What separates the Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Oasis and Kindle Scribe? We help you find the best Kindle for you
In the beginning, buying a Kindle was a simple job. There were two models: Amazon’s Wi-Fi Kindle and the 3G-enabled Kindle, and they were effectively identical aside from offering different levels of connectivity. These days, however, the choice of Kindles is more complicated – there are three different models at three very different prices. So, which Kindle is best for you?
The cheapest Kindle is the 6in touchscreen model, first introduced in 2016, which is available from £85 and now includes a built-in front light under the screen. The most expensive model is the Kindle Oasis 32GB with Wi-Fi and 4G, which will set you back £230. The Kindle Paperwhite sits between the two and there’s also the Kindle Scribe, an Amazon e-reader with digital note-taking abilities.
If you’re confused as to which Kindle to go for, we’ve helped you make the decision by comparing all of Amazon’s Kindle models below.
How we test Kindles
Much of the comparison between the different Kindle models comes down to the specifications, with obvious differences such as dimensions, storage space and price being clear from the get go. With those elements in place, most of the remaining testing comes down to simply using the Kindles as e-readers.
Our reviewer will use the device as their primary e-reader for a significant period of time, usually around a week, in order to get a feel for how comfortable the Kindle is to use, as well as checking the accuracy of the battery life claims. The ease of using the Kindle one-handed and the overall build quality will be assessed in this time, as well as how effective the backlight is when used in a darker environment.
When it comes to the differences between each of the released Kindle models, we’ll be looking at how accurately touch is registered when scrolling and turning pages, as well as the speed at which the actions are carried out. Finally, we test any additional features, checking how well the Kindle Scribe picks up hastily-written notes, or listening to Audible audiobooks on the Paperwhite and Oasis, for instance.
How to choose the best Kindle for you
Amazon Kindle vs Paperwhite vs Oasis vs Scribe: Common features
All of Amazon’s Kindle ebook readers share a handful of core features. Each one has access to the same Amazon store for books, which offers a huge array of reasonably priced books and magazines.
Unlike other ebook readers, they’re not set up to buy books from elsewhere, so all Kindle users can only buy books from Amazon. Thankfully, Amazon still has the largest range of titles and is generally very well-priced.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, then there’s also the Prime Reading service, which provides access to a range of free ebooks, magazines, and short-form material. It’s not just cheap, self-published stuff here, either – on the list of books are Man Booker Prize-shortlisted titles and premium magazines.
Every Kindle supports Amazon’s Family Library, which lets you share your ebooks with other members of your household. Essentially, this allows you to join two accounts together, so you can read each other’s books, plus you can add up to four child accounts to the pair of adult accounts.
The regular Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite can be purchased in two variants: “with special offers” and “without special offers”. These are adverts Amazon pushes through to your device’s lock screen. If you prefer to remove the adverts, you can do so by paying an extra £10.
The Kindle Oasis also has a “Free 4G” model, costing a little more than the Wi-Fi-only variant. The 4G model comes with no monthly fees or additional costs. Amazon covers the 4G connectivity, giving you the ability to download content to your Kindle almost anywhere in the world.
Amazon Kindle vs Paperwhite vs Oasis vs Scribe: Which Kindle should you buy?
The budget Kindle is a nice start for people buying an ebook reader for the first time, but a pointless purchase for people considering upgrading from the 2016 model.
The Kindle Paperwhite is, overall, the best Kindle in terms of value and performance. It has an excellent touchscreen and backlight and is the best upgrade option for people with old Kindle models. With its waterproofing and Audible compatibility, it’s nearly as good as the luxurious Oasis.
The Kindle Oasis is the best choice for those who use their Kindle every day. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s a genuine pleasure to use and it’s the Kindle to buy if you want the very best of the best.
Finally, there’s the Kindle Scribe. A unique prospect, this Amazon e-reader comes with the ability to also take digital notes via the included stylus. You can use this to write in digital notebooks or even annotate PDF files and e-books bought via Amazon.
