The best Kindles and best eReaders – for avid and occasional readers alike

When Amazon launched the first Kindle in November 2007, many of us feared it would herald the beginning of the end for the humble paperback. Not so. Because while sales of eBooks grew by 3% up to £1.8bn last year*, the number of physical books being sold has also continued to rise.

Happily, then, it would seem that book lovers the world over have decided to embrace both formats – and with good reason. After all, you are generally more likely to find an ebook at a bargain price, with brand-new releases often popping up for 99p in monthly or pre-publication deals, while Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited scheme – which is included in the Prime package – offers users a library of over a million titles for £7.99 per month.

So why, with the Kindle app making it possible to read ebooks on your smartphone or tablet, should you spend the extra pennies on the best Kindle or best eReader on the market? For one thing, eReaders have been designed specifically for the practice of reading, which means no sleep-disrupting blue-light screens that will make your eyes ache, and seriously impressive battery power that won’t run out on you mid-chapter. Plus, they’re lightweight, easy to use, the text size is adjustable, they come in a range of colours and styles, enable one-handed reading,  and can also be used to listen to audiobooks. Some models are now waterproof, too, making them perfect for those of you who like to read whilst lounging in the tub or even poolside. Basically, there’s a lot of reasons to embrace eReaders, which prompts the question: which is the best kindle or best eReader for me?

Which is the best Kindle or best eReader for me?

It’s wise to have a think about what you want from your eReader, and which of the standard features mean the most to you. For example, whether you’d rather have one that connects through 3G as well as WiFi, or if you’d prefer a bigger screen size, or more font and light settings.

All eReaders have E Ink screens that are designed to look just like paper, but tablets don’t, so that is also worth bearing in mind if you have your heart set on a multi-use device. Consider whether you mostly want your eReader for reading or listening, and how much memory you would ideally prefer. The lower range eReaders will happily store 1,000 novels, while the top-priced items can store six or seven times that amount.

If all you’re looking for is a digital way to store and read your books, then a basic model should suffice, but if you’re keen on as many clever extras as possible, think about stretching the budget, as the best eReader for you might be one that costs a bit more but has premium features, like screens that automatically adjust to changes in your enviroment’s light.

How we selected the best Kindle and best eReader

In order to bring you the definitive list of the best eReaders and best Kindles on the market, our expert, Isabelle Bloom, a published author, books editor, and avid reader, tested the top bestselling ranges over several months, focusing specifically on usability, connectivity and overall value for money. We reviewed dozens and tested only the best to bring you this buying guide. And to keep it fair, she’s even given a nod to the best tablet for reading on, too – as well as identifying which eReader is robust enough to give to the little people in your life.

Best Kindle and best eReader reviews

We’ve whittled down the dozens of Kindles and eReaders on the market to the top eight. Read on to see our best Kindle and best eReader edit…

Best cheap Kindle or eReader – Amazon Kindle 8th Generation, £69.99, Amazon.co.uk

If you’re looking for all the benefits of an eReader and aren’t too fussed about snazzy extras, then the best eReader for you could be this basic-yet-brilliant original-style Kindle  – especially if you’re keen on keeping costs down. With an RRP of £59.99, the Amazon Kindle 8th Generation is often available for under £50 – so it’s definitely worth hunting around for offers. Once connected to WiFi, it takes less than a minute to download a new title, and you can store over 1,000 at a time. It has a touchscreen, which makes navigating all the features far easier than it was with the buttons of old, and once fully charged, the battery will last you for weeks. The thing we like the best about this Amazon Kindle is its straightforward usability – you can have it out of the box and be reading or listening (via wireless Bluetooth headphones) inside minutes – and the additional VoiceView capability allows you to adjust font size, screen colour and brightness, line spacing and margins, which is great if you’re beginning to find standard books a struggle. All in all, a great first eReader that will ease you seamlessly into the digital reading world.

