At some point in the last decade, reading stopped being an activity I did outside of my home. I used to read books at the park, on public transport, and even at the pub. These days, if I’m out-and-about and need to pass the time, you’ll probably find me with my nose buried in my phone. Cracking open a book, I’m sad to say, is a ritual reserved for my sofa. Unsurprisingly, I’m reading less—a lot less. And I’m not proud of it.
The all-new Amazon Kindle—available on Amazon starting today—is the rare sort of device that I didn’t know I needed until I used it. We received a loan unit (along with one of Amazon's official Kindle covers) last week, and like any good book, I've had a hard time putting it down.
The Kindle’s stripped-down approach is, frankly, refreshing: to put the world of literature at your fingertips without the buzz, buzz, buzzing of texts, emails, and breaking news. The newest model incorporates some of the features found in higher-end versions of the device, making it a smart investment for readers who may have been on the fence about the Kindle in the past.
What’s new about the new Kindle?
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.
Along with the device itself, Amazon included their official cover in their review kit. I didn't spend much time testing the cover, so I can't speak to its durability and overall quality. That said, the official Kindle covers are only $30 on Amazon, and every Kindle-owning co-worker I spoke to about the covers seems to swear by them.
Should I get the new Kindle or the Kindle Paperwhite?
While there’s much to love about the Kindle Oasis, Amazon’s most lavish high-end e-reader, I’d like to focus on how the all-new Kindle stacks up against the newest Kindle Paperwhite. My reasoning is simple: These are the two Kindles that I imagine most folks are going to ultimately choose between, and the Kindle Paperwhite is our favorite Kindle to date.
Now that the new entry-level Kindle also offers an illuminated display (albeit with fewer LEDs), the mid-level Kindle 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.
For the time being, lets set aside display resolution and battery life; the Paperwhite’s higher-resolution display isn’t that much better than the standard Kindle’s display chops, and readers of both Kindles will typically enjoy several weeks of battery life, whether it’s four weeks or six.
The choice, then, ultimately comes down to two things: storage capacity and water resistance. The all-new, entry-level Kindle is only available with 4GB of storage. The Paperwhite, on the other hand, is available in 8GB and 32GB models. Additionally, while the new base model Kindle is more affordable than the Paperwhite, it’s also probably not going to survive an accidental dump in the pool.
If higher storage capacity and water resistance are must-have features for you, we recommend spending a little more money on the Kindle Paperwhite—our current pick for the best Kindle you can buy. Right now, you can buy the Kindle Paperwhite on sale starting at just $130.
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. Starting today, you can buy the all-new Kindle on Amazon starting at around $90.
Note: The $90 version of the Kindle is discounted because it comes with "Special Offers," which is basically Amazon's way of describing advertisements that appear on your Kindle's default lock screen. We recommend spending $20 more for the version without ads, but if you're strapped for cash at the moment, you can always pick up the cheaper model and pay to get rid of the ads at a later date.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.