Amazon Kindle vs Paperwhite vs Oasis vs Scribe: Specifications
Below, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of all Kindle models currently on sale.
|8GB or 16GB
|8GB or 32GB
|16GB, 32GB or 64GB
|Black or Denim
|Graphite or Gold
|Wi-Fi or 4G
|Quoted battery life
|Up to six weeks
|Up to ten weeks
|Up to six weeks
|Up to 12 weeks
|158 x 109 x 8mm
|174 x 125 x 8.1mm
|159 x 141 x 3.4-8.4mm
|229 x 196 x 5.8mm
The best Kindles you can buy in 2023
1. Amazon Kindle: Best Kindle for most people
Price when reviewed: From £85 | Check price at AmazonAmazon’s budget Kindle costs £85, or £95 if you want it without lock screen adverts (or, as Amazon describes them, “special offers”). The cheapest Kindle has a 6in touchscreen, a 1GHz processor and 16GB of storage (up from 4GB on the previous version), which is loads of space to store thousands of books. What’s more, is that the basic Kindle now has a sharper 300ppi E ink display, USB-C charging and battery life is also very good at up to six weeks per charge.
If you already own the previous entry-level Kindle and are tempted to upgrade to this one, you might want to save your money, since the differences are marginal. If, however, you’re looking at taking your first tentative steps into digitising your library, then the basic Kindle is definitely the way to go for the budget-conscious bookworm.
Read our full Amazon Kindle review
2. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite: Best Kindle for travellers
Price when reviewed: From £150 | Check price at John Lewis2021 saw the fifth generation of Kindle Paperwhite introduced, and while it’s not as significant a step forward as the fourth, the all-new e-reader has enough new features to be an appealing choice to newcomers and those looking to upgrade.
Thinner bezels and a larger 6.8in screen mean more words per page, and it’s noticeably nippier than the previous generation too, booting up and loading the Kindle store faster than ever. The new chip that makes this possible is also a lot more efficient, as battery life jumps from an already stunning six weeks to a gargantuan ten. Add to that 17 LEDs with warm lighting to help night-time readers sleep and USB-C connectivity, and it’s a solid upgrade that builds on the previous edition by maintaining Audible integration and IPX8 waterproofing.
It’s probably not worth paying £50 more for the £180 ‘Signature Edition‘, mind. While the extras it offers – wireless charging, automatic brightness adjustment and 32GB of storage – are certainly pleasing, if you’re going to spend that much on an ebook reader, you’re probably better off looking at the top-of-the-range Kindle Oasis instead. It’s currently unavailable at Amazon, however it’s in stock at other retailers.
Read our full Kindle Paperwhite review
3. Amazon Kindle Oasis: Best high-end Kindle
Price when reviewed: From £230 | Check price at AmazonThe Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s luxurious e-reader. With a £230 starting price to match (for 8GB), Amazon’s refreshed Oasis’ big new feature is its adjustable warm light, which lets you switch from the standard white LED over to a more eye-friendly amber light. This promises to reduce the amount of blue light when you’re reading before going to bed. It also has a slightly bigger battery and can be picked up in a rather fetching gold colour.
As for the rest, the latest Oasis boasts several high-end features. Like the Paperwhite, it also has Audible integration for listening to audiobooks on the go, and it’s waterproofed up to two metres, so there’s no need to worry about dropping your ebook reader in the bath ever again. With a beautifully lit 300ppi 7in touchscreen with 12 LEDs for glare-free reading, it’s the ultimate e-reading experience, no matter the lighting conditions.
Despite its extra size, it’s lighter than the Paperwhite at only 188g. If your budget can stretch, this is the best Kindle available to buy right now, no question.
Read our full Kindle Oasis review
4. Amazon Kindle Scribe: Best for reading and taking notes
Price when reviewed: £330 | Check price at AmazonThe Kindle Scribe represents perhaps the biggest leap forward in Amazon’s e-reader range since the launch of the original. Aptly named, the Scribe adds a high-quality e-ink screen – which, at 10.2in, is the largest yet on a Kindle – and stylus that allows it to function as a digital notepad, similar to devices from brands like reMarkable, Huawei or Onyx.
In testing, we found this pen and screen pairing worked well, delivering something close to the feeling of traditional pen and paper, whether we were scribbling something down, annotating PDFs or adding notes to the margins of an e-book. In terms of its e-reader capabilities, the Scribe has much the same UI as the rest of the Kindle range, with its larger screen allowing for more text on screen. However, despite its impressively low weight of 433g, its relative bulk does make it more cumbersome to whip out while travelling in tight spaces like packed Tube trains or aeroplanes.
While it lacks some features native to the rest of the range, namely wireless charging, IPX8 waterproofing and free mobile connectivity, we found its digital notepad capabilities, new option of 64GB of storage and an improved battery life of up to 12 weeks to be more than enough to balance out these omissions.
Read our full Amazon Kindle Scribe review