By David Nield
Kindles have arguably become the most popular eReaders around in the last decade or so—but not all Kindles are made the same, and there are a few features that stand out about the very best Kindles. And of course, there are different aspects to each device that mean that some Kindle models suit certain readers better than other models.
Each one of Amazon's popular eReader models is tailored to a different type of reader. While some come with simple features for purists, others boast sophisticated lighting settings and nifty operating systems. And there are even tablet models for those who want to combine their reading experience with other types of entertainment. It's no wonder that these nifty digital devices have made a name for themselves as some of the best eReaders on the market.
For us, the best Kindle for most people has to be the Kindle Paperwhite, as it's easy and comfortable to use and provides a good overall reading experience. If you're on a budget, you can't go wrong with the original Amazon Kindle, which comes in at a much cheaper price than the Paperwhite, but still sports all the basic features you might want in an eReader. If you're able to opt for a higher price point, then the Kindle Oasis will give you the very best Kindle experience available today. It boasts more sophisticated lighting settings than the other models and an indulgently sleek and streamlined design. Plus the better processor means that it operates faster and smoother than all the other models too.
How we tested the best Kindles
Below, we've shared our verdict on the best Kindles on the market right now. During the testing process, we evaluated each of them on a range of criteria.
- Value for money—each model varies in price, so it was important to work out if the more expensive versions really did offer a better product, or if the more affordable version was just as good.
- How easy the screens were to read under every type of lighting—such as bright artificial lights, sunshine, dimmed lights, and total darkness.
- Any extra features—each of the best Kindles had, and how these added to the overall user experience. Amazon's eReaders now come with a host of handy features—such as a reading light, extended battery life, and even a handy Bluetooth connection.
- Ease of use for each device—because we know that most of us will want to get reading straight away, without any complicated instructions.
The best Kindles as reviewed by our experts
1. Amazon Kindle
The best Kindle on a budget
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The entry-level Kindle that Amazon sells today is actually the 10th generation of the eReader that first appeared back in 2007. If you just want the core features at the cheapest price, then this is the best Kindle to get. But while it might be the lowest price point, it's by no means a basic device. The Kindle comes with a built-in reading light, offers weeks (up to six) of battery life between charges, has a glare-free display that works well under any lighting, and—if you connect up Bluetooth headphones or speakers—it supports audiobooks (via another Amazon-owned brand, Audible). You can even switch between reading and listening if you want to.
So why wouldn't everyone buy this Kindle and save themselves some money? There are some areas where this Kindle cuts costs: the 167 pixels-per-inch resolution is fine but not as sharp as the other models, for example; and while 8GB is enough room for hundreds of e-books, it doesn't offer a larger storage option, unlike the more expensive models. As a Wi-Fi-only model it means there’s no downloading e-books over phone networks, though you can of course read them anywhere. If aesthetics are important to you, you have a choice of two colours: black or white. For people who want to spend less, this Kindle will be more than good enough.
The best Kindle for most people
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The mid-range Kindle is the Kindle Paperwhite. Here, in return for spending a little bit more money than you would for the basic Kindle, you get some extra (handy) refinements. They start with the screen, which is glare-free and visually sharper (at 300 pixels-per-inch) and sits flush with the front of the display rather than being sunken. The display itself is the same size as the cheaper Kindle though, measuring 6 inches corner to corner. Another benefit of the Paperwhite Kindle is that it’s waterproof, and can survive up to 30 minutes submerged—so you don't need to worry about dropping it in the bath or the pool.
As with the entry-level Kindle, it has a built-in reading light, but the extra LED (five instead of four) means that the Paperwhite can be made that little bit brighter if needed. Another key upgrade is the storage—8GB or 32GB instead of 4GB on the basic Kindle—so it may be worth considering if you want to carry a lot of e-books, comics, and other documents around with you. It's also available in more colors than the basic Kindle (Black, Plum, Sage, and Twilight Blue), and comes with the option of 4G, meaning you can download new books even when you're away from Wi-Fi. Whether it's worth the extra money depends on what you need from your Kindle, but it's certainly an upgrade from the more basic model.
See our full Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review
The best premium Kindle
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Kindle Oasis is the premium Kindle, and it's the one to go for if you have a larger budget and want the very best Kindle experience available today. Compared with the Kindle Paperwhite, it has a larger 7-inch screen but the same 300 pixels-per-inch resolution, waterproofing and flush display design. The lighting is much more sophisticated though, enabling you to adjust the colour temperature of the display (from bright white to warm amber, which is much more like reading a paperback, for example) to suit your reading conditions/environment. The separate reading light can change its brightness automatically too, based on your surroundings.
The Kindle Oasis also has dedicated page-turning buttons (turning pages is also faster due to a better processor), a rotating display and a collection of premium book covers made by Amazon (although these will cost you an extra £40 plus). The storage options—8GB and 32GB—are the same as the Paperwhite and, again, there's a model that comes with 4G if you want to be able to browse for and download new e-books—such as the most popular book club books—when you’re on the go and out of the house. This model will cost you significantly more than the other two Kindles, but for serious literary enthusiasts, the Kindle Oasis justifies its price.
