Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite may be the company’s most popular e-book reader, but it’s not their most luxurious E-Ink device. For the past few years, that accolade belonged to the Kindle Oasis. When first released in 2016, the Kindle Oasis boasted the same six-inch 300 PPI display as the 2015 Kindle Paperwhite, in a lighter, compact package with built-in page-turn buttons and superior front lighting. A year later, Amazon announced the second-generation Kindle Oasis. It traded the original Oasis’ svelte form factor for a heavier, waterproof aluminum case, larger seven-inch display, and the best front lighting of any e-reader.
Fast forward to 2019: Amazon has seen fit to refresh its flagship Kindle once again. Those thinking that they’d see another design mulligan in the All-New Kindle Oasis should brace themselves for disappointment. While the Oasis 3 ($279, with 32GB of storage and cellular connectivity as reviewed) does come packing a number of changes, they’re incremental at best.
What Remains the Same
If you’ve handled a second-generation Kindle Oasis, you’ll find that you’re no stranger to the third iteration of the luxury e-reader.
The dimensions of the Oasis 3’s slick, aluminum shell are the same as those of its predecessor. The page-turn buttons built into its asymmetrical bezel are just as clicky and responsive as seen in the Oasis’ last go-around. The Kindle Oasis 2, with an IPX rating of 8, was Amazon’s first waterproof e-reader. The latest version of the device scoffs at liquids with the same veracity, making it a great choice for extended bathtub reading sessions or a day by the pool.
Currently, the Oasis 3 comes with two different storage options—8GB or 32GB—and can be had with or without cellular LTE connectivity. If you do much of your reading off the grid or far from a stable Wi-Fi connection, you’ll want to invest in the higher capacity LTE-capable version of the Oasis 3. For everyone else, the 8GB version is enough to hold thousands of e-books and a Wi-Fi only configuration should prove more than adequate.
As with the other devices in Amazon’s current line up, the Oasis 3 can be used to listen to Audible content via Bluetooth And, just like every other Kindle that Amazon’s released over the past decade, users of the Oasis 3 have access to Amazon’s unrivaled selection of electronic reading content: books, magazines, manga—you name it. You can purchase this content à la carte or via all-you-can-eat monthly subscriptions.
Sadly, when the time comes to charge the Oasis 3, you’ll still be forced to do so via MicroUSB. In a device that costs as much as the Oasis 3 does, the lack of a USB-C port is almost inexcusable. USB-C hardware has proven more durable than MicroUSB ports tend to be and boast faster transfer rates than the older USB standards—a definite perk for anyone who enjoys side-loading e-books and other documents from their computer on to their Kindle.
Now, remember the incremental changes that I mentioned at the opening of this review? Let’s talk about those.
Delving into the device’s technical specifications, I found that the Oasis 3 weighs 0.2 ounces less than its predecessor did. It’s not enough of a difference in heft for you to notice. Despite this lighter weight, Amazon managed to bake a slightly larger battery into the device: 1,130 mAh versus 1,000 mAh. It’s difficult to tell whether this will translate into any additional reading time as the device can run for weeks between charges depending on your reading habits. Minor upgrades like these are definitely not worth forking over your hard-earned cash for. However, Amazon’s new display lighting technology is.
Traditionally, Amazon’s Kindle e-readers have featured front lighting, provided by an array of blue-spectrum light-producing LEDs. The illuminated display basically allows bookworms to read in bed at night. Blue spectrum light comes with a catch, however, as it’s been proven to reduce melatonin production. This can translate into less sleep for those exposed to it. The Oasis 3 puts this issue to bed (sorry) by introducing front lighting capable of varying in color temperature from white to a warm yellow right up to an intense amber. Users of the Oasis 3 can adjust the color temperature to suit their individual taste or leave it up to the e-reader’s operating system and ambient light sensor to do it for them.
While using the Oasis 3, I found that its warm front lighting was easier on my eyes than the blue light the rest of Amazon’s Kindle lineup offers. Additionally, when used at a lower intensity, the yellow hue of the Oasis 3’s display more closely simulates the experience of reading off of a piece of paper than the Oasis 2 or 2018 Kindle Paperwhite can afford. If you’re like me and have difficulties drifting off at night, being able to tweak the color temperature of your e-reader’s lighting could be enough to tempt you into buying the All-New Kindle Oasis.
Should You Buy It?
Before pulling the trigger on the purchase of an All-New Kindle Oasis, ask yourself: does a handful of minor updates justify this device’s steep price? For many people, the answer to this question is most likely ‘no.’ The Oasis 3 is, without a doubt, the best Kindle that Amazon has ever made. That said, where what’s best is only best by a slim margin, ‘good enough’ is typically good enough. The Kindle Paperwhite—our favorite e-reader— offers the same level of waterproofing as the Oasis 3, has the same display resolution and, just like its more expensive sibling, comes in 8GB and 32GB capacities. That you can enjoy a Kindle Paperwhite for nearly half the price of an All-New Kindle Oasis will likely make you happier than any number of incremental updates ever could.