Deciding which of the best Kindles is right for you and your reading preferences can be tricky, so we've tested and reviewed all of the options out there to help you make the right choice.
Amazon's Kindles are some of the best eReaders around. But there are a few notable differences between each of the models in the Kindle range. Some are pricier than others, but offer extra features such more storage and waterproof capabilities. Others offer great value-for-money for the casual reader.
To evaluate each device, our expert tester David Nield used each one, testing it over the course of a few weeks. He assessed the value-for-money, as well as the design, ease-of-use, and whether it was worth paying extra for more features. After testing, we concluded that the best Kindle overall has to be the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, as it's easy and comfortable to use, waterproof, and also has a huge amount of storage. If you're on a budget though, you can't go wrong with the original Amazon Kindle, which has a fantastic battery life and also supports audiobooks.
How we tested the best Kindles
During the testing process, we evaluated each of the best Kindles 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.
- Reading experience—we assessed how easy the screens were to read under every type of lighting—such as bright artificial lights, sunshine, and total darkness, as well as how easy it was to turn the page, highlight key quotes, and look through our eBooks on each device.
- Any extra features—we examined any add-on's to the basic Amazon eReaders, such as a reading light, extended battery life, and even a handy Bluetooth connection, to work out how much these added to the overall product experience.
The best Kindles as reviewed by our experts
1. Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Signature Edition Paperwhite is the latest release from the Kindle range, and it doesn't disappoint. Hovering around the mid-price point for Amazon's eReaders, it's essentially an upgrade on their original Paperwhite device, which is a little bit more affordable. A few of the great pros of this device are the fact that it is fully waterproof (in up to two meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes, and up to 0.25 meters of seawater for up to 3 minutes), making it a brilliant pick for holiday reading around the pool or at the beach. It's also incredibly lightweight and comfortable to hold in one hand. And one of our favorite upgrades is its auto-adjusting screen brightness, which ensures a comfortable and easy reading experience as you move from a light to dark environment, or vice-versa.
We also found the battery life incredibly impressive—we left the device on over a weekend and found it had only dropped two percent in battery, suggesting that one full charge would likely last you a couple of weeks. Excitingly, the Signature also has no ads, which committed bibliophiles will love.
One slight disappointment was that the Paperwhite Signature appeared to take a little bit longer than we'd expect to load up our eBooks. The on-off button has also moved from the top of the device to the bottom, which takes a bit of getting used to. But despite these small niggles, it's still a great device. For a slight increase in price (given that it's a bit pricey, you may also want to invest in one of the best Kindle covers) there are a lot of benefits that a regular reader would likely really appreciate.
2. Amazon Kindle
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 one of the best Kindles 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.
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. 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
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.
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
5. Amazon Kindle Kids Edition
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The name is a bit of a giveaway: this is one of the best Kindles if you're after a device 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, you can get a replacement straight from Amazon, no questions asked.
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.
6. Amazon Fire 10 (2021)
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 eBooks 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?
In order to work out which of the best Kindles 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 your favorite novels? Kindles are solid digital reading devices, but they all vary in their capabilities, so it's important to pay attention to:
- Price—Like other eReader brands, the above Kindles vary in price significantly (between $54.99-$269.99/£69.99-£229.99), so it's important to weigh up the price depending on how many features you are after.
- Screen size—decide whether you need/want a larger screen size—do you struggle with reading small words, and would a bigger screen size therefore be beneficial, for example? The Amazon Kindle screen sizes don't vary hugely but if you think you would benefit from a wider screen it's worth picking one that can satisfy that need.
- Capacity—most of the best Kindles 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—the new Kindle Paperwhite Signature has the largest of all the above devices.
- Battery life—all of the best Kindles have great battery life, but some excel in this area more than others, such as the Amazon Kindle and the Signature Edition Paperwhite. If this is important to you, consider one of those models over another.
- Waterproof or not—if you do a lot of reading in the bath, by the pool or at the beach, it's worth getting a model that is waterproof as not all Kindles are. However, it's worth noting that none of the Kindles will survive serious submersion—they are only designed to withstand splashes and drops of water.
- 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). Decide if this is something you want and/or need out of your Kindle.
What can you do on a Kindle besides read books?
A Kindle's primary use is to read books on—books downloaded from the Amazon library.
But can a Kindle do anything else? Yes—in fact, there are a number of other functions your Kindle can perform to become a multi-functional device. As well as reading books, a Kindle will also allow you to listen to audiobooks and to read magazines, so long as you are subscribed. On many Kindles, you can also play games and use apps, via the Kindle store.
You can also browse the web on a small amount of the Amazon devices. The Kindle and the Kindle Paperwhite have a limited capability for internet browsing should you want it, but it's worth noting that they don't support color or any other multi-media you might find on the internet.
Finally, you can also send and store personal documents via a Kindle. When you set up your device you'll receive your own (new) personal email address, allowing you to upload documents such as PDF's to it, which can be particularly handy if you need to work whilst traveling.
Are Kindle books free?
Technically, no. While there are some free eBooks, most eBooks have to be paid 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.
David Nield is a freelance tech and science journalist who has been in the industry for over 20 years. He regularly writes about gadgets, the latest technology, and the biggest news in science for publications including Wired, The Guardian, T3, TechRadar, and Woman & Home.
Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.
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