When it comes to the Kindle e-reader, the decision often isn’t whether to buy one, but which one to buy. Amazon currently offers three models: the All-new Kindle, All-new Kindle Paperwhite, and All-new Kindle Oasis. As their names make clear, they’ve all been recently updated with new and improved features.
In some ways, they are more similar than ever. Thanks to the addition of a front-lit display to the entry-level Kindle, all three of Amazon’s e-readers can be read comfortably in any light. All three can be used with a Kindle Unlimited or Audible subscription.
There are sometimes subtle but significant differences between the base Kindle, Paperwhite and Oasis, however, not least of which is cost, starting at $90 for an All-new Kindle, $130 for the Kindle Paperwhite, and $250 for a Kindle Oasis. Here’s a breakdown of the features you can expect to gain with a bigger investment, or to trade off for a lower price.
This story is part of our ongoing roundup of the best Kindle e-readers. Go there for buying advice and reviews of all Kindle versions.
The Kindle features that matter
Display: How big and bright you want your display
The display is an expensive component, and you'll get what you pay for. All three Kindles use E Ink Carta display technology, which attempts to mimic the look of a printed page.
The differences are in resolution and brightness. The All-new Kindle boasts a 6-inch, 167 ppi (pixels per inch), 4-LED display. The Kindle Paperwhite also has a 6-inch display but increases the brightness with 5 LEDs, and increases the resolution to 300 ppi. The Kindle Oasis has a 7-inch display with a 300-ppi resolution and a whopping 25 LEDs, whose shade can be adjusted from white light to a warm amber.
Both the Paperwhite and Oasis displays are flush with the front of the device, while the All-new Kindle’s display is slightly recessed from the bezels.
Storage: How many books and audiobooks a Kindle can hold
Because the Kindle’s ebook format is very lightweight, you can store a lot of books even on the lowest-end e-reader. However, if you start to delve into audiobooks, you’ll need more capacity. The All-new Kindle has 4GB of storage, which is still plenty for about 3,000 books, per Amazon. The Paperwhite and the Oasis each offer a choice of 8GB of storage, which can hold “thousands of books and over 35 audiobooks,” per Amazon; or 32GB of storage, which could store a lot more audiobooks.
Battery: Plenty to go around
You get more battery for the buck with the higher-priced Kindles, but they all last a long time. Amazon says the All-new Kindle gets four weeks of life from a full battery charge. The Paperwhite and Oasis can each last up to six weeks on a full charge.
Connectivity: Wi-Fi or Cellular
The All-new Kindle is Wi-Fi only. Both the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Oasis are available in Wi-Fi-only models as well as Wi-Fi plus free cellular connectivity models for additional cost.
Water resistance: Not all models
The All-new Kindle is not water-resistant. The Paperwhite and Oasis are IPX8-rated to withstand submersion in two meters of water for up to an hour at a time.
Cases: Many ways to protect your Kindle
Cases or covers are recommended to protect your Kindle. Because all three models have been redesigned, they won’t fit into previous-generation cases. Amazon offers cloth case covers for the All-new Kindle in four colors, all $30: Sandstone White, Charcoal, Cobalt Blue, and Punch Red.
For the All-new Paperwhite, it offers a basic water-resistant fabric cover in multiple colors including Onyx Black for $30, a mid-priced leather cover for $40 in Onyx Black and other colors, and a premium leather cover for $60.
The All-new Kindle Oasis cover options include a $40 water-safe fabric cover available in Charcoal Black, Punch Red and Marine Blue; a $50 leather cover in Merlot or Black; and a premium leather cover for $65.
Which is the best Kindle?
Which Kindle is best for you? If you're strapped for cash, the All-new Kindle will do the job. If you can stretch to the All-new Kindle Paperwhite, we still feel that's the best balance of price and features. And if you or someone you know deserves the very best, the Kindle Oasis is luxury all the way.