The Best Kindles of 2019

By Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo and Michael Desjardin, Updated April 12, 2019

If you're tired of lugging around those heavy hardcover books, you should consider buying a Kindle. After testing all of the past and current Kindles—including the Kindle Oasis—our recommendation for most people is the newest Kindle Paperwhite (2018) (available at Amazon for $149.99). Not only does a Kindle give you thousands of books at your disposal, the convenience factor is just plain hard to beat.

While all Kindles might seem the same at a glance, there are some key differences between each model that every prospective shopper should know about. For example, what type of display is best-suited for your reading habits? Do you need to spring for a Kindle that offers waterproofing?

If you're not sure where to begin, fear not: we did the work for you and went hands-on with every Kindle on the market right now. From budget options to the positively premium, there's something for everyone here.

Here are all of the Amazon Kindles we've tested, ranked in order:

  1. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018)

  2. Amazon Kindle (2019)

  3. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015)

  4. Amazon Kindle Oasis

  5. Amazon Kindle Voyage

  6. Amazon Kindle (2016)

— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 10th Generation 2018 Best Overall
Credit: Reviewed / Michael Roorda

The 2018 Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is our pick for the overall best Kindle you can buy.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018)

Product Image - Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018)
  • Editors' Choice

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018)

Best Overall

The 10th Generation Kindle Paperwhite is the latest version of Amazon’s most popular Kindle as well as our pick for the overall best. While its core features and overall presentation are largely the same as its predecessor, this Paperwhite has a few tricks up its sleeve: namely a waterproof design and Audible functionality.

In the past, users who wanted to enjoy these features would have to sign up for the Kindle Oasis—an e-reader we love, but one whose price tag is nearly double that of the Paperwhite. And although the Oasis is still the more premium of the two, people who passed on the Paperwhite in the past ought to take a second look at the most recent iteration.

The newest Paperwhite features a 6-inch, 300-ppi e-ink display with a built-in light and 24 levels of brightness, which I found to be robust enough for even the brightest, sunniest settings. As for battery life, I couldn’t be happier: I’ve been using the Paperwhite for well over a week and it’s still sitting comfortably at 47%.

If you’re familiar with the last Paperwhite’s physical design, you’ll feel right at home with the new one—the 10th generation Paperwhite is slightly thinner and weighs less than its predecessor, but not dramatically so. The new Paperwhite is wrapped in a soft, matte plastic, and its display feels sturdy enough to protect against minor mishaps and simple scratches.

The most exciting feature to grace the new-and-improved Paperwhite is its IPX8-rated waterproofing, which adds a whole new dimension of portability to what was already a game-changing device for personal leisure. At long last, one of the most affordable Kindles is ready to make its poolside debut.

In addition, the Kindle Paperwhite is Audible-ready—at the turn of a page, users can switch from e-book to audiobook, provided they have an Audible account. Unfortunately, since the Kindle Paperwhite doesn’t have a headphone jack or external speakers, you’ll need to connect with Bluetooth headphones or a Bluetooth speaker in order to take advantage of this feature.

If you’ve used a Kindle in the past, the experience will be a familiar one. Searching for and downloading reading material couldn’t be simpler, and although the software sometimes feels as limited as the Paperwhite’s modest hardware, the sluggish navigation is quite easy to get used to.

The base storage option has increased, too: The previous Paperwhite was limited to 4GB of internal storage, but the 2018 model features a base-level of 8GB. Plus, if you’re still hurting for more storage, Amazon is also offering a pricier 32GB version of the new Paperwhite.

The Kindle Paperwhite was already our pick for the best overall Kindle before the addition of waterproofing and Audible support. Now that these features have made their way into this price bracket, the Paperwhite’s value has grown by leaps and bounds. It’s everything we loved about the old model—plus waterproofing, Audible, and more storage.

How We Tested

You might think that our Kindle testing procedures consist mostly of relaxing moments spent reading in a big, comfy chair—and you would be absolutely correct.

But once we’re able to pry ourselves away from the comfort of a quiet room, we take our Kindles out-and-about for critical, real-world testing. After all, we want to get an idea of how well these devices work in the often-harsh light of day, or how well they handle when you’re crammed into a crowded train. If the Kindle in question offers waterproofing, we put it to the test, too.

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.

As one of the benefits of an Amazon Prime membership. Prime Reading is available to anyone with an active Amazon Prime subscription. It's also not limited to Amazon Kindles and can be accessed on pretty much any device that supports the Prime Reading 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 at once. Amazon claims that the Prime Reading library contains over 1,000 books and magazines.

Kindle Unlimited, on the other hand, is a service designed specifically with Kindle users (and users of the Kindle app) in mind. And while it's similar to Prime Reading in that users can only check out 10 books at once, the library of reading options is well over one million.

Kindle Unlimited also falls under its own subscription plan, so even if you have an Amazon Prime account already, you'll still need to pay a fee for access to Kindle Unlimited.

Which Kindles are waterproof?

Right now, the only Kindles that offer waterproof protection are the Kindle Oasis and the new Kindle Paperwhite (2018). Both fall under the IPX8 water resistance rating and can protect against up to two meters of submersion for up to an hour.

A word of caution from our Update Editor, however: Both the Kindle Oasis and the newer Kindle Paperwhite offer fresh water protection, but if your device is splashed or submerged in salt water (hello, ocean!), you'll need to wash it off with fresh, non-salty water afterwards to avoid damage to the USB port.

