We've updated this guide with reviews of Amazon's most recent Kindle e-readers and removed a number of models, which, while still on sale, are obsolete.
An Amazon Kindle provides readers with the ability to carry a library worth of books, magazines, and comics with them wherever they go. The fact that a Kindle has a display that can be read in any lighting conditions, outstanding battery life, and the ability to purchase and down books on-the-go is the icing on the cake. Unfortunately, while years of reading will have informed you of what kind of books you enjoy the most, it won’t have prepared you to pick which Kindle will serve you best—don’t fret. The bookworms at Reviewed have your back.
We’ve spent years testing Amazon’s Kindle e-readers and use them, away from work, on a regular basis. Right now, the best Kindle for most people is the All-New Kindle Paperwhite(available at Amazon for $149.99). Released in 2018, it offers a bright, crisp display, loads of storage, and can be used to read a great book downloaded from the Amazon Kindle Store or, through the use of a Bluetooth speaker or earphones, to listen to one via Amazon’s Audible service.
While the Paperwhite might be the best Kindle for most people, there are more luxurious options and more affordable ones to consider as well. To ensure that you’re making a well-informed buying decision, we’ve spent time with these devices as well.
These are the best Amazon Kindles we tested ranked, in order:
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018)
Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019)
Amazon Kindle (2019)
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While its core features and overall presentation are largely the same as its predecessor, the 2018 Kindle Paperwhite has a few new tricks up its sleeves such as a waterproof design and the ability to download Audible audio content for playback via a Bluetooth speaker or headphones. Until recently, users who wanted to enjoy both of these features would have had to invest in a Kindle Oasis—a device that cost almost twice as much as a Kindle Paperwhite. But now, Bluetooth functionality and Audible streaming have been added to all of Amazon’s current lineup of Kindle e-readers. While the Kindle Oasis might boast a superior design, a large seven-inch display, and a number of premium features which Amazon’s other e-readers lack, the 2018 Paperwhite is a well-made, capable device that will make most people happy.
If you’re familiar with past versions of Paperwhite, you’ll feel right at home with the new one. The 2018 Paperwhite is slightly thinner and weighs less than its predecessor, but not dramatically so. It comes wrapped in a soft, matte plastic case that’s comfortable to hold. Past iterations of the device shipped with a raised display bezel that acted as a trap for dust, sand and other debris. It’s been replaced with a single, matte surface that spans the whole front of the device. That the bezels are flush with the display means that swiping between pages has become easier than ever. Underneath its scratch-resistant surface, readers are treated to a crisp, 300-ppi e-ink display with front-lighting that provides 24 different levels of illumination. That’s geek-speak for you’ll be able to read books on your Paperwhite with the lights in your bedroom shut off or in the brightest sunlight without squinting.
Unlike past generations of this device, the 2018 Paperwhite is waterproof. With its IPX8 rating, owners of the 2018 Paperwhite needn’t worry about the device getting splashed poolside or dropped in the bathtub as it can be fully submerged in water for up to an hour at a time and come out of the ordeal no worse for wear. The storage options for this e-reader have been upgraded as well. Where previous iterations were limited to 4GB of internal storage, the 2018 model features a base-level of 8GB—that’s more than enough space to store thousands of Kindle ebooks. If 8GB feels too tight, you can max out your Paperwhite out with 32GB of storage.
It’s possible to buy earlier versions of the Kindle Paperwhite on Amazon, but we don’t recommend it. For the little bit of money, you’d save on buying a last generation (2015) Paperwhite, you’d be missing out on the latest models’ waterproofing, flush bezels, and twice as much storage.
I’m Seamus Bellamy. I’ve always been a voracious reader with a large library. A few years ago, my wife and I decided to invest in a nomadic lifestyle and moved into a 40-foot long motorhome, with the intention of traveling, full-time. This meant, in the name of space-saving, saying goodbye to scores of the paperback and hardcover books that we collected over the years. To feed our reading habits, we turned to using e-readers.
Over the past few years, I’ve tested and reviewed dozens of e-readers from a wide range of companies. I want to channel my passion for these devices into helping you find the perfect Kindle for the bookworm in your life—especially if that bookworm is you!