Storage size: 4GB

Dimensions: 160 mm x 115 mm x 9.1 mm

Backlight: No

Warranty: 1 year limited

Star rating out of 5: 5

Amazon Kindle 8th Generation, £69.99, Amazon.co.uk

Best waterproof eReader – Kobo Aura H2O, £149.99, Amazon.co.uk

Best ereader: Kobo Aura H2O, £149.99

Bath time reading fans rejoice! The Kobo Aura H2O can withstand up to 30 minutes in a metre of water, so even if you fall asleep reading in the tub and drop this little fella, it will survive. If you’re anything like us, and half the radiators in your house are decorated with the curling remnants of dunked novels, then this will be music to your ears and could mean this is the best eReader for you. Another standout feature on the Kobo Aura H2O is its ComfortLight – a front-light that cleverly adjusts depending on where you are, be it out in your sunny back garden or snuggled up in the dark under a duvet, thus giving you one less thing to think about and ruling out any disruptions to your reading. The built-in bedtime setting is a thoughtful addition, and we found that the Aura was very soothing to use at night. While it is bigger and slightly heavier than the equivalent Kindle models, this Kobo will tell you with a simple tap how many minutes it will take you to reach the end of your current chapter, allow you to place bookmarks, sync with your other devices and has a dictionary function to look up bizarre words.

Storage size: 8GB

Dimensions: 129 x 172 x 8.8 mm

Backlight: Yes

Warranty: 1 year limited

Star rating out of 5: 3

Kobo Aura H2O, £149.99, Amazon.co.uk

Best eReader for kids – Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet, £69.99, Amazon.co.uk

There is very little that we don’t love about this robust and reliable tablet – it’s a real all-round winner with heaps of features that have been designed with children in mind. The Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet comes housed in a rubber ‘kid-proof’ surround, which bounced merrily when we lobbed it onto the floor, and is very easy for small hands to grip. The two-year no-fuss warranty also provides additional peace of mind. Aimed at children from the age of three right through to 12, this tablet comes with a free one-year subscription to Amazon Fire For Kids Unlimited (£2 per month usually), offering access to thousands of books, but also to TV shows, films, teaching apps and games (hello, quiet time for mum, dad and grandparents). There’s no need to worry about the kids straying across any unsavoury content online, however, because you can fully customise this tablet to block certain sites, as well as setting bedtime curfews and timeouts. You can choose a blue, pink or yellow design, and while all are sturdy, they sadly won’t survive immersion in water. This being a tablet rather than a straightforward eReader, the battery time is significantly less at only 8 hours, so if you take it away for the weekend, don’t forget to pack the charger. Definitely the best eReader for younger children, it is perhaps a bit too basic for the tech-savvy teens in your life.

Storage size: 16GB

Dimensions: 26.3 x 154 x 243 mm (H x W x D)

Backlight: Yes

Warranty: 2 years limited

Star rating out of 5: 5

Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet, £69.99, Amazon.co.uk

Best Kindle or eReader for reading at night – Kindle Oasis, £199.99, Amazon.co.uk

The Kindle Oasis may be the priciest on our list, but it does have a lot on offer to warrant a splurge. To start with, it’s by far the most aesthetically pleasing. The slick graphite aluminium casing feels high-end next to its plastic companions, and the new champagne gold shade helps it to become a genuine thing of beauty. The Kindle Oasis has a high-resolution touchscreen larger than any other eReader on the market, while its unique wedged back makes it comfortable to hold – especially when you’re curled up in bed. Add to this a smart light sensor (a night-reading essential), 3G connectivity (for a slightly higher price) and the fact that the Kindle Oasis is waterproof, and you’ve got a failsafe option that really is as good as it looks. It may seem like a lot to shell out when the Kindle Paperwhite is less than half the price, but if you’re an ebook fanatic who prefers their gadgets to offer more than the average, then you’ll be extremely satisfied with this one. We didn’t want to part with it! In our mind, if you have a couple of hundred quid to spare this is the best Kindle on the market.