Other Amazon Kindles We Tested

Amazon Kindle (2019)

Product Image - Kindle (10th Generation, 2019)

Amazon Kindle (2019)

Amazon’s newest Kindle is an updated version of the tried-and-true, entry-level model. In other words, this is the Kindle to buy if you’re looking for the essential Kindle features and none of the bells and whistles.

That said, this new, updated Kindle does offer a handful of features that were absent in previous generations. The biggest upgrade comes in the form of four adjustable, front-facing LED lights. While previous entry-level Kindles left their users in the dark, the 10th generation Kindle is all about illumination. The lights themselves don’t just operate on a binary switch, either—there are 24 levels of brightness to choose from.

Amazon also reportedly made changes to the Kindle’s e-ink display and capacitive touch technology, though these changes might not be apparent to new users. It's hard for me to say definitively if e-ink text looks crisper on this Kindle than it does on its predecessor, or if the touch controls feel tighter, but I can definitively say that I had no qualms with either.

Now that the new entry-level Kindle, like the Papewhite, offers an illuminated display (albeit with fewer LEDs), the Paperwhite features one less advantage over its more affordable counterpart. Still, the Paperwhite—which retails for roughly $30-$50 more than the entry-level Kindle—justifies its increased cost by including a higher display resolution (300 ppi versus the entry-level Kindle’s 167 ppi), water-resistant hardware, higher-capacity storage options, and a battery that Amazon claims will last a few weeks longer than the one powering the base-level Kindle. There’s also a 32GB, cellular-connected version of the Kindle Paperwhite.

If higher storage capacity and water resistance are must-have features for you, we recommend spending a little more money on the Kindle Paperwhite. If you don't need 8GB or more of storage and don't see yourself needing a water-resistant e-reader, there's never been a better time to invest in the entry-level Kindle.

Credit: / Jackson Ruckar

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015)

Product Image - Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015)

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015)

Once upon a time, the 2015 Amazon Kindle Paperwhite was our favorite Kindle. It remained in that spot until the newer, aforementioned 2018 version of the Paperwhite knocked it out of first place. Make no mistake, however: The older generation is still a wonderful device.

The 2015 Paperwhite doesn't feature Audible functionality and isn't waterproof, but the tough-as-nails build quality, 300-ppi display, and thin profile make it a solid choice for folks who don't need that many bells and whistles on their e-reader to walk away from the deal happy.

Still, having evaluated both the 2015 and 2018 versions of the Kindle Paperwhite, there's no denying that the newer version is better-suited for most people. As of now, the older of the two Paperwhites is listed on Amazon for roughly the same price as the newer model. We expect that price to eventually drop, and we don't recommend opting for the older model unless it begins selling for significantly less than the 2018 Paperwhite.

Amazon Kindle Oasis

Product Image - Amazon Kindle Oasis
  • Best of Year 2017

Amazon Kindle Oasis

With its all-metal body, physical page turn buttons, and narrow bezels, the high-end Kindle Oasis is a thing of beauty. The wedge-like design makes one-handed reading super easy, which is perfect for commuters, and the backlight automatically changes depending on the ambient light. It also works with Audible books, but you can only listen to them with Bluetooth headphones or a speaker, as there's no headphone jack.

While the Oasis has a lot going for it, it'll burn a hole in your wallet. So, unless you're working with a flexible budget, the price tag is a tough pill to swallow. I'd also like to see a built-in speaker or a headphone jack in the next iteration. Water-resistances is great if you spill coffee on it (see below), but if I'm going to pay a premium I don't want to be forced to buy Bluetooth earbuds, too.

Credit: / Jackson Ruckar

Did I mention it's waterproof?

Amazon Kindle Voyage

Product Image - Amazon Kindle Voyage

Amazon Kindle Voyage

The Kindle Voyage is the most comfortable e-reader I've ever held. The tapered design really helps with the weight distribution and the soft plastic body is nice to the touch. Also, I love that the circular power button is located at the rear of the device. This may seem like a really small change, but it makes a huge difference, as it's easier to turn the device on and off while holding it in one hand.

My major gripe is with the Kindle Voyage's price tag. Unlike the Oasis, the Voyage isn't waterproof nor does it work with Audible books, and it's pretty damn expensive to be missing those things. I guess it all boils down to your personal financial situation—if you've got the dough for it and aren't clumsy, the Voyage is a good purchase.

Amazon Kindle (2016)

Product Image - Amazon Kindle (2016)

Amazon Kindle (2016)

If you're looking for a barebones e-reader, you can't do much better than the classic Kindle. Not only is it affordable, it makes a great gift for someone who's new to e-readers. Soon it'll support Audible's audiobooks too, which is a nice perk. However, as far as features go, it's about as basic as a Pumpkin Spice Latte and a pair of UGG boots.

It's not waterproof like the Oasis and there's no adjustable backlight. In fact, there's no built-in light at all, so you'll be reliant on ambient light—like, you know, a book. The monochrome e-ink display is fine in a pinch, but it's only 167 ppi, meaning it's not as sharp as the Paperwhite or Voyage. But if you're looking for an entry-level e-reader, this is your best bet.

More Articles You Might Enjoy:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below