model in some important and welcome ways: It’s larger than its predecessor: 6.3 x 5.6 x 0.13-0.33 inches, and 6.8 ounces. But it also feels sturdier, more premium. Like the earlier Oasis, the new Oasis has a 300-ppi display.
Furthermore, the new Oasis is waterproof. Indeed, it’s comparable to the Waterfi-treated Kindle Paperwhite, with an IPX8 rating.
Another big plus is the Kindle Oasis’ support for audiobooks—as long as its via Amazon’s Audible service. Yes, that means third-party audio books, music, and podcasts are off limits, but still, we appreciate the flexibility that the Audible support allows. (Read our full review.)
Front lighting, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth controls are easy to find. It’s also easy to customize the font type and size for an optimized reading experience. Add that the wealth of content that Amazon’s Kindle line excels at, and you’re looking at the epitome of a luxury product.