Storage size: 8/32GB

Dimensions: 159 x 141 x 3.4-8.3mm

Backlight: Yes

Warranty: 1 year limited

Star rating out of 5: 5

Kindle Oasis, £199.99, Amazon.co.uk

Best one-handed eReader – Kobo Clara HD, £109.99, Amazon.co.uk

There is no doubt that the Kobo Clara HD has been designed for those of us with busy lives and cluttered handbags, and by focusing more on the simple musts rather than the slick extras, Kobo have created an eReader that may admittedly be low-frills, but is also no-fuss. Clara’s slim, textured body fits easily into one hand, making her the perfect companion for a cramped commute or a quick on-the-go gander. She is also very light – coming in at 39g less than Kindle’s equivalent, the Paperwhite, and we barely remembered she was there once we’d slipped her into the inside pocket of our denim jacket. There’s a nifty feature that allows you to select passages of text and share them on Facebook, but only if you’re connected to WiFi, mind, because 3G connectivity is not yet a feature of this model. As with the Kobo Aura H2O, the Kobo Clara HD has ComfortLight Pro, as well as a night mode that can be set to switch on automatically once the sun goes down. The battery will last for up for four weeks of standard use, and the huge 8GB of storage means you can really fill up on novels and audiobooks. So if you have a big library (or aspire to one) then this could be the best eReader for you.

Storage size: 8GB

Dimensions: 159.6 x 110 x 8.35 mm

Backlight: Yes

Warranty: 1 year limited

Star rating out of 5: 4

Kobo Clara HD, £109.99, Amazon.co.uk

Best Kindle or Reader for the beach – Kindle Paperwhite, £119.99, Amazon.co.uk

Now we come to the market leader, the eReader most consistently voted into the top slot and frequently heralded “best Kindle”. It’s the one all our friends have urged us to buy when our ancient model finally gives up. So, what is it about the Kindle Paperwhite that makes it so popular? First of all, it’s incredibly easy to use – you touch the right of the screen to turn a page, the left to turn back, and the top to access the menu and features. Simple! This innate usability makes it the perfect choice for a sun-lounging holiday, as does the paper-alike non-glare screen, extended battery life (up to six weeks from a full charge) and the fact that it’s now waterproof to boot. The built-in storage is a substantial 8GB, but you can extend this easily with the addition of a memory card. For an extra £100, the Paperwhite will also connect through 3G as well as the standard WiFi option, meaning you can update your library more or less instantly while you’re out and about, and it is also set up for both Amazon Kindle Unlimited and Audible. In short, Kindle Paperwhite is a digital book lover’s dream come true.

Storage size: 8/32GB

Dimensions: 167 x 116 x 8.18mm

Backlight: Yes

Warranty: 1 year limited

Star rating out of 5: 5

Kindle Paperwhite, £119.99, Amazon.co.uk

Best Kindle or eReader for real-book fans – Amazon Kindle 2019, £69.99, Amazon.co.uk

If you are reading this article with a mild sense of trepidation about the whole concept of an eReader, then let the Amazon Kindle 2019 reassure you. Far from being a top-of-the-range mini-computer with enough functions, settings and extras to turn your brain into mashed potato, this user-friendly gem is the most like the real thing that you will find on the market. We promise that after you’ve read a few pages, you will forget that you’re not holding an actual paperback in your hands – in fact, you’ll probably hold it longer than you would a standard novel, because it weighs so much less, so if weight if a concern then this is probably the best Kindle for you. And while the touchscreen may be lower resolution than the swankier Paperwhite and Oasis, all this really does is make it seem more book-like, not less. Plus, just like them, this Kindle has Bluetooth and is set up for Kindle Unlimited, all without the eyeball-enlarging price hike. It is the best basic model on the market by a mile, and an ideal choice for those taking their first tentative steps into the world of eReading.

Storage size: 4GB

Dimensions: 160 x 113 x 8.7mm

Backlight: No, but front light allows reading in the dark.

Warranty: 1 year limited

Star rating out of 5: 4

Amazon Kindle 2019, £69.99, Amazon.co.uk

Best tablet eReader – Amazon Fire 7, £49.99, Amazon.co.uk

There are a wealth of tablets out there that you can use for reading, but none have been so well reviewed or are as well designed for the purpose as the Amazon Kindle Fire 7. Of course, the great thing about using a tablet as an eReader is the fact that they do so much more, so as well as covering your reading and listening bases, you can also get online, use all your favourite apps and update your social media accounts. This being an Amazon tablet, it comes with Kindle store connectivity, enabling you to search for and then download as many ebooks as you want. However, unlike standard eReaders, the Amazon Fire 7 does have a much shorter battery life, and a full charge will give you around eight hours of reading time, as opposed to the multiple weeks offered by other eReaders. That said, reading on this tablet is preferable to squinting over a smartphone screen, and it’s nice to have the option of switching from book to video or music without having to swap devices. If you’re someone who enjoys having everything you need in one attractive black, blue, red or yellow package, then the Amazon Kindle Fire 7 could be the box-ticking best eReader choice for you.

