Review: The All-new Kindle Oasis upgrades to warmer light and lighter weight
- 25 September, 2019 20:30
The very name of Amazon's “All-new Kindle Oasis” would seem to herald a radical overhaul. Thankfully, the changes to Amazon’s top-shelf e-reader are far less dramatic. Beyond the introduction of a new color-adjustable front light that can warm or cool the screen’s illumination, the All-new Kindle Oasis remains strikingly similar to its predecessor. And that’s good news. It's still the best e-reading experience you can buy.
The all-new Kindle Oasis no impulse purchase, though. The base level device, which includes 8GB of storage and Wi-Fi connectivity, starts at $250 if you’re willing to tolerate “special offers”—i.e. advertisements—displayed on your lock screen. Prices rise steadily from there. That same unit is available without ads for $270. A 32GB model with Wi-Fi runs $280 with special offers and $300 without. Finally, a 32GB model that adds free cellular connectivity and includes special offers costs $350. Three months of Kindle Unlimited are included for free with all of these; you'll be charged $10 a month if you choose to keep it thereafter.
This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best Kindle devices. Go there for information on other Kindle products and how we tested them.
All-new Kindle Oasis specs, features, price
The All-new Kindle Oasis is a luxury e-reader, which shows in the generous feature list:
Display: 7-inch (diagonal width) with E Ink Carta and 25 LED front lights, 300 ppi, 16-level grayscale
Dimensions: 6.3 x 5.6 x 0.13-0.33 inches
Weight: 6.6 ounces
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and 4G LTE where available in the US
Battery life: Up to six weeks on a single charge
The 2017 Kindle Oasis nailed the luxury feel of a premium product, so it’s no surprise that the All-new Kindle leaves most of its design elements intact. The dimensions are identical, and the weight nearly so. Amazon removed the rear-housing magnets that attached the previous model’s cases, dropping the weight from 6.8 to 6.6 ounces. The aluminum backplate (available in Graphite or Champagne Gold), glossy black bezel, and glare-free glass are all still here.
Like the previous Oasis, this new version has an IPX8 rating, meaning it can withstand submersion in up to two meters of water for an hour at a time. It’s hard to imagine a reading scenario that would require that kind of aquatic abuse, but it should put at ease users who like to read in the bathtub or on the beach.
The new lighting feature adds a “warmth” slider under the brightness slider in the settings menu. By dragging a finger left to right you can adjust the color tone incrementally from cool to warm to better suit day or night reading. You can also schedule the warmth level to change automatically with sunrise and sunset, a feature that will be familiar to anyone who has used Apple’s Night Shift to control the color of their Mac’s display.
The other most notable change is that with the magnets gone, the Oasis now snaps into its cover like other Kindles. So, be prepared to tack the cost of a new cover onto the total purchase price. I was provided the Charcoal Black water-safe fabric cover, available for $40 on Amazon and also offered in Punch Red and Marine Blue. A Kindle Oasis Premium Leather cover is available for $65, and a Kindle Oasis Leather cover is $50 in either Black or Merlot.
The All-new Kindle Oasis comes in 8GB and 32GB models. Which one is best for you depends largely on whether your reading habits lean more toward e-books or storage-sucking audiobooks. The latter will also deplete the Oasis’ battery faster, which Amazon says can last up to six weeks on a single charge under the most austere circumstances: reading only a half-hour per day with wireless and Bluetooth turned off and the light setting at 13 (out of 24). Your mileage will vary.
While Amazon has diligently made regular updates to its Kindle devices, the evolution of the e-reader’s software has been much slower. That means if you’ve owned any Kindle in the last few years you won’t have any particular problem using the new Oasis right out of the box. Devices settings, Goodreads, and the book store are all parked where you’d expect them, in the top toolbar along with the Home and Back buttons.
Text on the 300ppi display of the All-new Kindle Oasis is noticeably crisper than on either my 8th-generation or All-new Kindle, both of which top out at 167 ppi. It’s the closest I’ve seen an e-reader come to the experience of reading a printed text on paper. Of course, you can customize the font, type size, line spacing, page margins, and more to your liking.
Now that even the entry-level Kindle includes front lighting, the feature doesn’t seem so novel anymore, but it’s still welcome inclusion for nocturnal readers. As with the warmth lighting, you can adjust it manually in the settings menu. I found it easier, though, to leave it to the device’s built-in light sensor to adjust it automatically based on the room’s ambient light. I usually found its level selection just right.
Reading on the Oasis remains a luxurious affair. I’ve always found it a little awkward to hold the basic Kindle or Kindle Paperwhite. Holding with thumbs on their bezels inevitably results in errant page swipes, so I typically resort to cupping those devices by the edges. That solves the page-turning issue but makes my hands fatigue faster. The Oasis’ battery bump makes the perfect handle for cradling the device comfortably in one hand. From there you can easily manage the page-turn buttons with your thumb, which I find much more precise than finger-swiping the touchscreen. Its feather-light weight allowed me to read for hours without any physical discomfort.
I’m not bathtub reader, but in the interest of stress-testing the Oasis’ waterproof feature I submerged it in a bowl of water. Other than a few page turns, no doubt from the pressure of the water on the touchscreen, the device showed no signs of malfunctioning. Again, odds are the Oasis won’t be subjected to that level of water exposure during real-world reading, but it can handle a few drops of rain or a splash in the pool.
The All-new Oasis remains the ultimate Kindle. Its level of luxury is unparalleled in the e-reader category, and certainly no other reading device can match the range of content a Kindle can provide. Understandably, even the base-level Oasis won’t fit within everyone’s budget. For those folks, the scaled-down Kindle Paperwhite or All-new Kindle will let you take advantage of all the digital content Amazon has to offer at a fraction of the price.