There’s only one way to test an e-reader like an Amazon Kindle: you’ve got to read a lot of books.
Over the years, we’ve spent months of quality time with Kindle e-readers, absorbed in good books for hours at a time. We used the Kindles in this guide in direct sunlight, with the lights out in bed, and during the day in well-lit rooms to ensure that the ebooks we were devouring were legible no matter the conditions.
Where waterproofing was claimed, waterproofing was tested: We took waterproof Kindles into hot tubs, pools, and, for the sake of consistency, submerged them in a sink full of water for 45 minutes. Finally, we tested battery life. As everyone’s reading habits and preference for page illumination differ, we don’t feel comfortable in quoting you exact figures on how long a Kindle will last between charges. We can tell you, however, that all of the devices in this roundup can go for a week or more before you’ll need to juice its battery up again.
What You Should Know About Kindles
Why Buy a Kindle When I Already Own a Tablet?
Tablets are a great choice for consuming content from services like Facebook, Twitter, and sites like USA Today or Reviewed. By installing Amazon’s free Kindle and Audible apps, you can even download ebooks and audiobooks to your tablet, just like you would on a Kindle. Given that a tablet can also be used to watch movies, stream music, chat with friends via a service like Signal or be used to plow through email and other productivity tasks, investing in a one-trick pony like a Kindle might feel like a waste of money to you. We’d argue, however, that the fact that a Kindle is designed to focus on one task—letting you read or listen to a good book—is what, for bookworms, makes it such a sound investment.
An Amazon Kindle is smaller and lighter than most tablets, making them easier to hold during hours-long reading sessions. As Kindles don’t come packing dozens of apps, designed to fracture your concentration with notifications and updates, you’ll find that using one allows you to become immersed in the books you love, in a way that a tablet simply can’t afford.
A tablet’s beautiful high-resolution display might be gorgeous for streaming Netflix with—provided you’re indoors. If you want to take the show outside, you’ll discover that your display is hard to enjoy in direct sunlight. Not so on a Kindle with its E-Ink display. No matter the lighting conditions, you’ll be able to read without difficulty. That studies have shown that blue spectrum light, like that produced by the display of a tablet or laptop, can disrupt your body’s melatonin production, makes reading on a tablet before bed, less than desirable. Amazon’s most recent Kindle, the All-New Kindle Oasis, features a display with adjustable color temperature; a feature that puts the fear of nighttime reading to bed.
Finally, there’s battery life: even with moderate use, a tablet-like an iPad needs to be charged every couple of days. A Kindle, with its low-powered display and front lighting, processor, sips power by comparison. Depending on your reading habits, you may be able to go for weeks at a time between charges.
Subscription Options: What is Kindle Unlimited?
Kindle Unlimited is a relatively new subscription service offered by Amazon that is sort of like the Apple Music of reading material. For a subscription fee, users receive instantaneous access to a huge, ever-expanding library of books, audiobooks, and magazines.
Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited both function in the same basic way: as subscription-based services that offer users access to books and periodicals. That said, it's worth understanding their differences.
Prime Reading is available to anyone with an active Amazon Prime subscription. It's not limited to Amazon Kindles and can be accessed on any device that supports Amazon’s Kindle app. This includes iPhones, Android phones, iPads, and Android tablets. Reading materials can be "checked out" of the Prime Reading library, but users are limited to 10 publications at once. Amazon claims that the Prime Reading library contains over 1,000 books and magazines.
Kindle Unlimited is a little different. It requires a monthly subscription. So, if you have an Amazon Prime account and want to access Kindle Unlimited, you’ll have to fork over an additional monthly fee for the privilege. For voracious readers, it could be a smart investment. While you’re only allowed to have 10 books downloaded from the service at any one time, Kindle Unlimited users have an incredible one million different books to choose from—that’s enough reading material to last a lifetime.
Which Kindles are Waterproof?
Right now, the only Kindles that are waterproof are the 2017 and 2019 editions of the Kindle Oasis and the 2018 Kindle Paperwhite. All three have an IPX8 water resistance rating, which means they can be submerged in up to 2 meters (about 6.5 feet) of water for an hour at a time.