Storage size: 16GB

Dimensions: 192 x 115 x 9.6 mm

Backlight: Yes

Warranty: 1 year limited

Star rating out of 5: 4

Amazon Fire 7, £49.99, Amazon.co.uk

Overall best eReader and best Kindle: w&h recommends

Overall best buy: Kindle Paperwhite, £119.99, Amazon.co.uk

As part of the research for this article, we did a Twitter-poll about eReaders amongst our friends in the writing community – aka authors, reviewers and the most ardent ebook fans – asking them which eReader they preferred. The results came out staggeringly in favour of Kindle Paperwhite, with users calling it ‘amazing’ and lauding its ‘non-reflective screen’ and ‘paper feel’. The ability to upgrade from WiFi to a 3G connection also made it a popular choice amongst those who are always on the go, and elevated the Paperwhite from ‘good’ to ‘game-changing’. Out of all those we tested, Kindle Paperwhite was the most simple to use, and the peace of mind of knowing it’s waterproof makes it a no-brainer. It’s light, it looks good, it’s reliable and it’s packed with fully adjustable settings that have all been designed to make your reading experience better. A true class act, which is why we’ve named it overall best buy and best Kindle.

 Kindle Paperwhite, £119.99, Amazon.co.uk

Star buy: Amazon Kindle 2019, £69.99, Amazon.co.uk

Offering almost everything the Paperwhite does in a slightly less swanky package, Amazon Kindle is a full-proof champion when it comes to value for money, and has the added benefit of being the most like a real book of any eReader. Fitting easily into one hand (and most jacket pockets), it’s perfect for commuting and/or holidays, has an adjustable light to aid reading, an easy-to-use touchscreen and super battery power – basically everything you need from an eReader, and a bargain at under £70. It’s not as good as the Paperwhite, but at roughly £50 cheaper it’s the best Kindle for those with a smaller budget.

Amazon Kindle 2019, £69.99, Amazon.co.uk

Have more questions before you settle on which is the best Kindle or best eReader for you? Read our answers to frequently asked questions about the products:

What are the different types of eReaders?

As well as the range of eReaders from Amazon Kindle and Kobo, you can also read ebooks and audiobooks through tablets, iPads, laptops and smartphones – although these latter products have not been designed explicitly for the purpose of reading. In terms of difference between Kindle and Kobo, there is not all that much in terms of what they can do, but Kindle does offer access to a larger number of titles.

What are the best eReader brands?

Kindle and Kobo are the two biggest eReader brands available in the UK, and Kindle nudges ahead thanks to its wider range of available titles, overall reviews and sales figures. Because so many of us now choose to read on personal devices, such as phones as tablets, there is perhaps less of a demand for specific eReaders than there once might have been, which is why these two industry giants are yet to face any serious competition from other brands.

WiFi or 3G ebook reader?

If you’re happy with an eReader that relies on a WiFi connection in order to download ebooks and/or audio, then this will work out as by far the cheaper option. Upgrading to one that connects through 3G will allow you to update your library anywhere with a decent mobile signal, and is a popular choice for readers that travel a lot or spend most of their time reading away from home.

Can I read all ebooks on a Kindle?

In short, yes, but some free web-based ebooks come in a format known as EPUB, which a Kindle is not designed to read. The good news, however, is that you can download a software program called Calibre for free, which will convert these files into Mobi ones that you can then upload to your Kindle. Once a Kindle is registered on Amazon, you will be given a unique email address for the device, and will be able to send Word documents and PDFs to your Kindle by simply attaching them to an email and putting the word ‘convert’ in the subject line.

Can I read ebooks without an eReader?

You can indeed, as long as you download the appropriate app. Currently, Kindle reading apps are available for Mac, iPad, iPod Touch, Windows, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, Android and iPhone. Once downloaded, you simply sync it with your Amazon account and begin choosing ebooks – et voila!