Amazon offers a complete range of Kindle ebook readers, each boasting its own advantages and disadvantages. So what’s the difference between the standard Amazon Kindle and the Paperwhite, Voyage and all-new Oasis models? And which Kindle is best for your reading habits?
*** Note : £1 = $1.33 (correct at time of post)
Amazon refreshes its Kindle family quite often, usually every year or so, to add new features and replace older models. For instance, the most affordable £60 base model was updated in 2017 with a fresh new design and touchscreen functionality; check out our full Kindle review for more info.
At the other end of the Kindle line-up, Amazon also released an updated verion of the Kindle Oasis, the most premium eReader it offers. This ‘all new’ Oasis costs from £229 (just like the original model), yet offers full waterproofing, a gorgeous display and some great bonus features. Have a gander at our Kindle Oasis 2017 review for a closer look.
While the standard Kindle will certainly suffice for everyday reading, Amazon offers a full family of devices to suit different users. Between the base model and the premium-priced Oasis, you’ll also find the Kindle Paperwhite, as well as the Voyage. Like the Oasis, these models boast sharper screens and more advanced features such as screen backlighting, when compared with the normal eReader.
So which Kindle is best for you, and what actually is the difference between these different ebook readers? Here’s our full comparison review of the existing models, to help you decide which one to buy. And of course, you can expect new Kindle devices to emerge in 2018.
If you have any other questions about Amazon’s Kindle devices, the Kindle app and all of the features found on these eReaders, check out our complete guide to Amazon Kindle for answers.
Here’s a quick and easy comparison of the different Kindles’ specs, so you can see what the difference is between the standard Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Voyage and Kindle Oasis.
|Kindle||Kindle||Kindle Paperwhite||Kindle Voyage||Kindle Oasis (2017)|
|Weight||161g||205g||180g||194g (minus cover)|
|Physical page buttons?||No||No||Yes||Yes|
There are quite obvious physical differences between the four different Kindle models, although they all sport a similar size of screen.
While the standard Kindle used to be quite a chunky monkey in its original form, the updated model now available sports a thinner 9.1mm frame. This weighs just 161g, to make it pleasingly easy on your biceps. You can grab it in white and black and it’s not a bad looking gadget, considering the low asking price. Those pleasingly curved edges and corners make it quite comfortable to clutch as well.
The Kindle Paperwhite and Voyage models are actually heavier than the base version, as they have more complicated tech packed inside. The Oasis is also heavier, with a very different design to the others. In this case the side you hold is weighted, which delivers a comfortable, well-balanced grip. Especially handy for those extended reading sessions.
Both the Voyage and Oasis rock physical side buttons for turning pages, while the standard model and the Paperwhite use touchscreen controls.
One of the biggest differences between the Oasis and the rest of Amazon’s eReaders is the water resistant design. The head of the family can take a dunking in the bath with no ill effects, while you’ll need to keep the other Kindles dry at all times.
All of these Kindles offer official covers and cases to keep them safe, although the Oasis’ leather cover is by far the snazziest. This looks great and snaps onto the back magnetically; they bind together nicely and the cover hibernates the device when closed up. Note however that the ‘all new’ Oasis launched in 2017 doesn’t offer the same charging cover feature as the original Oasis. In other words, there’s no secondary battery inside of the cover.
All of the Kindles here with the exception of the Oasis sport a 6-inch display, which is a perfectly good size for reading ebooks. Of course, if you’re hoping to browse some graphical novels, you’re better off with the larger 7-inch screen of the Oasis.
You can change the font size on any of these devices thankfully, to suit your vision. And as they’re e-ink screens with an anti-glare surfacing, they’re easy on the eye no matter where you choose to read.
The most basic Kindle model has a lower resolution screen that packs in 167 pixels-per-inch. In comparison, the other Kindles here have a boosted resolution of 300 pixels-per-inch. That makes for sharper text and pictures, which is especially good news if you prefer tiny fonts or want to read comics on your ebook device.
Another problem with that basic Kindle is the lack of backlighting. The other Kindles here all have backlit displays so you can read in the dark. With the standard ebook reader, you’ll need some kind of torch or external light for night time sessions.
For the Oasis’ panel, Amazon added more LED backlights for a more uniform panel. As a result, you don’t get any light or dark patches even when the backlight is boosted to maximum. You’ll also find an adaptive light sensor on the Voyage and Oasis, so the screen brightness will automatically raise or lower depending on the environmental conditions. This helps to prevent battery wastage, while ensuring a comfortable read.
Note however that we found the Oasis’ backlighting occasionally got a little confused and refused to come on, even at night. We had to reboot the device when this happened to get it working again.
Every Kindle here except for the most basic £60 model has the option of built-in 3G support, which allows you to download books even when you’re not connected to WiFi. This feature costs a bit extra, although downloading books via 3G is completely free once you’ve paid that initial premium. Of course, finding free WiFi is pretty easy these days, so it’s not a necessary extra.
All four Amazon Kindles sport the same updated interface and features. From the home page you see your most recent reads as well as the rest of your ebook library, plus book recommendations in case you’re in need of inspiration. Kindles now give you direct access to the GoodReads website too, where you can read reviews of any books you might like to try. You can then jump straight into the Kindle Store to purchase and download whatever you like.
All of the typical Kindle features such as X-Ray and Kindle for Kids are present and correct on all four of these devices. When you’re consuming a book you can check your progress, add a bookmark or note, share your reading session and plenty more besides. Searching for key terms is also dead simple, as is grabbing a dictionary definition.
You also get Bluetooth support for listening to Audible audiobooks with every Kindle model, as well as the VoiceView Screen Reader feature which delivers full book dictation through a wireless speaker or headphones.
Kindle battery life has sadly plummeted in recent times, mostly thanks to that backlighting screen tech. This means that while the standard Kindle still gives you a full month or so of regular use per charge, the other models offer mere days of reading joy before they need a boost.
All of these Kindles can be used to download and read Amazon’s comprehensive catalogue of ebooks on the Kindle Store. There are no issues with compatibility.
Amazon Prime members now get special access to a growing catalogue of free books, through the Prime Reading service. This even includes several popular magazines, as well as graphic novels. Check out our pick of the best Prime Reading books for a glimpse of the available titles.
You can also listen to your Audible audiobooks, as long as you have a pair of headphones or a speaker connected to your Kindle via Bluetooth.
Can I use an app instead?
If you have a smartphone or a tablet, or even a laptop, you can use these devices to read eBooks too. All you need to download the Amazon Kindle app and you’re good to go.
Of course, bear in mind that a Kindle has several advantages over a phone or tablet when it comes to reading books on the move. This is especially true if you spend a lot of time with your nose buried in a novel.
For instance, the e-paper screens on a Kindle are more comfortable for extended reading periods; although some phones such as the OnePlus 5 now have special reading modes, so your eyes aren’t as strained.
Amazon’s Kindles also enjoy much longer battery life and are made for a specific purpose. They’ll often last weeks on a single charge, and when they’re dead, it simply means you can’t read any more until you charge it back up. In contrast, a smartphone battery often drains quickly when the screen is active and when it’s dead, you’ll be out of touch. Horror!
Pricing and verdict
While we love the water resistant design of the Kindle Oasis, it really is an expensive device. We’d say stick with the Voyage if you want backlighting for night time reading, as it boasts adaptive brightness, unless you’re planning on spending a lot of time reading in the bath.
However, if cash is short then the Paperwhite does practically everything the Voyage does. And the budget Kindle is now better than ever, offering a solid reading experience, although the lack of backlighting is a serious issue if you aren’t simply reading on your daily commute.