See our full Amazon Kindle Oasis review
4. Amazon Kindle Kids Edition
The best Kindle for little ones
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The name is a bit of a giveaway here; this is the perfect Kindle for your kids. As well as coming with some funky case covers—your choice of Blue, Pink, Rainbow Birds, or Space Station, you also get a free year's subscription to Amazon Kids+ (usually £1.99 a month), which gives your children unlimited access to thousands of books. The final extra for this particular Kindle is the two-year warranty, which means if it should happen to break at the hands of clumsy kid fingers, you can get a replacement straight from Amazon, no questions asked. However, there are ways to fix a seemingly broken device too, if you're wondering how to reset a Kindle.
There's also a parent dashboard that you can run through the Kindle app on your phone, enabling you to check up on the reading progress of your youngsters and set new challenges for them.
Essentially, beyond the dashboard, the bright colors, and the Amazon Kids+ subscription, this is actually just a standard, entry-level 10th-generation Amazon Kindle. Specifically, it is a 6-inch, 167 pixels-per-inch screen Kindle, with a reading light, 4GB of storage, and everything else you would expect from an Amazon eReader. But a big advantage of getting one of these for your kids, rather than a tablet, is that there's no access to the web, no videos, and no social media, if you'd rather keep them away from that right now.
5. Amazon Fire 10 (2021)
Best tablet Kindle/eReader
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
While this isn't technically a Kindle, it is an expansion of Amazon's range in the form of a more high-tech tablet that also has Kindle functionality.
We love that, while this tablet lets you connect to the Kindle store to download the best eBook to read to your heart's content in the compatible app, it also has a number of other apps that you can download for the ultimate entertainment hub. It's the perfect option if you don't want a Kindle just for reading, but also for browsing the web, doing online shopping, playing games, and watching TV.
However, as you're able to do a lot more with this tablet, it does have a shorter battery life than traditional Kindle models, so you will need to make sure to keep it charged up. Therefore, this might not be the best option if you want a long-life Kindle to keep you company on long trips away from home, where you aren't close to Wi-Fi all the time. But overall, this is a great, multi-functional Amazon eReader that provides a wealth of functions as well as a great capacity for book reading.
How do I know which Kindle I should buy?
A good eReader—or specifically a Kindle, in this case—will allow you to read the books that you want in the way that you want. But in order to work out which Kindle to buy, you first have to think about your own reading preferences, as well as practical considerations like your budget.
It's important to work out what you want from your Kindle—do you need it to have the extra features, or do you simply want a clear screen on which to read some of the best books of 2021? The best Kindles mentioned below are all great purchases, but they all vary in their capabilities, so it's important to pay attention to:
- Price—for some, this is arguably the most important factor, as it could dictate which model you're able to go for. Like other eReader brands, the below Kindles vary in price quite significantly, so it's important to weigh up the price with other features you might want.
- Screen size—unless you're looking for a tablet model where you can enjoy reading alongside other entertainment, screen size will likely be down to reading preference—similar to if you like paperback or hardback books.
- Capacity—most Kindle models come with a decent base storage amount so they should suit most readers. And the cloud function of each eReader helps to save storage as you only have to download what you're reading. However, if you're a bit of a book hoarder, want other apps on your device, or like to read a lot of books at once, a bigger capacity could be helpful.
- Battery life—if you're planning on taking your Kindle out and about then this is a really important factor to think about.
- Lighting settings: If you want a pure reading experience then simple light settings should do the job, however for those who want to be able to read in darker environments or who want to customize their brightness or blue-light emission, this is one feature to consider.
- Weight—if reading for long periods of time, weight is an important consideration as you want to make sure it's a comfortable experience and you don't end up getting cramp in your hands.
- Is it waterproof? For some, this may not matter, but for those who like to read in the bath and may be a bit clumsy, an important factor to consider if you don't want to end up spending money replacing it.
- Extra features—some Kindles come in a tablet form to offer extra entertainment features. For example, the Amazon Fire 10 (2021) not only offers a book-reading function like all other eReaders, but also a variety of other apps (such as social media, games, and productivity apps).
But whichever Kindle you go for, just be sure to purchase one of the best Kindle covers, to ensure your device is protected for use in all climates.
Are Kindle books free?
Technically, no. While there are some free eBooks, if you are buying most eBooks to read on your Kindle, you will have to pay for it in the same way you would pay for a physical book. However, eBooks for a Kindle generally do cost much less than physical books, so there is a saving to be had.
But there is a way to pay much less for your eBooks if you download lots of them each month. You could use Kindle's subscription service, Kindle Unlimited. On Kindle Unlimited, you get 30 days of free digital books, after which you will pay £9.95 a month, which will allow you to download as many eBooks as you want.
Is Kindle Unlimited worth it?
Kindle Unlimited's subscription service is a monthly cost of nearly £10. But given that one new e-book might cost you £4, it can mean a fantastic saving. And with books, magazines and audiobooks all available with Kindle Unlimited, we think it's well worth looking into.
That being said, if you're a lover of the newest releases then you might not find many of these on Kindle Unlimited. However, the service does often provide a few gems—especially when it comes to best thriller books, the best romance books, or the best historical fiction books.
Overall, if you're a book-lover we reckon Kindle Unlimited is well worth trying. However, it may not provide value-for-money if you tend to buy only one book a month, or less.
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