You should know, however, being waterproof doesn’t make your Kindle corrosion-proof. If you plan on using your Kindle in a saltwater pool or at the beach, try to avoid getting it wet as the salt can eat away at the device’s USB port and in the case of the Kindle Oasis, its aluminum body. If your device is exposed to saltwater, don’t panic: rinse it off as soon as you can with fresh water and you’re good to go.
Other Amazon Kindles We Tested
Kindle Oasis (2019, 32 GB)
With its waterproof, aluminum body, physical page turn buttons, and glass display, the All-New Kindle Oasis’ form and features feel luxurious when compared against the dependable functionality of a Kindle Paperwhite. As with the last two generations of this device, the 2019 Oasis’ wedge-like design and page-turn buttons make one-handed reading super easy.
The latest iteration of the Oasis brings readers a minor reduction in weight and a small increase in battery capacity over previous iterations of the device. These changes are slight enough that users of the last generation of the device likely won't notice. More significant, is the introduction of front lighting with varying color temperature on this flagship e-reader. Text read on the Oasis can be lit up with the traditional bright, blue spectrum light that Kindle users have become accustomed to, or with warmer, yellow hues that in testing, proved easier on our eyes. As blue-spectrum light can stymy melatonin production, this upgrade is a huge win for anyone that enjoys reading before they nod off for the night. The illumination level of the Oasis’ 12 LEDs can automatically change thanks to a built-in ambient light sensor, which makes this luxury buy feel all the more decadent. You won’t find better e-reader lighting, anywhere. Period. Additionally, if you love listening to podcasts and audiobooks, the Oasis has your back. As with the other Kindles in Amazon’s current lineup, it allows users, via a pair of Bluetooth headphones or a wireless speaker, to listen to content from Audible.
You’ve noticed that we use the word luxury in this review—as you may have guessed, the price of All-New Kindle Oasis is steep. In fact, it can cost almost twice as much as a current-generation Kindle Paperwhite. Given that the Paperwhite performs almost as well and comes packing many of the same features as the Oasis, it’s hard to recommend this device to anyone but the staunchest of ebook aficionados.
It’s worth noting that Amazon’s still selling the 2017 Kindle Oasis. Buying one might save you a few bucks, but we don’t feel that it’s worth it. Being able to control the temperature of your e-reader’s front-lighting is a very desirable upgrade that the last version of the Oasis can’t match. If price is a concern, consider investing in a Kindle Paperwhite, instead.
The latest version of Amazon’s base-model Kindle comes with a number of significant upgrades over its previous incarnations. That it now comes packing display lighting is a welcome feature. That this lighting comes from four adjustable LEDs—not so much.
While you’ll be able to see your Kindle’s display in a dark environment, the illumination provided by the four LEDs isn’t consistent across the whole of the device’s display. We found that, over time, this can lead to eye strain. By contrast, our favorite Kindle for most people, the Kindle Paperwhite, comes packing five LEDs. One additional light source might not seem like it would make a huge difference to readability, but it does. The Paperwhite’s lighting is more even resulting in a far more pleasant reading experience.
While we’re on the topic of readability, let’s talk about the Kindle’s display. At 167ppi, it offers almost half the display resolution of the 2018 Kindle Paperwhite or 2019 Kindle Oasis. Text is readable, but it’s far from crisp, which again, lends itself to eye strain. For a device that’s primarily designed to allow users to consume the written word, this is a serious shortcoming. Finally, and this will be our last display-related gripe, the Kindle’s raised bezels make swiping between pages more difficult and act as a collection point for dust, sand and other debris.
The 2019 Kindle comes up lacking in other areas, as well. It’s the only Kindle that lacks waterproofing. Additionally, it only comes in a 4GB capacity. This latter point shouldn’t be a big deal for most people. With 4GB, there is enough space to store hundreds, if not thousands of ebooks.
Despite all of this, it’s still a capable e-reader that will allow you to read on the go no matter the lighting conditions. That said, unless your budget is severely restricted, we don’t recommend it. As the 2018 Kindle Paperwhite, which offers a number of desirable upgrades can be had for a few dollars more, we’d recommend saving your money until you can buy one.
It should go without saying that, while older versions of the base level Kindle can still be purchased new from Amazon, you should likely avoid those, too.
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.