The Kindle Paperwhite has been the gold standard in the e-reader market since it’s debut in 2012, and it’s still one of the best selling devices on Amazon’s website. The latest release offers a few quality of life upgrades, including waterproofing and Audible listening, but most of what makes it great has been carried over from previous builds.
It’s easy to see why the Kindle Paperwhite has been so popular, it’s easy to use, simple to setup, and is less expensive than the Kindle Oasis but more feature packed than the standard Kindle edition. The big upgrade this year is waterproofing, allowing users to take their kindle from the bath to the beach without worry. It’s been one of the most requested features from customers according to Amazon, and this is the first Kindle Paperwhite to offer it. The screen is basically the same from the previous installment, coming in at 6″, and the battery is just as amazing as ever. The one I tested was only charged once and it never died the entire week.
On the outside the Kindle Paperwhite now resembles the Kindle Oasis more than the standard Kindle. The flush-front design offers a 300ppi glare-free display, so you can read your books in the park, on the beach, or at the pool. You don’t get the dedicated page-turn buttons that you find on the Kindle Oasis, but it does bring the Audible accessibility that Amazon offers. There is also an automated light sensor that can adjust your brightness for you, so you won’t have to fiddle with settings. This is perfect if you stop reading outside and continue just before bed, no more blinding white screen just before sleepy-time.
Storage got another boost in the new model, jumping from 4GB to 8GB internally. You can go for a 32BG option if you are a power reader, but you really only need that if you aren’t deleting finished books from your device, then re-downloading books from your library when you want to read them again. If you have a ton of magazine subscriptions, or if you travel around without wi-fi and like to have a large collection of reading material on-hand, the 32GB option could come in handy but I think that is a rare occurrence. Even with the updated specs and the increased storage, this is still the thinnest and the lightest Kindle Paperwhite ever made.
The Oasis was the Kindle to get if you loved Audible, which I do and highly recommend to everyone and their kids on an almost weekly basis. Personally I have run through all of the Harry Potter books, the new Star Wars canon novels, and revisited the Lord of the Rings saga several times on my Audible account during my commutes. Now that same Audible support is on the Kindle Paperwhite and it works pretty much the same way. Just connect a Bluetooth headset and close your eyes and you’ll be transported to the book-world of your dreams. Anyone that owns both versions of a title, e-book and Audible Book, can switch formats in a click and choose to read or listen whenever they want. This syncing feature was only available on the more expensive Kindle Oasis but now the Paperwhite crew can enjoy it.
It’s interesting to compare the Kindle Oasis and the Kindle Paperwhite now, since the Oasis costs $249 and the Kindle Paperwhite costs $129. As we mentioned earlier, the Oasis has physical buttons on the side of the screen and the Paperwhite does not, and it turns out that this is actually a pretty big difference if you are excited about waterproofing.
If you have ever had your phone near the shower, or by the pool, and the screen gets water droplets on it, you probably know that the touchscreen sometimes doesn’t register your inputs too clearly. You have to wipe off the screen with a towel, or your hand, then everything goes back to normal (assuming your device is waterproof or water-resistant). This is the same for the Kindle Paperwhite. The annoying droplets won’t hurt your device, the new Paperwhite is rated IPX8. That means your device is able to withstand splashes and survive a dunking of up to two-meters in fresh water for a short amount of time. So if your Kindle Paperwhite gets wet, it’s protected, but it won’t work that well until you dry off the screen. I mention this because if you live in a warm climate, living by the beach or hitting the pool a lot, you’re screen is safe from watery splashes, but you might like the Oasis more with the dedicated buttons. The Oasis also offers a 7″ screen and has more color options like Graphite and Champagne Gold with an Aluminum back. It’s a very minor thing to mention but it depends on how much you like to read or listen to an Audible book near water.
If you’re looking to gift an e-Reader, the Paperwhite is the safest bet there is. It has the waterproofing and the Audible support that the Oasis offers, with all of the Amazon benefits that come with them. It’s also great that the Paperwhite is almost half the price as the Kindle Oasis. The only exception would be if you, or the person that you are buying for, will use this by the water a lot. When I say a lot, I mean someone that will take this in the bath several times a week, or hits the beach or the pool on a near daily basis. If this isn’t you or that person, then I would go with the Kindle Paperwhite. The Kindle line is still the best and Amazon’s domination in the market is sure to continue as the company starts to outfit more and more of its devices with customer-suggested features.
Items that we review on our site were given to us to review by the parent company, unless we state otherwise. You can find more information on our policy for reviewing products here. Slanted sometimes uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase items through those links.